Girl in the White Dress – Part 6
By Kerry Xiong
This is a trigger warning for trauma-survivors and persons who are sensitive to domestic violence/abuse details. Please refrain from reading the following article if you identify with these items. The following is intended for entertainment purposes only. Readers’ discretion is advised.
Mary felt the car jerk at several beats to a stop before gleaming red lights, then zoom harshly once the light radiated green. Her breath caught. Light posts, she reasoned. They were on a little road now, no longer on the highway. Mary swallowed dryly as she tried with all the strength she could gather to hoist herself up from her supine position. The jagged zip ties carved at her wrists in fast sharp slices as she moved. She refrained at once. Moving so slightly, she noticed the soft texture of the seat beneath her. It was soft, like velvet. Not leather? She bit back a gasp. She was no longer in the same car? Before her was a driver no longer bearing the familiar scent of Tom, and in the passengers seat, empty. Craning her neck to survey herself. Her heart lunged as her stomach twisted in a knot. Her tunic from that evening had been swapped with a white silk gown, the kind that prestigious woman only wear to bed. What exactly was going on?
Mary craned her neck slightly to allow herself to see out the window above her head. The car was in steady motion, she could see that they were going somewhere… downtown. Street lights stood bright and tall beside office buildings of glass composition. A few chaotic looking houses sprinkled beside larger buildings. Mary could see that the farther they traveled, the shabbier the surroundings became. She wondered optimistically if by any off chance was this stranger taking her somewhere safe, trying to calm herself. But she wiped away the thought, as the situation became more and more real. This was not a nightmare
She felt a slithering acidic burn crawling at the back of her throat. The slinking scorching sensation slithered down her esophagus and emptied into her stomach. She contemplated the possibility that she’d been drugged. Her head was hazy and she couldn’t recall much of what just happened, nor did she know how much time had passed. All she knew was that Tom was behind this. She also knew that she had to get out of this alive, not only for her but for her unborn child. She had to fight this. Mary suddenly heaved at once, her chest cavity seizing ferociously in a large hiccup, apparently warding off the backward flow of the sour spew climbing up her esophagus. Her breathing hastened; she wanted to hurl right then and there. She held her breath to keep the sensation down. But her chest seized again. And again. Heightening her nausea two-fold, three-folds. Had she really been poisoned? Her cheeks went warm. She could feel thick beads of sweat forming at her temples and trickling down to her hairline. It suddenly became very hot. She was overheating; she felt as though a thick heavy cloud of smog hovered over her just then and thwarting her ability to breath.
“Mary!” She heard Tom say from the driver’s seat. The car abruptly screeched to a sharp break. Mary partly fell off her seat, her body lying crookedly now in the back of the car. The door at her feet swiftly opened sending a surge of fresh night air into the back of the car. Her toes curled at the chill of it as she lay awkwardly there. Tom hurled over her crooked body and grasped her by the arms at once holding her against his chest in a difficult embrace. Mary was startled by the shakiness in his grasp. She could feel the warmth of his breath on the side of her neck.
“Tom,” Mary whispered. “Untie me, Tom,” she pleaded. She tried to lock gazes with him, but he refused to meet her eyes. A hint of shame and guilt crept on his countenance. His lips quivered unstoppably and he looked like he was about to burst into tears.
“This was not supposed to happen, Mary. This, this is all wrong.” He began to sob silently.
“Tom, Tom.” She tried for his attention. “Tom,” she said with more force. “My wrists are burning in pain, please cut off the zip ties and we’ll talk this through. C’mon, please.” Her breath was coarse and a pulse shuddered the side of her throat, but she swallowed hard to conceal her fear. She’d kick him off of her the moment she got free and make a run for it. Though she was barefoot, she’d creep down a dark alley or run towards other humans on the street and beg for their help. Anything to get out of this rut that she was in.
Tom took a pocket knife from his back jean pocket and crouched behind her to slash the blood sopping plastic tie from around her purple wrists. To her dismay, Tom’s weight atop her body was much to heavy for her to kick off.
“I’m sorry,” Tom said still hovering over her. His body went limp. In the flash of light that momentarily flooded their direction from a passing car, Mary saw the glint of blood at the corner of his mouth and a drizzle squiggling down the side of his forehead. Mary instinctively reached out to cup his face and head, brushing her thumb over the wounds. “Tell me, what happened.” Though her head had not stopped spinning, she recognized that she was playing on his emotions now. Tom couldn’t be trusted now. Of course not. But this seemed the only possible way for her to get out of this alive. Luckily, it worked. Tom could only sob; he was speechless. She had never seen a man cry so hard.
She comforted him gently, rubbing her soft hands on his dark thick hair. He trembled in her grasp, and she couldn’t recall how she was supposed to feel about him. Mad? Angry? Disgusted? Or in love? But her heart raced and pounded all the same. That was just the power Tom had over her. She knew deep inside of her that he had her wrapped around his little finger and she’d bend at his every outlaid emotion. That was certainly not different than how Tom had seduced her in the past. Not that she had minded either.
“Tom,” she whispered, trying to coax him. “Let’s get out of here.”
Within seconds, Mary found herself in the front seat, Tom in the driver’s, and they rode away. Driving seemed to calm Tom’s nerves. Mary cajoled him to tell her about the incident. “Why had I been tied up the way I was?” Mary interrogated.
Tom went on about his plan with Kat, the peachy-lipped woman. She was not his cousin, but was merely an acquaintance. When hearing about Tom’s woes, she’d claimed she’d “take care of it” if only Tom would show her who Mary was. Tom trusted her, until things went awry with the plan.
Tom hesitated for a bit. Mary tried to keep a composed expression and said, “What plan?”
“She insisted I leave you at a whore house. That was the only way I’d get out of…”
“Of what, Tom? Say it.”
“Mary,” Tom said, “You of all people know that I don’t have a good relationship with my dad. He’d kill me if he knew we’d been together. Worst of all he’d…”
“He’d what?” Mary asked without hesitation. She could have finished his sentence for him but she didn’t want to know that she’d be right.
“Worst of all, he’d force us to marry.” Tom didn’t look at her. “Because that’d be the right thing to do.”
Tears burned Mary’s eyes. She wanted to stop the car and jump out right there so that she wouldn’t have to feel this pang of hurt and rejection.
“T-Tom.” She bit back a deep cry. “You were afraid of marrying me?”
“You know I’m not ready for that Mary and I, I still have college ahead of me. My older brothers are married with kids, and you know what I mean, they live their lives like hell. Do you want that for me too?”
“They don’t live their lives like hell, Tom, it’s just you who thinks their lives are like hell!” Mary shouted, her temper not restrained. “Tom, if you didn’t want to marry me…” she broke off, a hand at her chest, letting out a choking sob as she murmured, “If you didn’t want to marry me then why didn’t you just break up with me?” Her voice was softer now as her breath caught in regret and deep sorrow. She took deep, loud breaths, and sobbed like a deranged person for some seconds longer than her lungs had the capacity to pause, before taking another loud inhale in a sob.
“I didn’t want to see you like this.”
“But seeing me tied up in the back of a car is palatable?” Mary retorted.
“You know I care for you, but I…”
“You care for me? You care for me?” Mary laughed hysterically now her sorrow apparently diminished. “The least you could do was communicate the message instead of standing me up and then kidnapping me!”
Tom bit his lip appearing irritated. Tom’s foot pounded on the breaks at once sending them both to an abrupt jerk as the car stopped in the middle of the open road. They were on the side of the hill now, only a few miles away from the downtown area where they’d been merely miles ago. There were no street lights nor lamp posts here. From where she stood, she could see the lights that were previously flooding the streets just miles ago. It shone in the short distance to the left of her with sparkle and pizzazz, one could really get lost in the appearance of it.
Tom stormed out of the car taking giant, marching strides. “What do you want me to say, Mary?” His voice trailed after him. “Hi Mary. I’m sorry but I just needed you for the summer and now it’s time to say goodbye, so bye forever!” Tom turned around to face Mary, straggling behind him. “What did you expect me to do?!”
“Undo what you did! Undo what you did! Can you do that?” Mary cried. “If not, then why don’t you just grow up and be a man! Take responsibility for what you…” Before she could finish, she’d felt Tom’s hand swipe over her right cheek in a hard, sweeping blow, sending her to the ground. Tears soaked her cheeks as she exclaimed out loud, crying like a baby. “Tom!!” She yelled. “You bastard. Don’t you know I’m pregnant with your child?!” she blurted as if hoping to soften him.
Tom’s eyes only widened, but she wasn’t sure if it was due to his shock or fear, or both. He approached her; her shoulders shuddered from crying. Her hair was tangled, her bun loose and unkempt.
“Take me home,” she heard herself say as she peered into his grey eyes. “Take me home now and we can forget about all of this.” His expression was cold and unforgiving, as if she’d wronged him. He showed no emotion of excitement or thrill.
“Tom?” Mary tried to cajole. “Tom, take me home, Tom.” Mary felt the wind knocked out of her lungs as her stomach caved against her spine. Tom’s large balled fist had socked her right in the belly. And then again and again, he repeated. Mary felt a warm trickle of wetness escaping her groin and coming down her thighs, soaking her white silk gown. She didn’t have time to think, cry out for help, nor struggle away. She merely caught her breath at the realization of what was happening. In a cruel way, Tom was undoing was he’d done.
Stay tuned for Part 7 in the next issue of Hmong Times.