Dear reader, what would you have done if you were in my situation: trapped, held back from help, forced to do things you don't want to do, enduring this everyday. Imagine being surrounded by seven teenagers from your class in a dead end corner, no one catching sight of the fact that you're in danger. That plus the fact that the entire population of your classroom knows you're being hurt, but they're just there, sitting in the background, doing nothing.
I think you'll be going crazy.
As I think I am.
I finally reach my home, a condo with a swimming pool in the grounds. The place is nice, peaceful, and affordable for middle-class people like my mom, who works as the secretary for the CEO of a company that sold home products.
But I can't see it in a really bright way.
I took the stairs to my home because if I used the elevator, and run into one of my neighbors, who, thanks to the friendliness of my mom, would recognize me being all messy and dirty, might alert her. Something I'd like to avoid.
My school life is not something I'd like to tell my mom and stepfather. For various reasons, the main one being that I want to be able to protect myself.
The door was unlocked when I got to my apartment, and entered.
Sitting on the couch with a workbook was my stepsister, Kaitlin.
She and Finn both are aware of my daily school misadventures, though.
So when she saw me covered in gunk and smelling of rotting food, as well as bruises and cuts on my arms, she sprang up.
"Oh, my god, Elisa, you were attacked again?" she gasped. "We have to tell Mom and Dad now!"
"I'm fine," I said as I stalked past her towards the bathroom. 'We've had this discussion a million times, Kaitlin, so don't try to stop me."
Kaitlin reluctantly let me pass her. I ran into my room, threw off my shoes and emptied my pack; Lukas has a sharp nose, and if he caught the scent of rubbish from my pack on my way to school in the morning, I might have to lie - and Lukas is a detective, which doesn't suit me. After emptying the pack, I hurried to the washing machine, throwing the pack and my shoes. As if to help me, Kaitlin threw a lot of washing detergent in and got it working while ordering me to the bathroom.
I did, and once inside, I turned on the tap for the bathtub. I didn't notice my hands were shaking until they slipped on the tap. I slowed down at that.
My mom, Corinne Rider, is a kind-hearted person; the things I go through at school would be something she won't be able to comprehend, it would shock her badly. That was another reason I don't let anyone know what I go through.
Because I'm weak. I depend on my parents too much. That's the way I've always been.
I have to be strong, bite my lip, hold the tears, stay tough.
No one has to know.
Okay, maybe except Finn and Kaitlin, but I really can't let them tell Mom and Lukas. But since Mom remarried Lukas, my school life has gotten slightly better - only when I'm able to meet Finn and Kaitlin, which is rare, because they just happened to be a year older than me.
I had gotten a couple of bruises and cuts from the Black Gang. I would be happier to say that they've only gone as far as beating me till I could stand properly, filling my head with plenty of insults, but it's worse than that.
Sitting in the bathtub with only underwear on because I didn't feel uncomfortable stripping all the way, I pulled myself into a crouch, hugging my knees.
I"d been raped.
And this is . . . I don't know how many times it's been already, though.
I felt tears threaten to pour, and fell backwards into the tub, going under the water.
Trying to stay under for a minute or two.
Which, actually, is impossible. Because the best I could do in swimming is paddle.
Yes, I want to drown myself. I could die, and my uneventful life would all be over.
A bang came on the door, and I jolted up, grabbing the edge of the porcelain side, then dragged myself up to the surface of the water, gasping hard for air.
"Elisa? Hand me your clothes, I'll do your laundry," Kaitlin's voice called. "Hey, Elisa?"
I coughed once, then held back on another one, clearing my throat as I scooped up my clothes and opened the door to see Kaitlin's face, pale in the corridor's light.
"You took a while to answer," she said, taking my clothes. "And you're still in your underwear."
"Yeah, I'll wash them myself later. Sorry, I was spaced out."
"Okay," said Kaitlin, managing a small smile.
When she was gone, and I shut the door after her, I turned and pulled the drain plug. I should shower instead of sit in the bathtub; I might feel like killing myself again.