Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Another Short Story by moi
It happened at least once a day during her vacation with them. He’d come into her room and start touching her, caressing her, in all the wrong places. He’d look into her face, nose practically touching hers, his eyes glazed over, and say in a hushed voice filled with lust “You like that, don’t you.” His breath prickled away at her skin in the darkness of the room, making her shudder in disgust. She didn’t respond. She never responded. She was 7 and he was 65. He was her grandfather.
Every night before he made love to his wife during the summers she stayed with them, he’d slip down the hall silently to molest his granddaughter. No one knew, but him and the girl. This went on every year until she was 12. It was around that time that the unwanted kisses and touches just stopped. No words were spoken. There was no ceremonious detachment of his perverse and misguided sexual cravings from her young, feeble, body. It just dawned on her one day that he hadn’t touched her in awhile.
But even though she was free of his literal grasp, she never really felt free. Instead she felt haunted and dirty, crowded by her constant thoughts about it. She always felt covered in a coating of perverseness that permanently attached itself to every fiber of her being. No matter how hard she scrubbed. She still felt filthy.
So, when her father tried to hug her goodbye as she left for college she shrunk away from his arms and wiggled out of the embrace. She didn’t like to be touched by him. She didn’t like to be touched by any man. It didn’t matter whether they were normal men who were disgusted by child molestation. She just didn’t like to be touched. A sharp pain pierced her heart as she watched the hurt fall slowly into her Father’s eyes. He never did anything wrong, she thought. He doesn’t deserve this. He deserves so much better. He never knew. But still, she couldn’t do it. No more touching, she thought as she quickly pecked a kiss on her Mother’s warm cheek. No more.
She stepped into the driver’s seat of her parents old volvo, wearing a red sun dress, her long brown hair swinging down her back, waved good bye, and finally pulled out of the driveway. Her Mother and Father watched her. They watched the daughter they just couldn’t understand pull away from them and into a life where they would soon be pushed out of. They felt regretful. They never knew this girl. They saw her come in and out of the house. They watched her make straight As and perform in ballet recitals. They knew her favorite color and food, but they lacked the spark and warmth that goes a long with having a relationship with someone. She never opened up to them. They tried so hard to get to know her. But no matter how much they inquired about her day, it was always just fine. Nothing more or less. She never provided more than a sentence to them. And they didn’t know how to change that.
They felt like horrible parents every time they tried to pat her on the back. It was like she hated them. She moved away fast. She dodged their glances and hid the schedule for her soccer games, so, as to avoid having to interact with them when they assured her she did great.
She never wanted things to be like this. She just didn’t know how to act around the mother who looked just like the man who molested her or the father whose hands were the same size as his. Rejecting them was the closest she could get to remove the memory of her grandfather. But it wasn’t just them. Rejecting every touch, every smile, every possible friend, felt reassuring to her. She never wanted to explain why she was the way she was.
She only half listened to the music as she drove to Yale. The rest of her mind was consumed by its own thoughts and longings. If only she could feel good about the relationship she had with her parents. She was certain of nothing except for the fact that her parents deserved more and that she wanted more. She just couldn’t bring herself to hug them. It was so gross to her.
But when she arrived at Yale and watched the families around her unloading trunks happily, she couldn’t help but long for a good hug. The kind she loved before he started forcing himself onto her. There they were: her roommate’s perfect family. She sat on her orange and turquoise bed spread watching them unpack, hands wrapped around each other lying still on her lap, legs uncrossed and knees turned in school girlishly. The family so loved by each other. “Oh, Krystal, what if you put this here,” the girl’s mother said as she tested a John Lennon poster out on the wall. “I can raise this bed,” the father said excitedly. “I’ve got my tools out in the truck, I’ll be right back sweetie,” he said giving his daughter a kiss on the forehead. She smiled at the girl happily. And the girl just sighed. She suddenly regretted insisting on going to college without her parents help.
A large lump grew in her throat as she thought of her parents sitting at home. Her dad would probably have a scotch out by the fire place as he read the latest John Gresham book. Her Mother would undoubtedly be outside in the garden, weeding. She wanted them so badly all of a sudden. She wanted her Mother’s sweet voice and her father’s assuring nod of the head. She thought she would burst into tears when Krystal’s mother asked where her parents were.
I have to get out of here, she thought. So, she ran out of the room just like she always did when things got tuff. She ran to a place she thought she could escape to, away from her thoughts. She ran all the way to a diner. By now it was raining. She sat there in a booth, soaking wet and drank chocolate milk from a straw. She tried thinking about the old music playing or the overpriced desserts on the menu, but all she could pay attention to was how much she suddenly wanted her Mom and Dad. She tried so hard to shake it off, but she couldn’t. Suddenly the wall she spent so much time constructing to keep people out slowly started crumbling. I want my Mom and Dad. She couldn’t deny it to herself or them anymore.
So, she searched her purse for her cell phone, I’ll call home and tell them I’m all moved in. That will be enough, for sure. But she couldn’t find the phone. She looked around the diner for a pay phone; there it was on the left wall, sitting idly with an out of order sign adorning the front of it. Oh well, she tried to tell herself, this is just another one of those random moods. It will go away, she thought to herself.
But the more she sat there the more she wanted to talk to her mom and dad. The lump attached to her throat would not remove itself. So, as she looked out of the big window right next to her, she decided she’d go out to the payphone outside. A little rain was worth it. I just want to talk to them. I have to hear their voices. But when she got outside, there was a fat white woman there already talking away at the receiver, her arms waving like she was in a heated argument. Fuck, she thought as the rain fell harder. Her cold breath making little clouds, as she wiggled around rubbing her own arms.
She stood there freezing in the rain, just waiting for what seemed like hours but was actually ten minutes. When she got in she dialed the numbers she knew so well. Hands shaking. It rang, once, twice, three times, “Hello” said her Father’s tired voice. She planned on just telling him that she moved in safely, but as she opened her mouth and began to speak her voice cracked. “Dad,” she said, beginning to cry. “Kate is that you, are you okay,” he asked hurriedly. He called out to her Mother “Sandy it’s Kate.” “Kate is everything okay,” they asked as she said Mom and Dad through tears. The rain fell even harder as she said the words she’s wanted to say all of her life, but never had the strength or nerve to commit to. “Mom, Dad. I just wanted you to know that I love you guys.” Tears were falling as hard as the rain. And just as she took a quick breath her parents said so seriously, “Oh Kate, we love you so much, sweetie.”
“I’m so sorry,” she kept saying through the rivers her cheek bones were making. “For what?” they asked. “I’m sorry it took me so long to say that.” She said. And with that she started a new chapter of what would be a much better life. With those words from her parents, she felt herself heal a little bit. It was like their love was the soap needed to wash off the filth that was so viciously put on her.
When she stepped out of the phone booth and back into the pouring rain, she didn’t feel cold anymore. Instead, she felt the warmth of good love from good people. She stretched her arms out and tilted her head back and just let the rain fall on her. She didn’t care that she was getting even wetter than before. She felt good and embraced. For the first time, she felt loved.