Not Meant To Be Broken

By: Cora Reilly

“Don't worry,” Zach said quickly.

“You were talking in your sleep and then you started screaming,” Brian said in a very quiet voice.

I talked in my sleep?

My stomach twisted. God, what had I said? The thought that I might have revealed more about what happened made me sick. I lifted my gaze. “I...I talked?”

Brian grimaced before his expression turned apologetic. “Not much.”

Not much? I could barely breathe. I hated to lose control and that was exactly what happened whenever I fell asleep. I swallowed past the lump in my throat. “What...what did I say?” I stared at Brian pleadingly. He hesitated and chanced a look at Zachary who was still standing behind him.

“ didn’t say much.” Brian turned his back to me. This was too much for him. He wasn’t used to dealing with this, with me.

“Please, I need to know,” I whisper.

Brian's shoulders started shaking. Was he crying? I clutched the blankets, needing something to hold on to. Zach stared at my brother for several moments before his eyes met mine. There was sadness in them, but no pity, and I was grateful for that. “You mumble, so I couldn't make out everything. But you said. 'Stop, please stop. Please don't...” He stopped and took a deep breath through his nose, his nostrils flaring. He looks as if it cost him all his willpower to say the next words. “Please, it hurts.”

I nodded. “Thanks, Zachary,” I choked out. I felt sick; it was only a matter of minutes before I'd throw up.

“Night, Amber,” Brian said in a strained whisper. He closed my door and I was alone.

I sat on my bed until I was certain that Zach and Brian had returned to their rooms and I wouldn't meet them in the corridor. My legs shook as I stood and it took all my strength to grab a bathrobe and walk out of my room. It was dark in the corridor. Light spilled out from beneath the doors to the other two bedrooms.

The darkness threatened to swallow me. I tiptoed toward the bathroom and closed the door behind me as soon as I'd entered. I switched the light on, stumbled toward the toilette bowl and threw up. I gripped the seat tightly as dizziness flooded my mind. I sunk to my knees and leaned my head against the edge of the bathtub. My eyes closed on their own accord while I drew in quick shallow breaths through my nose. I felt so drained, and weak, and old, and lifeless.



The bowl with cereal in front of me on the table sat untouched. I wasn’t hungry. Probably for the first time in my life the mere sight of food was making me sick.

Last night. Those screams and the look in Amber's eyes. I pushed the bowl away, not caring that milk spilled over.

Fuck, I couldn’t forget those terrified eyes.

I didn’t sleep more than two hours after that. And my sleep was far from sound. I was haunted by nightmares, filled with her screams, not that my dreams were even close to being as horrible as hers.

It was nearly ten. Brian hadn't even left his room yet, though he was an early riser. I'd heard movement in his room but he didn’t come out. Maybe he was hiding. Maybe he was afraid to face his sister after last night. I'd kick his ass if that was the case.

I ran a hand through my hair. This was probably the first time Brian missed a day in law school. My attendance record was far less perfect.

The sound of soft footsteps in the corridor caught my attention; they didn't belong to Brian. I didn't move from my spot on the chair. It was too late to leave anyway. I wouldn't manage to slip out of the kitchen without meeting Amber.

Don't be in a room alone with her.

Brian's words flitted through my mind. I tried to act casual as I heard the door open. She didn’t have to enter if she was uncomfortable. I raised my head and caught her staring at me. She bit her lip and her forehead puckered in contemplation. She was wearing a similar outfit like yesterday. Jeans and a hoodie. Didn’t she sweat in those clothes? It was fucking warm in the apartment.

“Morning, Zach,” she mumbled eventually, a blush spreading on her pale cheeks. I could see how conflicted she was. Her body seemed frozen on the spot in the doorway.

I smiled, hoping to set her at ease. “Morning, Amber.”

An awkward silence hovered between us and I contemplated storming past her out of the kitchen, but then a low purr sounded through the room. Amber looked down to her feet, and so did I. Her black cat rubbed its small body against her calves before it waltzed into the kitchen as if it owned the place.

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