Sometimes at dusk, we would see him come out from the hidden interior of his island. For years, we had no idea who he was or what he did until the night I stepped foot into the water I had so often stood or sat in after beatings or nightmares. That was the only time he ever showed himself to me, my dark angelic friend standing or sitting on the shores of his mysterious, forbidden island. No man ever goes there unless he wishes never to return. Now, no one goes, and no one leaves. Especially the timeless man who sits across the calm waters from me. 
           Some nights, like tonight, I would talk to him and pretend he could hear. Wishing he could hear all the pain, the fear, and the need I had for seeing his pitch black hair and beautiful pale skin, contrasting with the black of night and the darkness of the trees. He never wore anything else but black, but always looked clean from where I sat. Some nights, he sings to me in a language I can never identify. He only sings to me on the nights when I want to escape the world forever. The gentle tenor of his voice floats over the waters, the wind carrying it over the small waves to my ears. His voice is comforting and alluring, like a mother’s voice is to an orphan. It calmed me when I was scared, hurt, and lonely.
             Tonight, he was on the wrong shore. Tonight he was next to me. Holding me. He started singing his song, the one I recognize from years of listening. This time I understand the words. They speak of the promise of rest. Of peace. Of eternal escape from the fear and pain. For the first time, I join my voice with his. I sing the song and allow it to fill me, emotion overflowing my body as I feel him stiffen and lean into me, almost as if pulled by an invisible thread. I lean into him as well, and he wraps his arms around my shoulders.
            The feeling of him holding me is so intoxicating that my vision swims, and I see the moon glinting off of the waters, and off of something else out of the corner of my eye. Ignoring it, I turn my face into his chest, letting him save me from the nightmares, the memories, and the lies. As our song finishes, I feel a sharp pain in my back. it passes quickly, and a numbing bliss enters my body. The last thing I see is his eyes and the last thing I feel is his lips on mine.
           I am finally free.
     “This story is about a girl who was abused her whole life by her parents until the night she was meant to die, and she symbolizes a piece of my past, from when I was abused. By writing this, I “killed” the control my past has over me. The man symbolizes death, while the water between the two shores symbolizes the division between life and death.”  ~ guest contributor, a superstar high school student who aspires to help others.
      It takes so much courage to show pain, fear, and hurt from those closest to you. In this process, there is healing. I commend this young writer for sharing a deep secret in her life that has scarred her. However, it has not left her immobilized. She strides empowered and strong as ever! Thank you for shedding light on the reality of children’s lives that many do not expect or know.