Chapter 3: The Apartment
Sheryl waited until both her brothers had left; Shawn to work at the museum, and Tyler to school. She grabbed a set of keys in one hand and Gwen’s wrist in the other as they headed out the door.
It had been two days since they found her. Two days in which Gwen had already grown terrified of Shawn and begged Sheryl to show her where she use to live. Surprisingly enough it was only a couple of doors down from Sheryl and her brothers.
“Here we are,” Sheryl sighed shoving the key in the lock. She wasn’t sure how her battered friend would take it all.
Gwen looked at the door in nervous anticipation as her friend opened it. She pulled back the hood of her sweater and stepped inside.
Everything in the apartment surprised her.
In what was suppose to be the living room sat a small TV on a stand in front of a tired old couch. Not far from it was a hallway leading to the bathroom and a small bedroom. On the other side was the kitchen littered mostly by cabinets, a microwave, toaster oven, a small refrigerator and a blender.
It was what sat in the middle of the small apartment that caught her eye—an enormous canvas sat on an easel almost as tall as she was. Beside it stood a rack of both finished and unfinished canvases, a water bucket big enough to fit a small child and a rolling cart full of paints and brushes.
Gwen slowly walked over to the cart to inspect it’s contents. She picked up a brush with worn bristles and waved it about in her hand. The motion chipped some of the paint off the wooden handle to the floor; the pieces laying at her feet.
“You never threw anything away,” Sheryl said laughing when Gwen noticed the tiny mess she had made. “It made Shawn so mad.”
Sheryl’s quiet smile suddenly changed. She wrung her hands and wiped them on her jeans.
“This place was a wreck two weeks ago,” She began. “It was after you and Shawn had your fight…we figured at first it was just because you were angry…but then when you didn’t come back….”
Her voice trailed off.
Gwen touched the now fading shiner on her face.
“H-h-he didn’t hit you,” Sheryl stammered, “Shawn couldn’t—”
Gwen shook her head, brushing aside the thought. She stepped away from the canvases and toward the hall. She clutched her thin fingers to her chest as she made her way to the bedroom. Something was pulling her toward that room, making her shiver as she entered it. Sheryl followed.
A bed sat to the right, dressed in plain sheets. A simple white dresser sat against the back wall, and to the left stood a thin amour with mirrored doors.
Looking at her reflection, Gwen held both hands over her mouth as a flood of memories entered her mind. Tears streaked her face, soaking the bandages on her cheeks. Sheryl touched her shoulders, but Gwen jerked away.
She saw herself, as if a video on rewind, repeatedly thrown against the wall, into the dresser and onto the bed. She let herself fall to the floor sobbing.
“How’d it go,” he asked.
Sheryl stood in the kitchen cooking dinner. Her eyes showed burden.
“Not good,” she answered, “She had a panic attack in the bed room.”
“About what,” Tyler said sitting up suddenly.
“I don’t know…she won’t say…I’m going to spend the night with her to make sure she’s okay.”
“What do I tell Shawn when he gets here?”
“That I’m at a friend’s and—”
“And don’t mention her name? I got it. Man…something really bad must have happened to make her act this way.”
“You remember what it was like before.”
Before seemed like such as harsh word to Tyler. Before they had been just like family—as if Gwen had been his elder sister all along. Before she would come over to help him with his homework, even employing him as her ‘secretary’ for commissions and all her other various jobs. Of course that was before she met Bryan.
Things were fine at first. The two seemed like a perfect match even in the eye of the media which never ceased to plaster their faces across newspapers and magazine ads. But that was before. Before the abuse. Before the arguments and fights. Tyler still remembered the fear in Gwen’s eyes the night she left.
Gwen sat on a stool in front of the canvas still sitting on it’s easel. She had flipped through the others leaning in their rack numerous times already, just as she had done with the rest of the apartment. Everything felt so familiar, and yet so strange to her. But nothing was as clear to her as the memories she encountered in the bedroom that morning. They burned in her mind like an open sore. It was as though the bandage had been ripped off and the blood began to flow again.
Suddenly she heard scrapping at the door, a key sliding in the lock, and the grunting of a masculine voice. Instinctively, Gwen darted out of the room. She scrambled down the hall, to the bedroom and threw herself in the amour. She put her hands over her mouth to hush her heavy breathing. She could hear foot steps moving across the carpet. They seemed to stop at the door for a moment before entering.
“Arrh…,” came another groan and then the bouncing of springs from the bed. “Where are you…?”
After a few minutes, Gwen cracked the closet door open—there was Shawn, laying on his back, feet hanging off the bed.
Copyright The Faith Book 2011