She lies wrapped in the tight cocoon of warm blankets, listening to the rain beat on the roof like hammers against her head. This small basement room would be depressing, if it were not for the more depressing place that she usually lives... in the bowels of her memories. She doesn't remember when she left the room last. Her parents coax her out occasionally to give her food, but she retreats quickly back to the darkness. The darkness doesn't erase the memories, but it muffles them, waters them down to a point where they are bearable.
Damn these senses! The thoughts running through her head are hard enough, but it's the sounds, smells, tastes that push her to the edge of insanity. Insanity. It's a word she is coming to grips with, though no one has said the word aloud to her yet. Her parents speak of counseling, say it would be good for her, good for them all. But that would mean leaving the house, and she isn't ready to do that. Outside the house those memories lurk, waiting to assail her.
She remembers the smells, the rotting stench of garbage in the dumpster nearby, the diesel fumes of the city bus, the cold, early morning air. She remembers the taste of blood in her mouth after he backhanded her to the ground, the taste of the dirt and dust in that parking lot, as she lay there, too afraid to get up and face what was happening. And the sounds... the sounds are the memories she can't bear. The sound of her baby crying, the sound of her own cries, begging for that baby to be back in her arms, the sound of a siren chasing demons in a distant part of the city, too far away to help her here and now with her own demon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
It is years later, and that baby is almost grown. She stands here in the bus terminal, knowing the goodbye, though temporary, is imminent. She sees her daughter look at her watch, impatient for her bus to come, for her journey to begin. She is an independent thing, much like her mother. She gazes down the tracks and sees the years behind her rolling through her mind. Years of struggling, of fighting her way out of the dark. Her parents helped her fight, helped her to be strong again, to be a good parent herself. She spent those years struggling, walking the fine line between wanting to hold her daughter tightly, not to lose her again, and with letting her go, teaching her to be strong and a fighter herself.
They had argued in recent weeks about this trip. She knew her daughter was right, knew she was old enough to go on her own, and knew she had to let her go. But it was hard, so hard. So many happy years together, just the two of them. She sees the bus approaching, and her heart swells with love, pride, fear. A long hug, an "I'll call you" and her daughter boards the bus, momentarily disappearing from view. Her heart catches, and then she catches sight of her again, settling into a window seat. She smiles, puts her hand up to wave as the bus begins to pull away. And the smell of the diesel fumes assail her.