CW: Home invasion; themes of violence and implied sexual assault.
My life has become a reoccurring nightmare; the same one haunts me every night and has for the last year. There is no escaping it, they’re memories. My memories.
On the phone with my husband, while I'm on my way to the store, “Is there anything else we need while I’m out?”
“Not that I can think of babe.” Jase replies from the other end.
“Okay, if you think of anything just text it me. I love you.”
“Love you more!” he says.
I’m one lucky girl. I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and more! The smoking-hot husband, the cute kid, the new house... what more could a girl ask for? A washer and dryer that don’t die half way through laundry day would be a good start.
Humming to myself as I walk into the local laundry mat, I’ll be here for quite some time... washing and drying the last two weeks worth of dirty clothes, towels and linens. Then I’ve got to stop at the store for groceries and other essentials.
By the time I’m on my way home I’ve been gone the better half of the day, it’ll be time to start cooking dinner soon. Texting my hubby, Jase, on the way home “OMW, home in 20.”
I feel like I’ve been gone forever, that always happens doesn’t it? Not thinking too much about no reply; my amazing husband always greets me in the driveway to help unload the car. We’ve been together since we were teenagers... high school sweethearts.
Pulling into the driveway; it is a bit weird that no one greeted me outside, especially since it isn’t raining today. I hope Bri isn’t giving her daddy any trouble, two-year-old's can be like that. The terrible two are going strong! Grabbing as many groceries I can carry in one trip, I choose to walk up the steps to the front door since the garage door is closed.
Fuck! The front is standing wide open; slivers of wood from the ruined frame crunch under my feet. I throw all the bags down before digging my phone and gun out my purse with shaky hands. Loading a round into the chamber of my compact 9mm as I peek inside the entryway.
“Jase!” I yell from the porch, “Bri! JASE!”
Where are they? Where are the dogs? Did they get out through the open door?
Yelling more desperately from outside the door, dialing 9-1-1 after hearing no one respond from inside. It’s a quick phone call, giving the operator only the information necessary to get them here. I ignore her pleas to wait outside, placing my phone on the entryway table. She can keep talking to herself, find your family!
The living room and kitchen are an absolute wreck; electronics missing, furniture destroyed, cabinetry open and emptied... Someone was in here. Looking and touching and destroying our things! My stomach turns at the thought of a stranger being in my home uninvited. Or strangers!
It is eerily quiet inside, it's not even this quiet when we are all asleep. Walking past the dining room to go down the hallway towards the master bedroom. I'm completely unaware of the dangers still inside the home; trying my best to remember what I learned in those home defense classes my father made me take. Of course, I never actually thought l would need them.
Suddenly feeling a lot less alone, I spin on my heel, gun raised back in the direction I came from.
A sharp pain in my back, distinctly boot shaped, stops me dead in my tracks. Falling to my knees, I fight to take aim at the intruder; my vision blurring from the pain, I can’t seem to focus no matter how hard I try. The tall dark figure kicks my ribs, sending me crashing into the wall.
Now laying on the floor, I instinctively block my face from the continued assault. Hearing my gun, my only means of protection, being kicked across the floor before passing out from the pain.
Three days later...
“NO!” I try to scream out, but my throat is so dry it comes out as a raspy whisper.
Thankfully it was enough. Doctors and nurses soon fill my room, leaving me surrounded by a half-dozen unfamiliar faces. I try to get away, but... oh my god, it hurts! Why does everything hurt?
My eyes are finally adjusting to the bright fluorescent lights above me, only now I wish I couldn't the concern on each of their faces. Looking at my surroundings; I’m in a private hospital room, machines beeping and moaning on either side of me.
A friendly voice catches my attention, “You’re in the hospital honey... you’ve been through quite a bit” a small, chubby nurse says in a soothing tone.
“Where’s Jase? Brianna? Are they okay?” Growing more desperate the more I speak “I need to see them!
“How long have I been here? I need to get home!”
“You were brought in three days ago” she answers cautiously “I guess you were fighting hard to get back; it is impressive you’ve woken up so quickly.” Three days! There is no way, that can’t be right!
Demanding answers, “Where are my husband and daughter?”
A much larger man steps beside the bed, “We are going to take your vitals. They police have been notified that you’re awake, an officer will be by shortly to answer all your questions.”
Nurses hurry about while avoiding eye contact and my pleas for answers. They study the monitors, and check my temperature, heart rate and reflexes. I reach out to grab one of the nurses walking by, but as my long gown slips off my arm I’m shocked by the deep bruising on my skin.
Pulling back the blanket and my gown; I find that my whole body is covered in cuts and scrapes. I am almost entirely covered by deep giant bruises.
The nurse closest looks down at me, her eyes filled with pity. She softly speaks as she rights my gown and tucks the blanket tightly around me on the bed “Honey, you’ve got four cracked ribs, your shoulder was dislocated, and less than forty-eight hours ago you had emergency spinal surgery...”
“Spinal surgery?!” I repeat, shocking myself with how loud I spit out the words.
Nodding and offering a sad smile “Yes dear, whomever kicked you did some real damage... you had multiple cracked or herniated disc, and you were leaking spinal fluid.”
“With some therapy you should be able to walk again, it will take time... you can have a normal life; but...”
“Good lord, there’s more?!” I blurt out, interrupting her again. I should be thankful for any answers at all, but it isn't my health and safety that I want to talk about right now.
“I’m afraid so, your rape kit came back positive. The authorities will be checking for a match in their database.” she says before leaving.
Now that all the nurses and doctors have cleared the room, a gentle knock on the door catches my attention. I look up to see a uniformed officer walk in, I’m still in shock and almost miss his name as he pulls a chair up next to the foot of my hospital bed.
“I’m Officer Thomas, I’ve been assigned to your case... I was hoping to ask you a few questions.” He’s a handsome with a gentle smile, his tan complexion hints at quite a bit of time spent outdoors and his sandy blonde hair is just a bit overdue for a trim.
Sighing as I dread the answer to my own question “My family? Do they know I’m here? Can I see them?”
I know as soon as he glances at the floor what he’s going to say “I’m sorry Mrs. Daniels, but your husband and daughter didn’t...”
Raising my hand to stop him, I choke down the lump in my throat. I try to cry, but no tears fall...
“I understand this is all a shock to you, but can you think of anyone or any reason that your family might have been a target for such a violent crime?”
“I have some pictures here, of your home... it would really help us build a better case if can you tell me what is missing from them?” he asks while handing me a file.
Flipping slowly through the dozens of photos, every inch of my home displayed in chaos, “Everything.” I whisper.
“I’m sorry, but can you elaborate?” he asks, pulling out a pad of paper to take notes.
“We had guns locked in that safe...” I reply, pointing to the photo, “All of his music and recording equipment is gone, the televisions, my jewelry box...”
I gasp as I look down at my left hand, only a small tan line remains from where my wedding rings sat. A single tear finally escaping. “They took the rings right off my hand.”
“From my perspective, whoever did this... had a plan. In order to steal the size and number of items missing from your home, well, they would have needed mulitple vehicles or a large box truck. With your permission, I’d like to contact your insurance company for a more detailed list of the items we should be looking for.”
“Of course,” I manage to answer, fighting back the growing lump in my throat. “Do you think we, umm... I might know who did this?”
“It is possible, we are still waiting on the DNA results from your rape kit... but with no solid leads yet we will keep an officer on site should any issues arise. I must advise you to keep contact with anyone other family and close friends to a minimum while the investigation is ongoing.”
“How will I plan their funerals? I don’t even know where to begin?” I mumble, thinking out loud.
“We were informed at the station, Mrs. Daniels, that your spinal injuries were so severe that it could be weeks, before you woke again. I do believe the hosptial has been in contact with next of kin to identify them and decide the next course of action.”
He heaves a heavy sigh before looking at me like he regrets having to be the one to tell me this, “According to our files your husband and daughter have been scheduled for cremation as soon as the final autospy report is complete, I can check to see who identified them... but to the best of my knowledge they're at the county morgue and it is unsafe for you to leave the hospital in your condition.”
Struggling to catch my breath, my heart feels like it is threatening to burst right through my chest it’s pounding so hard... They’re gone! They are gone, and I don’t even get to say goodbye! Why didn’t I die too? Why can’t I die too?
“Mrs. Daniels, breathe. Breathe, please! NURSE!” Officer Thomas tries to calm me down while calling for help, “We are going to do everything we can to catch the bastards that did this to you... I promise.”
The same sweet nurse from before rushes into the room and squeezes a syringe full of something into my IV, “You’re having a panic attack sweetie, this will help you get some rest.” Rest? No! I’ve been asleep for three days; I need my husband... I need my baby!
The sedatives kick in as I watch Thomas leave my room. The darkness envelops me; forcing me to relive that night, as I’ve done every night since… for the past year.