Trigger warning: abuse
Suzanne was not feeling well, she dragged her body out of bed battling against every fibre of her being that wanted to pull the blankets over her head and stay there warm and protected all day. She forced herself to shower and dress hoping it would make her feel better but it did not. Her head ached and she felt queasy, just get the essentials you need from the shop then you can come home and put your feet up she told herself in an effort to keep motivated. Suzanne picked up her keys and purse and forced herself, one small step at a time, out of her flat.
The elevator was slow as usual, Suzanne lent on the cool metal door while she waiting for it to arrive at her floor. She repeatedly pressed the button and finally she heard it creak and groan its way up to her floor. To her relief, when the door opened the lift was empty. She didn’t have to force a conversation with anyone, she really didn’t feel up to it today.
The lift chugged and spluttered its way down like an old long forgotten steam engine when suddenly with a jolt it ground to a halt. Great thought Suzanne that’s all I need. She pressed the emergency button “Hello, the lift is stuck, can you get me out?” she slumped heavily to the floor to wait it out. A sharp pain cramped her stomach. She rubbed it gently with her hand. Please go away, please go away she chanted to herself. Unfortunately, it started to get worse. She shuffled uncomfortably to her feet and pressed the button again “Please come soon” she begged the disembodied voice at the end of the line.
The searing pain tore through Suzanne`s body, her face twisted in anguish and torment. She tried to slow her breathing down and control her impulse to scream out loud. How much longer? How much longer could she cope with this torture? Suzanne remembered hearing somewhere that if you take your mind to another place you can block out the physical pain in the body. Her head was swimming with thoughts, back to her childhood, she was at school again. Sat alone in the grey, cold yard, fighting back the tears as the other children made fun of her and told her nobody liked her. “Not even your mum liked you, she gave you up to the children`s home”. Those words cut her like a knife and played over and over again in her mind, she guessed it was true, her mother hadn’t wanted her. She had spent the first eight years of her childhood in the home. Her wish all through primary school was to have one friend, and for this friend to invite her for tea at their home so she could see how it felt to be part of a family. It never happened.
She gasped as the piercing pain made her whole body involuntary spasm, the sweat ran off her brow in huge droplets, it couldn’t be much longer now. Suzanne was drifting in and out of consciousness, in her mind she was with her first foster parents. “Suzanne, get here what have you done?” Suzanne could hear Ted `s voice bellowing at her, “I`m sorry Ted, I couldn’t help it.” Ted would tower over her and shout in her face prodding his fat finger into her chest. “You are useless Suzanne, worth nothing” he would say over and over again, then he would grab her, shake her and punch her. The physical pain she could deal with she was used to it, but the words haunted her all through her life.
Her breathing was so shallow and rapid now, Suzanne was close to delirious, the lift was spinning, she tried to look at one spot on the wall but she couldn’t focus, she closed her eyes instead. This time she was in her first job, she had thought after leaving school she would have a fresh start, meet new people and make friends. The last two years of high school these thoughts were the only thing that got her through. The day she started work Suzanne had felt positive, a fresh start, her life could finally begin. However, Suzanne was awkward around people she had never had a friend; she didn’t know what to talk about. She would take a book to work and sit alone at lunch. The women looked at her with a mixture of pity and bemusement and the men just looked through her as though she wasn’t there. Still, she was used to being alone and there was no-one taunting her, so she quietly got on with her work as the months passed. One day the senior staff at the office had moved the desks around and had a bit of a refurbishment, Suzanne was in the toilet in the cubical when she heard three of the women talking “Great, now I have to sit next to the office freak” one of them whined, “Poor you, can you not move your desk to the side so that your back is to her?” another advised. “She is such a boring sap”. The third agreed. Suzanne waited in the cubical until she was sure they had left, dried her eyes on the rough toilet tissue, took a deep breath and walked back into the office.
The pain was unbearable now, Suzanne could not stop the scream that escaped from her mouth, she tried to move into a more comfortable position, but wave upon wave of intolerable agony wracked her whole body. The lift door finally opened, Suzanne saw a blur of colours and movement as people rushed to help her. She felt an excruciating stabbing feeling like her insides had been ripped apart, then nothing… Peace… Soon after she felt a glow, she was calm and still, the pain had gone.
“You have a beautiful baby girl, have you got a name?” The paramedic handed her a tiny, wrinkled looking bundle and she looked deep into her daughters’ eyes. “Hope” she said, because for the first time in Suzanne’s whole life she felt she had hope, a future.