My name is Charlotte Murphy. Charlotte? Charlotte… No… No, they call me Charlie. I call me Charlie. Everyone calls me Charlie, they have for years. My head hurts. Bad. I’m twenty-one? I’m from Indiana. Wait. Where in Indiana? Why can’t I remember? My parents have lived there all my life. Indiana? Morgantown, Indiana. But, I moved? I don’t live there anymore. Ugh. Why can’t I move my head? No. I don’t live there anymore. I live in New York. For…for…? School. For school. I live there for school. And, I’m a dancer. I’m an instructor for a studio part time. I work with the younger girls. I can’t move my arms, either. Where am I? Where was I? It’s black, everything is black. I was leaving school. No. Work? No, I don’t work until later this week. Why can’t I remember? What was I doing? I was leaving…something. Somewhere. I’m sore. Everywhere hurts. The party. I was leaving a party. That’s it. I left the party because people were acting crazy. I walked. I walked home. I remember. I cut through Central Park. But then someone grabbed me. Someone grabbed me hard. They covered my mouth. I remember!
My eyes pop open and suddenly I’m greeted by annoying, harsh white lights and beeping noises. I groan softly. My God, I was right. I was grabbed. Someone kidnapped me. They don’t still have me do they? They can’t. No. I ran. I got away. I move my eyes around slowly and realize the only thing that can have beeping noises and such bright lights is the hospital’s ambulance. I’m in the hospital. I don’t remember getting here. I couldn’t have gotten here by myself. Could I? I moan again, this time making an attempt to move my hand. At least, I think I’m trying to move my hand. It hurts, too. My head, my neck, my arms, my legs, everywhere. Stabbing pains, shooting pains, pains that I’ve never felt before in my life course through every last inch of my body. Just how hurt am I? I can feel my heart beginning to pound furiously deep in my chest. I hear a clicking noise and feet on the floor as the sounds come closer.
“Charlotte?” I hear a soft female voice.
I open my mouth and realize how dry it is. I swallow hard and make another attempt to speak.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” she interrupts me. “You don’t have to talk. Do you know where you are?”
I give myself a moment and fight through the pain enough to nod my head.
“You understand you’re in the hospital?” She asked.
I lick my dry lips to find an array of what feels like cuts around them and nod slowly once more.
“You are one lucky girl,” she says, as I feel her working with the tubes that I now see are all attached to me. “We didn’t expect you to wake up this soon.”
“Pain.” I finally choke out.
“Don’t worry; we’ll get you something more for the pain.” She reassures me. “Just try to relax for me. Don’t worry now, the police are here.”
“Police?” I stammer.
“Why, dear, after what you’ve just been through they wouldn’t dare leave you without protection.” She says softly as I feel her working with another tube that I can now tell is running directly into my arm.
“Protection?” I ask. “I was,” I pause to swallow. “I was kidnapped.”
She looks down at me, making the most pitiful face I have ever seen on a person. “Oh sweetheart, I better let the police talk to you about that.”
Just how bad am I?
“Can I,” I stop. “Can I sit up?” I ask
“Do you feel up to it?” She asks. “I don’t want to exhaust you, you just woke up.”
“How long have I been out?” I ask, now feeling more strength in my voice.
She takes a moment to glance at the gold watch on her wrist. “Just about twelve hours now dear.”
“I think sitting up will help my back.” I reply, softly.
She cocks her head to the side, giving me the pitiful look again. This time I can’t be too sure, but I think I can see tears in her eyes. She finally nods and begins pushing buttons on the side of the bed that control the angle and lift. I can feel my body’s muscles beginning to work for the first time, in what felt like, years. Aches, pops and uncomfortable groans, I can feel it all. I finally bring my strongest hand up to my neck, rubbing a tender spot that is completely covered with what I can only assume is a large bandage.
“Would you like a pillow behind your back?” She asks, the pitiful look falling over her face again.
I can’t imagine just how bad I look, but judging by the look on her face, not pretty. I nod slowly as she helps me lean forward just enough for her to slide the pillow behind me.
“Can I get you anything else?” She asks, giving my shoulder a tender pat.
I shake my head.
“Well, the doctor will be in shortly,” she replies. “But, if you need me, just push this button.” She pulls a remote from behind the bed, pointing at the bright red button. She smiles. “The other two buttons control your TV.”
“Thank you.” I manage, as I weakly take the remote from her hand.
As the nurse turns to make her exit, I’m surprised to see a doctor already on his way in. Tall, pale skin, his eyes give the impression that he hasn’t slept in days. His hair too; it’s mousy brown and cut short, but looks as though he’s just crawled out of bed. He smiles.
“Glad to see you awake.” He says. “How do you feel?”
“Like I was just run over by a Mack truck,” I say, working to adjust myself in the bed.
“Well, given what you’ve just been through, I would say you should even feel worse.” He says. “Mind if I have a look at you?”
I shake my head. Do I honestly have a choice? He steps closer and suddenly I feel a pang of panic that I can’t explain. My heart begins to race and I can feel sweat beginning to build up on the palm of my hands. I swallow and give him a strange look. I open my mouth to apologize, but he politely stops me.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you.” He says.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t,” I pause to swallow and look away for a moment. “I don’t know what happened.”
“You’ve been through a lot Charlotte. You’re a very lucky young woman.” He says.
“I guess I don’t remember what exactly I’ve been through.” I say, looking down at the tiled hospital floor.
“One step at a time.” He says, “Best just to take it easy for now. Would you like for me to call Doctor Kenton? She’s really great to work with. I think you would really like her.”
I shake my head. “No, it’s okay. I trust you.”
Five whole minutes into his routine examination and I regret not letting him phone Doctor Kenton. My palms are sweaty, my mouth is dry and though I have been able to control my racing heart, I’m sure he’s able to pick up on how uneasy I am with his hands anywhere near me. After listening to my heart, he backs away slowly and smiles.
“Everything looks perfect,” He says. “You sure you feel alright?”
I nod. “As well as I can for the aches and pains.”
“I can certainly make sure you have something for the pain,” he says, “Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Well, I do have a question.” I say, “How long will I be in here?”
“It’s hard to say,” he says, “It could be a few more days, it could be a week. The best thing for you is to stay here until you’ve healed. You’ve endured a lot and I wouldn’t want to release you just yet.”
I nod. I should have figured. “Is there any way that I could get some clothes that are a little more,” I pause. “Covering?”
He nods, “I can’t see how some good warm sweats would hurt.”
“Thank you.” I say.
“And, one last thing,” he says, “There’s a gentleman here, a police officer. He’s to stand guard at your door.”
Police? Stand guard at my door? What the hell happened to me?
“Okay.” I say.
“I’m sure he’ll be in shortly for his questions.” He tells me.
“You let us know if you need anything Charlotte.” He smiles.
I nod again in silence as he makes his way out the door. It’s there I can hear him talking to the cop who truly is standing just outside my door. I slowly lean my head back and sigh. I can’t remember a thing. What’s worse is, now I don’t know that I want to.
The light knock at the door makes me jump unexpectedly. I let out a deep breath as the nurse from before steps in smiling.
“I brought you something warmer to slip on.” She says, “The police department was kind enough to lend us some sweats for you.” She explains as she sets them on the bed. “Would you like some help getting dressed?”
I look down at my right hand that’s badly bruised, there’s an IV ran in the top. Glancing to the left, I see it’s in the same horrible shape, minus the IV. I give a slight nod and she begins helping pull the blankets back. It’s the first time I’ve seen anything other than my hands and I see that both my legs are cut up badly and bruised. My mouth drops as I see some of the cuts are extremely deep and have been stitched up. My eyes follow up my legs to my bruised thighs and I see the deep purple bruising has gone in between them. I look up at the nurse, with more than likely the same pitiful look she gave me.
“I’m sorry.” She says, softly. “We don’t have to do this now.”
I shake my head and swallow, “I want covered.”
She nods as she helps my legs off the side of the bed.
“I was raped,” I ask, “Wasn’t I?”
She quietly reaches for the navy blue sweat pants and gingerly guides my legs into them. Finally she looks up and gives me a slow, sad nod.
I lick my lips and look down as I ease myself down off the bed long enough to pull the sweat pants up around my sore waist that is just as tender to touch as my legs.
“Would you like the sweatshirt on too?” She asks, holding up the navy blue sweatshirt that has the word POLICE in bold yellow print on the front.
I nod, “I just want covered.”
“I understand.” She says as she begins working gingerly around the IV and an array of deep cuts and bruises that I now see are all over my upper body as well. I feel a wave of nausea wash over me as I fight to hold everything from vomit to tears inside.
“There.” She says, finally tugging the warm shirt down around me. “Feel better?”
I nod, “Thank you for your help.”
“It’s no trouble,” She replies, “Would you like some socks, too? These floors get so cold at night.”
I immediately nod, wanting each and every inch of my body to be covered by something, anything at all.
She pulls a pair of thick gray socks from a storage cabinet and is kind enough to help them on my feet. She smiles and pulls the blankets back around me once more. “You get some rest now. The more you rest, the quicker you’ll heal.” She smiles, as she heads for the door.
I force a smile, “Thank you. I will.”
Normally, I wouldn’t mind being left alone at all; but, now that I have a lot swimming through my mind, I don’t want to be left alone to remember anything. I remember I had walked to my friend Rachael’s party. I knew most of the people there, except for a small handful of her latest fling’s friends. They were why I left. Turns out they had more than just a taste for a lot of booze, but drugs too. And, by drugs, I don’t mean marijuana. I mean cocaine and other substances I don’t even want to think about putting anywhere near my body. I told Rachael, I told her it was bad news and to get them out. But, she didn’t believe me of course. Isn’t that how it always works? It was her party and her place, so I did what I thought was best. I grabbed my coat and took off. I walked. I know I walked, I usually walk everywhere. But, I cut through Central Park. Not because it’s really a short cut, but, just because it’s one of my favorite places. That was my mistake, cutting through the park. That’s where he got me. How stupid can I be? Who walks through a deserted park, late at night, alone? Apparently stupid Charlie Murphy does.
I make a feeble attempt to roll to my side but I’m greeted by a new stabbing pain on my hip. One so bad I let out a loud cry and bring myself nearly to tears. I take a few deep breaths and suddenly the large, wooden hospital door is flung open with such a great force that it makes a loud banging noise against the wall. There standing in the doorway, is the police office. There’s no mistaking him in his perfect black uniform. He’s young, a lot younger than I would ever expect and tall with dark blonde hair that has a messy style. My yelp has clearly startled him. His body finally relaxes and he straightens himself out.
“I’m sorry.” He says, “I didn’t mean to bother you, I just…” He stops.
I shake my head, “It’s okay.”
“I’ll just be outside if you need me.” He says, as he grabs for the door handle to shut it behind him.
I stare blankly at the door. He’s a ‘He’. How could the police department even think of sending a man after what I’d been through? Even though I admit, I wasn’t fully aware of just what I had been through yet. Stupid police department. Stupid me. Stupid men. Stupid everything. I sigh deeply. The pain in my side is slowly beginning to fade into a light throbbing. I have a sudden urge to lift my sweatshirt in order to see what has caused the immense pain, but after seeing my legs, I fight the urge to look just yet. After my legs, I’m terrified to see the rest of me, even though I know I will have to eventually. It is my body, after all.
Despite the aches and pains that are pulsing and throbbing, I pull the blanket up around my shoulders a bit tighter and close my eyes. I suddenly feel exhausted again. Apparently I’d just been through hell and I looked like it too, so I didn’t see anything wrong with letting myself fall into a nice, deep sleep.