It’s 12AM and Cherry’s finishing up her shift at the bar where she works. Her sister hasn’t been answering her texts since 7PM and she hasn’t been answering her calls either. It wouldn’t be the first time her abusive boyfriend took her phone away, but Cherry’s worried it might be more than that.

She’s had her own fair share of violent men in her life, and she has a nose for them. She got her nickname from her first boyfriend when she was fifteen. He noticed a birthmark that looked like a cherry on her lower back after he more or less forced himself on her. That was the start of a six-month-long toxic relationship that got her bruised more often than she smiled while she was with him.

At the end of those six months, Cherry had reached her limit. Her extremely jealous boyfriend slapped her to the ground after seeing her talk with a boy from her class. She hit the pavement and as she tasted the blood on her lip, instead of bursting into tears like she normally did, rage overcame her, and a fire was ignited in her heart. She grabbed a nearby rock, got up, and smashed it in his face, watching his teeth fly out. He was permanently disfigured, and Cherry was permanently changed.

She reveled in this feeling of power unlike anything she’d felt before. For the first time in her life, she felt in control, and she felt strong. In that instant, watching him squirm on the ground and yell in agony, Cherry decided she wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim ever again. She decided to keep the nickname and make it her own. Cherry was no cherry, she decided. She was a force of nature.

One thing that unfortunately didn’t change was her luck in men, but her newfound strength ensured that her first boyfriend wasn’t the last one to get a good beatdown after pushing her too far. She didn’t want her sister to suffer the same way she did, but Cherry knew her sister’s boyfriend was just like all the men she’d ever met, and she was just waiting for an excuse to bash his head into a wall. If only her sister could also see what he was.

She puts on her raincoat and dashes through the rain, heading for her sister’s place. Luckily, it isn’t far, and she isn’t completely drenched by the time she gets there. She goes up the stairs and gets to their door. She listens for a minute but doesn’t hear anything. She finally decides to knock.

Her sister opens up and they just stare at each other in silence. Her face is bruised and swollen. She can barely keep her left eye open. “Who is it,” the boyfriend yells from inside. Cherry loses all self-control.

She pushes the door in and walks past her sister as she’s pleading with her to stop. The boyfriend sees her rushing in. “What the fuck do you wa-“ but before he can finish his sentence, Cherry picks up a vase and smashes it on his head. “I want to see you bleed,” Cherry yells through clenched teeth. He’s on his knees and Cherry tries to kick him, but he catches her foot in mid-air, gets up, and pushes her over the table and to the other side.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?! I’m gonna beat you worse than I beat that whore sister of yours!” Before he can go around the table, she jumps up at him holding a fork that fell with her from the table. Before he even realizes, Cherry’s jammed it in his chest three times until he manages to grab her by the throat and throw her across the room and through the glass door to the balcony, hitting her head on the railing.

He pulls the fork out of his chest and groans with anger. He heads for Cherry’s still body set on throwing her from the balcony. As he nears her, Cherry springs to life and in a split-second stabs him in the leg with a piece of broken glass, cutting her hand in the process. They both scream from the pain, but Cherry’s pain also fuels her. She grabs him by the back of his head with her other hand, and as she twists the piece of glass into his leg, cutting herself even deeper, she pulls his face close to hers and screams her lungs out as she looks him dead in the eyes.

Cherry finally pulls out the glass from his leg and pushes him back inside the apartment. He falls to his knees and in a fit of overwhelming rage Cherry grabs him by the throat and stabs him again in the abdomen. She pulls the glass out and before she can stab him again, she gets the wind knocked out of her. Her sister hits her over the face with the leg from a wooden chair that got broken in the fight.

“Stop it! Stop it, you fucking crazy person! What the fuck’s wrong with you, you’re insane! You’re insane! Get out, get out now, get out! Get out and never come back, I never want to see you again, you fucking psychopath! I don’t need you, I don’t need your help, stop trying to fucking protect me, I don’t need protecting, I’m doing fine by myself! Do you understand? Fuck off! Fuck off and never come back, I hate you!”

The sister jumps to her boyfriend’s aid, crying over him, asking if he’s alright, checking his wounds and begging him to be okay.

Cherry barely lifts her head up and just stares at her crying sister, concerned over her boyfriend’s wounds. She understands now; it’s too late. Her sister’s made her choice and there’s nothing Cherry can do about it.

She crawls for a bit until she finally musters the strength to get back up. Barely standing on her feet, she slowly walks toward the door, pulling out bits of glass from her arms. She takes one last look at her sister as she’s tending to her boyfriend in tears, and walks out, her heart broken in more pieces than her body.

She walks home the rest of the way, even though it’s usually an hour away when she’s not limping for dear life. The rain washes away the blood that keeps gushing from her wounds, but there’s no rainfall in the world that could wash away the agony inside her.

She doesn’t think she’ll make it home.

“Would that be a bad thing?”

It’s been a while since I wrote a story for one of Teodora’s girls and I’ve definitely missed it. Once again, this is the longest story to date (excluding series) and it’s definitely something different than what I usually write.

Cherry’s looking a lot worse for wear than when Teodora initially drew her. She just drew her with her hand over her face and the first thing I thought was she’s not having a good time. So I asked Teodora to rough her up a bit, and she reluctantly did. Then I wrote her story and she had to go back and do even more damage. I would’ve liked more cuts on her body, but I’ll take what I can get from Teodora. It’s rarely much, anyway, she never listens. *sigh* 🍓

For more wonderful drawings, follow Teodora on Instagram @teoctobart. You can also buy her a coffee on her Ko-fi page.

For more stories, she’s got her own tag here.

P.S. We also started a webcomic a few months back, it’s called Throes of Life.

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