Bridgette – Part One: 1,686 words – here
Bridgette came to. Her bulging eyelids flickered, opening and closing to the steady rhythm of heavy rain dancing on a mass of uncollected, black plastic bin bags. She recognised them as a by-product of underfunded local councils. People’s lives were like leftovers, left to rot inside insipid cartons of bacteria, the discarded minutia of rubbish or traysh.
Bridgette liked to quibble, to annoy as many people as she could. Right now, she was too removed to really care.
Death oozed from the black plastic; its pungent aroma soon arrived at her swollen and crusted nostrils. Bridgette could hardly breathe and gagged slightly until she spluttered blood. It fell in a globular stream into small puddles between the cobbles. She knew where she was. In the low morning light, she watched her blood be cradled for a short time before she began to cough. She was forced to spit.
Oh my god! No, no, no! Fuck, no! Bridgette was in pain, half-numb, but was remembering.
The pain was unreal. She suspected, at the very least, that her ribs were broken due to a bad experience one night when she was so broke, she went down on a stranger. He became very reluctant to give her the much promised and much needed money for food… or something else. She spat at him, and he kicked her ribs in.
She spent the night in A&E, but she consoled herself with the hope she might at least be fed. It was long overdue; the subject of her habit paled for roughly three hours before she was back out there with that neon sign on her forehead, which said,
*Kick me. No, really, I deserve it.*
Bridgette was soaked to the skin in the alley. A thick rat’s tail of hair partially covered her eyes; she couldn’t move a muscle to remove it.
Pain shot through her body bringing her to full consciousness. She stared at her cold hand. Its pallid colour was the background to black and blue splotches and deep grazes full of blood. An elegant butterfly tattoo was practically indistinguishable. It was her last tattoo, and very symbolic to Bridgette. She hoped one day it would inspire her to fly far away from her battered hope and dreams, and make the life she craved for herself.
Please fly. It won’t ever fly again.
Bridgette was delirious and still staring at her hand, which lay beside her face. It felt to her like every bone had been shattered. Soon, the horrible memory of it being trodden on hit her.
His sweat had dripped as he looked down on her. His lips twisted and his eyes were filled with rage. He had just come.
What the fuck do you want? Bridgette screamed. Inside, she cried for her life.
Meanwhile, he had stood to belt his pants, stopping once as he yanked the leather strap tight, before he spat at her. His shoulders bounced, accompanying his perverted laughter. Without a second thought, he brought his foot down hard on her pleading hand, smashing it back to the ground where he thought she deserved to stay, forever.
I could be your daughter. You’re a fucking monster. I hate you. I hate you… I still hate you.
Bridgette’s memories were becoming confused and black again.
With peripheral vision, Bridgette could see her torn pants strewn on top of one bulbous, bin bag. And a shoe, which had been her only weapon, she remembered, had also been cast adrift. It was the only chance she had had in the violent struggle.
Her flesh, especially on her heels, felt raw from being dragged and scraped from where she had dropped, perhaps a few hours ago. The rain continued to fall. Its unkind prickles left Bridgette ready and willing to die.
Breaking the monotonous sound of rain came a gentle crawl and crackle of tyre on the gritty, dank lane. Music emanated from a car, cruising for an early score. It was barely daylight.
Please see me, please, look down here. You waste of skin. Please do something good… Please!
Bridgette coughed up more blood. She soon found that was all she could do – she could move nothing. Her pitiful cough was not going to help her. Using her bruised eyes behind the heavy, rain and blood soaked hair, she tried to follow the car as it passed. But in the end, all she could do was listen. No! Christ!
The car left a trail of a familiar song, slowly dissipating as Bridgette lost consciousness again…
* * * * *
Bridgette had run home from school with a rejuvenated conviction, having been thrown out for the last time for sleeping in class and causing trouble. Expelled for fucking defending myself.
In her bedroom, her radio defiantly blared out, ‘Leave this Shithole’ by The Wranglers – very apt, she thought, as she grabbed at clothes and shoved items into a rucksack, not really thinking, only wanting to run, to once and for all leave hell.
Just get out of this shithole. Don’t worry. Get a job, see life and meet people. Good people. All that jazz.
As Bridgette grabbed and stuffed, hard footsteps pounded up the stairs; even on carpet her mother could make a fuss. Fucking drama queen. She pushed open the door, flinging it so that it hit the bedside drawers. She stomped to the radio and switched it off.
Bridgette didn’t bat an eyelid and continued to grab things while her mother paced, wringing her hands when she finally began to speak; not harshly as her demeanour might have implied, but she was stammering and clumsily spitting words.
You’re pathetic! You’re wasting your time anyway.
All Bridgette ever saw was the same old bleary head of viper tongues hissing and stabbing at her, another horrible person backing her into another dark corner until she feared her ears would bleed or head implode.
At the age of 14, Bridgette tried so hard to believe in God. She did for a short while, but only so that, if there was a god, it might see her life and strike her mother down and evacuate her father to the bowels of hell. Sorted! she thought.
Bridgette was well used to these tirades and didn’t give a rat’s arse anymore. Her mother was still bemoaning to Bridgette that her skirts were like belts holding up her legs with ‘…more leg then skirt’ and ‘what is with those stupid, tarty, black raccoon eyes?’ There were no questions about school, her rucksack or why she was leaving.
I don’t give a rat’s arse anymore, Gloria.
She continued to prattle on and on… about how Bridgette was ‘a big girl now’ but pranced about half dressed, half of the time, ‘and in my house…’ And then, ‘no wonder he…’ The snarling mother bit her lip, hard.
Bridgette stood rigid, like a red-hot poker. The over-gorged rucksack fell to the floor, and useless items fell from every available nook and cranny.
Yes, bitch, bite the fucker off, and bleed to death. Bite that lip like you have always done. Bite it hard!
Bridgette always suspected, deep down in her aching heart, that her pathetic excuse for a mother knew, and that her mother knew she knew about the abuse Bridgette suffered.
Even more perverse, when Bridgette grew older, she’d more or less gathered that her mother didn’t see Bridgette as a vulnerable child who needed her mother to fight for her – to slay the sleazy, twisted dragon, or, rip his fucking head off and take her the hell away. No. She saw Bridgette as a threat.
Bridgette repacked the rucksack. She coldly looked at her mother and hoisted it onto her shoulders before turning to stand inches away from her – the pathetic woman was now visibly trembling; her cheeks twitched and the dark circles were damp.
‘When I leave, I won’t be that fuck’s ‘sweet little girl’ anymore. This shithole will be a bad dream. Maisie down the street will have him all to herself. Did you know about that Gloria?’
No? Well, you know it now, ‘mummy’.
Bridgette leant over and picked up a tatty bathroom towel from her bed and rammed it into Gloria’s hands, after prizing them apart.
From the age of nine, Bridgette had tried various ways to booby trap her door, in case, god forbid, she might have fallen asleep before the boozy fire-breathing dragon came. The rub of the wet towel wedged up in a roll on carpet at the foot of her door, together with the soft shoulder force against her door from her father would almost certainly wake her, or so she hoped.
She hardly ever slept from that age. She couldn’t stay awake at school. Teachers and kids bullied her for being quiet, tired, or for falling asleep… She couldn’t tell anyone why, ever.
Is it my fault? It’s all my fault. I love my daddy, but…sometimes… I hate him.
Wet knuckles gripped tear stained sheets. Her sheets were useless armour. She would sob and cry, ‘mummy, mummy’, only to find out years later, that clearly the wicked, heartless bitch of a monster mother could actually hear her, but chose not to hear.
You’re going to hell, lady, if I have to drive you myself!
For as long as Bridgette could remember, she’d called her mother ‘Gloria’ since it was hard for Bridgette to see the woman as a ‘mother’. She wondered if Gloria had always been that way or if the torment in their lives had changed them both irrevocably. She doubted she could remember good times now, even if there had been any.
* * * * *
Time had inched enough that it had stopped raining. The sudden brightness of light hurt Bridgette’s eyes, as she slowly tried to open them. It was well into morning. She was so much colder now, and she saw that her hand was now completely black.
There was the intermittent beeping of heavy lorries backing up… they were not far away.
Please collect the bin bags. Clean up this shithole. Help me. Somebody see me, please! Mummy…
Bridgette Part 3 – here