Read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 20 – Twenty
It’s 8:00 in the morning and I’m wearing a dress the color of d**d forests and old tin cans.
The fit is tighter than anything I’ve worn in my life, the cut modern and angular, almost haphazard; the material is stiff and thick but somehow breathable. I stare at my legs and wonder that I own a pair.
I feel more exposed than I ever have in my life.
For 17 years I’ve trained myself to cover every inch of exposed skin and Warner is forcing me to peel the layers away. I can only assume he’s doing it on purpose. My body is a carnivorous flower, a poisonous houseplant, a loaded gun with a million triggers and he’s more than ready to fire.
Touch me and suffer the consequences. There have never been exceptions to this rule.
Never but Adam.
He left me standing sopping wet in the shower, soaking up a torrential downpour of hot tears. I watched through the blurred glass as he dried himself off and slipped into his standard uniform.
I watched as he slipped away, wondering every moment why why why Why can he touch me?
Why would he help me?
Does he remember me?
My skin is still steaming.
My bones are bandaged in the tight folds of this strange dress, the zipper the only thing holding me together. That, and the prospect of something I’ve
always never dared to dream of.
My lips will stay stitched shut with the secrets of this morning forever but my heart is so full of confidence and wonder and peace and possibility that it’s about to burst and I wonder if it will rip the dress.
Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I’m so delirious I actually dare to believe it.
I am sitting in a blue room.
The walls are wallpapered in cloth the color of a perfect summer sky, the floor tucked into a carpet 2 inches thick, the entire room empty but for 2 velvet chairs punched out of a constellation. Every varying hue is like a bruise, like a beautiful mistake, like a reminder of what they did to Adam
because of me.
I am sitting all alone in a velvet chair in a blue room wearing a dress made of olives. The weight of the notebook in my pocket feels like I’m balancing a bowling ball on my knee.
“You look lovely.”
Warner whisks into the room like he treads air for a living. He’s accompanied by no one.
My eyes involuntarily peek down at my tennis shoes and I wonder if I’ve broken any rules by avoiding the stilts in my closet I’m sure are not for feet. I look up and he’s standing right in front of me.
“Green is a great color on you,” he says with a stupid smile. “It really brings out the color of your eyes.”
“What color are my eyes?” I ask the wall.
He laughs. “You’re not serious.”
“How old are you?”
He stops laughing. “You care to know?”
He takes the seat beside me. “I won’t answer your questions if you won’t look at me when I speak to you.”
“You want me to torture people against my will. You want me to be a weapon in your war. You want me to become a monster for you.” I pause.
“Looking at you makes me sick.”
“You’re far more stubborn than I thought you’d be.”
“I’m wearing your dress. I ate your food. I’m here.” I lift my eyes to look at him and he’s already staring straight at me. I’m momentarily caught off guard by the power in his gaze.
“You did none of that for me,” he says quietly.
I nearly laugh out loud. “Why would I?”
His eyes are fighting his lips for the right to speak. I look away.
“What are we doing in this room?”
“Ah.” He takes a deep breath. “Breakfast. Then I give you your schedule.”
He presses a button on the arm of his chair and almost instantly, carts and trays are wheeled into the room by men and women who are clearly not soldiers. Their faces are hard and cracked and too thin to be healthy.
It breaks my heart right in half.
“I usually eat alone,” Warner continues, his voice like an icicle piercing the flesh of my memories. “But I figured you and I should be more thoroughly acquainted. Especially since we’ll be spending so much time together.”
servants maids people-who-are-not-soldiers leave and Warner offers me something on a dish.
“I’m not hungry.”
“This is not an option.”
I look up and realize he’s very, very serious.
“You are not allowed to starve yourself to d***h. You don’t eat enough and I need you to be healthy. You are not allowed to commit s*****e. You are not allowed to harm yourself. You are too valuable to me.”
“I am not your toy,” I nearly spit.
He drops his plate onto the rolling cart and I’m surprised it doesn’t shatter into pieces. He clears his throat and I might actually be scared. “This process would be so much easier if you would just cooperate,” he says, enunciating every word.
Five Five Five Five Five heartbeats.
“The world is disgusted by you,” he says, his lips twitching with humor.
“Everyone you’ve ever known has hated you. Run from you. Abandoned you. Your own parents gave up on you and volunteered your existence to be given up to the authorities. They were so desperate to get rid of you, to make you someone else’s problem, to convince themselves the abomination they raised was not, in fact, their child.”
My face has been slapped by a hundred hands.
“And yet—” He laughs openly now. “You insist on making me the bad guy.” He meets my eyes. “I am trying to help you. I’m giving you an opportunity no one would ever offer you. I’m willing to treat you as an equal. I’m willing to give you everything you could ever want, and above all else, I can put power in your hands. I can make them suffer for what they did to you.” He leans in just enough. “I can change your world.”
He’s wrong he’s so wrong he’s more wrong than an upside-down rainbow.
But everything he said is right.
“Don’t dare to hate me so quickly,” he continues. “You might find yourself enjoying this situation a lot more than you anticipated. Lucky for you, I’m willing to be patient.” He grins. Leans back. “Though it certainly doesn’t hurt that you’re so alarmingly beautiful.”
I’m dripping red paint on the carpet.
He’s a liar and a horrible, horrible, horrible human being and I don’t know if I care because he’s right, or because it’s so wrong, or because I’m so desperate for some semblance of recognition in this world. No one has ever said anything like that to me before.
It makes me want to look in the mirror.
“You and I are not as different as you might hope.” His grin is so cocky I want to twist it with my fist.
“You and I are not as similar as you might hope.”
He smiles so wide I’m not sure how to react. “I’m nineteen, by the way.”
“I’m nineteen years old,” he clarifies. “I’m a fairly impressive specimen for my age, I know.”
I pick up my spoon and poke at the edible matter on my plate. I don’t know what food really is anymore. “I have no respect for you.”
“You will change your mind,” he says easily. “Now hurry up and eat. We have a lot of work to do.”