(Just fyi, the 'teen fiction' angle is deliberate!) I never believed in hell. Not until I witnessed the full extent of evil human nature firsthand, then I believed in it. Perhaps its largely hope, but I can’t go on living through each long day, unless I believe that Jeff and Kayla will go to hell, it’s all that keeps me going in here. I look out the tiny window in my room, and I can see the world is reflecting my mood again, cold, windy, dark. I lie back down on my hard, uncomfortable bed, and taste salty tears before I am even aware I am crying again. The rattling of the door startles me and I sit up, hugging my knees to my chest. It is her again. Michelle. I think I must drive her nuts. Oh, ha! I made a joke, ‘psychiatrist driven nuts by a mental patient!’ Maybe there is hope for me yet, a glimmer of a smile dances at my lips and for that fleeting moment I almost recall what happiness is. “Hey, that’s almost a smile, don’t tell me you’re starting to like me?” Michelle joked. I turned my back to her, and lay back down. She comes everyday to try and talk to me, but I have only ever spoken 4 words – ‘pen and paper please’. Its not that I don’t like her, she is okay. Its just that I don’t know where to start, or if I will ever speak some of the things that are in my mind. Jeff and Kayla were my parents, or at least, Jeff is my Dad and Kayla is the wicked stepmother. If only my life were a fairytale. I try not to think too much about what happened, but sometimes I can’t stop it from coming. Usually it descends on me at 4am, and I completely freak out and the nurses have to come and hold me down so they can inject a tranquillizer. Even then, it continues in my nightmares, sometimes there is just no escape. I decided I should try and write things down, so that maybe then they will be out of my mind and set free into the world. Maybe they will haunt me less this way. And it will definitely keep Michelle happy and give me some reprieve from her constant questioning of me for the story. I don’t know why she is so desperate to hear it. Maybe she wants all of the gory details. Maybe that’s what gets her off. Sure was what got Kayla off. From the moment Kayla walked into our lives, I knew I was screwed. She was a hard, cold, bitch and she hated sharing me with my Dad. At first she would just call me names and speak cruel words, but eventually, it got physical. Whenever Dad went out, she would come and drag me into the kitchen. She would hold my hand to the hotplate until I had repeated the insults about myself that she would give me. The smell of burning flesh is a smell that doesn’t leave the nostrils for hours, it fills up the senses and the blisters, which lasted weeks, often oozed and smelt rotten as well. She’d smack me in the face at regular intervals, lock me out of the house on the frostiest days for up to 12 hours without food or water, once she even smeared dog shit in my hair and made me go to school that way. This went on for 5 months, and I became more and more of a shell, dead inside, and wishing she would just kill me. My Dad, did nothing. He just let it all happen, and whilst he never participated, he watched, he let her, and he never did nothing to protect me. I often wonder why I never committed suicide, but there was always a flicker inside, a flame of hope that either Jeff would stop it, or that I would escape somehow, that something would happen. Well, something happened alright. One night she was in a wild temper, I don’t know if Jeff had upset her or what the reason for her anger was, but I knew I would be the one to feel the brunt of it. I had no energy left to try and escape it, I just wanted her to get it over with, I lay my head on my desk and cried, I knew I was in for it. Soon I felt the yank on my hair as she used it to drag me to the bathroom. She pushed me into the bath, and I cracked my head on the edge as I fell in. The water was ice cold, and I was laying on my back. She stood over me and held my chest down so that my head and body were totally submerged. Her face was an evil snarl and I could feel my lungs burning, desperate for air. I didn’t even struggle, I just wanted it to be over. I felt myself start to lose consciousness, and it was welcome. When I woke up, I was in hospital, and from there, I came here to The Sands, this mental institution that’s now my home. I don’t know how I got here, I don’t know who saved me, I don’t know what happened to Kayla. I don’t want to know. I don’t have the energy to ask or to absorb the answers. I don’t know how to ever move on with my life and try to find normalcy. I doubt that I ever will, and for now, I feel safe inside these walls, and I don’t ever want to leave. I never believed in hell. I thought that nothing could be worse than the life I was living. Now, I believe and hope with every ounce of my being that it exists and that it is terrifying, and I wait for the day that Kayla and Jeff make their way there. Only then can I ever begin to heal.