“A Letter From The Grave” by Francesca Taylor


I remember how cold I was, how scared. My eyes opened slowly, heavy from whatever drugs you had poisoned me with. Damp, dark and freezing; those are the words I used to describe the stone room I awoke in. You were not there when I woke up, though, it was just me and my thoughts.

Relief poured through my tired body when I heard footsteps; I should have known they would be yours.

Before the first girl arrived, I was lonely and scared, in constant fear of what you would do when you came in next. You never spoke, just watched as I ate, as I drank, as I cried. You watched with a confused expression on your face as if you had never seen a real human before. It scared me.

The First Girl

You always picked the pretty ones. The first girl to arrive after me was Robyn, black hair swinging as she fought you; punching, kicking, scratching and scraping. Until you injected her with something, and she fell to the floor like a rag doll her head cracking painfully on the concrete.

I remember being mesmerised by her clear, pale skin; her black hair and plump lips. It made me feel worthless with my bruises and flat, brown hair.

She arose angry, cursing at you again and again until her voice cracked.

She wouldn’t speak to me though. She just sat and stared, analysing. It wasn’t until she saw the littering of bruises on my skin that she started to warm to me.

It was the next day that she finally conversed with me, her voice dry and cracked – yet she’d refuse to drink any water. “I’m not touching anything that that creep gives us,” She would say, determined, “I’d rather die.”

The next day she guzzled the whole bottle of water in one sitting.

The Second Girl

Abbey was next, her arrival like a kick to the throat. I remember looking at her school uniform and clenching my fists so hard that my nails broke the skin.

She was still drugged as you yanked her through the large metal door, murmuring nonsense into your empty chest. Robyn, who was much braver than me, lunged at you. You dropped the young girl on the floor to backhand Robyn around the face. This was the first time you ever hit one of us.

Abbey cried a lot that day, wet, incurable sobs that racked through her tiny frame. It felt good to comfort someone.

We didn’t eat until Robyn went to her knees to apologise.

The Third Girl

Lily was next. Beautiful of course, and scarred – jagged lines marking from wrist to elbow. Robyn didn’t fight this time; her punishment was still too vivid, the memory of you in her mouth too rich. Witnessing the limp woman, dropped like trash at her feet, made Abbey cry again.

You wrinkled your nose. “Don’t cry,” You said, “It’s ugly.”

I hated you for that.

I knew immediately that Lily would be a good addition to the group – she wouldn’t be broken so easily. It was obvious that she’d experienced trauma in the past, not just because of the scars, but because of how she handled the terrifying situation she was in. Immediately she knew who needed comfort and who needed space. Lily was the light in the dark for me, and I clung to her.

Lily, Robyn, Abbey and I would plan our escape. We’d talk about knocking you over the head with our food bowls and running. One time you heard our conversation.

In punishment you beat each of us with your belt, one after the other, until we were all passed out from the pain.

The Last Girl

A long time passed before you brought Leah to us. Twelve lurid days of never knowing what minor offence would issue one of us to our knees – of stale bread and peeing in a bucket.

Leah was different to the rest of us. I knew it as soon as she came around, when she took one look at us with an upturned nose and purposefully scooted away. It was as if we were the enemy.

From then on she ignored us. It was only when punishment time came around that she would speak up. Had to make sure you knew how good she was. How bad we were. She genuinely thought she was clever, the stupid bitch. Leah always underestimated you.

I’d like to say I hated her, but I didn’t have the energy.

The Calm before the Storm

I wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for the other girls. That’s one thing I can thank you for. Lily and I were so close. I’d never had a friend as perfect as her before. Abbey spent most of her time crying, the poor thing; as we talked, Robyn comforted, and Leah picked at her previously manicured nails.

We talked about home, about family, about pets. We talked about what we were going to do when we got out of here – although I think we all knew that we never would.

We didn’t deserve this.


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