Beautiful Nightmare – Chapter 2: Keeping Busy

I did my best
Everyday just keeping busy
To avoid the ghost of you


Denny takes a deep breath as he wanted to continue to divulge more details to Kyle, but he couldn’t find a way to do it.

There was nothing in his mind that said when it started. There was nothing in his mind that said to reveal a certain detail. Perhaps he didn’t want to admit it because he didn’t want to say how he was played, hurt, deceived, and abused. Instead, everything was still a blur as he kept questioning his decisions then and now.

“I don’t know how or why it started, or how I let it become what it was,” Denny starts. “But I knew what it had become within weeks of when it started. I could feel it, even telling her about it. I approached her and said that I wasn’t happy. I was ready to part ways on good terms, but she threatened me. I don’t know how I let her threat over come me like it did, but I felt stuck in that moment.  What if she said something? She’d ruin my reputation.  What if she did something? I wanted to able to just keep living my lif-”

“Instead, you were living a lie and a world that nobody could have even imagined, because of fear,” Kyle finishes the sentence off and Denny shakes his head yes. Kyle could feel the fear and pain in Denny’s voice in how shaky each word came off his tongue. It felt as though the confident teammate he had met was gone forever. “Listen, you don’t need to feel ashamed for being afraid. You don’t need to beat yourself up. Anybody who knew the whole story, understood what she was doing to you psychologically, they’d understand your decision. It’s why myself, your parents, Joe and everybody else isn’t mad at you – but rather proud of you for stepping up and doing something.” Denny had heard those words multiple times from those surrounding him who knew everything. However, it didn’t seem to resonate in his mind at times like these when guilt drove him past his limit.

“I tried to keep myself doing as much as I could – to avoid spending time with her. All the offers to do something together, to the times that I spent playing games, that’s what it was about. I was trying to find my way to survive and that seemed to be working. I just wanted to avoid her at all costs. Why do you think I made up the whole basketball excuse for my leg injury? Why do you think I made up the excuse about why I had those back spasms? I didn’t want to think about it.”

“And that’s understandable because of how much it hurt you, both physically and mentally.  However, Denny, you can’t let it control you. You have to remember that you’re strong because you did survive. You got through everything that she did. You pushed through speaking to someone about it. You got her locked up in prison. Denny, it’s okay now…”  Denny wishes he could believe those words and move forward. However, it didn’t make the voices leave his head, or the pain that he still remembered feeling across his body.

“I want to believe you, I really do. But I can’t.  I still can’t shake everything. Every day is a reminder of it in some way or form, whether in my mind or in front of me. I don’t how to move forward. I don’t know how to make myself feel okay again. How do I open my heart? How do I not worry about being controlled and manipulated? It’s why I still try to outrun her – the ghost of her in these feelings – by continuing what I did before. Keep myself busy and I don’t think, right? Get bored and here I am.” Kyle didn’t know what to say. He wanted to be there for his teammate, but knew he didn’t have the words that someone like Joe or a psychiatrist could offer right now.

“Knowing what you’ve been through, Denny, I know what you’re saying.  I get the explanations and feelings that you’re having. However, you’ve said it yourself – you want to believe, you want to make it better. Please do the right thing and take the right step. Instead of running, why not stop and take a minute? Why not stop, like you did that night, and say something again? Try talking to Joe, or calling the psychiatrist’s number. Put the effort in and maybe you can start living instead of running.” Denny shook his head, knowing that Kyle was right – despite the fears associated with it. It was the same fear he felt walking into the police station, and the same fear he felt talking to Kyle on the first night.  “It’s going to be okay, just like I promised that night.”

Kyle walks into the house, feeling shocked as he sees glass scattered across the front room, followed by a couple pictures thrown to the ground, broken into pieces. He had received a phone call only 20 minutes prior for him to come over.

“Denny?” He calls out, curious as to where his teammate was. Denny hadn’t said any details on the phone, except that he wanted to talk right away about something really important. Hearing the tears and concern in his voice, Kyle immediately accepted the offer. Now looking around the front room, he began to understand the panic.

“I’m in the bathroom,” Denny replies as he sits on the edge of the tub, continuing to push the piece of toilet paper against the cut along his shoulder. “You can come in.” Kyle immediately made his way down the short hallway, turning into the bathroom – only to stand there stunned. His teammate sat on the tub, shirtless, some blood left on his front obviously coming from where the toilet paper was being pressured to. Bruises covered the back of the body, along with the cheek into view.

“What the hell happened?” Kyle immediately rushes in, kneeling before his teammate as he takes in the cut on the shoulder more closely. Given the jagged behavior, he knew that the glass in the front room was the culprit – but perhaps in a forced cut manner. Kyle took his eyes off the cut and dried blood, looking into the eyes of their owner. “Denny?”

“We had a fight – yelling, screaming back and forth. I can’t do this. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t take the pain. I can’t take the orders. I can’t take the agony of it all. I can’t deal with the pain that I feel constantly, daily. I had to say something. She didn’t like that and she….she did this, again.” The short sentences weren’t long, but Kyle found himself quickly putting the pieces together in his mind. He and Matt had talked only a couple weeks ago, wondering if things were alright with Denny and Diane by their actions. He knew the worry expressed by Matt, but knew it couldn’t have equaled this.   

“Keep pressure on that. I’m going to get a bandage out.”  Kyle then reached under the sink, taking out the first aid kit as he went to searching for a bandage to put over the cut. He knew it needed to be looked at, probably requiring stitches, but he couldn’t leave it bare for now. “Denny, I’m going to ask you something and please be honest. Has Diane hurt you before?” Tears leaking out of the corner of the eyes before him, Kyle knew the answer. “How long has this been going on?”

“Months….”  The small tears turned into bigger tears as Denny began to shake a little, tears rolling down his cheeks one after the other. “I didn’t want to say anything – she’s going to ruin me now. But, I can’t do this. I can’t take the pain. I can’t….I’m in so much pain…” Kyle then stopped his search through the first aid kit, reaching up and pulling his teammate close to him.

“It’s okay. I’ve got you, Denny. Let it go. It’s going to be okay…” 

Denny takes a deep breath, slowly breaking off the hug.  The same tears that had fallen that night had returned once again. The thought of being able to escape everything felt like a long shot, and the reminders had caught up again with him as he thought about saying something.

How could he have let someone do that to him? How do you explain what happened, and why? How do you forget the worst pain you could ever imagine and move forward?

He didn’t know how, nor did he know if he’d get through the next couple of weeks with the thoughts continuing to plague his mind. However, he was going to try.

He was going to give it a shot because he knew there was those who believed in him, and felt perhaps that could translate to himself.


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