He lay there lifeless. His caramel skin soiled the black marble floor. She was finally free.
She walked among them. The emptied, the affected, the broken. But Ellie Lane van Hensen was organic in body and thought. Soft brown hair cascaded in waves down her shoulders. Her slightly crooked piano teeth were hidden behind small, yet plump lips. And a scar across her left temple illuminated her pale blue eyes.
Ellie was fifteen when it happened. She was a victim and a murderer. The two sins were a week apart. At an age where girls were acting on crushes and doing anything they could to grow up faster, Ellie longed for the innocence her peers couldn’t wait to lose. But she was never given that chance. Her vibrant, young heart was beaten before she could ever experience the beginning of love.
Vance was her uncle. Not biological, since Ellie’s parents were both only children. Ellie knew all of her “aunts and uncles” as such out of respect. Vance was a close college friend of her father’s back in their days at Columbia. Now a real estate broker, it was Vance who found Ellie’s family their current home on 66 Sixth Avenue; an address Ellie always found humorous since Vance was “the devil” that dated her mother before her father, as her father sometimes joked.
The daughter of a lawyer and financial analyst, Ellie had everything a teenage girl could possibly want. She chose not to take it, any of it. The clothes, jewelry, popularity, none of it was important to Ellie if she didn’t have someone to share it with. Ellie didn’t have many friends. What she did have was the heart of a hormonally charged teenage girl. So naturally, she wanted to be in love.
Vance was the only one who understood this and was easily Ellie’s confidant. Thirty years her senior, Vance quickly took notice of Ellie’s developing physique. Her narrow frame filled out nicely with perfectly sized breasts and a slight curve in her hips. She grew into her face but Ellie was still the same plain, natural girl she enjoyed being; crooked teeth and all.
Regardless of her close relationship with Vance, Ellie attributed his ogling and sneak peeks down her shirt to just being a typical male who can’t help but react like a creep when he sees some cleavage.
Two weeks after Ellie got her first period; she was still experiencing some pain. Her parents didn’t trust her to stay home by herself. They were more worried that she would let something happen to the house, a worry Ellie felt was characteristic of all upper class parents. So she called Vance. He was one of the few people Ellie’s parents allowed in the house when they weren’t home. He was also the only one who had a key.
Vance found Ellie resting on the living room couch. She held the television remote in her right hand while the fingers of her left hand were laced around the handle of a teacup. A dark green cashmere blanket fell diagonally over the couch, covering Ellie’s shorts and half of her sheer white tank top.
“How are you feeling?” said Vance in a sweetened tone of concern, taking up the existing space on the couch at Ellie’s feet.
“I’m OK. Just some leftover pain from the cramps I guess,” Ellie said through a yawn.
“I can give you a massage if you like,” said Vance, his hand began to find its way underneath the blanket.
Ellie sat there, frozen on the couch when Vance took his hand away.
“I’m kidding,” he joked with an untrustworthy smile. But he sensed Ellie’s continued discomfort.
“I’m only kidding,” he defended. “I’m sorry if I upset you, just trying to make you feel better. Let out a laugh, you know?”
“Oh yea, I know,” said Ellie with a fake smile and waved off Vance’s apology as if it wasn’t necessary to make one.
Vance smiled back. “Do you know what your father would do to me if I ever did anything like that?” he asked with raised eyebrows. “He’d kill me,” answered Vance in a laugh.
He stayed with Ellie for another two hours until her mother came home early after closing a case. Ellie thought it best not to bother her with what had happened when Vance came over. She knew her mother wouldn’t believe her.
The next day, Ellie felt better. She went to school late because the medication made her drowsy. But she never made it.
Assuming one of her parents had forgotten something, Ellie didn’t question the opening of her front door while she was getting dressed upstairs. Someone had mounted the stairs and was now slowly walking toward Ellie’s bedroom. Watching her through the crack in the door, Vance began to rush with excitement. He quickly removed his shirt as his unbuckled pants fell to the floor with a soft thud. He opened the door, ran towards Ellie and pinned her to the bed before she knew what hit her. Vance stripped a struggling Ellie of her bra and underwear while he stifled her screams with his large, tan hands.
It was no use. Ellie was too fragile to fight back. She tried to bite Vance in the neck but all of his weight was on top of her, pressing Ellie deep into her mattress. All she could do was pray through tear-filled eyes that it would all be over soon.
After Vance had finished with her, he warned Ellie not to breathe a word of what had happened. Smart not to trust her, Vance seized Ellie’s flat iron and smashed her on the left side of her head, knocking Ellie out before she made it to the door. Ellie awoke on her bedroom floor naked, with a thundering pain in her head. For a moment, she forgot what happened. When she stood up to see if she could walk, Ellie saw her underwear on the floor and immediately collapsed, sobbing into her bloodstained carpet. Eventually she made it to the bathroom and tried to rid Vance from her entire body, inside and out.
Ellie’s only company for the rest of the afternoon was her now emptied soul. Too scared to say anything to anyone, even the police, Ellie quickly made up a story as to how she received the now bloody and purple wound on the side of her head. Ellie told her parents that while she was getting ready for school, her foot caught the end of her chair, leading her to fall and slam her head into the desk. Complaining of a headache, Ellie said she thought it best to stay home for one more day. Her parents displayed a minor concern for Ellie’s health and instead chided her for being so clumsy.
A week later, Ellie was sitting at the dining room table reading. She was alone again thanks to another business dinner of her parents. She was still nursing her bruised temple, which was now starting to scar under the cut; a souvenir from the week before that Vance had so lovingly given her. Ellie continued to keep quiet about the rape, the pain fresh in her mind.
Vance knew that Ellie would keep her mouth shut so he wasn’t afraid to visit her, with people around or when she was home by herself. That night, the doorbell rang. Ellie nearly jumped out of her skin and rushed to a nearby drawer, fumbling through its contents before checking the peephole. It was him. Standing tall, Ellie slowly opened the door. Vance strode past Ellie and found her attempt at bravery quite amusing. His laughter distracted him from noticing the placement of Ellie’s hands. Still on edge, Ellie assumed his visit was another one of Vance’s precautionary measures. She dare not make a sound until he spoke first.
“I want you,” Vance said greedily.
“You’ve already taken enough of me,” Ellie said through bated breath. “You can’t have anymore.”
“I want you and I will have you,” growled Vance.
He started forward with arms outstretched, aiming to grab Ellie’s throat when…
Ellie didn’t know what was louder; the echo of the gunshot or the dull sound Vance made when he hit the cold, marble floor. She stood there calm, gun in hand, wondering how long it would take Vance’s pathetic soul to depart from his body. Everything that Vance had robbed of Ellie died with him. Being raped left Ellie feeling dirty, hollow and dead. Killing Vance made her light, relieved and liberated. The latter was not enough to set Ellie free from her anger at herself for not being able to stop Vance. Hot blood surged throughout her body. Head whirling, heart racing, Ellie stood there in a trance, slowly rotating the gun between her fingers.
Illustration by: Delilah Buckle