Wingless and beautiful episode 1 | Dapalace
September 25, 2021


Mind blowing palace

Wingless and beautiful episode 1

24 min read




“Please stop!” I screamed. I felt the trickle of liquid along

the side of my face. Once I got over the shock, I felt the

unbearable pain as it ripped through my skin, forever

damaging it.

“You son of a bitch! Stop! Oh God, let her go!” I heard

my mother scream. “Let her go! Please, I beg you! Stop it!”

“No! She’s a spawn of the Devil! Can you not see it?” he

asked in a hoarse voice. “Maybe you can’t! Her beautiful,

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angelic face conceals all the darkness within her! I will show

you! Once her beauty is gone… you will see her for what

she really is!”

He pulled my hair so I could face him. I willed myself to

be brave as I stared at the man who once meant the whole

world to me. He was staring back at me with bloodshot eyes

rimmed with dark circles. They were blazing with anger, like

he truly believed I was a demon he needed to kill.

He lifted the glass bottle over my face once again. I

closed my eyes, accepting my fate.

“No!” I heard my mother scream as she launched at

him. He fell back, released me and I fell to the floor.

I can feel the liquid eating through my skin, making its

way to my flesh. My whole body felt numb and I couldn’t

move even if I wanted to.

“You cannot stop me!” he roared as his hand landed on

my mother’s face and she, too, fell to the floor.

I was exhausted but I willed myself to get up, not just to

save myself, but to help my mother. I struggled to look up

and saw the familiar man with big brown eyes come after

me again. I knew that face. It used to be a face of comfort

for me. I remembered the first time I met him. I was barely five years old then. He was the only father I ever knew… the

only father I ever loved. He took care of me like I was his

own flesh and blood.

Now… I could barely recognize his face. Substance

abuse changed not only his physical attributes, but also the

way he saw things. In his eyes, I was probably a little

monster that he had to kill. The hallucinations were

completely taking over him, making it difficult to separate

fiction from fact… nightmares from reality.

I couldn’t give a fight when I saw him swing the bat. I

could only close my eyes. “Monster!” he growled as he

prepared to hit me in the face.

I braced myself for the unbearable pain that would

probably be the death of me. I was praying for a miracle,

hoping to God that it was not yet my time… wishing I had a

guardian angel who would magically appear on my side to

shield me, save me and fight for me.

I took a deep breath, which could well be my last… and

then I heard a gunshot.



The sound was deafening, almost impairing my sense of

hearing. But the silence that followed was even worse.

The mixed scent of gunpowder, burning skin and blood

filled the room. I could only hear the wild beating of my

heart, the silent whimpers that I didn’t know belonged to me

and the fast intakes of last breaths that belonged to the

man I once called Dad.

I stared into space, not really looking at anything in

particular as I tried to distract myself from the harsh reality

that I knew would slap me in the face and probably cripple

me for life.

It was over… months of torture and physical abuse,

days of struggling to heal from the wounds. Now… I could

only feel my heart breaking, because for the last ten years

of my life, I truly loved him. And I know, he truly loved us.

He had always been there to take care of me and my

mother. He used to chase my nightmares away. And now…

I’m sure most of my nightmares will be of him, chasing me,

pouring acid over my face.

Then finally, I heard the sirens, telling me that help was

here. They would come to make it all right, wouldn’t they?

They would take me away to a place far enough… where

nobody could hurt me again. They would fix my wounds…

make sure I could function again… I could live normally


Everything was going to be okay.

But I know… no matter what happens… nothing can

erase the scars he left in my heart… and most importantly,

my soul. No matter what they do, they couldn’t take away

the pain and they couldn’t chase the nightmares that are to

haunt my sleepless nights.




“Come on, wake up, sleepyhead!” I heard my aunt’s

voice as she snatched the headphones away from my head.

I struggled to open my eyes. I looked at my wristwatch.

It was one in the afternoon. I slept in again and I knew

Meredith hated that. But sometimes, I couldn’t help it. It was

hard for me to sleep at nights. In the dark, the nightmares

got worse. I couldn’t sleep with the lights out now. But even

with the lights on, I still found myself waking up in the

middle of the night, screaming as the memories of the pain I

had experienced during that night come back to me, making

me retreat, and curl up in fear and misery.

Meredith stared at the dark circles under my eyes and

smiled apologetically. “I told you… some counseling can

help you, sweetheart. Really. I can afford a few sessions.”

I shook my head. Meredith is my mother’s younger

sister. She just graduated from college when she got the call

that changed her life forever. She found out that instead of

looking for a job and exploring the world like she originally

planned, she had to move to a strange town to take care of


I felt guilty for what happened to her, too. She was just

a kid out of school, and now she had to grow up faster than

she first intended to so she could make ends meet and take

care of a troubled teenager like me.

“That’s not necessary, Meredith,” I said. She didn’t want

to be called aunt. She said it would make her feel old.

“We’re already struggling to get by each day. I don’t want

you to waste your hard-earned money to pay somebody who will only eat donuts and drink coffee while I lie on the

couch and talk about things I would rather forget.”

She came to sit beside me. “At least… that person can

prescribe pills that can help you… fall asleep.”

“I already have something for that,” I said, with a wide

smile on my face. “Your manuscripts!”

She glared at me. “How dare you go through my

things?” She hit me with a pillow.

“I’m kidding!” I said, laughing.

Meredith was an aspiring writer. One day, when I had

nothing to do in the house, I went to her room and decided

to be useful for once and cleaned up. I found some of her

manuscripts and read them. She was actually pretty good

but I thought none of the stuff she wrote was PG-15.

“I’m going out,” she said. “I have to be in CRC in an

hour’s time.”

“Alright. I’ll just be here,” I said to her. As always, I

added in my head.

She looked at me apologetically. She stared at my face

for a while.

Two guesses which part of my face she was staring at.

It was my scar. The one on the right side of my face,

between my cheekbone and my ear, and ran down all the

way to my jaw. I immediately felt self-conscious. The skin

was damaged and the scar was horrendous. I was told that I

was lucky my stepdad only let the chemical trickle on the

side of my cheek, and it didn’t go further on the other parts

of my face. I was luckier it didn’t hit my eye.

Even before that tragic night, we didn’t really live a

charmed life, so there was no way I could afford plastic


I combed my hair to the side to hide the scar from

Meredith’s view. That way, nobody would know how

damaged I really was.

Meredith sighed and asked, “Why don’t you come with


I stared back at her. “Why?”

She shrugged. “The kids at the center could use a little


I smirked. “From me? Seriously? Have you met me


“I don’t know how you do this, Alice. I would have

been…” She trailed off then she said, “You always look and

sound positive, nobody will be able to guess what happened

to you that night.”

“By that you mean, I still look charming, nobody will

really be able to guess that I was Scarface in real life?”

“No, silly!” she replied. “Not that. I meant… you still

laugh a lot, joke a lot. Nobody would guess what really

happened to you. I would have been… devastated. Some

kids from the center would be able to learn a lot from you.”

“Really?” I was quite uncertain about what she was


She nodded. “Some of them didn’t even go through half

the stuff you’ve been through and yet, they lost the will to


“I don’t know, Mer. This may very well backfire.”

She shrugged. “Well, in any case, you could use a

change of scenery. The institution has beautiful landscaped

grounds, a library, a game room and best of all… a music


I stared up at her. “Music room, huh?”

Meredith looked like she really wanted me to come. Not

just because she thought I would be able to help the other

people there. But because she thought it would help me to

see those who stayed in the center… the ones who were as

broken as I was.

I stood up from my bed. “I’ll just shower,” I said.

She beamed at me. “You will like it there, Al.”

Forty minutes later, Meredith was parking her beaten-up

Volkswagen in one of the open parking spaces in CRC.

CRC actually stands for Campbell Rehabilitation Center.

It was a huge estate in our town, with a big, white façade

and a number of different gardens and smaller structures

around it. CRC is a place for the less-than-perfect residents

of our town. Some stay there for a couple of weeks for little

problems such as broken bones that require physical

rehabilitation. And yet, some stay for months, maybe even

years because they require more intensive rehab… such as

those who are terminal, or have head trauma that caused

amnesia, or victims of violence… like me.

I did not expect CRC to look like a big park or

playground. There were a lot of people in the front garden,

chatting and playing. It looked more like a campus than a

rehab center.

“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Meredith asked as we walked

towards the lobby.

“The board that manages this wanted the people who

come here to feel normal. They wanted this to be a refuge

for all those who needed help. The environment is relaxed.

There’s an open-door policy for most visitors. There are a lot

of recreational activities, and treatments are coupled with

sports and play.”

“And you brought me here because you thought I

needed to be around these people? So I won’t feel bad

about myself?” I asked her bluntly.

Meredith thought carefully before she answered, “No

one should have to go through what you went through and

be… okay.” She didn’t disguise the weary in her tone.

“I knew it!” I whispered under my breath. I shook my

head. “I’m not going to be a burden to you or anybody,

Meredith. I know I’m only sixteen. That dreadful day was

more than a year ago. Can’t you just trust me when I say

that… I’m okay? I don’t need a damn shrink!” I was trying to

keep my emotions under control. “I’m fine!”

“I’m sorry.” Tears were starting to well up in her eyes.

“Oh geez, Mer. Don’t cry!” I said, squeezing my temples

with my fingers. I haven’t cried in a long time. After that

night, I haven’t cried at all. I don’t like seeing people sad,

especially not because of me. I meant what I said to her. Life

goes on. We just need to keep moving forward. That’s what I

keep telling myself each night—in spite of the nightmares. I

need to keep moving forward.

Meredith wiped the tears on her cheeks with her fingers.

“I’m sorry, Alice. I just… want to do more for you.”

I smiled at her ruefully. “And you are. You don’t have to

worry so much.”

She took a deep breath. “I hear you at nights, Alice. You

scream in your sleep,” she said in a broken voice. “You do it

almost every night. I’m getting worried.”

I sighed. She wasn’t supposed to know that. I never told

her that it was hard for me to sleep at nights and when I do

manage to drift off, the nightmares never fail to chase me.

“You need to talk to somebody about this, Alice.”

I nodded slightly. “Yeah. But not a shrink,” I said. “I’m

not screwed up in the head, Mer.”

“Not all people who see a shrink are screwed up.”

“Well, because most of the time, those who go to one

are rich. And if you’re rich, you aren’t called crazy; you’re

called… eccentric.”

Meredith sighed. “You could talk to me, you know.”

“I do talk to you,” I argued. “Just not about…” I trailed

off, not wanting to continue… well, not really wanting to

remember. Some memories are better left forgotten.

“School is starting in a couple of months,” she said.

“They extended your scholarship.”

“Yeah. I’ll bet Leighton High wouldn’t miss the

opportunity to use that for publicity. You know… for their

social responsibility initiatives. I’m a walking charity case,” I


Meredith shook her head. “No. They didn’t do that for

charity. They extended your scholarship because they know you’re brilliant.” She smiled at me encouragingly. “And

maybe it’s time for you to be around kids your age. You

should be out having fun with friends.”

“I don’t really have friends.” That was true. We moved

to this city a few months before my stepfather went…

cuckoo. I got a scholarship at Leighton High, the town’s

most prestigious institution, where the most privileged kids

in town study.

My stepdad was earning a decent living then. But he

lost some money to gambling. Then he went into drug

abuse. And everything was history… yeah, like literally

history. We were featured on the town paper for weeks!

My brighter days weren’t enough time and opportunity

to make friends. I had a few acquaintances but they all

either moved to another city or they just didn’t feel like

being friends with the scar-faced girl, who had a drug addict

for a stepdad and a… murderer for a mom.

“Then hang around here once in a while,” she said.

“There are kids here the same age as you. And like you…

they’re looking for friends too. You didn’t want to speak to a

shrink. Okay. Maybe you should make friends. Speak to

them. It will help, I’m sure.”

I nodded. I didn’t really believe her. But I just didn’t want

to make her feel worse than she already did. Meredith was

trying hard enough for both of us. The least that I could do

was make her feel that I was cooperating with her when she

was struggling to keep it together.

“Okay,” I agreed. “Now, do you really want me to hang

around with you? Or can I just… take a stroll around this


She nodded. “Go ahead. I’ll meet you here after three


“Cool,” I murmured and then I turned around to walk


I didn’t really know where I was going. But I figured, I

hadn’t been out of the house much in the last couple of months, I should just explore freely. I was in solitude, just

staying in, doing school stuff. The teachers were kind

enough to allow me to do my schoolwork without

necessarily being in the school. Meredith picked up my

modules and I studied at home. When I was required to take

a test in the classroom, I showed up for a couple of hours…

aced my exams and then I went back home.

I strolled in one of the gardens. The shrubs were well-

trimmed and the flowers were in full bloom. As I inhaled the

fresh air, I thought to myself… maybe I could take my

‘solitude’ outdoors this time around.

I strolled further into the back of the huge estate. I

found a path that led to an orchard hidden behind the

building. I didn’t know where it would take me, but I didn’t

really care. For the first time, I was enjoying the rays of the

sun against my skin and the refreshing breath of nature. I

could hear the birds chirping somewhere from a distance.

The orchard was surrounded by very tall trees and the path

was covered by dried leaves and flowers.

I looked at the sky. It was light blue… clear and serene.

And I felt a sense of peace within me. Here… it felt safe.

Like nothing could touch me… or hurt me. Not even my


I continued walking, admiring the scenery around me.

Then all of a sudden, I collided into something solid. I

shrieked. I was afraid that the impact was going to cause

me to fall flat on my butt. But for some reason, I felt

something envelop me, keeping me warm, and preventing

my fall.

I stared up at what I collided into, which was still holding

me close.

I found myself staring at a pair of sunglasses. It took me

a moment to realize that it was a boy. His skin was light and

flawless. His jaw was strong and his nose was perfect. Only

when he raised a brow and gave me a look of annoyance

that I realized I had been staring.

“Geez,” he said. “The last time I checked, I was the one

who’s blind.” I heard the trace of anger and frustration in his

smooth voice.

He settled me on my feet and I pulled away from him.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I wasn’t… looking.”

“Neither was I,” he muttered. “But unlike you… I didn’t

really have a choice.”

“What…” I started asking. Then I remembered him

saying something about being blind. “Oh. You’re… blind?” I


He raised a brow again. “And you’re deaf?”

Okay. He’s arrogant too!

But as he went down on his knees to feel the ground for

the walking stick that he dropped when he collided into me,

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. I immediately bent

down and reached for the stick to help him.

“Don’t!” he said in a sharp voice.

I stopped and stared at him. He looked like he was

staring back at me under those sleek sports sunglasses of

his. But I know he couldn’t really see me.

“I was just… trying… to help,” I stammered.

“I don’t need your help,” he said in the cockiest tone I

had ever heard in months.

He was the first person to ever snap at me in almost a

year. After that tragic night, everybody spoke to me gently,

sympathetically, I could almost always hear the pity tears in

their voices.

I had this sudden urge to cripple this guy, but then I

stopped myself. Losing your sight is one of the worst things

that can happen to anyone.

He touched the ground again and finally he felt the stick

in his hand. He stood up and started walking slowly. He

walked past me, dismissing me.

I watched him. He looked sure of what he was doing, like

he had the path memorized at the back of his mind. I saw him take a turn towards the right and I got curious. I kept

my distance as I followed him.

The trees on the new path were much closer to each

other and the branches almost closed over the sky. Only a

couple of rays of sunlight were able to make it through the

grounds. And then, I saw that the path led to a beautiful


The place was magnificent and quiet. It was like an

entirely different world out there. I couldn’t help feeling at

peace. The place was so serene; it felt almost ethereal.

I continued walking, enjoying the sight around me.

Suddenly, I collided into a solid surface again. I realized that

the boy had stopped walking, and I closed the distance

between us because I was no longer watching where I was


“Well, hello, clumsy!” he muttered.

“So-sorry,” I murmured.

He turned around to face me. “Why are you even

following me?”

“I wasn’t,” I said defensively.

“Hello, liar!”

“Okay… I was curious,” I admitted. “I mean… why would

somebody like you stray so far from the center?”

“Somebody like me?” he echoed, and his voice sounded

like he really found that offensive. Then he replied, “So I

would not be bothered by somebody like you.”

I sighed. This guy sounded like he hated it if somebody

pointed out or even mentioned his condition. But he

couldn’t deny that. He was blind. How could he be brave

enough to go as far as this place without somebody looking

out for him?

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” I said. “But… well,

shouldn’t somebody be looking out for you? You could get

lost or you could trip over something.”

He didn’t speak for a while. But when he spoke, his

voice sounded serious. “I don’t need anybody. I’ll be just…fine.” There was emphasis on the last word.

“Alright,” I said. Then I turned to the line of trees in front

of us. A few feet away, I saw a bench and a wooden table. It

was right there in the center of the woods, in the middle of

the trees, facing the lake. I walked past the guy and went to

the bench. I heard a groan behind me.

“Can you… go back to where you came from?” he


“Nope,” I replied. “Why? It’s beautiful out here.”

“And now you’ve ruined it!” he muttered.

I turned back to him and started glaring. I knew he

couldn’t see me anyway so I could make faces all I wanted.

Just then, I saw his lips curve into a small grin. “You’re

glaring, aren’t you?” he asked.

My eyes widened. I had to wave my hand in front of me

to check if he really couldn’t see. But his head didn’t move

at all. He just stood there, smirking.

“And now you’re waving your hand in front of me to

check if I couldn’t really see,” he said. He sighed, “Well, I


“How in the—”

“I just know,” he replied, not letting me finish my

question. He walked slowly towards the bench. Then he sat

down slowly, placing his walking stick in front of him. I sat

down beside him and stared at the swans swimming in front

of us. I’ve always thought that swans were regal creatures—

beautiful and magnificent.

“You’re not going to leave, are you?” he asked.

The place was too peaceful and it provided the comfort I

didn’t even know I was looking for. And also… suddenly, I

didn’t feel like leaving him behind. What if something

happened to him and no one found him?

“Nope,” I replied.

He let out a sigh of frustration.

I groaned. “Come on! You can just ignore me. I won’t

talk. It’s not like you can see me, anyway!”

The second that left my mouth I regretted it.

Nice shot, Alice! That was really sensitive! And not

mean at all!

“I’m… I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” he said, to my surprise. “It’s not like it isn’t

true, you know. And it’s not your fault I am like this.”

I bit my lower lip. I kept quiet this time. I directed my

attention to the swans in front of us.

“How many are they?” he asked.

I counted the swans in my head. I could feel my heart

slightly breaking for him. He came here—in this little piece

of heaven—and he didn’t even see the magnificent view

before him, and the wonderful creatures that played in front

of him.

“Six,” I replied.

He nodded slightly.

“Did you know what they are?”

He nodded again. “I’ve always admired them. I grew up

in my family’s lake house and we always had swans. Back

then, I didn’t care how beautiful they were. Had I known my

time to admire their beauty was limited, I would have

stopped at least one minute every day just to look at them.”

When I heard him say that, I felt like he was not just

talking about the swans anymore; he was talking about life

in general. And I have to say I feel exactly the same.

I thought I had a lot of time too. I thought that life was

going to be as perfect as it always had been. I thought I

would always have the things that I didn’t worry about

losing before. Now… they were just mere memories. And no

matter how much I tried… how hard I prayed… I could never

get them back.

“So what’s wrong with you?” he asked, interrupting my


“What?” I asked back.

“Okay, I think I know what,” he said, smirking.

It took me a moment to realize that he was actually

joking. I looked at his face and it was the first time that I

realized how handsome he was. His skin was smooth,

flawless. His hair, the darkest shade of blond, it actually

looked light brown. He has these aristocratic features that

made him look angelic and devilish at the same time.

“I’m not deaf,” I finally said to him. “And I’m not from


“So what brought you to the world of the freaks if

nothing’s wrong with you?”

My lips curved into a smile. He was not the only one

with a sense of humor so I said, “I actually escaped from an

institution that houses dangerously insane individuals. I

haven’t slaughtered anyone in a long time and I’m just…

dying for a kill right now. I thought CRC is a good place to

look for a prey.”

He turned towards my direction. I expected him to run

away or wave his walking stick towards me as a means to

defend himself. But, instead, he raised his hands in the air

and said, “Go ahead. Knock yourself out.”

He was either calling my bluff or he just didn’t care

about his life anymore.

“I was kidding, you know,” I said.

“I know. You don’t strike me as dangerous. Mental,

maybe. But harmless, nonetheless,” he said. “But then

again… if you weren’t kidding, I’m not stopping you either.”

“Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” I asked.

He sighed. “If you’ve lost as much as I did… there’s

nothing much going on for you.”

I sighed. Who was he to talk about losing a lot in life? I

lost everything and yet… the only thing I did was cave in…

keep it all inside me, because that was the only way I knew

how to survive. Repress the memories. Run away from the

nightmare and the pain. But I never thought about giving up

the fight. It never even crossed my mind.

“You’re not the only one who lost a lot in life,” I argued,

misery enveloping my voice. I don’t know if he noticed.

“But at least you could still see the things you have

left,” he argued back.

I took a deep breath. “Seeing them is not always a gift,”

I murmured. “Because it also reminds you of the things that

you can never see anymore. It will always remind you of the

things that you used to have… the people who used to be

with you and were… not there anymore.”

For a long while he fell silent, absorbing the words I just

said. Then he asked, “What’s your name?”

“Allison. Allison Harley,” I replied. “What’s yours?”

“Hunter Vaughn.” He extended his hand to me.

I reached forward and shook it. “Nice to meet you,


After a while, we were both quiet again. I was staring at

the view in front of us… Hunter was listening to every sound

around him.

I couldn’t help feeling safe here… in this place. It looked

like a different world for me. And it gave me the real peace

that I had been craving for, for more than a year.

I didn’t mind that I was not alone. Hunter was lost in his

thoughts, too. And he never interrupted mine.

I felt comfortable that way. No one was looking at me

and whispering behind my back. No one around me was

curious about the scars I was hiding and the horrific story

behind them. I was not being judged or pitied on. I was not

being pressured to open up about the things I bottled up


No one was telling me that it was okay for me to cry…

saying that they felt sorry for me and they understood

exactly how I felt… because hell! They didn’t! They did not

go through the things I went through. They didn’t go

through all the pain and the abuse. They weren’t rescued

from that nightmare only to wake up and find out that

another one was just beginning.

No one was telling me that everything was going to be

just fine… because how could it be? The two people I loved

the most in the world were gone. Things will never be the

same. Things were most certainly not going to be okay!

My phone suddenly rang, interrupting my thoughts. It

was Meredith.

“Alice, where are you? It’s time to go home. I have to

finish some reports.”

“Okay. Meet you in the parking lot in a few minutes,” I


I turned to Hunter. Although he was not looking at me

directly, his face was inclined to my direction, indicating

that he was listening.

“That was my aunt,” I said. “I have to go.”

He stood up from the bench and gathered his walking

stick. “I’ll walk you back.”

I found his statement both endearing and surprising. For

a guy in his state to offer chivalry was indeed… rare.

“Really… it’s okay,” I said. “I can make it back.”

“Nonsense. You might get lost,” he insisted, and this

time, I heard amusement in his voice.

We walked side by side in silence. With all fairness to

Hunter, he didn’t look like he needed a walking stick at all;

he looked agile and it seemed like he memorized every step

of the path.

“How often do you come here?” I asked.

“At least two times a day… for the last two hundred

days,” he replied.

“No wonder you’ve memorized the way. How did you

even discover it?”

“Did you hear anybody say that when you lose one

sense, your other senses try to make up for it? I didn’t know

it was true until I got to experience it.”

“If… if you don’t mind me asking… how long have you

been…” I trailed off.

“Almost a year,” he replied. I didn’t miss the bitterness

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I couldn’t help reaching out for his hand and squeezing

it. “I’m sorry,” I said very gently.

He squeezed my hand back. “I am too.”

I released his hand and we walked in silence again. We

finally reached the grounds of the center.

“It was nice meeting you, Hunter Vaughn.”

“It was nice meeting you too, Allison Harley.” He paused

for a while and asked, “You said, you weren’t from here. So

what were you doing here? Were you visiting someone?”

“No,” I replied. “My aunt volunteers here at least twice a

week. Today, she pestered me to come with her. She was

afraid that if I don’t talk to anybody soon, I would… lose it.”

“They don’t understand that if they force you to lose the

lid on the emotions you bottle up inside… you actually will

end up losing it,” he said, but I knew he was speaking about

his own emotions… not mine.

I realized that Hunter and I… we’re not so different. We

were both angry. And staying away from the world of people

with perfect lives was the only way we knew how to cope up

with the pain. Repressing misery and keeping it at bay were

the only way we could get hold of the rage that we felt


“Will you come back tomorrow, Allison?” he asked.

I nodded even though I know he couldn’t see me.

For some reason, he knew what my answer was. I saw a

faint smile cross his face. “Then you know where to find

me,” he said before he turned to walk back inside the




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