Chapter 9: After Cruelty

"We can't go to the hospital," Theora said as she let Bryce lie back down and stroked the girl's hair. "It's the doctors' fault that she's a girl. I won't let them hurt her again."

"Theora," Edison said. "If that brute tore her, she'll need stitches."

"I'll call the clinic," Theora said. "They can send someone here. I don't want to move her if she doesn't have to be moved."

Theora made the call then returned to Bryce's side.

Edison let the doctor in when she arrived.

"Dr. Lawson," she said, "When did this happen?"

"I can't be sure," Theora said. "Sometime in the last three hours."

"Why call me and not the hospital?"

"She has a reason not to trust them," Theora explained.

"You," Dr. Lawson told Edison. "Out! No men allowed until I'm finished. Go buy some take out. Go!"

Edison hurried out. Theora would've laughed had the situation not been so serious.

Dr. Lawson sat on the edge of the bed and looked at Bryce.

"I'm going to pull back the blankets and take a look at you, dear," she said."I need to see if you require stitches."

Theora held Bryce's hand as the doctor examined her.

"How bad is it?" she asked, tactfully.

"She need some stitches, but not many. Ten should do it. Avoid tampons for the next two cycles. After that, feel free to use them at your discretion."

Dr. Lawson repacked her bag and handed Theora a bottle. "They're just aspirin for any discomfort she might feel. I wish there was something else I could give her."

Theora understood what she meant. She cursed the government law against birth control. The idea that Bryce might be carrying her rapist's baby made her want to throw up. That was how much it repulsed her.

After the doctor left, Edison, who had been waiting by the door, joined Theora and Bryce.

"How is she?"

Bryce gazed up at him. "And the stupid question of the year goes to…"

"Alright, you're not fine. But did you need stitches is what I meant."

"Ten," Bryce told him.

There was a knock on the door a short while later.

"It's Jenny and Serena," Theora said after checking it. "Bryce?"

"Let them in," Bryce told her. "I want to get this over with. If I'm going to lose my two best friends, I might as well do it while I'm already in pain."

Theora opened the door and stepped outside with the two teenagers.

"I have to warn you," she told them. "Bryce is in very bad shape right now."

"We wanted to know if she'd seen Mark," Serena said, anxiously. "He's been missing since earlier today. We know he was coming to see her and…"

"Mark is a taboo subject in this place," Theora told her angrily.

"What happened?" Jenny asked.

"I think that's for Bryce to say," Theora told them as she led them inside.

Serena and Jenny saw Bryce lying in bed, her face still red from crying, her throat still bruised.

"My god!" Jenny said. "Bryce, did that bastard do this to you?"

"Yes," Bryce said, hugging Jenny.

Jenny turned on Serena. "Thank you very much for setting up my best friend with a psycho."

"I didn't know he was going to do this!" Serena exclaimed.

"How could you not know! He's your brother! You must know something about him."

"Well when we talked he just said he was going to ask her out again."

Jenny glared at Serena. "You'd better leave. And don't call me for a while."

Serena wanted to say it wasn't her fault. But she wasn't sure that was true.

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