The Toy Girl by Paula Clark
The grass was wet against her face and smeared her as she looked up. Irregular shifting shapes surrounded her in the darkness and laughter grew from one side and shimmered over her head. One of the shapes reached out and touched her shoulder – “Paula?”
The voice, incredibly loud, ricocheted inside her head. She winced and squinted to focus on the blank face, dissolving into helpless, wheezy giggles when the shape became Helen, her eyes wide and amazed.
Arms lifted her (or pulled her down) and half carried her, mumbling and weak, across the damp park. She could hear voices swirling through the vapor in her mind, some familiar, some not, some from outside, some from within. “Drunk? She’s blasted! What was she doing?”
Her kitchen appeared from somewhere and she was sat down, blinking in the hard electric light. She looked absently at her hands. They were bruised with the cold but she felt nothing and the uncomprehending giggling bubbled uncontrollably out of her.
The house seemed full of people. Their voices and movements blurred around her and vaguely she heard the cupboard doors open and hungry hands reach inside and take. The words asking them not to formed in her mind but diffused into confused sobbing and mumbling before they reached her mouth. She could hear pop music from somewhere and a muffled fear turned in her stomach, but then the light began to dim around the edges and the sound to spin away and darkness flowed over the room.
The wrenching inside her own head woke her up. Aware of a throbbing silence and, strangely, the heavy smell of paint in the room, she ached her eyes open and blinked painfully around her. The image which faced her made her recoil in horror, taking a sudden, frightened breath. The walls … oh my God the walls … paint … Random sprayed lines dribbled across them, coating the ripped wallpaper as it hung like jagged leaves around her. The pounding in her head grew and her stomach tumbled as she saw the room completely now, smashed and littered, a red wine stain seeping like blood in the corner of the carpet. She sat up, spinning, trembling, her mouth horribly dry as fear burned in her throat. She walked almost dreamlike through the house as though it were some weird, undiscovered cave. It was totally unfamiliar, a sickening mixture of garish, hateful color and destruction.
What had they done? She stared disbelievingly around her, a cold numbness spreading inside her and beginning to squeeze hot tears down her face. The sweet, gluish smell of vomit grew in the hallway and as she heard the crunch of her parents’ car in the drive she stood, uncertain, caught between the two. As the key scraped in the lock, the discarded Toy Girl wiped her eyes and, reaching down, gently picked up a torn piece of paper from the floor. She curled herself up in the corner by the stairs and pressed her face into her knees, her trembling hands tightly clutching the tiny fragment of a birthday card.