My flat was tiny but it’s all I could afford at the time.Six years of charity work nourished my soul but impacted my bank accountdrastically. The town was trying to re-establish its identity and so wasI.

Buildings were being destroyed and rebuilt, schools were creeping up theleague tables and the local library successfully fought closure. I didn’t caremuch for the provincial town but it grew on me. It helped me forget the bigcity.

I used to listen out for his screams and the sound of sirens but the airwas filled with silence since he was taken from me. I needed to feel lovedagain.  I tried my best to look and soundlike everybody else so they didn’t know I was an outsider and hoped myloneliness went unnoticed by the residents of the town. I made my way downstairs to begin searching around foremployment, but I doubted I would find anything that would fit myqualifications and age, after all it was a small area. So I asked around forany vacancies, anything at all, I was desperate.

After all, I needed to make mynew home bearable because I couldn’t run, not back to my past life, I wastrapped in the shell of my old self trying to break through to be happy. I could see he already had an occupation, I bet it took himmonths to get and I could imagine his relief because coming across a job seemednear impossible. He and his job added a splash of colour to the greynesssurrounding the area, I’d do anything to be him. On hot afternoons, I’d imaginelime trees and the lemons and the pomegranates I could have grown, all whilstgetting on with sweeping the gravel off the path and cutting the grass andclearing the weeds and litter. He noticed me watching, so I rushed past him and he turnedto look at me, giving me a clear picture of the markings on his cheek.

Iimagined what he’d been through but the difference between us was my scars wentunseen. He smiled at me and then looked away and I got an overwhelming feelingof excitement but I wasn’t sure why, so I scurried back up to my flat andforgot about it. That was the last time I saw outside for a very long time.

The next thing I remembered was waking back up. I was tuckedin my bed but everything seemed out of place, almost as if someone else hadbeen in my room. I tried to get up to see what was going on but I was too weakto lift any of my body. My usually comforting bed was now the last place Iwanted to be as fear washed over me because I didn’t know how or why I ended upback in my room. My whole body was sweating as I tried to recall what hadhappened, but my throbbing head ceased me from thinking about anything otherthan the pain.

Every time I moved I was crippled with agony, either from thecallous ropes digging into my frail wrists or the blackened bruises that seemedto cover my whole body. I didn’t know what had happened but I was sure that itwas bad and as soon as these thoughts ran through my head there was anunfamiliar clicking sound coming from outside my door. The adrenaline sunk in then as I acknowledged the shiny newadditions that had been added to my door. Bolts and locks covered the frame andI could hear them being frantically tampered with on the other side of my cage.It was him, the man I had been watching from afar. Relief washed over mebecause he could help me escape this situation and I would be safe. But hedidn’t seem concerned by the state of me, he walked in and sat on my bed, thenslowly slipped a piece of my hair back behind my ear.

I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t helping me but then Ialso couldn’t understand why he was in my apartment, or how he got in for thatmatter. He stayed in my room for what seemed like forever as he declared thathe had been watching me and was falling more in love with me every day we spenttogether. But that’s not how you treat someone you love, you don’t keep themprisoner or force them to spend time with you. I didn’t know what he wastalking about but from what he was saying I knew I had been there a lot longerthan I first thought. I found comfort in the fact that he had feelings for mebecause I could play on it and gain his trust, which is what I did, I justcouldn’t accept being a prisoner in my own home.

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