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Shattered Innocence

A Battle for Survival and Redemption

By Emmanuel OjenikePublished about a month ago 10 min read
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Julie strolled through the bustling streets of Abraka , embracing her new job and the fresh chapter in her life. This city had captivated her ever since she was a child, when she would visit with her mother to see her uncle.

She cherished the refreshing breeze, the majestic mountain peaks, the winding roads, the expansive landscapes, and the vibrant culture of the people she held dear. This marked a fresh beginning for her after a series of unsuccessful relationships and heartaches. Many considered her to be incredibly beautiful, with a lovely dark complexion, an attractive hourglass figure, and alluring long legs. Her eyes had a captivating depth that could easily enthrall anyone who gazed into them.The city of Lagos evoked feelings of sickness within her, as it served as a reminder of the men who sought to harm beautiful yet vulnerable women like her in various aspects of their lives. Having experienced heartbreak numerous times, she had become withdrawn and emotionally shattered, which greatly impacted her personal life, career, and most notably, her family.

Following extensive counseling sessions with top professionals, she regained her zest for life and resolved that it was time to begin anew. With a Bachelor's degree in insurance, she considered herself fortunate to secure a position as a staff member at one of the country's premier insurance companies. She specifically requested a transfer out of Lagos. And so, there she was, embarking on a fresh start in the beautiful city of Ibadan. "Good riddance to bad rubbish," Julie remarked as she walked along the familiar road to her workplace.

Johnson, currently in his third year at the University of Abraka, was pursuing a degree in biochemistry. During his upbringing, he resided in Lagos with his uncle and his uncle's wife, as both of his parents had passed away in a fire accident when he was very young. Initially, they were kind and nurturing towards him, but as soon as they had children of their own, they seemingly forgot about him and showered all their affection on their own kids. Believing that his guardians were incredibly affluent, they provided him with all the material possessions money could afford. However, when the time came for him to attend university, he deliberately selected Abraka as his destination, aiming to distance himself from them and the love that eluded him. Johnson had always displayed an extroverted nature coupled with a remarkably peculiar personality. He tended to keep to himself, maintaining only a small circle of friends or, as he preferred to call them, "acquaintances." Understanding women had always eluded him. Standing at approximately 6ft tall, he possessed a rugged jawline, an impressive upper body, and sturdy legs. Despite being considered appealing by many women who desired to experience him, he rarely granted them the opportunity. The few who did have a chance grew fearful and quickly withdrew, as he emanated an icy demeanor akin to the coldness of Alaska. "I cannot offer what I cannot receive," Johnson remarked as he departed his well-appointed apartment to attend his university lectures.

Julie found immense pleasure in immersing herself in her work, as nothing else provided such a thrilling experience for her nowadays. Her boss consistently praised her dedication and encouraged others in the office to emulate her drive. However, Julie remained unaffected by the compliments and instead focused on putting in even more effort. Engaging in her work kept her mind occupied throughout the day, providing her with a sense of fulfillment. As she joyfully walked back along the well-lit road to her two-bedroom apartment after yet another invigorating day at work, she felt an overwhelming urge to dance beneath the shimmering lights that illuminated her path.

Johnson consistently immersed himself in his books, often losing track of time until the librarian was prepared to close the library each day. Last year, his uncle gifted him a Toyota Camry, which he valued deeply. However, Johnson made a conscious effort not to display his affection for the gift. "They believe they can sway me with insignificant presents!" he muttered to himself. Engaging in self-conversation had become a habit for him over the years. While driving back to his apartment after enjoying a meal at a fast food restaurant, Johnson noticed something glistening under the illumination of a streetlight. Although he didn't believe in angels, he was convinced that he had just witnessed one. "Wow, she's stunning," Johnson exclaimed, realizing that not only did he sound foolish, but he also missed the turn to his apartment. In frustration, he smacked himself on the face, admonishing, "She's just an ordinary woman, get yourself together, man." He was annoyed with himself and felt foolish for getting carried away in his thoughts.

On Saturdays, Julie transitioned from being a professional at work to becoming a diligent housekeeper. She engaged in spring cleaning and prepared dishes that would sustain her throughout the upcoming week. After completing the task of washing the dishes, she proceeded to the market to purchase groceries and baked goods. While waiting at the bus stop, she endured the intense heat of the scorching sun, causing beads of sweat to form on her forehead. Frustrated by the absence of buses when she needed them, she exclaimed, "Where are all these buses when you actually need them?" as she wiped away the perspiration.

Johnson was on his way to the gym when he noticed her standing under the scorching sun, drenched in water. This sight sent a shiver down his spine, and he struggled to control his growing arousal. "This girl must be bewitching me," he muttered to himself as he pulled his car up in front of her. "Um, hi. Do you need a ride?" he offered. "No thanks," Julie replied. "I believe it would be beneficial for you. It's scorching hot today, and you seem to be suffering out here," he persisted, questioning his own insistence. "I've already declined, thank you," Julie replied firmly, crossing the road and opting for a motorcycle instead. Frustrated and angered, Johnson muttered to himself, "What the hell is wrong with me? Who does she think she is?" He accelerated his car, driving off with determination, as if he were a man on a pursuit.

Julie recognized that she had been impolite to the man who offered her a ride. "He was simply trying to be helpful, I suppose," she thought. However, she couldn't entirely blame herself, considering the negative experiences she had endured with men in the past. One particularly painful incident involved a breakup just two weeks before their scheduled wedding day. Relocating to her current location was the best decision she had made to distance herself from her past, and she was actively working towards that goal. This involved avoiding any romantic entanglements with men at her workplace and in her personal life.

Johnson was consumed by frustration and self-directed anger. "She despises me, and why do I even bother? What makes her so extraordinary?" he pondered while lying on his spacious king-size bed. Contemplating the situation intensely, he considered apologizing to her for their encounter, but hesitated, fearing it might lead to another offense on her part. The risk of provoking her anger once more was something he was uncertain about. "Damn it, I sound utterly insane," he muttered to himself, striking the wall forcefully with his fist.

Julie had a long day at work, staying late into the night to complete some unfinished tasks from the previous week. The company she worked for had a pressing deadline for a contract. When she noticed that her trash had been taken out, despite it only being Tuesday and trash collection typically occurring on weekends, she hurriedly made her way to the bus stop.

Later that day, a package arrived for Julie at her workplace. The receptionist wore a wide smile, seemingly aware of its contents based on the sounds it made. Julie received the package, still puzzled, and quickly made her way to her office. She eagerly tore open the package to discover a box of chocolates inside. Intrigued, she wondered who had sent them, considering she had explicitly expressed her disinterest in openly dating anyone in front of her colleagues during a conversation with her supervisor at the cafeteria. Instead of keeping the chocolates for herself, she decided to give them to the receptionist, who gladly accepted them. Feeling the need for some fresh air, Julie decided to go out for lunch.

Julie's enthusiasm for the city of Abraka had diminished due to various reasons. She couldn't shake off the feeling of being constantly watched, which had caused her to become less lively. Earlier that day, while bathing, she had a strong sensation of being observed, feeling a rush of air down her neck. Strange occurrences had become increasingly frequent, such as hearing faint noises and whispers during late nights. Moreover, her home now had a masculine scent that she couldn't recall purchasing or using. Despite her concerns, Julie prayed to God, seeking strength to overcome her past and prevent it from tarnishing her experience in the beautiful city she had grown to love and embrace wholeheartedly. She acknowledged that she might be overly paranoid but hoped for divine assistance.

Johnson had been absent from his lectures, dedicating his days to stalking Laura. He made it his mission to gather information about her daily activities, including who she spent time with, where she resided and worked, and even the individuals she had lengthy phone conversations with. During late nights, he would rummage through the items she had discarded, such as tissues, used makeup, and perfumes. Disturbingly, he had recently crossed a line by stealing her underwear, indulging in vivid fantasies of seeing her naked in the bathroom, drenched with water. "I love you, Julie," he repeatedly whispered to himself while lying in his dimly lit room.

Julie felt a sense of alarm and unease, convinced that she was being closely observed. Her growing suspicion was further reinforced when she discovered her underwear missing. Additionally, intentionally placed remnants of her nails and hair, collected from a recent salon visit, had vanished from the trash overnight, with no other items disturbed. Overwhelmed by the situation, she decided to take action. Julie called her workplace and fabricated a story about her mother falling ill, urgently needing her presence. She requested a few days off and began packing her belongings, intending to leave immediately. However, as she approached the door, she was suddenly seized from behind by an unknown person, their grip tightly clasping her neck, rendering her unable to scream. With a hand covering her mouth, she could only utter a pleading word, "please," as darkness engulfed the house around her.Upon waking up, Julie discovered herself bound to her bed with a man positioned with his back towards her. Filled with fear and confusion, she demanded answers, asking who he was and what his intentions were. In response, he turned to face her, revealing his identity. Mockingly, he remarked, "You know who I am, dear Laura," and proceeded to address her inquiry about his motives. He reminded her of a past encounter, mentioning how he had offered her a ride on a Saturday, which she had declined. Expressing surprise that she remembered him, he spoke of his attempts to apologize by sending her gifts at work and even covering her expenses. Despite his efforts, he felt she had never bothered to express gratitude.

"I never asked for any of this or asked you to do anything for me. I don't even know who the hell you are!" Julie screamed at him in frustration. Johnson, undeterred, approached her closely, insisting, "You know who I am, Julie dear," as he leaned in, their faces in close proximity. Placing a finger on her lips, he declared himself as the only man who loved and cared for her, offering to fulfill her every desire, including financial support. Julie vehemently rejected his claims, spitting on him in disgust. "F*ck you! There is no 'us' and there never will be. You are a freak, a monster, a pig. Just let me go, please," she pleaded. Enraged by her words, Johnson slapped her forcefully, causing her to see stars. Defiantly, he admitted to being a "freak" for her love, accusing her of attempting to escape and abandon him. He then silenced her by placing a tape over her mouth, stating his aversion to involving neighbors in their situation. Before leaving the room, he callously remarked that he would fetch food for her, noting her pale appearance and expressing concern about a potential black eye.

Julie wept uncontrollably, her heart heavy with sorrow, as she questioned God about the recurring suffering she endured at the hands of evil men. Amidst her tears, she suddenly recollected that she had a small knife kept in her bedside drawer, which she occasionally used to slice fruits before bed. However, she was tightly bound to the bed, making it impossible to reach the drawer. Determined not to give up, she made a valiant effort to stretch and reach the drawer, but her attempts proved futile. Without a phone to call for help, this was her only chance, and she was unwilling to surrender. With sheer determination, she strained against the ropes, pulling with all her strength until one of them finally gave way, enabling her to reach the knife and free herself from captivity.

As Johnson made his way back to the house, carrying food in both hands, he felt a sense of contentment, perceiving the world as beautiful. However, upon reaching the room, he was taken aback to find that Julie was no longer there. Before he could react, a bottle struck him forcefully on the head, causing him to collapse onto the floor. Blood trickled from the back of his head as he struggled to maintain consciousness. Despite the fading light in the room, he could discern Julie's figure as she relentlessly kicked him while shouting angrily. Gradually, darkness enveloped him, and his senses began to fade.

MysteryYoung AdultShort StoryPsychologicalLove
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