“Hana?” Nick asked, he was shocked to find the dark-skinned girl curled up on the rock, clearly in pain.
Since Hana ran away from him and Ethan that morning, he’d been worried about her. He wondered what was wrong, what happened. What, or more likely, who, gave her the bruises? Was it a bully or someone she knew and they didn’t?
There was only one logical conclusion that Nick could come to, and it was one that he hoped wasn’t true: abuse. Hana was getting abused by a family member or guardian. It seemed that that was the case, Nick looked closer at Hana, and he could see all the injuries that covered her small form, even her ripped clothing.
Nick wasn’t sure why he needed to go to the hill, but something in his gut told him to go, that he needed to be there. So, following his instincts, he asked his guardian for permission to go out for a drive. Now, he could see why. Why he needed to be there. Something was telling him his little sister, his innocent and adorable sister, was in trouble and she needed him.
At the sound of his voice, Hana’s head snapped up. Her eyes, once filled with laughter and happiness, were dimmed with pain and fear as they widened to the size of saucers when she saw him.
Without any warning Hana was off the rock, scrambling backwards, wincing as her injuries protested against all and any movement. She didn’t stop, she didn’t listen to her pain, until her back was against a tree. Hana was barely standing, swaying from blood loss, exhaustion, the cold air and, even if she didn’t know, a concussion.
“D-Don’t hurt m-me p-p-please,” Hana whimpered, holding back a sob as her ribs started to rub against each other, pain going through her rib cage and chest.
Nick was slowly making his way towards Hana, hoping to stop the girl from hurting herself, from making her injuries any worse, even if he didn’t know the full extent of them. He stopped dead in his tracks when Hana spoke, sounding like she was going to give up on life.
“Hana, I’d never hurt you. You know that,” Nick told her, trying his best to keep her calm.
“It’s okay, Hana, I promise, it’s okay.” Nick whispered taking small steps forward “Come on, Hana, we need to go to the hospital.”
Nick only stopped when Hana violently wrenched herself away from him. Her eyes looking anywhere away from him, Nick knew that he had to take it slowly. He also knew that he couldn’t be too slow, he didn’t want her injuries getting any worse.
“N-No, no, no. Y-You’re just goin-going to hurt me, like St- he does.” Hana stammered her eyes darting around like dragon flies, looking for any form of escape.
Nick stopped moving, he didn’t brother taking another step. Hana needed to go to hospital, that much he was sure of. She had lost a lot of blood and the freezing cold temperature wasn’t helping in the slightest. Also Hana was about to say a name, before she changed it to ‘he’. Was she going to say a family member's name?
“Hana, did your mum or dad do this?” Nick asked, trying not to scare the poor girl any more than she already was.
Hana stopped looking for a way to escape, looking at the older teen for a second, before looking at the ground. On the outside Hana looked calm, but the truth was her thoughts were a jumbled mess.
Her parents would never do this to her, they loved her, just as much as they loved Lila. Her mum was kind and loving. Her dad was fun and protective. Both of them were her idols, along with Lila, in fact, they still are, she looked up to them and wanted to be like them when she had her own kids.
What if she told Nick? Would he rat her out? Tell Steven? Leave her to die? Hurt her like Steven? Or like her bullies? Call her names? Or look at her like she was revolting?
“It w-wasn’t my m-mum or d-dad,” Hana told him, she didn’t look at him, she didn’t want to look at him and not see the kindness in his brown eyes, but hate.
“Then who was it?” Nick asked and after a few minutes of silence, he tried again “Hana, I promise to you, that I won’t harm you or betray you until the day I die. I just want to help.”
“How? Nobody can help, nobody wants to help,” Hana yelled, her arms over her stomach, tears coming down her cheeks.
“I can’t help,” Nick sighed, “If you don’t tell me what happened and who did this to you.”
Hana internally battled with herself, for the next few minutes or seconds. She wasn’t sure if she could trust Nick, but then again the last person she fully trusted was Lila, Anna came close, but that was four years ago.
Maybe, just maybe, Nick could be trusted? That he would help her? Maybe he was telling the truth? It might be better to tell someone? What choice did she have? Maybe Nick could take away the pain? And the fear? Just once, just this once, she might take that risk.
“I-It was m-my fos-foster d-dad, Steven.” Hana chocked out the demon's, the monster's name, more tears coming down her face, as she remembered how he treated her, like an object, something to own. Like she was an animal and not a human being with her own mind and soul.
The tragedy of life is not death, Hana thought, but what we let die inside us while we live.
Nick tried to give Hana an encouraging smile, but sadly, for him anyway, it looked more like a grimace. Nick in most of his eighteen years of living, never wanted to even remotely hurt or kill someone, but, Ethan would agree if he was here, he wanted to hurt and/or kill this ‘Steven’ for what he did to Hana and how he treated her.
“What happened today? What did he do? Why did he do it? It’s okay to tell me Hana, I won’t judge, or I at least won't judge you, anyway.” Nick asked her, hoping he had the girl’s trust.
“I-I don’t k-know, he just a-attacked m-me. I d-don’t know why. I’m sorry, so, so sorry.” Hana sobbed, her whole body shaking from the harsh tears. She didn’t know why she was crying, all she knew was that it felt nice, not to have to hide what she felt, or to keep the tears in.
Hana slipped down the tree, curling into a tight ball and gently started to rock herself, tears fall down her checks and down her neck, with loud, high-pitched wails.
It took Nick a few seconds to gain his composure after Hana’s sudden breakdown. As soon as he was thinking clearly again, he ran over to the fourteen year-old, dropped to his knees and gathered her into his arms.
Hana clung to the older teen, the first person to truly care in four years. It was as if Nick was her lifeline and the only reason she was still breathing right now.
“Shhh. It’ll be okay, Hana, it’ll get better. It always does. I promise. Shhh, it’s okay.” Nick whispered trying to calm her down.
For the next five minutes Hana cried her heart out, all the pain that she had kept hidden for three years. When her tears had tampered out and all that was left were hiccups and sniffles, she looked at Nick, before putting her head on his shoulder.
Nick knew that Hana wasn’t going to say anything, and that the girl was going to be tired, so it was up to him to take the lead.
“Hana, we need to go to the hospital to get you medical attention,” Nick gently helped her to her feet, making sure that she was going to fall over.
All Hana could do was lean against the tall eighteen year-old, unable to walk on her own because the pain, exhaustion and blood loss was finally taking its toll on her body.
Hana couldn’t move as her vision started to blur, and soon afterwards her sense of balance left her. All she could see was the unforgiving blackness, darker than the night sky, and the last thing she heard was someone yelling, “Hana!”