I run through the bare cream coloured halls, naked and covered in blood head to toe, I’m not sure who’s blood it is but it is bright, sticky, and smells of metal. It may be mine but I can’t tell. I run frantically around the corners, up and down the concrete stairs trying to find the exit. The adrenaline pulsing through me, it would seem that I am running for my life. I run through what might be an old casino, seemingly abandoned but within it’s walls were people; mostly men, old lovers, old boyfriends, old male friends, my own dad and my brothers. Men from my past sat around at slot machines or dwelling in toilet cubicles and halls on couches and chairs. Somehow all of them completely unaware that I am there. I am a screaming, crying, naked and bloody mess.
I run into a dimly lit bathroom with wallpaper peeling from its walls and hide behind the door, wet and cold I stand there, fearfully waiting, drawing shallow breaths as I try to catch my breath. I can hear the men of my past bustling around within meters of me, still unaware that I even existed despite the blood pouring from me, despite the screaming I was doing.
My heart races on, I want to give in and let who ever wants me dead to take me.
Let this fear be over because the fear was too much but at the same time this fear was keeping me alive, I despise that.
The stalls in the bathroom fell still, the light above me flickers and whom ever it is that I am hiding from enters the room, peeking around corners looking for my blood covered feet under the stalls. I take this as my cue to leave, I sneak out the cubical, placing my sticky hand on the door leaving a wet red hand print as I slink out, my hair is still dripping in red wet blood. I run down the hall, past the slot machines where a boy I used to know sat with his friends, he glanced up but seemed to look right through me. I don’t know if I even want his help anyway.
I stop at a door of what looks like a small room or a storage cupboard. I am met by another woman who isn’t surprised to see me, she’s about my age and she is not covered in blood.
“Let me help you” she smirks, then she opens the door and lets me in the room.
She closely follows behind me and we look around, it’s filled with boxes, old hotel furniture pieces and a bunk bed in a corner. Suddenly she lunges at me and I realise that she is not on my side, she lunges at my body again with her arms as if to grab me and pull me into her. I jump back and she grabs my arm but I am wet with blood and she looses her grip. I scramble as fast as I can to the top of the bunk, leaving blood smears on the white metal frame, I look at my hands, my hands are bleeding. I look down at her and she can’t quite get up to where I am, but I can see the determination in her face and I know she will.
I look around on the bed and see a broom handle, I grab its end and pull it toward me before I get a better grip and slam it into the side of her face. She recoils momentarily but she doesn’t stop, I hit her again, but she keeps coming at my, clawing at me arms, and legs, trying to climb the blood smeared bed.
I stop fighting her for a moment and I almost admit defeat because I am tired, I don’t see the end of this and I just can’t keep myself alive anymore.
I think this is it, this is where I die and it’s all over… “but I have come so far” I plead with myself.
With one last ditch effort to save myself, I stab her in the chest with the broom handle, blood pours from the wound and she is still coming for me. She comes up at me from the other side using the wall of the small cramped room to hoist herself up an extra half a metre.
She comes at me one last time when I pull the broom handle from her chest and stab at her face and head with the handle. Finally it impales her, it is then when I look at her with a broom handle in her face with blood streaming down her chin and on the edge of death that I realise:
That Woman is Me.
I startle myself awake, my eyes on the ceiling and my breathing hard and fast.
The fear and the terror still running through my body as though I was still there. Remembering the nightmare, I pull myself up and check the time, 4am, ‘just great’.
I try to shake the feeling from my body but it stays, I recognise this feeling properly for the first time. These kind of nightmares used to be common for me as a child and teenager, and this time I remembered the feelings, these were the kinds of dreams I had, always trying to leave, always escaping. Always running from something.
I hear small footsteps in the door way and the same cold fear that washes over me as though he was still on the outside of that door waiting; except this time when the door opens, he does not sneak in; the drowsy face of my little girl Harli-quinn appears and she climbs in as she does every night, she rolls to face me and she holds me tight with her little arms. the terror I feel subsides and we drift off to sleep together, safe and warm.