Are You Okay?
Flash fiction/short story
She hangs her head low, avoiding all eye contact as she passes by staring faces. She is ashamed, angry, embarrassed, but most of all she is hurt.
The pain runs deeper than the bruises on her face, deeper than the broken ribs and swollen wrists. She hurts in places she's not sure will heal.
"Hey," someone calls from behind her.
She lets her guard down and turns, her face, her bruises, plain for all to see.
"What happened?" The person asks her.
She looks down. Her answer is simple. "I tripped and fell," she says almost too automatically. She swallows. No one will believe that lie. She should have said she got hit in the eye with a softball instead. It would have taken the other person a lot longer to figure out she wasn't athletic enough to even play ball. But no, she had to answer with a line explaining she was a klutz. If this person knew anything about her, they'd know she was far from clumsy.
Regardless, her answer is quick, and she is able to explain away the bruise.
She answered what happened, nothing more, nothing less.
The other person nods, easily accepting the lie.
She takes a breath and turns to go. She doesn't want to walk away. Not really. She wants someone to care. But no one ever wants to know how she feels. No one ever asks if she's okay. She never had to answer that question. And maybe that's okay. Maybe that's what keeps her safe- at least for now.
She shuffles off, not sure if she will make it to class or walk right out of the building. She hopes others won't see the bruise. And if they do, they don't say a word.
When she finally walks into class, the students go silent
and look away. Even the teacher avoids the obvious. She buries herself
in her book. She barely hears the lecture.
She won't say
anything, not without being asked. She is afraid. Afraid of what others
will think of her, afraid of being weak, afraid of the system. And most of all, she is afraid that if she says anything, he will hit her again.
She needs to seek help...
A parent, counselor, teacher...someone.
Someone needs to ask..."Are you okay?"