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Happy ever ... after

Achieving independence after a sexual assault is a constant battle.

When Emily wakes up in the middle of her bed, shaking and sweating from yet another nightmare, she knows it will not stop easily. The sexual assault she suffered eight years ago has left an enduring mark on her mind.

After a row with her mother, and Thrust into action by her best friend, Sarah, Emily finally finds the courage to move out and start a new life on her own. She soon meets Olivier, a charming French man.

But will she manage to put her ordeal behind her? And is everything exactly as it appears?

 

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Seb Earl: Happy ever ... after

When Emily wakes up in the middle of her bed, shaking and sweating from yet another nightmare, she knows it will not stop easily. The sexual assault she suffered eight years ago has left an enduring mark on her mind. In the immediate aftermath, she moved back to live with her parents and, since then, they have happily provided sanctuary. But at what price? Emily is not free, and her inner doubt and anger are increasing their stronghold over her life. Thrust into action by her best friend, Sarah, Emily finally finds the courage to move out and start a new life on her own. She soon meets Olivier, a charming French man As she realises how her future happiness depends on her ability to face the past, Emily begins the slow and at times painful journey to finding inner peace. But can she truly put her ordeal behind her? And is everything exactly as it appears?

Emily awoke suddenly and found herself sat bolt upright in the middle of the bed. Beads of sweat were slowly crawling down her spine, making her shiver as they reached the small of her back. Where was she? Her mind was racing; she was only semi-conscious, but her nerves were on edge. Her fast pulse was pressing on her temple like a clamp tightening around her head. She tried to focus on her senses like she had been taught in the meditation class. At first, nothing. She worked harder, concentrating on her hearing, clinging to any sound she could grasp to escape the dark eeriness of her mind. Was it all just a dream?

Outside, birds were chirping. Spring made them happy and carefree. She listened intently to their song, absorbing the different tones, replacing her thoughts with the strident tweets of hungry chicks to empty her mind.  It was beginning to work when another, higher-pitched sound, demanded her attention. A phone was ringing. It stopped, soon replaced by the muffled voice of a woman. Emily couldn't quite discern what she was saying. To her ears, the words were nothing but garbled noise.

Blinking a few times, she grappled with this new element of reality before glancing around the bedroom. It looked oddly familiar. She caught a glimpse of a pile of clothes that had been thrown unceremoniously on the chair: a pair of blue jeans and a stripy jumper. Strange. Not at all what she had been expecting to see. She could recall wearing a black and red checked skirt and a black shirt but ..., when was it?

Still in a haze, she tried to conjure up more flashbacks. Although blurred, she could almost distinguish the drinks, the dances, the women. She could hear their jaunty laughter. Yet it all seemed so distant. She knew she had met with her friends from university to celebrate their graduation, their first jobs, their newly gained independence. But that wasn't last night at all; that was several months, even years ago. That was ...

Why did she feel so nauseous remembering such a happy time? More pictures from her dream began to emerge, the shots of tequila, the journey home, the taxi, the driver.

The whole nightmare flashed before her in its unrelenting horror. She saw herself lying in the back of the car, her skirt lifted, her legs apart. She smelt the rancid breath coming through the tobacco-stained grin of the man. She felt his cold hand slithering along her exposed thigh.

And what came next.