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Authors: Mary Catherine Gebhard

Elastic Heart

BOOK: Elastic Heart
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Elastic Heart

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Mary Catherine Gebhard

Cover Design by Natsumi Designs

 

All rights reserved.

Without limiting the rights under copyright

reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above copyright owner of this book.

 

First Edition: February 2016

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Elastic Heart – 1st ed

ISBN-13: 978-0692625569

 

A Trendlettrs Publication

Salt Lake City, UT

www.MaryGebhard.com

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Epilogue

 

Summer Ever After Excerpt

About the Author

Acknowledgements

Books by Mary Catherine Gebhard

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to my Grandma Dort,
your strength,
and your unwavering support.

 

 

“Where to go for a rape kit.”

I input the phrase into my smartphone’s browser and the words pull me out of my shock, but only temporarily. Nausea overwhelms me and reminds me that if I’m going to get through this, I need the brief respite the adrenaline is giving me.

When
he
leaves and I’m certain
he
isn’t coming back, I dress. After staring at my wall for only God knows how long, I decide to get a rape kit. But where do I get that done? It’s not exactly common knowledge. My first thought is a police station…but after what just happened, the idea of a cold, steely station filled with scrutiny isn’t very welcoming. Plus, I’m not sure if I want to press charges.

I vaguely remember that one can go to the hospital and get it done (one too many Law & Order: SVU episodes), but the prospect of walking up to the hospital kiosk and saying “Hey, I just got raped, which hallway should I go down?” isn’t much better than the police. So here I am, searching the internet on my phone in my car in the Salt Lake City summer heat, hoping for guidance from Google.

The first couple hits are definitions of rape kits, and then there are a few political pieces about their effectiveness.

This is almost worse than the rape itself.

Almost.

“Fuck!” I throw my phone at the window.
Nothing
.
No
help
. If I had wanted a glimpse into my bleak future I would have searched for “the likelihood that this kit’s gonna do a goddamn thing”. The more I sit with the black leather of my car seat burning into my skin, the more I want to run back into my apartment and take a scalding hot shower. It sucks so hard that I have to do this. If I don’t, he could do it again, right? At least that’s what everyone will tell me if they find out.

If they find out.

They’ll say much worse things if they find out.

“Fuck it.” I pull out into traffic and am greeted by horns and cursing.

“Right back at ya, buddy,” I mutter, flipping the cars off. Still not sure where I’m going, I drive in the general direction of the police station and the hospital.

 

The hospital emergency room isn’t that busy. I count seven people, maybe, and of those seven, four appear to be accompanying the injured. There is no one in line at the check-in.

That’s unfortunate.

I was hoping for a line.

A line meant I had longer to think about my decision.

“Do you need help?” A young blonde woman calls to me from behind the check-in counter. She looks perky. Like she actually likes her job. Likes her life, even.

How lucky for her.

“Um…” I shift nervously from foot to foot. Do I need help? Yes. Do I want help? Not particularly. I want to go home, curl into a ball, and quash this day from my memory until it surfaces in my relationships and sabotages my happiness. That sounds…

Nice.

“Are you lost?” She peers at me, slightly bored, slightly concerned, and overly friendly.

“No,” I answer. She stares back at me, mildly confused. No, I’m not lost, but I’m not walking toward her either. We both stare at each other, lost in some kind of polite limbo where neither of us will address the elephant in the room: me.

She probably thinks I’m one of those people who get things stuck in their butt, too embarrassed to approach. If only…

If only I had something stuck in my butt.

With caution, I approach the small open window that lets me see into the small room where she sits. She’s eyeing me warily now. Probably thinks I have a weapon. Probably thinks I’m crazy.

I wish I was crazy.

“I…” I lean forward on the counter, whispering. This is so dumb. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
He
should be ashamed. “I—oh god! What the hell?” I jump back. My arm is covered in blood from where I’d set it down on the counter.

“Oh dear! I’m so sorry!” The blonde immediately jumps out of her seat and runs for what I assume is antiseptic.

“Uh… It’s okay,” I say, watching the blonde scrub the counter. Really, what’s more foreign fluid on me today?

Ha ha.

Ha.

I think I’ve died inside.

“Come, come inside and wash off. I’m so sorry, we had a homeless man come in today and he bled
everywhere
. I thought I got it all!”

“Oh, that’s…” I don’t finish my sentence, because really, what am I going to say? Not only is it blood, it’s the blood of a vagrant? Call me discriminatory, call me an ass, but I’ve already got enough potential new diseases to worry about without the blood of Salt Lake City’s homeless population on me.

“The sink is right there, obviously.” The blonde chuckles nervously. “And here is the soap. Use as much as you like.”

I turn on the water, about to wash my hands, when I realize what I’m doing. I’m here for a rape kit. I’d purposely not washed myself, no matter how much I wanted to, because I could have evidence on me. Shit.

“Um, miss?” I say, trying to get the blonde’s attention.

“Yes? Is something wrong?” She looks up from her cleaning.

“I’m not sure if I should wash my hands…”

“Oh?”

“I’m here for a rape kit.”

“Oh.” Her face falls, looking from me, to the blood, to the water, and then back to me. “Oh yes, I see. Yes, that wouldn’t be wise.” Ugh, I hate this already. She comes over to me and turns off the water, careful not to touch me. I feel dirty. She studies me, as though I’m a gift of furniture and she’s unsure where to place me.

“Come with me.” I nod. Everything is happening so fast. Just a minute ago we were at DEFCON level: blood, and now I’m back to reality.

The check-in nurse hands me off to another perky blonde who takes me to an examining room.

The walls are painted a pale lavender.

I feel awkward.

I don’t know where to sit.

She tells me to take a seat on the examination table.

Her voice is like sugar on top of a sundae.

The examination table crinkles beneath me.

I shift some more.

“Do you have any allergies to medications?”

My mind is so far gone that I don’t hear her.

“Miss, do you have any allergies to medications?”

“Oh… Uh…” I shift again, the paper now torn beneath me. “Yes, I’m allergic to penicillin.”

The people in the magazines smile at me. I hate them and their wrinkly teeth.

“Ok. And do you have a history of heart disease?”

“And I’m allergic to certain anesthesia,” I cut in, still staring at the glossy faces on the magazines. “Though I can’t remember which. Not that it matters…”

“It’s always good to know.” The blonde smiles sweetly. “Any history of heart disease?”

There’s a large poster on the door of what appears to be some kind of vascular system. I can see the veins inside the outline of the cartoon body. I’m not sure what it’s trying to teach me. About diabetes? About cancer? About the futility of our mortal life?

Who cares.

“Miss?”

I move my eyes away from the educational poster and back to the nurse. I feel like dirty glass.

“Do you have a history of heart disease?”

Christ. Why does it matter? I’m not here for hypertension. I stare at her blankly for a few moments. Talking hurts. Everything hurts. I feel like I’ve been thrown through a woodchipper and put back together with tape.

“None that I’m aware of,” I eventually say. As the blonde rattles off something about how it’s good I don’t have heart disease, I remember that my great uncle died of a heart attack. It’s too late to say anything though, as she’s moved on to her next question. Does it really matter? I’m here for a fucking rape kit, not a check-up.

I look back at the chipper, half-exposed, cartoon poster man. If he can be happy all chopped up and on display, I guess I can be…

BOOK: Elastic Heart
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