Becoming Sarah - By Miranda Simon Page 0,1

my eyes clouded with tears. When I blinked they ran down into my hair and I could see the sky – clear with a handful of stars. Between the fog and the city lights we hardly ever saw stars in San Francisco. Or had I simply never noticed, walking around all the time with my eyes on the sidewalk?

Ricky knelt over me and fumbled with his own pants. I shut my eyes and waited for it to be over. Soon it would end and then, and then. . .I would get up and go home? Pretend it never happened? Go to the police and have everyone know, at school and at work and everywhere, and feel sorry for me?

“No,” I said. The word came out choked and quiet, so I said it again. “No!”

“Shut up, shut up!” He nearly screamed the words. I saw fear on his face, and it gave me hope.

“Ricky, please, you don’t want to do this.” I couldn’t quit crying, but I pushed the words out between gulps. “Please stop now. Please.”

“Shut up,” he said again, and struck me. A fist to my cheekbone this time, a pain so sudden and shattering I couldn’t even cry out. And then when I could I screamed so loud the sound grated in my throat and echoed in the dark. I screamed and kept on screaming until Ricky’s fingers closed around my throat and I had no breath left.

Funny how the world narrows down when you can’t draw your next breath. Suddenly that’s all that’s important. I felt Ricky push into me and thought the pain would tear me apart, but somehow that hardly mattered. I couldn’t breathe and if I didn’t soon I wouldn’t survive. It was that simple.

I clawed at his hands on my throat until a pool of black spread before my eyes, dark and thick as spilt ink. I’d never imagined this kind of crushing agony. I wasn’t sure I believed in God but at that moment I prayed anyway to whatever force in the universe might hear me.

“I don’t want to die,” I said, “not now, not yet.” The words fell silent from my lips, but the wish was as urgent and true as any I’d ever made.

Then darkness.


I woke with my throat on fire and sour vomit in my mouth. With great effort, I raised my head. I was lying on a chilly, unfamiliar tile floor, in an unknown bathroom, with a puddle of puke in the bathtub and a half-empty bottle of vodka within arm’s reach.

“Oh, God,” I moaned, and the voice in my ears was a stranger’s voice, lower and deeper than my own. I wasn’t dead, but my head throbbed to the tempo of jungle drums and my body felt bruised, pummeled, abused beyond repair. I grabbed the edge of the sink to pull myself up. My fingers brushed a plastic prescription bottle and sent it clattering to the floor. I caught it before it rolled behind the toilet. Xanax, according to the label, prescribed for a Sarah Elizabeth Winslow. Empty.

I set the pill bottle back on the sink, turned on the faucet, and cupped my palm to catch the spill of cold water. That’s when I realized, staring at my hands, that they weren’t my hands at all.

My own fingers were short and stubby, with bitten-down nails and peeling cuticles. These were long, tapered, and elegant, with pretty oval nails painted a deep blood red. These hands wore several and turquoise rings.

Okay, then. I stared at the strange nails, the jewelry, the pale, smooth fingers and delicate wrists. So I’d been unconscious after what had happened in the alley. A shiver shook me as the images swarmed back – the smell, Ricky's mouth twisted with fear and rage, the impact of his closed fist on my cheekbone, his hands tight around my neck. But I was alive now, wasn’t I? So I’d been in a coma. My nails had grown out. Someone had given me a manicure, and slipped the rings onto my fingers. Sure.

But this was all just a way to delay the inevitable. More than anything, at that moment, I didn’t want to raise my head and look into the mirror above the sink. Because I already knew, on some level, that I wasn’t me anymore. After 16 years, you know your own body and what it feels like to wear it.

Slowly, reluctantly, I lifted my chin. There she was, the stranger in the mirror. Early Copyright 2016 - 2022