“Shadows of Darkness” highlights the un-realities of experiencing an assault, especially when the violence comes from a close relation. With eyes closed, Charity Marie’s escape in darkness feels like it shouldn’t be more than a dream — which proves the difficulty of living with these memories. With a powerful voice and honest detail, Marie brings her experience to light and shares courage and hope for other survivors.


Shadows of Darkness

by Charity Marie

My dreams are never actually dreams. They’re always the same – a soothing white fog. Endless walking, aimless and unhurried. It’s so peaceful I want to stay there forever. The shock of the alarm clock or my father’s voice would rouse me each day to instant wakefulness, fearful of his anger. Another day of pain would begin.

When my sleep is disturbed this time, however, it isn’t to the early gray of morning. The room is blanketed in the shadows of darkness. Invisible hands brush against me, pulling and tugging at my clothes. I lay still and keep my eyes squeezed shut. My heart beats in my chest so hard I can hear it in my ears. I struggle to breathe slow and even, feigning sleep.

What’s happening? Where am I? Father? Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!

The hands begin to tug harder, trying to pull me over onto my back. The familiar scent of aftershave, alcohol, and sweat threatens to gag me. I force myself to remain limp, letting my body flop uselessly. The hands become insistent, pulling harder. Tears burn behind my tightly closed eyes as my clothes are moved aside. Clammy hands touch my bare skin. I whimper and scoot away toward the edge of the bed.

No! I’m asleep… I’m asleep… I’m asleep. Don’t touch me. Oh God, please, Father, don’t touch me again.

“Shh…” his whisper drifts through the shadows of darkness. “I won’t hurt you.”

Icicles of fear stab my insides and I begin to tremble. I make it to the edge of the bed and stand.

If I can just get away. Please, let me get away.

Keeping my eyes closed tight, fearful of what I might see, I move around the end of the bed and hurry into the bathroom. I close the door and turn on the light. The mirror reflects my pale complexion, bright green eyes wide and staring. My fearful reflection shocks me and I must look away.

Alternating black and white tiles reflect in the background of the mirror’s vision. I reach behind me and push the locking mechanism on the door, slowly, so it won’t click. I sink down against the cool tile, bare legs on the floor. I make myself count the tiles, first the black, then the white. Soon, I curl up on the floor, tears leaking from my eyes as I stare at the tile.

I doze off and on, dreamless, until I jerk awake a few minutes later, heart racing, goose bumps of fear across my arms. The doorknob rattles uselessly as I hold my breath.

Hours later and shivering from having lain on the cold tile for so long, I open the bathroom door, peering out. The bed sheets are crumpled in a heap at the foot of the empty bed.

Did I dream it? Was it all a dream?

I move to the window and draw aside the curtains. Bright sunshine greets my tired eyes. For now, the shadows of darkness are banished.



Dragons, wizards, and swords: these are just three of Charity Marie’s favorite things. Her writing can be found in a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry publications like Duck Soup Magazine, Dark Measures Anthology, Coldwell Banker, The American Genius, and more. She loves to write fantasy fiction, mainstream literature, nonfiction, and thrillers, in both short story and novel lengths. Charity can often be found writing content for a variety of websites, corporate and small business clients, magazines, newspapers, and more. She lives in Texas with her husband and two special needs children.