"RILEY!!!" A mother's desperate voice called out. Her daughter, a girl at the age of only 15, was slowly sinking to the bottom of a dark and empty ocean.
Riley wildly began clawing at the water around her in an attempt to resurface, but her efforts were in vain.
Her long, dark locks flowing as she unwillingly continued her descent to the depths below.
She felt like calling out to her mother. To anyone. But there was no use. Her death was drawing near.
Her mouth fell open as bubbles took form, her blue eyes slowly beginning to close.
Goodbye, cruel world....
With an audible gasp, Riley awoke from her sleep in the comfort of her own bed. Her heart was pounding as she gazed rapidly around the bedroom, nothing out of the ordinary.
Finally letting her guard down, she sighed and wiped the sweat from her forehead. Images from her dream were still fresh in her mind.
"Things are never going to be normal again," she muttered bitterly. A soft knock sounded at the door, before it slowly opened to reveal Riley's mother.
She was a short woman, standing at about 5'0", with blonde hair in a bob and crystal blue eyes. Her attire was a simple dress like Riley's, except it was lilac.
Her eyes showed a deep sympathy for her child, knowing very well what was going on. "....Having that nightmare again?"
"...." Riley slowly nodded, before hanging her head in shame.
"I thought so." The mother walked over to her daughter's bed, sitting down and placing a hand on her shoulder. "Honey, you're safe now. Your father has been out of our lives for seven months."
"He was locked away where he'll never be able to hurt us again."
Riley scoffed. "So? That doesn't take away all the pain he's caused." Her father was a rather tall man, with well-groomed black hair and piercing green eyes.
His attire typically consisted of a red pollo shirt with khakis and black dress shoes, due to his numerous business meetings.
He always acted like a saint in public, but in reality? He was an alcoholic. Whenever he got his hands on a beer, he turned violent. He had been a very abusive father and husband.
Once he whipped Riley so much that she had to miss a week of school for the blisters on her legs to heal. Her excuse to her teachers, however, was that she simply caught the flu.
Many were skeptical, but they all believed her because they had no reason not to. Eventually, one dark day happened that changed Riley's life forever.
It was a hot summer day seven months ago, when her family decided to go on a fishing trip at the nearby lake. All was well, until her father started drinking.
He became very intoxicated and tried to do what any drunk would do; he wanted some fun.
"I-I wanna....I wanna go swimmin' in the lake," he slurred, staggering around on the motionless boat. His wife, Amanda, pulled her gaze away from her fishing rod to send him an annoyed glare.
"We're here for Riley, remember John? Put down that beer and come spend time with her like a father should."
John merely hiccuped in response before throwing a lazy hand on his wife's shoulder, his other hand holding yet another icy cold beer. "C-C'mon, Amanda. Join the par-taay.
Let's so swimmin' together."
"John, I said no!" This only angered John, causing a large argument to take place between the two. Riley sat alone at the back of the boat, sighing as she tried to ignore the dispute.
It was an endless cycle with those two. Her father would drink, act like a total fool, fight with her mother, sometimes beat her and her mother, sober up, and then apologize.
From Riley's perspective, it was pointless to intervene.
That is, until she heard a loud SMACK! Jumping up to her feet, she turned and saw her mother lying on the boat with a red handprint on her cheek.
"And I said you're goin' swimmin'!" He hissed at his wife, venom in his voice.
Seeing Amanda lie there in pain, tears brimming in her eyes...
It made Riley's heart ache more than usual. She felt like doing nothing was no longer a choice.
This time, something inside her snapped. She felt her blood boil as she glared at that monster of a man towering over her mother, clenching her fists.
No more! That was it! No one treated her mother like that and got away with it! She marched up to John, poking a finger to his chest.
"Stay away from my mother!" In an act of rage, she finished with a punch to his jaw.
At first, he was in shock as he rubbed his sore jawline. His anger quickly returned, grabbing his daughter by the back of her hair.
"You little bitch!" He spat. Riley could smell the stench of alcohol in his breath, to the point where she wanted to gag. But there was no turning back now.
John dragged her by the back of her hair to the edge of the boat.
In a panic, Amanda screamed out at her husband. "John, stop!! Sh-she didn't mean it! She's just a chi-"
"SHUT UP, OR YOU'RE NEXT!!" John turned his attention back to Riley, who was struggling with all her might to free herself from her father's grip on her hair.
"AS FOR YOU, YOU CAN FIND YOUR OWN WAY BACK TO THE DOCK!"
Riley's face paled at the thought. "B-but Dad! You know I can't swim!!" She watched as a sadistic smirk formed on that monster's lips.
"Then have fun at the bottom." Without a second thought, he shoved his one and only child into the lake.
"RILEY!!!" Her mother's screams were unfortunately not enough to stop Riley from beginning her trip to the bottom.
Riley could remember it all vividly, as if it were still happening that very second. The panic that seized her heart as she tried to swim.
The pain she felt from the water attempting to flood her lungs. The idea of never seeing her mother again. If Law Enforcement hadn't came when they did...
Tears brimmed in her eyes as she shuddered at the thought of what could've been, her mother taking notice. Amanda gently placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder.
"Riley dear, it's okay to be upset. But you need to realize that this is all over."
"No it isn't!" Riley angrily shrugged her mother's hand off her shoulder, glaring at her through the tears falling down her cheeks.
"You don't get it, Mom! You never have! Drunk or not, that man tried to kill me! You should've seen the crazy look in his eyes as they told him his sentence in court! He wants me dead!"
She grabbed her mother in a hug, sobbing into her shoulder as she felt her emotions take over.
She couldn't handle it anymore. The fear she was living in was what hurt most. A feeling in her gut told her that her father would be back to end her life, and nothing her mother said could change that.
"Riley, I..." Amanda bit her lip, not really knowing what to say or do to make all of this madness end. But she saw the look on her daughter's face. That was the look of pure fright.
A look of determination crossed Amanda's face. "Okay."
"Huh?" Riley pulled back from her mother, wiping away fresh tears. "W-what are you talking about, Mom?"
Amanda placed her hands on Riley's shoulders, staring into her eyes. "I refuse to let this go on any longer. If you're truly unhappy, then we're leaving.
This place has caused us enough pain, don't you think? So pack up your bags, we're leaving this town the first chance we get."
"Mom..." Riley trailed off in disbelief, a glint of hope in her eyes. "You...You really mean it?"
"Yes, I do. As soon I can, I'll find us a new house. But for now? Please, try to get some sleep." Riley nodded at her mother's request.
"Okay, I will." The two bid each other a good night, before the door shut and left Riley to herself once more. Riley tossed and turned in her bed, hoping sleep would come to her soon.
Things were going to be different. Leaving that horrible city meant she could finally put her past behind her and move on. She'd never have to think of her father again.
Her eyes slowly closed as she drifted off to sleep, fear far from her mind. Little did she know, her story was just beginning.