To a Novel by Shanel Greene
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Now, picture an alley. Picture an alley so deep and so dark that no one would ever see anything happening in it. Someone committing a crime.
This is where it happened. Where Elaine Armaud lost her dignity and gained a problem. This is also where she riddled herself with these problems.
It was a dark night due to the moonless sky and the grayness of the clouds. Shadows were hidden on this night and one particular shadow was hidden very well. This was the shadow that Elaine didn’t see.
After disobeying her parents and staying out an extra hour past her curfew, 15-year old Elaine was making her way home when she noticed a man sitting on a bench in the park, watching her. Feeling frightened Elaine stared ahead and took occasional, furtive glances at the man. He seemed troubled, for he was. He felt an urge inside of him, a desire or a lust. Something that Elaine was totally oblivious to.
The man, watching her intently, rose from the bench and walked toward the sidewalk where Elaine was walking. When she glanced at the bench, she noticed that there was nobody sitting there. Elaine was then afraid that she was dealing with an apparition.
The man kept a slow gait, walking as if he belonged nowhere, as if his entire life meant nothing to him. He saw the reflection of the golden hair atop the girl’s head and an image, a mere memory flickered inside his head and as quickly as it came, it disappeared.
The man with the unnaturally slow gait saw that the reflection was becoming dimmer and sped up. He couldn’t lose his angel.
Elaine slowed her pace and drew in a steadying breath. The figure, she convinced herself, was either her imagination or a man that had gotten up and left. She stopped briefly, adjusted her ponytail, and tried to devise a way to sneak back into her house without her parents knowing. If only there was someone there to tell that poor child that she’d made a mistake. To tell her that she should’ve obeyed the rules. For every crime, there is a punishment.
She felt a callused hand brush her forearm, causing her to jump and turn around. She recognized the figure, but not the face. She saw the outline of the face of a man gone weary form years of tribulations and hard work. He spoke, but she did not understand. His words were slurred, his voice low and gruff.
“Excuse me?” she asked, feeling more sympathy than fear. This man, with his tribulations, had decided to indulge himself with alcohol in a desperate attempt to drown them.
“I said, what’re you doin’?” He repeated, leaning in close enough for her to smell the alcohol on his breath. She drew back form him.
“I’m on my way home. Sir, are you alright?”
The man folded his arms.
“Yeah, I’m fine. What’re you doin’ outere s’late?”
Elaine, stubborn in her own ways, looked away.
“I don’t think that that’s any of your business,” She declared. The man stared down at her, his shoulders at least a foot above her head. He absent-mindedly reached out and touched her hair. Elaine drew away again.
“Sorry, but you got pretty hair. Real pretty.”
Another memory flickered.
Elaine held up her hands defensively. “I’m going to be gong now. It’s kind of late.”
She turned to go but the man grabbed her elbow. He pulled her back to him and whispered a slight, “Don’t go,” in her ear.
Elaine tugged but she could not release the man’s grasp.
“Let me go!” she yelled, but no one was around in this small neighborhood on this one particular night but the stranger and the child.
He grabbed her other arm, the one that was causing such a pain in his chest with its consistent drumming. He pulled her close to him and stared deep into her eyes, his like the hollowness of his soul and equivalent to the darkness of night. Glinting with anger, they shone with every vengeful word that he spoke: “ You won’t succeed in running this time, Debra. You ran the last time. You left me, left me here to rot away on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. I knew you’d return, eventually.”
Hot tears began to form in Elaine’s eyes as she wished that she could escape, but no wish came true. She tried her best to plant her feet into the sidewalk so he couldn’t move her, but his rage was building up strength in him. Strength enough to drag her into the alley behind, where he defiled her very being and robbed her of every ounce of dignity that she had ever owned. She knew that she would never be herself again; she wasn’t even sure if she ever wanted to live, but she did.
When she awoke, bright white lights shone into her eyes and an electric pulse shocked her body. She smelled rubbing alcohol and heard a monitor. She knew where she was. From the white walls to the crisp white sown that she wore, she instantly knew exactly where she was. A hospital room. It shocked her even more that the slow, constant beeping sound being emitted from the heart monitor was monitoring her heart.
There was a doctor standing over her with a clipboard in his hands. He was balding, she could see, and his soft brown eyes seemed to soothe her.
“You’re awake,” he confirmed. She yawned and blinked once more.
“How are you feeling?” The doctor asked, his expression changing to worry.
Elaine tried to sit “fine” but her mouth would not form the word. She tried to lift her hands, but the pain that shot through them was almost unbearable. There were bands across her wrists that looked fresh as it they were just replaced and another band, she could feel, across her abdomen. She remembered all too well shy those bans were there and wished that she could erase all that memory for good. The man was all that her min could conjure up. She didn’t know a name and she remembered a silhouette of his face, but it was his voice that she mostly remembered, and those same lifeless green eyes. The light seemed to shine only on those eyes and the rigid look of his face. She remembered what he did to her and what he said to her and how he left her there…
“It seems as if your attacker wanted you to die, Elaine,” the doctor said, interrupting her thoughts but nearly reading her mind. She gave herself another look over. She knew that her attacker wanted her to die when he took her wrist and slit it, watching the blood flow as if he enjoyed it. She’d never understand why he chose her to attack or why he’d called her Debra repeatedly. She’d thought that he was drunk but it was obvious that he had mental problems to coincide with his alcoholism.
“Yeah, seems so,” she responded dryly, her throat aching.
The doctor’s eyes came together. “Human willpower can overcome almost anything. What exactly can you remember about him and what he did to you?”
The same tears that she felt in her eyes when he grabbed her reappeared as her memory gave her a playback of what had happened. She didn’t want to relive it, not now, not ever. The doctor realized that the trauma still affected her greatly and patted her lightly on the foot.
“You can refrain from answering that one,” he reassured, and she nodded. A sharp pain flew down her spine and she winced, and closed her eyes. She flew them open again. The man seemed to live behind her eyelids and sprang out at the same moment she decided to close them. She could not live without knowing what he did to her. And those same eyes haunted her everywhere she looked. From the way everything seemed she would never be able to trust again.
After a few weeks rehabilitating, Elaine needed to return to the hospital again, but not for what she expected.
“Elaine, you’re back again,” said the same doctor from that day, that very day when her life shattered into pieces. He’d been assigned especially to her by her parents to monitor her recovery and she’d been doing well, up until this moment.
“Yes I am doctor. Why did you insist on me coming back?”
The doctor’s receding hair had now become fuller, a sign that he’d been using a hair growth regimen to try to beat his genes. He flipped through some files and glanced up at her occasionally, nervously. She couldn’t help the uneasy feeling that had swept over her now fragile body. There were nights that she’d refused to eat because of the hurt that she felt inside and sometimes she would stay in her room reading, writing or refusing to see the outside world.
“Well, you had an incident a few weeks ago, correct?”
Elaine turned away. The thought of the “incident” still haunted her mind fiercely.
The doctor ruffled through some more papers.
“There is something that is a result of your injury. A result of your attack.”
Elaine’s throat squeezed as she placed one thin, pale hand to her throat. She forced one word out of her mouth.
“No.” Was all that she could manage as she looked into the doctor’s eyes. The eyes that once somehow manage to soothe her in her time of need were now blank, no expression in them at all.
“You’re pregnant, Ms. Armaud.”
The words escaped his mouth like smoke to her lungs, clogging them an causing her to cough, clouding her eyes, burning her nostrils and sending her head whirling, trying to comprehend that one word. Pregnant? She couldn’t be.
“I’m pregnant? But I’m only fifteen years old! I can’t have a baby!”
The doctor nodded, agreeing with her.
“I am aware of that and we were considering an abortion, but…”
“But what?” Elaine interrupted. The doctor rose out of his chair and walked around behind Elaine with his arms folded.
“Um…your parents don’t want it. They would rather if you became a surrogate mother of some sort. You know, give the baby up for adoption.”
Elaine felt daze and confused.
The doctor shrugged his shoulders. “Your mother was very against the thought of you killing such a valuable creature and her decision kind of…stands.”
Elaine’s hands fell limp to her sides. She wanted to stand up and face the doctor but she couldn’t make her legs work. Her face grew extra pale and again she felt the urge to cry. How could her life have possibly changed from fine to devastating in just a matter of a few short weeks? It wasn’t something that she wanted: life. When she’d seen people on news reports wanting to commit suicide, she’d never understood why. But it dawned on her no matter how depressing her life had become, she still cherished that she had it.
“And what do you think of this proposition? Look at me? Do you think that I could handle it?
He frowned. “I’m not so sure yet, nut you look as if you could and your parents’ decisions do kind of overrule yours. Don’t worry.”
Don’t worry, was not enough to comfort the convulsing of her body and the feeling that she would break into pieces at just one touch.
“I’m scared,” she finally confessed to the doctor. He nodded again. “I know.”
A year later, it was time for Elaine to say good-bye to her three-month old son. She’d named him Tray. Trayton Xavier Armaud, but she knew that the name would not last. He wouldn’t carry the family name of Armaud, but she did know that the people taking him loved his first name so much that they decided to keep it. His name would be changed to Trayton Xavier Young.
She looked at the little boy dressed in blue denim overalls that covered his feet and a soft, white cotton shirt. She touched his face. He was beautiful. He was small and a little baby face that was sooth with every touch. His black hair, she hoped, came from her father; fell soft nearly around his eyes. He was asleep now and a part of Elaine was relieved. He had the same green eyes that haunted her every time she closed her eyes to go to sleep. That was the only thing that she didn’t want him to get, but even though he had them, she didn’t see the same hate in his eyes that was equivalent to the hate behind her eyelids.
She saw her son and he was looking up at his mother. No matter where he went, he’d always have an image of her locked away into that tiny brain of his that would soon expand with great knowledge.
The door opened behind her and a young couple entered: a short, slim brunette and a tall, lanky, dark-haired man. They looked at the little boy, sleeping away in his bassinet and the woman turned her focus to Elaine. She held out her hand.
“Hi, I’m Naela Young and this is my husband Nathaniel. We’re the Youngs and you must be…Elaine.
Elaine nodded and shook the woman’s hand, then she directed her eyes over to her husband, and Elaine could sense what she was saying to him, just by looking into his eyes.
“I’m sixteen and yes, this is my child.”
The woman, slightly startled, returned her focus to Elaine.
“I heard your story but I had no idea that you looked so young and so fragile. My heart is tearing just to know what I came here to do. Honey, you need this child.
Elaine shook her head.
“Look at me! I’m in no shape to be a parent. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I want you two to be happy. I’m quite young and I wouldn’t be able to provide him with whatever he needs. He’s a good boy…doesn’t cry in the night anymore and he IS an eater. That’s how I know that he’s going to be tall. He’s--beautiful.”
The woman held her hand and forced back tears.
“Honey, if we can convince you or your family to…”
Elaine shook her head again.
She lifted Tray up out of the bassinet and put her lips to his chest where she could feel his small heart beating.
“Present from Mommy to remember me by,” was all that she said and handed him over to Naela. Naela reluctantly took him and she stared at Elaine, then at her husband.
“You know, Elaine, you’re a wonderful person. You will get a reward for this great sacrifice.”
Elaine managed a weak smile and stroked Trayton’s back.
“Do me one justice,” she pleaded. “Do not let him know about me or how he came to be. I want him to be happy, forever.”
Naela leaned forward and gave Elaine a tight hug.
“Anything. You’re a brave girl to…still want this baby after what happened, but the only difference is his black hair to your blonde mane and his green eyes. He is a little replica of you.”
Elaine’s lip trembled and she tried to promise herself that she was not going to cry, but that was a promise that she figured was okay to break. She was losing her baby, her son, her flesh and blood. If there were any mother that had to give up her child, she would probably feel the same way.
Mother. The word stuck her as comfortable, even though she was only sixteen years old. She’d had a tutor during her pregnancy and was scheduled to return to school tomorrow, which meant that she had to face lots of sympathy and sorrow and of course, being a high school, the occasional rumor.
“So, I guess that we’ll be going now,” Mr. Young spoke up, his face hardened as if the emotional scene had gotten to him too.
“Yeah, just work everything out with my parents downstairs but I think that I’m going to stay u p here a bit…”
“…To yourself,” Naela finished. She gave Elaine one final squeeze, rubbed Trayton’s eyes opened and stared at her. His fingers jerked as if trying to wave and they disappeared down the stairs. The last she saw of him was when she went to the balcony and looked down. She watched them drive until the trees hid them. Then, she felt her heart wrench and her stomach lurch, sending her dashing to the bathroom. There, tears uncontrollably rolled down her cheeks and she broke down.