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[Cassie lies in a coma after her fight with Jack. Is the love of her sister enough to bring her back. This is the conclusion to ‘Shooting with Helena’. I hope you enjoy it. C xx]
Having a near death experience can be, so they say, a liberating experience. Some people who claim to have had such an encounter say that they’ve received revelations from past incidents, visions of futures to come, ineffable questions answered, or a feeling of lightness and nirvana as close to God as can be described.
I felt none of those things.
In my near-death experience, all I felt was an empty, vast universe of nothingness. A place devoid of light, noise, movement or the passage of time. All I can remember of it is the feeling – the suggestion really – of an infinity of nothingness waiting out there to take me back. It was a very dark and frightening place.
It took me two weeks to awake from my coma, my infinity of blackness, and another two days before I could begin to speak again. My first words, when I forced the near-fatally bruise muscles of my throat to articulate them, were;
Which should’ve come out as “Where is Helena?” but failed to do so by some margin. For in those three days since I had woken – at night time as it turned out – I had not seen my sister. The hospital where I was being cared for was sterile and clinical, but the bed was comfortable and the nurses were kind. They sat with me, spoke or read to me, helped me to eat and bathe. Mom’s visits were frequent and wonderfully loving. She would talk about everything that had happened in her day, or since she had seen me; going into great detail about how the egg she had cooked for breakfast had been more like a dairy Picasso than a regular fried hash. Or how she’d met old Mr Patterson at the store, and he’d asked her whether her twins (he always called Helena and I twins) had been to a girl guides camp during the summer (he still thought we were about twelve years old).
But Helena had not come to see me. I tried to ask mom questions about where my sister was, by using hand gestures or, on one occasion, attempting to write it down (that was a disaster too, let me tell you), mom would seem to understand, but change the subject. She would only ever say that everyone was okay, including Helena, and that we were all looking forward to you coming home as soon as possible.
Eventually, I gave up. I even got quite depressed that I could see her, touch her hand, have her kiss me gently. I missed her. Missed her so much I wanted, on one or two occasions, to tell the nurses why I missed her so much and how, as both Helena’s sister and her illicit lover, she meant more to me than anything. But I didn’t. I kept that part of my relationship with her a deep and unrequited secret. I also couldn’t understand why she hadn’t come to see me and teetered for many long moments between the emotions of anger (that she hadn’t bothered to see me), and fear (that she had abandoned me). The fear was the worst. Fearing that my sister, my beautiful sexy little sister who had been my closest friend and most ardent lover, no longer wanted me was too painful to think about.
On the day that I uttered those non-words (after which I was too embarrassed to try again; I wanted to get my head straight first), a kindly looking middle aged doctor came into my room to see me. He sat on the chair beside my bed and asked me lots of questions about my health and well-being. I nodded, tried to smile, and gestured to my throat.
He smiled back, lips his lips then said;
“Cassiope, I have to ask you a question. When you were attacked, do you remember being sexually assaulted?”
I wondered what on earth he was talking about for a moment. Surely he could see that I had very nearly been strangled to death? Some other doctors had even spent long minutes trying to explain to me how close I had come to a complete organ failure as a result of it. What had sexual molestation anything to do with it?
And then my mind caught up with me and I realised that when I arrived at hospital they would have certainly checked me all over for other injuries. And, without a doubt, they would have found some evidence that I had recently had sex. Quite a lot of it, actually. And, of course, they would wonder if I’d been raped.
Not knowing what to say to that, and feeling more than an inch or two of guilt or shame or some other stupid caveman reaction steal over me, I simply turned my head the other way and looked out of the window to the hospital gardens.
The doctor laid his hand briefly, but only very briefly, on my arm.
“You’re not pregnant.” he said, as though that should have come as some kind of comfort. Still I said nothing and, I would later realise, that that silence would be taken for confirmation of my status as a rape victim. Over the next couple of hours I heard snatches of conversation between the doctors or nurses, picking out words like “…terrible attack…” and “…vicious czech streets porno trauma…” and “..lucky she wasn’t injured more…”
I felt slightly giddy (and a little bit ashamed) that nothing could have been further from the truth. That I had not been brutalized and raped, but had loved and been loved back by the most beautiful woman in existence. By my sister, Helena.
Who I still had not seen since I woke from my coma.
That evening, after the doctor had spoken to me, mom arrived with a female police offer at her side. Mom looked worried, in that way that all generally innocent people seem to suffer a guilt complex in the presence of authority.
“Hey sweetie!” she said, stepping up close to the bed and kissing me on the forehead. I closed my eyes, feeling the warmth and love in that kiss. She sat down and looked over her shoulder nervously.
“Um, Officer Payton here would like to ask a few questions, honey. Is that okay?”
In answer, I raised my eyebrows and smiled a little. Mom smiled back and vacated the chair, which Officer Payton took, assuming a very stiff pose because of all the equipment fastened to her belt. She was a stern-looking woman, in her late thirties or early forties. Trim, in the way that suggested hard hours at the gym, with short bleach-blonde hair ruffled a little at the top. She didn’t have any make-up on that I could see. In fact, not much really to identify her as a woman other than a pair of breasts at least two sizes too big for someone of her build. They strained against her buttoned shirt and must have been awfully uncomfortable to carry.
“Ms Jones.” she said, formally, setting her lips in a kind of grimace that was presumably meant to be a smile. Her voice had a thick country accent, Iowan maybe, but certainly not local.
“Can I call you-” she consulted a notepad “-Cassie?”
“Cassie, I know that you can’t speak right now, but I need to ask a couple of difficult questions about the attack the other day. Will that be okay?”
I nodded again.
“Okay. At about what time did the attack occur, as far as you remember?
I wrinkled my brow, trying to think. We went to Sasha’s at about eleven fifteen. Must have left there about one o’clock. After that, including the short drive to the car park where Helena and I confronted Jack, it must have been another hour at least. I looked over at officer Payton and raised two digits from my left hand.
I nodded. Officer Payton frowned, checked a couple of pages back in her notebook, then returned to me.
“Okay. Now the attack – and if you want me to stop, Cassie, just raise your hand up, okay? – how many attackers do you remember, two or three? More?”
I wrinkled my brow again, as though trying to remember. I had no idea what Helena or Jack had said to the police, but thought that I ought to aim low, blaming my memory rather than pitching wildly too high., I raised another two fingers.
“Two?” Officer Payton looked confused, then carried on. “What did they look like? Hispanic, white, black?”
I waved my hand a little. Can’t remember, said the gesture. Pass.
“Okay, Cassie. Okay. You’re doing fine. Now, this is going to be quite difficult. I know one of them singled you out and stra- uh put his hand to your throat. Do you remember falling to the ground, or being knocked down?”
“Okay. Now did one of your attackers take off your jeans and underwear?”
“And did one of them force himself onto you?”
A reluctant, extremely guilty nod. In the background, Mom started crying softly. Officer Payton was scribbling notes on her pad. She asked me a few more questions, to all of which I was non-committal, then, when I held up my hand, she mirrored the gesture and folded up her notepad.
“Okay, okay. Thank you very much, Ms Jones. You’ve been very helpful. I’d like to come visit you when you’re well enough to speak to take a full statement if that’s okay?”
I nodded. Officer Payton stood up and laid an uncertain hand on my arm.
“You’re lucky you had your cousin nearby to step in and save you.” she said. “Quick thinking from your sister too.”
I nodded, closing my eyes at the dreadful idea that Jack had somehow saved me.
Officer Payton went over and said a few words with mom, glancing over her shoulder once or twice and tapping her notepad. After a bare minute or two, she left the room and mom came over. She sat very close to me, and hugged me for a while, trying not to cry at the thought of her daughter all but confirming that she had been raped. At that point, I felt the most wretched that I’d ever been in my life. Only my inability to speak saved me from being a worse liar.
That night, after mom had gone home and the daylight outside had pitched itself well past the ninth innings, I drifted off into a strangely comforting sleep. When I awoke the next morning, it was the first time czech taxi porno that it didn’t make me wince whenever I swallowed. I felt oddly refreshed and focussed. When I reached into the vanity bag mom had brought for me, I felt something soft and pulled out a piece of tissue paper. I unfolded it and my heart skipped a beat. There were words written onto the tissue using the thin edge of a deep red lipstick. It was a message from Helena!
I closed my eyes for a moment, then opened them; reading the words.
Cassie, I’ve missed you so much. Will see you soon.
3 guys attacking. Two white, one Hispanic. You hit panic button, I called Jack who was at Wendell Place outlets (retro clothes store). You near car, dragged into rear alley.
Love you so much. H x
Next to the kiss was the imprint of a real kiss; that crinkled lip-shaped impression of the tissue being pressed to someone’s lips. Helena’s lips.
I folded the note tightly in my fist, then opened it and read it again. Mom must have told Helena about the police officer visiting me, and what I’d said to her. She must have stolen in during the night, or when I was asleep, and left me the message. Writing it in her lipstick, so I could rub it off. Always the clever girl.
I pressed the lip-impression to my own lips, closing my eyes as the tissue touched me, willing the kiss from my sister to be real.
I rubbed out the message, but tore out and kept the lip-imprint. I was still an impressionable teenager in love, after all.
That morning, I spoke properly for the first time, asking the nurses for some orange juice. There was some professional delight from the staff there, but concern when I said I wanted to go home that day. I called mom from my cell phone, and told her (in a still croaky voice) that I was checking out and coming home. Mom said she’d pick me up in an hours’ time.
Before that happened, I got another visit from Officer Payton. She strained at her bedside manner again, and said she wanted to check a few facts, now that I could talk. She sat on the chair by my bed and I injected the details Helena had left for me into the story. Officer Payton made a few grunting noises, as though what I had said suddenly made more sense, and asked me a few more. I tried to concentrate of embellishing the details Helena provided (without wildly exaggerating), but found myself constantly distracted by Officer Payton’s enormous breasts. I suddenly had a yearning to see them unsaddled from her regulation police bra. To feel the weight of them in my hand. It was an odd feeling on a number of levels. I’d never had such urges for anyone other than my sister before now. I didn’t particularly find Officer Payton (I convinced myself she would have to have a solid, sturdy name like Sandra, Tess, or Gaby). Besides, it was embarrassing to find yourself staring at a woman’s breasts only two feet away from you.
Eventually, Officer Payton seemed satisfied that she wasn’t going to get any more details from me and stood up.
“Thank you, ma’am.” she said, standing formally, but in an upright way that made her breasts strain forward.
“I don’t even know your name.” I said, shaking her hand as she prepared to leave.
“Chris.” she said, smiling awkwardly and turning to leave. I nodded, feeling that that was somehow right.
Officer Payton stopped for a moment by the door and turned back to me.
“Short for Cristabel” she added, before leaving.
Wow, I thought. Just goes to show.
Mom was a bundle of fluster and excitement when she came to see me. Over my underwear, I put on a loose summer dress mom had brought with her, and a pair of sandals. Mom must have been in a hurry, because when she turned up, she was wearing jeans for just about the first time I’d seen in almost a year. She looked good in them; much younger, and her legs were still long and slim.
She hugged me gingerly, patting down the sides of my hair and kissing my cheek; smiling at me and admonishing me for trying to be too active. Then she helped me to check out of the hospital and we got back into her car and went home.
“I’m afraid Aunt Maddy had to go back home.” said mom as she drove through some terrible later afternoon traffic. “I guess after everything, you would have wanted to say goodbye. At least to Jack. After what he did.”
I had been prepared for something like that; some prompt that I should recognise Jack as my saviour. But even with that knowledge, it took an effort to smile and say;
“I know, mom. I’ll send a card.”
“You do that, sweetie.” said mom, nodding. “You might want to send him a trinket or something too. Something personal that he won’t forget.”
I brightened at this, smiling more openly at the idea of sending Jack a very special memento of his time here with me, Helena and mom.
Mom parked up in the driveway and insisted – insisted – on helping me up to the house. As though I’d recently been paralysed digitalplayground porno or something. To be honest, though, I was dead, dead tired. All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and have mom dote on me for an indeterminate number of hours. I wasn’t to be fully disappointed.
Helena had not come home from some class or other at college, mom explained. My heart sank a little, but I was secretly pleased too. Pleased that I would get some rest and try to look a little better for her when I saw her. Somehow, even though I knew it was silly, I wanted to look my best for her.
Mom also insisted on fixing me a light meal and a drink while I went up stairs to lie down. But, by the time she had brought the tray up to my bedroom, I was fast asleep under the covers.
When I awoke, it was dark, but still early enough for activity to be heard on the street outside. I took a long, measured breath, feeling the air rush in past my bruised throat. As I breathed, I took in a full lung full of the scent of my own bed sheets; a warm, comforting scent that made me feel at home. There was another scent too. I turned my head.
“Hey sis.” said Helena. She was sitting by the side of my bed, perched on the edge of my chair, her knees touching the bed and her hands clasped together between them. She looked dreadful, like someone who hadn’t slept in a week. I stared at her for a moment; searching those deep green eyes of her, visually tracing the line of her jaw, the rise of her cheekbone, the smooth grace of her nose.
“Why didn’t you come to see me?” I whispered.
Helena attempted a nervous smile, saying;
“I wanted to. I really did. But I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t- Oh Cassie, do you forgive me? I couldn’t bear not to be with you and not hold you and kiss you. And- and I didn’t want to upset that. I didn’t want to ruin what we have for each other. I’m so sorry!”
I reached over and pulled out her hand from between her legs.
“I just missed you” I said quietly. We held each other’s hands for a moment, feeling the soft texture of each other’s skin. “Come here.” I said, tipping my head. Helena leaned forward to kiss me and, when she did, I felt stars swimming beneath my closed eyelids. Her lips were dry and I wasted no time in setting that right. But I was still quite fragile, and didn’t want things to get out of hand. Helena must have sensed this too, because her kisses weren’t urgent, passionate things. Just tender expressions of her love.
She got onto her knees by my bed and we held each other for a while.
“What happened with Jack?” I said, laying back down to give us some space. “What happened about him and mom?”
“I’ll tell you all about it.” said Helena.
And she did. Mom, like I would have done, had fallen for the classic blackmailer’s trap; promising more and more things to satisfy someone who held something on them. In this case, it was a video, an old VHS cassette that Jack had somehow got hold of from over twenty years ago. Where he had got it from was a mystery. And how he had found it was also unknown. He had simply told Helena that he’d been fooling around on some chatrooms on the internet, and came across it (Helena suspected he had an inkling from Aunt Maddy, then actively chased it up). Anyway, the upshot of it was, Jack had a video, initially taken from an old hand-held cine-cam, or a hot blonde dancer stripping in a men’s bar.
The hot blonde was, of course, mom.
Helena retrieved the VHS copy Jack had brought with him to blackmail mom, and reassured Jack that any infringement to our rules to him; anything at all, and the video of him ass- and gag-fucked by a gay porn star would be well circulated. When Aunt Maddy, Jack and Rachel left, Helena had the hard part of talking about it with mom.
Lena didn’t talk too much about that conversation, but said that she told mom what Jack had said to her about the tape. Mom had nearly had a heart attack there and then, and had refused to talk about it. But Helena had persisted, saying that Jack had given her the tape, which she had destroyed, and that she’d got Jack to promise that nothing of its sort would ever happen again. Mom didn’t give details about what she’d done to satisfy Jack, but had told Helena that it was “more than you’d expect from an aunt and her nephew.”
At the end of a very long and painful conversation, Helena and mom had found a new strength, and confidence in each other. Mom got Helena to promise she would not mention it to me or anyone else, as she didn’t want me to think of her as a pervert.
We both smiled at the irony of that part.
And, despite that, Helena had not entirely kept her word at all. She had not destroyed the tape.
“So…. Do you want to watch it?” she said to me.
I thought about this. Did I really want to see a younger version of my mom, stripping off in a seedy club, oozing sex from every pore? Helena and I had a strange, beautiful and irreplaceable incestuous relationship, but I had no such feelings for mom. But was that because I had always seen her in that light? Given my feelings for Helena, would I feel different if I saw my mom in the prime of her youth; gyrating erotically round a pole, or up a catwalk? Could I, in that circumstance, find myself attracted to my mom?
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