I was going to try and scare the bejesus out of you all, but opted for this instead. I hope you enjoy my Halloween treat.
The Broken Girl
She lay in the road like a deer or a dog, a broken object meant for better things, a crumpled mess.
I pulled the jeep over and rushed out to help her; I cried at her crippled form. More a heaped pile of bones like a crimson-sprinkled ghost than a pretty young girl, she was all but dead to the world, though not to me.
I placed the girl on a sheet of tarpaulin I kept aside for dirty jobs, cursed at myself for considering her such, then rolled her up like a dead pet. For her part, she did not resist. The broken girl never once twitched even an eye, never once murmured a word. She didn’t have long, and I knew it.
The road back to the city took an eternity. I lived where I did on purpose to get away from everyone and everything. Solitude was the single luxury I enjoyed, or had, until then. The one time I longed for civilisation to be nearer, to rush towards me and help save her, it just never seemed to get any closer. The lights of the metropolis twinkled on the horizon like will-o’-the-wisps teasing my heart into thinking her saveable when in fact she’d almost gone.
I raced down the back roads, dirt spraying in all directions, until it met the freeway in a deserted rendition of what they’d been built for and floored it.
I stopped looking in the rearview mirror when her blood started to drip out onto my car mat. What had they done to her? It was so wrong, so very wrong!
An hour of anxious speeding swept past and nothing much changed. I thought I saw her fingers twitch once but could’ve been mistaken. Only her wracked breaths and the rising of her naked breasts gave any indication of the poor thing still being alive. I prayed it lasted.
By the time we reached the bridge that crossed the river and allowed entry to the city true, I was beyond panic and had settled into a state of inner calm, or madness, I wasn’t sure which? That’s why when I saw the bridge folded like a broken knee, stuck, very stuck, and impassible. All I did was sigh.
Casting the girl a pathetic ‘it’ll be all right’ smile, I went to investigate. There wasn’t a person, car, boat or anything in sight just the distant flickering lights of the city and the unobtainable dream of fixing a broken girl.
That’s when most people would’ve given up, but not me. I imagined the faces of those who’d harmed her, leering, laughing, even joking at her plight and it moved me to do what some might have said foolhardy.
My jacket made a pillow for the girl to lift her head ever so slightly. For the rest, I removed my jeans, shirt and boots, folded them up and placed them in the tarpaulin with the girl. Then, I picked her up with the care I’d have afforded a crystal decanter in my makeshift hammock, carried her down to the river bank, and swam.
I hauled my burden through the choppy water if that godawful sludge of a river could be termed so. I pushed and pulled, coughed and spluttered, and made my way in chilling temperatures to the other side. When I reached the far bank, I was almost as dead as the girl, but I was no longer alone.
“I’ll take her now, son,” said a voice of honeyed silk.
And as if by magic a light came on. The Angel, for he could’ve been nothing else with those wings of swanlike majesty, unwrapped my flesh and bone package and lifted the broken girl into his arms.
“I’ll look after her now,” he said and smiled. “You needn’t worry anymore.”
And somehow, I knew he would. Somehow, I knew he always would. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the girl was going to a better place.
My thoughts came to an abrupt halt, however, as the bridge groaned into action. I turned to look, as the light behind me dimmed, and by the time I looked back, they’d gone.
It was hours later when I made it home. I expected my wife to be beside herself with worry. I’d have had to try to explain. But what could I have said? I didn’t though. She already knew.
My wife waited at the door tears in her eyes. I’d not put one damp foot on the ground when she flung her arms around my neck, buried her head into my saturated collar and wept like she’d never stop.
“I’ve had a visitor,” she finally whispered. “A person came to tell me you tried to help someone. That you were the last decent man, and I was a lucky woman. They told me not to worry and that you’d be home soon. So I wasn’t scared, not really.”
“Who?” I asked.
“Pretty little thing,” she said. “She had the saddest eyes I’d ever seen almost as if she knew something awful was about to happen. She said you forgot this and was returning it on your behalf.”
I took my jacket, the one I’d rested beneath the broken girl’s head and hung it on the hook behind the door.
I’ve never touched it since. I just couldn’t.