Nov 14, 2006

1st page of my novel

In the Silent Darkness

January 1977
Suspended in a hazy place in time, eyelids heavy as the morning fog over the bay, senses not quite awake, the young girl stirred. Far from her comfortable warm bed, her bare
foot scraped along a dirt floor. A damp, penetrating cold surrounded her, creeping
deep into her bones.

Her mind searched in those last frantic moments before waking. What’s going on
here? Rubbing her eyes and moving around as she did most mornings, she found
things were wrong. All wrong, in fact.

Her sheets must have come off in the night. Moaning, with her first tenative
movements, she fumbled for the blankets to cover her ice-cold arms. Finding none
puzzled her only to a degree. As she shifted, every muscle cried out as if she fought
evil spirits in her sleep. Perplexed at the dirt collecting under her fingernails, her
eyes fluttered open again trying harder to shake the morning cobwebs loose.

Then, a feeling of dread flooded her heart. Piecing together fragments of the previous
day brought some clarity to her morning horror. She was not tucked safely in her bed having a nightmare. Oh God. It’s not my imagination. I’m really awake. It wasn’t a

Panic, oh I can’t panic. What do I do now? What mother could lock their eleven-year-
old in the cellar? Why? Why me? Am I really so horrid? Does anyone know I am here? When will she let me out? Wont they miss me at school?
Oh God, please let this be over soon.
I’m afraid.

Tripping and fumbling many times in the darkness, not a speck of light to guide her,
she half-walked, half-crawled along the rough cement wall to connecting wall of the
single car garage. In less than a moment, her elation over finding the rough, wooden doorway in her dark hell-hole, was replaced. A hurried examination of the padlocked
door found it secure as expected.

Turning around she’d almost stumbled over the bottom stair leading up to the kitchen.
No chance she’d get out that route. She’d heard the lock engage last night. Right then, a biting cold set in every muscle and joint as if the warmth had been sucked up the stairs with Kathryn’s final slam of the door.

Still the optimist, she’d crept toward the steps several times, only to stop on the first or second step, gasping for air, fear causing her to hyperventilate. The only other way out, through a side door, seemed miles away. Not a sliver of light illuminated her path to freedom.

Shoving, kicking and pulling at the door proved fruitless. It had been blocked. Always thorough, her mother, Kathryn left nothing to chance. Unable to escape, Beth shifted
her focus to lighting up her private hellhole.

Finding the string to the only light in absolute darkness had been an achievement.
Oh thank God. Light. The devastation nearly knocked her over when the peaceful
yellow glow didn’t appear. Feeling around on her tiptoes she’d discovered the bulb
missing. You rotten bitch!
Each frantic beat of her heart pulsed above her right brow. Ker-thump.

Tears welled up in her eyes. Struggling to control her emotions she let her mind
travel back to the last few words her mother screamed at her in those brief seconds
before slamming the door.
“I will not have a common criminal living in my house!”
“But… but…”
“Criminals regularly served time in dungeons. I sentence you to the dungeon.
Remove your clothing. Everything but your panties and tee shirt.”

Sobbing uncontrollably she’d stripped down to her underclothes. For the first hour
she’d thought her mother would break down. No, not in Kathryn's world. She would
open the door when she was good and ready and not before. After waiting for her mother for what seemed like hours, Beth gave up waiting, she slumped down on the ground,
began talking to herself and ended up crying herself to sleep.

No. Kathryn had been deadly serious. She’d carefully laid out rules for Beth as the
resident criminal: Absolutely no noise, no attempts to escape and of course, Bethcould never mention this “punishment” to a living soul.

Beth knew trying anything would yield nothing but serious regret. For now, with no
plan to escape, and no idea how long she would be imprisoned in a darkness deeper than midnight, her heart and thoughts raced as it slowly sunk in.

I need to go to the bathroom. I hurt everywhere. I’m starving. God, are you there?
I’m so afraid. Please help me. Her empty stomach growled. Sitting as still as a stone monument, she heard noises above her. She strained to hear, yet could distinguish
nothing more than mumbles.

The silence began to work on her, stealing pieces of her soul, draining away her
confidence, her strength, and her convictions. Frustration and rage erupted inside her. Terror and adrenaline coursed through her veins.

Frantic and discouraged, she plunked onto the dirt floor. A peculiar musty smell wafting
up as the dirt settled. A smell she already hated. Alone, she rocked and whimpered,
her face buried in her hands. Warm salty tears slid down her scratched and tender skin. Trapped in the silent darkness, her body shuddered.


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