I remember taking… I remember taking…, taking…, I… I remember taking refuge… I… I remember…
I was lying on the mats in the editors room, on top of the old curtains. The familiar and obscured room around me did not comfort me. My body a ball, tight as a clutched fist, all tingling as if a slightly painful electric current ran through it. I do not remember breathing at all, but I must have been because I did not die. In that moment I would rather have I had though. I was afraid and ashamed and confused. I could not get rid of those haunting images of Lindsey being raped in the park next to the pond. Was she raped? She was paid for it, said the man. The sound of her cries and pleas, her thin voice. Those men. Those men fucking her. Lindsey going silent.
Why did I not do something? Why did I watch? What did I see? What is it I watched? What the fuck in me wanted to watch such a thing? Why the fuck did I not do something about it? What could I have done? Was she raped?
Please, go away. Go away. Please. Mum. Help me.
I sat up. I must have slept because something woke me. I heard footsteps in the main hall and through the long and narrow landscape windows between the editors room and the entrance hall, I saw the lights in the school switch on. What time is it? Who is there? What happened?
I realised I had been dreaming. Christ, I had had a nightmare about Lindsey. Did I scream? Did I wake up the priests? Was I found out? Maybe it was a good time to leave. Right now. I carefully moved, picked up my shoes and sneaked down the staircase step by step. The door into the entrance hall at the end of the steps was closed. I could see the light from the entrance hall flow in the narrow gap underneath the door. Was anybody still there? Could I go through? Or should I wait?
I did not hear anything so I pushed down the handle on the door. Slowly. There was no response. I pushed open the door bit by bit. Still nothing happened. I carefully peaked through. There was light everywhere, but I could not see or hear anybody. Nothing moved. I could see light through the hinged door to the priests residence too. So it was them, I did wake them up. Damn. I had to get out of here.
I figured my best options would be to go up the main stairs and walk the big hallway to the next staircase. Then down into the catacombs and through there make my way into the basement. Then out and away. So I swiftly crossed the main hall. All that light. I made my way up. Left turn, passed the Chapel. Left turn, right turn, moved into the hallway. The lights were not switched on here. I moved closely to the wall. The staircase would be to my left. Where was it?
I heard footsteps. Were they coming from my front? From the back? Approaching? Fuck! Where is that door to the staircase? No, this is a closet. Where is that door?
I duck into the staircase and made my way downstairs again. But then the door on ground level opened. Never mind if anybody saw me. Now all I could do was be quick. Instead of going down, I went up. Into the attic. Up there I ran all the way back to the priests residence and there I stopped for a moment. I had never been here before. Did it actually go all the way to the other side of the building or would I get trapped? I could not be not sure. I listened carefully, but I did not hear anybody. No voices. No footsteps. What if I were to just sit here, hold tight. Wait and see. Maybe they would not find me here. And then I got spooked by a door closing very nearby.
I moved again. Forward. There was no other way to go. The attic was largely empty. The floorboards were covered in filth and they were noisy. If there were any priests living in the rooms on the second floor, they would now know there was someone moving over their heads. I started to run for it. There was a door at the far end of the attic. It was not locked. I stepped into my shoes and made my way downstairs as fast as I could. All the way into the basement.
I could not see much down here. I pictured the outline of the school. I was at the far end of the priests residence. So I would have to go straight first, then left, then right, then a long straight again. Then it would look familiar and I would reach the door to the teacher’s bicycle parking.
My eyes got quickly used to the lack of light. I made my way. There were no significant obstacles luckily. I made it to the door unhindered, unlocked it, opened it, closed it and sneaked off.
I slid over the cast iron, low fence at the far end of the school court. Like a thief. After some hundred yards I turned around and looked back. Then I turned away again. I knew I could not go back there.
It was cold outside. I forgot my socks inside. I put my hands in my pockets and started to walk. Now what?