This story is by KD Northwich and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
To tell or not to tell. That is the question.
Her take on that Shakespeare line kept swimming through her head. She took another drink from the bottle.
The first time, she was 13. He wrestled with her on the bed, tussling with her and tickling her like he had been playing with her brothers before he’d sent them to the store for candy. He pulled her in, hugged her close, and started kissing her, thrusting his tongue in her mouth. “I been wanting to do that. Show you how much I love you.” He kissed her some more, started rubbing himself on her, looked into her eyes. “You like that. You want it too.” He kept kissing her, thrusting his tongue in her mouth until he heard his sons coming into the house.
She liked it at first, liked the way her body tingled, loved that her father loved her so much.
He cornered her in his bedroom, made her take off her clothes and lay down. “Press your legs tighter together.” She used her hands to push her thighs together, squeezed them the best she could with the heaving weight of her father on her 13-year-old body. “I wouldn’t be doing this if your mama would keep me happy. She doesn’t love me like you do.”
The rest of the family was gone. He called her into the bathroom where she found him standing over the sink with his pants around his ankles and stroking himself. “Take your shirt off. Get over here so I can see your titties. Give me your hand.” He trapped her hand and stroked. Squeezed so hard the pain shot up her arm. She made her face blank.
She hated it now. Hated his touch. His words. “This is our little secret. You can’t tell your mama. She’d make us stop. I know you don’t want to stop. You make me feel so good. You like that, don’t you? Want to make me feel good.” She didn’t feel loved any more.
Should she tell?
He caught her in the kitchen, slid his hands up her shirt to stroke and squeeze while he kissed her. A car pulled into the driveway. “You better get in your room till you get that look out of your eyes. Your mama’s gonna know what you been up to.” She went into the bathroom instead, stared at herself in the mirror. Could see no expression on her face.
Her periods started when she was 14, and got progressively more painful every month. Her mother took her to the doctor, who recommended birth control pills to regulate the pain. “Don’t ever tell your father. Ever.” She wondered why. So many secrets. Did her mother know?
While he drove, she lay in the back seat of the car, her mouth throbbing in pain from the adjustment to the braces on her teeth. “I wanna get a room at a hotel and fuck you so hard.” He talked about fucking her the whole 27 miles of the drive home from the orthodontist.
She hated it now. She just wanted it to stop.
She was 16, home alone with him, washing dishes and looking out the window, watching the driveway. Chanting to herself, please, please, please someone come home now. She felt him before she heard him. He came up behind her and grabbed her breasts, started squeezing, pinching. Rubbing against her. “Your mama doesn’t love me like you do. I know you love me. That’s why you let me do this to you. You want it. You like it. I see it in your eyes.” She felt his palm in the middle of her back, pushing her until her elbows rested on the counter, rubbing harder now, pushing at her.
She just wanted it to stop. Who could she tell so that it would stop?
She lay on the mattress in the dark room, relaxed from the beers she’d drank, listening to the party going on outside the door. Felt her legs being pushed apart again by another boy from the high school she attended. Was this the fourth one, or the fifth one? She’d lost count. This one was gentle, though, holding her close and whispering how good she felt. This must be what love felt like, she decided, when someone talked to her so sweet. When he finished he gave her a hug, handed her another beer. “You’re done. Nobody else is coming in.”
She sat up on the mattress, drinking the beer, thinking about the boys from school. Thinking about her parents, that Shakespeare line swirling around in her head.
To tell or not to tell.
Wasn’t her mother supposed to protect her? If she told her mother, would it stop? She took a drink from the bottle, the first of two she’d taken when she left the party. Remembered how her mother treated her.
She was 12 years old. She read the list, saw that her mother had assigned specific jobs to her and her brothers. Showed them the list. They just laughed and went outside to play. She started working through the list. Chose the next job, knowing that as the oldest, she would get the blame and the beating if all the work wasn’t completed by the time her mother was home from work. Wished her father was home. He was her hero. Her mother was nicer when he was home.
She was 14 years old, making the bed when her mother walked in, trapped her, screaming accusations of clothes not perfectly ironed, dishes not dried and put away. Something told her that her mother wanted her to cry, would beat her until she did. Determination snapped into place, replacing fear. She would not cry. It must have shown on her face because her mother stepped back, dropped the arm wielding the belt.
She was 16 years old. In high school. She’d written a letter to her best friend and called her mother a bitch, tucked it away in a drawer and forgotten to mail it. Came home from school one day to find her mother crying at the kitchen table, holding the letter. A sense of dread came over her, mixed with relief that she hadn’t written about her father’s actions.
She stood, scared, face showing no emotion, as she listened to the furious words spewing out of her mother’s mouth, the words threatening to send her away to a juvenile detention facility for girls. “Tear it up, every bit of it.” Her mother watched. “Smaller, tear it up smaller. Don’t ever let me catch you doing anything like that ever again.” She faced the reality that she could never tell her mother.
The first drink was poured into a glass with ice. Flashes of memory kept swimming through her brain. Words of love from her father. Words of hate from her mother. That Shakespeare line. The vodka made her feel drunk really fast.
To tell or not to tell.
After the second drink, she skipped using a glass. When the first bottle was empty, she opened the second. Drank it down like it was water. Her mind went as blank as her face.