Bury Me
Author:Tara Sivec

Bury Me by Tara Sivec





For James –


Thank you for believing in me. Sorry if reading this makes you fear for your life when you fall asleep before me. Sleep with one eye open. Just kidding!

Maybe.




“All things truly wicked start from innocence.”


–Ernest Hemingway





Summer of 1965




Prologue





I push my legs harder, my bare feet slapping against the wet earth and splashing through puddles as I weave in and out of the trees, the bright security lights around the edge of the property guiding my way into the woods. Branches and leaves smack into my face and slice across my arms, but I ignore the slashes of pain, swatting them away as I run faster. Icy rain drenches me, dripping into my eyes and a loud clap of thunder rumbles above me, but I can still hear the angry shouts not far behind.

I have to keep going. If I’m caught, I’m dead.

As I move deeper into the woods, the fluorescent lights guiding me disappear, plummeting me into profound darkness. Tripping over a tree root, I slam face first into the mud, my body shrieking in protest as pain shoots through me.

No time to hurt, no time to rest. Keep going.

Footsteps splash through the mud, getting ever closer, the voice growing more furious as threats are screamed at me. I scramble up from the muck and keep running, lightning lending brief flashes of illumination so I have some idea of where to go.

This isn’t fair. I did the right thing, but no one will ever be convinced of that. Secrets never stay buried—they should have known that. So many lies, so much pain and they just DIDN’T CARE! I made things right and now I’m going to be punished for it.

“YOU WILL PAY FOR WHAT YOU DID!”

The enraged voice echoes through the woods, pushing me to keep going even though I can’t catch my breath and my muscles throb with every step. The woods become denser until there’s nothing but pitch black surrounding me. Lightning no longer penetrates the thick canopy and I halt in my tracks before I run smack into a tree. Holding my breath, I wait and listen, my heart hammering inside my chest.

There’s no more shouting, no more pounding feet, only rain battering the trees and splashing into the muddy ground all around me. I wait it out for a few seconds.

Only quiet.

Relief washes through me. It’s too dark, too muddy, too wet and too hard to find someone who will do anything to get away. My short-lived relief quickly gives way to rage. Years of pain, humiliation and scars that will never heal and just because I forced them to see the consequences of their lies, I’m going to be tossed aside once again like I’m nothing to them.

A twig snaps to my left and the adrenaline raging through my bloodstream forces me to whip around to confront the monster in the woods. My eyes strain through the darkness to discern a shape, but it’s different from the one that was chasing me. Maybe I’m not going to die out here. I should be happy that I’m no longer alone in the woods with the devil at my back, but I’m not. There are always consequences to doing bad things, even if done for the right reasons.

Before I can command my feet to move toward the shape—the safer of the two evils—I hear another sound in the opposite direction and foolishly turn my head. Something heavy and solid crashes against my skull and I feel myself falling. Darkness descends over me one last time, covering my eyes, clogging my ears and stealing the breath from my lungs.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Nothing will ever be good again.

It will all be bad.

Bad

Bad

Bad.





Chapter 1





“Ravenna, it’s good to see you up and about.”

I stand in the alcove that leads to the east cell block, the jangle of keys on the large brass ring my father holds as he unlocks the row of cells on the first floor echoing in the cavernous room. Strange as it sounds, my family lives in a prison. I’m sure there’s a joke hidden in there somewhere considering my current mental state and the memories my mind has conveniently locked away from me, but I’m too on edge to think anything is funny. The Gallow’s Hill State Penitentiary, built in 1886, is where my family has lived since my father was hired as the warden over twenty years ago. He was brought on in the middle of a high-profile class-action lawsuit filed by the prisoners claiming inhumane conditions and abuse from guards and the former warden. Even with my father’s positive changes and new regulations to safeguard the prisoners, the state ruled in favor of the inmates and the Gallow’s was forced to close its doors five years after he took over.

“The next tour of the facility is in thirty minutes and Ike hasn’t shown up yet. How many times have you told me to fire him and get a new tour guide?”

My father chuckles as he pulls down a heavy steel lever and the entire row of rusty cell doors slowly creaks open. I wish I could laugh and share the joke with him but the truth is that I have no idea how many times I might have had this conversation with him in the past. My hand unconsciously reaches up to my forehead and the tips of my fingers graze the small bandage held there with medical tape. According to my parents and the doctor, the bump hidden beneath the white gauze is to blame for the confusion and overall uneasy feeling I’ve had since I woke up two days ago.