There had been a time when Araceli believed that everyone was good and that the world was just. Nothing had happened to her that would make her think otherwise. Her family experienced hardships like any other but that was normal. She lived in a small town and everyone knew each other, what reason did they have to be unkind?

Fifteen with scars under the skin left an impression that time couldn’t heal.

For weeks she had nightmares. Her parents blamed the Shadow that had attacked her. Araceli blamed the real monster, the one that marked her with a blade and a searing mouth.

A few years later she left to attend Temperance. The shock of moving from a small town to a city with a school full of super-powered teenagers was enough to reduce her into an anxious mess, but she pulled through it. The nightmares lessened and she had a friend, one that liked her and thought she was pretty and for the first time in a long while Araceli felt beautiful. The L shaped scar on her hip was ever present but she looked at it less and less.

She had her first real kiss. She got to have her first girlfriend. Things weren’t perfect but they were normal and that was all she could have asked for.

Then the monster came back and the nightmares became reality.

She’d never forgotten the feelings of self-loathing and guilt and weakness. She’d never forgotten the dull pain in her chest that lingered long after the sweat and tears and blood had dried. Every touch, whether it was harsh or mockingly gentle, felt like a cut so deep that it scarred her bones and left her shattered. She cried and hated herself and hated Luann but only ever blamed her own weakness. She was a coward. She allowed this to happen to herself and she deserved it.

Dark purple bloomed on her skin, blood hydrangeas just beneath the surface that clustered together with each harsh grip. Dark sweaters hid the damage and Araceli smiled.

She hated herself.

She wanted to die.

The hospital was unbearably white and her arm was sore, she’d tried to slam the door on her wrist but the pressure was only enough to sprain, not break. They sedated her and left her in the room. The drugs made her numb and it was the closest she’d felt to ‘okay’ in a very long time.

Luann was dead. Araceli was not, only because Luann had saved her. How ******** up was that?

Araceli cried. She was free of physical torment but the nightmares never went away. Luann was the lucky one. She was the one who got to be free. Araceli was the remnant of a girl who once believed that everyone was good and that the world was just, because what reason did they have to be unkind?

Eighteen with scars under the skin left an impression that only time would be able to heal.