I’ve been feverishly working to finish my latest project, and I wanted to another sneak peak!!! I have to make another round of edits, but here is a chapter of one of the main characters. I hope you enjoy!
“Where are we,” Ashleigh yawned, wiping crusts from her eyes. Staring out of the window, she saw park-style benches, large trees, and groups of students – with smiles as bright as their gold T-shirts – walking to and from what appeared to be a hiking trail.
“A park near the school,” Amanda answered. “I thought we’d start here, and work our way around the town,” she said, referencing the town of Hamden, Connecticut, the town where the school Ashleigh would be attending, was located.
“How are you feeling, Ash,” Amanda asked.
“I’ve been better.”
“There’s something I wanted to show you,” Amanda said, her voice lively and animated.
“Is it a rock to bash my skull in?”
“Ash,” Amanda whispered.
“Sorry mom,” Ashleigh said, knowing she had crossed the line of what her mother would, and would not, tolerate. Taking things for granted, being snide and overly negative, even joking about ending your life, were topics Amanda didn’t take lightly.
After picking up a map, Amanda and Ashleigh set off on the Tower Trail, the least difficult route that led to the top of Sleeping Giant.
The trail began before the mother-daughter duo knew they were hiking, stepping over large rocks and exposed tree branches, as they went from the parking lot, to a wide gravel path.
“Do you think you’re ready to talk about it,” Amanda asked, her confident voice now fragile.
Ashleigh knew she was going to have to have the conversation with her mom, she just didn’t know when it would be. She dodged talking about it the night everything happened, when she abruptly asked Tasha to drive to the hospital for the forensic exam. Ashleigh knew her mom had been disappointed, but Ashleigh couldn’t bring herself to admit something so personal and embarrassing to her mother, when Ashleigh had a hard time wrapping her mind around the shame, guilt, and rage she had festering inside. Ashleigh swore the conversation would have happened the week after everything happened, but it didn’t. Instead, Ashleigh’s mom let her stay home from school, calling her throughout the day just to make sure she was eating, and giving her soft kisses on the forehead when she came home from work. Ashleigh felt pressured to have the conversation in the car, during the two-hour drive from New Jersey to Connecticut, but instead, she fell asleep. She still didn’t quite know why her mom had decided, all of a sudden, to take a day off from work and drive her daughter to Quinnipiac University, the school she would be attending in the fall. Ashleigh was sure her mom was up to something in mind – a surprise, maybe. She just hoped it wouldn’t be a talk about what happened that night was no big deal. She’d heard enough of that bullshit, from some bitch on CNN. Some hideous old hag who had never been raped and did not work with rape victims, but was still spouting off, about how women were claiming rape, when they just had a bad hookup, because after all, if women were truly being raped, they could just get up and leave or tell the guy ‘No’, I’m not interested. Ashleigh wished that she could have reached through the screen and kicked the old bitch in the vagina. The woman’s words cut deeper than any razor blade she slid across her wrists. Instead of feeling the rush of blood oozing from her neatly-torn flesh, hearing the woman’s absurd comments made Ashleigh feel like complete shit, like she brought this upon herself, like she somehow asked to be raped. The woman may as well have walked up the Ashleigh, spit in her face and branded the word cunt across her forehead.
“Sure,” Ashleigh said, feeling defeated. She’d had the conversation with herself a million times already, so having the conversation with her mother now, felt like overkill. Still, Ashleigh knew the conversation needed to be had, she just hoped her mom wouldn’t ask her why.
At that moment, like a butterfly landing on your shoulder, when you swore you were having the shittiest day, memories of heart-to-hearts Ashleigh had with her mom came rushing back into her mind: The time, at her old school, rumors spread that she was a slut when the story surfaced of how she gave the captain of the football team a blowjob. The nights she cried herself to sleep when her mom told her they were moving to New Jersey. The day at her new school that she got suspended for telling one of her teacher’s to fuck off. The time she and Tasha got drunk off a bottle of whiskey Tasha’s father had hidden, both girls puking every last remnant of substance that was inside of their stomachs, until they were dry heaving and spitting up bile. All of those shitty times were made less shitty, even bearable, because even though her mother didn’t agree with Ashleigh’s behaviors, she never judged or made her feel like crap, and was understanding. She’s not like that, Ashleigh smiled inside, as she looked to her mother, whose eyes were focused on the mountainous terrain. She’s actually pretty chill to talk to and is surprisingly calm when it comes to shitty situations that most parents would flip out over.