The Blessed - By Tonya Hurley


I am alone. Cornered. Next to nothing and the dogs are at my door.

The assembly of the wicked surrounds me. I am mocked and shunned. Abandoned. Lies and pain, my sole companions.

Do not leave me now. I’m shaking and desperate for the comfort of your arms.

Tongues of flames licking my conscience.

The tormentors laugh and grab. I am torn and shredded. Insides out. Without mercy.

Is there no one who can save me?

“Save yourself,” you said.

Corpse flowers bloom beautifully beneath my feet. They fill the air with the scent of rotting flesh.

Tears of blood trickle from my eyes and pool upon the ground, a lake of purple and crimson my only mirror now. I am emptied of all but my ghost.

My sorrow is continually before me.

You think there are other ways, but there aren’t.

I’ve made my choice. And it has made me. The path before me is clear.

I am not innocent. I am not ashamed.

I am ready for testing. I demand your worst.

“Do not be afraid,” you said.

Here I am.

Stripped down bare. Dressed in blind faith. Filled with fight and fire.

Vide et creder.

3 “Agnes!” Martha wailed, clutching the pale arm of her only daughter. “Is he really worth it? Worth this?”

Agnes’s blank eyes were fixed on her mother as she went in and out of consciousness. Her body was unloaded from the back of the ambulance like a raw meat delivery to the local butcher. She was unable to muster the energy to raise her head or her voice in response. Blood soaked through to the pleather pad beneath her, collecting and then streaming toward her dark teal ballet flats before finally trickling down the stainless steel leg of the gurney.

“Agnes, answer me!” Martha demanded, anger more than empathy coloring her tone as an EMT applied pressure to her daughter’s wounds.

Her shrill cry cut through the grating static of police radios and EMT dispatch scanners. The emergency doors flew open. The hard rubber gurney wheels clacked metronomically as they rolled over the aged linoleum floor of Perpetual Help Hospital in Brooklyn, keeping time with the blips coming from the heart monitor attached to the patient on board. The distraught woman was running, but still could not catch up to her daughter. She could only watch while the plasma—or liquid stubbornness and idealism, as she saw it—drained from her only child.

“Sixteen-year-old female. B.P. one hundred over fifty-eight and dropping. Ten fifty-six A.”

The police code for a suicide attempt was all too familiar to the ER team.

“She’s hypovolemic,” the nurse observed, grasping the young patient’s cold and clammy forearm. “Bleeding out.”

The nurse reached for a pair of shears and carefully but quickly cut through the side seam of Agnes’s T-shirt and removed it, revealing a bloodstained tank beneath.

“Look what he did to you! Look at you!” Martha scolded as she stroked Agnes’s long, wavy auburn hair. She studied the girl’s glamorous, old-Hollywood looks in wonder, her perfect skin and the brassy hair that fell in finger waves around her face, even more perplexed that she could do something so drastic over a guy. That guy.

“And where is he now? Not here! I told you over and over again. And, now, this, THIS, is what it got you!”

“We’re going to need you to calm down, ma’am,” the EMT advised, holding Agnes’s mother back at arm’s length as the stretcher made a sharp turn toward the curtained triage area. “Now is not the time.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Martha pleaded. “If something happens to her, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

“Something has already happened to her,” the nurse said.

“I’m just so . . . disappointed,” Martha confided, drying her eyes. “I didn’t raise her to behave so thoughtlessly.”

The nurse just raised her eyebrows at the unexpected lack of compassion.

Agnes heard clearly enough but said nothing, unsurprised that her mother needed comforting, validation that she was indeed a good parent, even under these circumstances.

“You’re not allowed back in the trauma rooms,” the nurse said to Martha, thinking it might be a good idea for her to cool off. “There’s nothing you can do right now, so why don’t you go home and get some fresh clothes for her?”

Martha, a rail-thin woman with short black hair, nodded, eyes glazed over, as she watched her daughter disappear down the harshly bright hallway. The nurse stayed behind and handed Martha Agnes’s drenched teal T-shirt. Some of it was still wet with bright red ooze, and part was already dried black and cracking as Martha folded it and crunched it