Challenge Submission Forgive Me?

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Challenge Submission Forgive Me?

heather

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Summer Donovan stared in the mirror, yet another version of herself looking back. This one she was calling 'Kayley Greyson.' And the woman knew, with absolute and sickening certainty, that this identity would not be her last.

Once upon a time, she had no other names, no fake IDs in her kitchen's bottom drawer. Back then, her long brown hair had never been dyed, and her green eyes were bright and unshadowed.

Her five year relationship with Brian was perfect…Until it wasn't. The first two years were absolute bliss, both Summer and Brian head over heels for each other. It was the third year when Brian got promoted to the Homicide Division at work, and it changed something inside of him. Summer couldn't blame him - the man spent his days witnessing horrific crimes, investigating terrible acts, tinkering in the brains of villains. How could he not become paranoid and protective of his wife?

It started small at first. Brian began showing up at her job throughout the day - 'just checking in,' he'd say before he places kisses to her temple. Then came the cameras inside the house. Sure, it was a bit creepy, but Summer hardly realized they were there, and it was good security incase of any break-ins. Until she'd be in the bathroom for longer than ten minutes, and Brian would burst through the door, terrified that something had happened to her. Things only got worse from there. He made Summer quit her job, confined her to the house. He placed GPS trackers on her car, monitored her calls and texts. At first, he at least allowed her to go to the mall, to the grocery store, as long as she promised to call when she left and got back. Until that was deemed to be too unsafe, too.

She talked to his parents, to his boss. She begged him to change his job, to seek out therapy…Anything but this. But he only got worse, and Summer couldn't take it anymore. Her mental health was suffering, and she felt like one more moment inside that house would drive her to the brink of insanity. So she ran. It didn't take Brian long to find her - less than an hour, to be exact. And when he did, he decided to lock her in the basement. A prisoner in her own home.

"I love you," he said. "This is the only way I can keep you safe," he said. Another kiss to her temple.

Four months. Summer spent nearly 120 days locked in that basement before she successfully escaped. She'd finally figured out how to disable the generator Brian checked daily. One night, when the power went out, product of a Pennsylvanian summer thunderstorm, she knew her husband would have no access to the cameras. She also knew he was not home. Her only chance to get out of there. The woman was covered in blood by the time she bursted through the door, but adrenaline powered her on. She stole four hundred dollars from the safe in the bedroom, one change of clothes, then took off in her Camry, relieved to find the spare key she'd hidden years ago was still behind the toolbox in the garage. After she ran, she knew she needed to disappear. Become someone else. And so she did.

Summer chopped off her hair to become Alexis Glade, finding a waitressing job in Virginia after she ran out of money for gas. Her story was that her husband cheated on her, took all the money with him. That identity lasted four months before Brian found her, the woman panicked when she saw him sitting in the passenger seat of her car, waiting for her after her shift at the diner.

A long bus ride later, she dyed her hair pitch black and wore brown contacts for her time as Meredith Porthouse, ending up in Phoenix where she becomes a receptionist for a gardening service. It took Brian ten months to find her that time. He was sloppy again when he did, though - leaving a voicemail on her phone, giving her a time and place to meet him, one block away from her apartment.

She emerged as Jolene Haggerty when she got off the train in Washington - hair permed and dyed blonde, blue contacts in her eyes. This time, she hadn't even bothered getting a fake identity. She cleaned hotels and was paid under the table, the owner allowing her to sleep in one of the vacant rooms as night when there was one. She saw no one, spoke to no one. Paranoid and lonely, isolated and confused, she spent every night wondering if this was just as bad as living in the basement. Wondering if perhaps there, where someone loved her, even if it was incredibly fucked up, was better than this life - the running, the hiding, the isolation, the depravity. Brian found her again a day after that, and she almost went home with him. Almost.

Now, Kayley Greyson stared back at her in the clouded mirror of the women's shared bathroom in the boarding house she'd been staying at in California. Summer couldn't even remember what she looked like anymore, back when she was herself. Her cheeks were hollow, her skin colorless, her eyes dark and dead. She hadn't even bothered to find a job this time - had no energy for it. Instead, she spent her days curled up in her bunk, waiting. Waiting to live. Waiting to die. Waiting for Brian.

There was a birthday card on her bunk when she returned to it, a pretty pink envelope with pristine black writing on the front. 'Summer.' Brian's handwriting. It took him only two months to find her this time. She could no longer tell if she was panicked or relieved. Her hands shook as she opened the card. 'Look outside, my love. I'm sorry I'm a day late, baby. Forgive me?' Summer walked out the door of the boarding house and into Brian's arms.

"I love you," he said.
 
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