My gut said no.
I told it to shut-up. And then I let him in.
“The boss does well for himself.”
“I guess so.”
“No.” My skin prickled, but I rubbed my hand over my arm and then crossed them. “He’s at work.”
“Doesn’t he know he shouldn’t leave a pretty girl like you alone at night? Bad things could happen.”
I repeatedly assaulted the inside of my check with my teeth. “So, did you need to talk or my dad or something? ‘Cause I told you he’s not here.”
“No, I just came to pick up his toolbox. For tomorrow. He said it’d be in his closet.” He glanced toward the hallway.
“Yeah okay. Wait here.” I glanced back once and then disappeared into Dad’s room.
I noticed there wasn’t a toolbox about the same time I felt his hand on my shoulder.
“You’re so beautiful. Do you know how beautiful you are?”
That’s when the screaming started. Only, I clenched my teeth, letting it pool in my throat until it exploded in my head. I didn’t dare let it out. My sister was asleep in the next room.
When he left, he said thank you—like I’d done him a favor—and told me not to tell.
“I’ll see you at school tomorrow, huh?”
I threw up.
And I didn’t go to school. For a week.
Then Dad threatened to take me to the doctor, and I opted for school instead. Would the doctor have been able to see just by looking at me?
Dad’s intern had told me not to tell, but I guess he didn’t include himself in that command because when I got off of the bus, I discovered that the whole school knew.
Only, in his version I had asked for it.
That’s what the note in my locker said. And the one passed during study hall. The screaming in my head filled my ears. The passer of the note put his finger to his lips and winked.
I walked out of class. Then I walked out of the building. The secretary yelled something about truancy, but I didn’t look back. I heard nothing over the roaring silence.
Days passed in a blur. The “slut” notes turned into jokes and advances—other guys thinking they could have their shot.
I thought about letting them.
When the screams got to be too much, I took a razor blade to the old carriage house at the back of our property.
I was desperate to make them stop. I had tried before to clear away the fog and let them out, but the minute they reached my lips they felt groundless and welled up inside me instead. That’s when I decided I needed to give myself a reason to scream on the outside, so I clamped my teeth together and dug the blade into my leg, releasing the silence. It felt so good I did it again. And again. And again.
That was how my Father found me. “It hurts,” I told Him.
He said He knew.
“Why?” I asked Him.
He didn’t answer, only held me.
“You saw what he did to me, didn’t You?”
I felt fury blaze across my face, and I ducked my head, tears sobbing down. I could feel His anger like a palpable heat, and I was afraid of it, though it wasn’t meant for me.
Then came the numbness.
“I’m dirty, You know.”
“No. No, child, you’re beautiful and pure. As pure as the gold in the Refiner’s fire.”
I wanted to believe Him.
So when He told me to drop the razor blade and really let it out, I did. Only, instead of screaming, I cried. Hard. And all the while, He held my head, whispered, “Shhh, My child,” and let me cry.
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