The room was dark. There was a small light shining through the window from the street lamps outside.
The girl undressed and got under the sheets. She waited anxiously to the growing sound of footsteps.
A man appeared in the room. He was already drunk and held a half-empty bottle of stale vodka in his hand. He placed the bottle on the night stand next to the bed and started to take off his clothes.
‘I hope you’re ready for this,’ he started mumbling, ‘this’ll be the greatest night of your life. You better make it worth it for me.’
The girl was hesitant now. She thought back of the moments leading up to this – the start of this night she had envisioned as an adventure before finding herself under a strange man’s sheets.
She always wondered about sex. She lived in a closed society – but she was fury and fire. She could walk on broken glass. She was fearless, magical, flamboyant. She had the soul of a gypsy.
But she always had trouble distinguishing between a decent man and a bad one.
She thought about that boy again – that boy she had left a long time ago in favor of adventures like the one she was having tonight. That boy who taught her the meaning of love and sacrifice. That boy whom she first revealed her naked body to; whom she sat next to by the pool in her black swimsuit; whom she let into her room.
He was the boy she shared her bed with and gazed into the star-painted glowing ceiling with and told all her dreams to.
He was the boy who whispered into her ear time and time again, ‘I want to love you. I want to caress your beautiful naked body as if I am touching a white canvas. I want to be the only man to ever touch you. You are a masterpiece – you are MY masterpiece.’
She thought back of those days. Memories filled her mind like little fireflies in the night. She remembered going with that boy to concerts, plays, long walks on the seaside, the beach, the mountains and the little green country roads.
Then she remembered the quieter days – placing her head on his lap while he read and drank his whisky. His fingers used to get caught up in her wavy hair and they’d spend hours untangling them. Then they’d head to the bedroom and she’d play him some of her favorite music. Artists, albums, CDs, everything. He was an open journal where she carved her tastes and feelings and emotions and thrills.
Then she was back in the dark room. The man in front of her smelled of stale alcohol and stared at her with half-open eyes. He had already taken off his pants and unbuttoned his shirt. ‘Take off the covers,’ he said aggressively. She did as she was told. She could have easily refused and maybe even gotten out of there, but somehow she felt she had something to prove. There was a void in her waiting to be filled, and the nature of the filling didn’t matter at this particular time.
She only needed to feel wanted, loved, cherished, adored.
After losing that boy, they’d agreed to go their separate ways. She never heard news of him since then. He must be somewhere in this world, still trying to exist and realize his purpose. He’d always warned her she was larger than life, and sometimes even too reckless for him to handle. ‘You’d go crazy without me,’ he’d said to her. ‘You’re capable of going on a rampage.’
Her face would become full-blown upon hearing this, and she’d kiss him like they were always meant to be together. Then she remembered the breakfasts – fresh orange juice and hot baked cheese and chocolate croissants outside on the porch. She remembered the long car rides, the drives that led to nowhere. She remembered being able to capture and feel the stars when she was around him, for he made her feel a taste of love and the entire world suddenly felt less like a mystery and more like a hidden treasure on the verge of being discovered.
She had all this, and right now she felt like she had stooped to the bottom. She was settling for other guys, men, pigs, savages, animals who took pleasure in riding her naked body and playing with it like some overused baby doll. She’d lost her innocence when she lost that boy, and she felt the whole world slowly slipping through her fingers.
The man had undressed and got on top of her. ‘Open wide,’ he gaped before sucking at her lips. She wanted to resist and push him away, but she caved and gave in as she often did in recent times. It was strange how notions suddenly disappeared one day and stopped making sense. She had lost all value, all belief she regarded highly in this world. Anything good and pure and true was gone, decimated by fragile barriers that could not withstand the whirling winds of life. There are things that keep us sane in this world. Things that make it possible for us to maintain a delicate balance. Once we lose them that balance shifts and falters and falls quickly in the gutter.
We give into the abyss.
Those things can be a thought, a picture, a song, a poem, a person.
The naked girl almost strapped to the bed sheets suddenly understood she had lost her thing. For the past months, she had been roaming like a wanderer lost at sea. She wondered why she had forced herself into those decisions, why her life had led to her being used like a ragged doll by senseless men.
Somewhere inside of her the voice of that long lost boy kept ringing, warning her about these cavemen and hunters who see women as their prey and take them down at the slightest opportunity.
Tonight she had been a victim of such a man. But then again, it was a feeling she had grown used to by now.
There was a disturbing silence outside. The robins were silent. The tree branches didn’t dare sway to the blows of the fierce wind. The frogs and toads in the pond nearby had stopped croaking. The man was still on top of her, letting out groans and moans and occasionally stopping for a breather and a gulp of that stale vodka. During those brief times, the girl remained unmoved, unshaken, her head tilted to the outside, to the distant moonlight, reaching for another life.
All remained quiet through the night. All except the shrieks and screams inside that girl. They were extinguished by a sense of helplessness and surrender.
Far from there, at the other end of the city, a little room light was on. A boy sat at his desk and wrote about the girl he lost and wished he could get back.
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Why you should read this book:
If you’re looking for the next Great American Novel, then this is not it. I promise you this is not a literary masterpiece. I promise you this is not a great book of art. Let us not fall into the illusions of grandeur and simply call things by what they are: A Road Away From Home is a novel, meant to break social boundaries and shatter common beliefs. It is meant to be read with examining eyes and an open heart, for its power lies in its truth. It carries honest words and stems from a very raw, real place. It is meant to contain rough edges, it is meant to contain strong parts that challenge the reader and push him to his limits. If you read this novel and do not feel at a certain point that you want to drop the book or burn it to ashes and move on to something else, then you are not reading it correctly. You are not fully immersing yourself in its story and its social milieu and its characters. This book is made to push you into giving up on it after tough chapters, but as in everything else, the beauty lies in waiting. For only when you see this book through will you truly understand all of its parts and piece them together: every act, every decision, every situation, every thought…and then, just then will the book have proven that it is a whole entity, much more than the sum of its parts, and it will have connected you to its world and its characters and shared with you a piece of their lives in a land perhaps far from yours. But all this, of course, is only possible if you read the book correctly.