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Fiction #428
(published April 2, 2009)
Did You Know Her Name?
by Scott Larson
Did you know her name? It has been 22 days since she has seen the light of day. A heavy blanket covers the window. At the edge of the window the sun's rays penetrate tattered red cloth to reveal the blankets inner weave—The room's only sign of beauty.

She is sitting on a mattress stained with sweat, semen and menstrual blood. Her knees are bent, hands clasped around kneecaps, pulling herself deeper inside. Her head rests silent, but not peaceful, between her legs. She has demons in her head. They tell her she is a "worthless piece of shit," that "her only chance of salvation is suicide."

In the beginning the demons' voice was barely audible and not so direct, only a feeling really. The kind you get when taking a test: " I'm not smart enough." The kind you get when applying for a job: "I won't get it." The kind you get before running a race: "I'm not fast enough." With each perceived failure the voices grew louder and the demons became bolder.

She has just shit herself for the first time today. Brown liquid oozes down her inner thighs. Go ahead take a whiff, smell the stench of insanity. Breath deep—feel your abdomen expand, lungs push against ribs, bone against spongy balloon. Know that this is life.

Before the voices grew too tempting, she locked herself in this small room in an abandoned building. She had tried to save herself, but the demons voices became her own.

Her head is pounding and the pressure is unbearable. The room begins to liquefy. The chair in the corner becomes part of the wall. . . she looks up to see her foot sink in to the floor. Out of the corner of her eye she sees dim light. With hope she crashes through the window. . .

She falls with the winter's sun on her back. The sudden drop has flushed the demons from her head and replaced them with the past.

She is standing at the top of a snow-covered mountain between her mother and father—a tear rests on her cheek. The slope is steeper than anything she's ever skied.

"Daddy I'm scared. I can't do it."

"Do you want to do it?"


"Sweetheart, you can do anything that you put your mind to."

With her legs shaking and a deep breath, she hesitantly poles off from the top. Gravity propels her down the mountain at an incredible speed. She carves huge sweeping turns. She laughs uncontrollably.

Never before or since, until now with the pavement at arms length, has Susan felt so free and at peace.

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