I awoke at another despondent dawn, the sun peering through a mist of thick fog and the undercurrents of urban pollution. Silence filled the room as the sunlight eventually penetrated my curtains. I stood up slowly, sweeping a strand of brunette hair out of my pale, tired face. I pulled off my pyjamas and wrapped a towel around my body, before wandering through the corridor to the shower. I removed my towel and hung it on the rail, averting my own gaze in the mirror on the wall. I turned the shower on and felt its warmth and gentleness on my skin. I cleansed my body, my hair grew a little longer as the water pulled it towards the floor of the shower. I closed my eyes, standing beneath the jets of water which attacked me, for seeming hours. Eventually, I felt my legs begin to feel unsure of themselves, so I turned the water off, clambered out of the shower and dried myself quickly. With the towel covering me again, I brushed my teeth before heading back to my room and finding my clothes. I slipped on my underwear in a rush, not wanting to grow cold. I shoved my school uniform on, quickly dried my hair and brushed it. I brushed my eyelashes with some mascara, and swept a little eyeshadow over my lids. I put a little lip balm on, went to my desk and found my books for the day's lessons. Into my bag went books for English, Biology, History and Maths. The name 'Mr Vincent' glared at me as I slipped my maths book into my bag. I took a deep breath, put on my school shoes and went downstairs. Unsurprisingly, my parents had already left for work. They had left a note on the breakfast table;
There was a last minute call from work about a business conference we have to attend, so we won't be coming home this evening. There's some food in the cupboard. Have a nice day!
Mum and Dad xxxx
I read it while I ate a small cereal bar, savouring each piece slowly. I wasn't surprised. They'd left me when I needed them most, and I hadn't had the chance to tell them about it.
As I walked down the road from the house, I thought on my stupidity. Maths detention? Really? I had never received a detention before, and now I was the only one in my class to get one. I used to be good at maths, I thought, what went wrong? I had soon arrived at school, and cursed myself for arriving early. As I lingered outside my tutor room, I heard footsteps, and looked up to see Mr Vincent as he passed.
"Don't forget, Tessa Whiteheart, that you have a detention at three-thirty today."
"I won't forget, sir." I replied, surprised to see a smile on his thin lips as he left. I didn't think anything of it as I sat through my lessons, making almost intelligible notes and listening intently. I loved school; I loved learning and chatting with my friends at lunchtime under the trees. I only noticed his smile again as I reached my maths class, at half-past two.
"Don't forget, straight after this, detention," he reminded me.
"Of course sir, I hadn't forgotten." I replied, with as much respect as I could manage. The lesson went on, my head aching as I saw the equations on the board. I hung my head in shame. I was happy when the bell went, for a second, and then remembered my detention, so I felt miserable again. I had no idea that things were about to get much, much worse. As the last stragglers disappeared from the room, I opened my book and said,
"I'd better get on with this then, sir," I looked up and saw that he wasn't in his chair. "Sir?" Suddenly, there was a hand on my mouth and one on my back. I was pulled up, and forced towards the store cupboard door. The hand went from my back to the door handle. As the door opened, I struggled, before I was pushed through the door and collapsed, breathless to the floor. I called out, "Mr Vincent! Help me!"
"I will help you," the voice returned, as I turned to see Mr Vincent shut the store cupboard door, and turn on a little, flickering lamp. "But, you'll have to help me first." I felt a hand grope at me, pulling at my blazer so hard that he dragged me with it. I began to cry.
"Sir, please stop." I cried. In the tainted light, I saw that smile on his face. He came over to where I lay and knelt down.
"Tessa, if you don't submit to me, I'll submit your entire grade as one huge 'F' and get you expelled!" I continued to cry as he went on, "If you do this for me, this small favour, I'll keep the governors happy and give you nice 'A's'. So what will it be? Humiliation, or glory?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing; I pinched myself on the arm and discovered, to my horror that I wasn't dreaming. But, the most nightmarish thing of all was the fact that I couldn't move or speak. "I'll take your silence as a yes, and remember, if you tell anyone a thing, your grades will go down and down, and down." He continued to say this as he took off my blazer, and hit me round the head with it, before tying it around my hands. He looked around as I stood up, groping around in the dim light for the door. He punched me, hard, and I fell, before he peeled a sticky label from its place and sealed it over my lips. "There," he began, "now the real fun can begin." I cried silently as he ripped off my blouse and tied it around my legs, on which he had been sitting so I couldn't get up. He unzipped my skirt and pulled it off, before flinging it behind him and removing his own clothes in a huge, soundless rush. He crawled over me, and I winced as he wrapped his hands around my back, removing my bra. I jabbed him in the leg with my feet, the last of my strength slipping away as my underwear did.
My innocence died in that room.
That was the last day, for three weeks, that I was in school. Until that time, I began to fade away. My parents kept me home, suspecting I was ill, and they were right. My mind, as well as my body, had been violated.
I didn't tell a soul. But it cost me the right to sleep. To eat. To laugh. My skin grew thin and pale, my brown eyes lost their cheery spark. More than my innocence died in that room. I died in that room. The happy part of me was gone, and it would take something special to rebuild it.