Daphne Davis entered the Chapel Pines Church sanctuary praying underneath her breath. It was the occasion of her beloved mother's wake, and she was about to become reacquainted with an aunt and uncle she had not seen in years. It would not be a happy reunion.
Daphne's mother had succumbed to a life long battle with depression and had taken a fatal dose of sleeping pills. Daphne was beside herself with grief, and to have to see these two people again was like having the knife in her gut twisted.
Now, as she made eye contact with her aunt, she recalled the two years she had lived with them when she was ten years old at the time her mother had a nervous breakdown.
When she had first moved in with her aunt and uncle, Daphne felt blessed to be there. Bettina and George were attentive and loving. George became the father Daphne never had.
Things slowly started to change when Daphne realized George's hands lingered a little too long when he hugged her, and brushed against parts of her body that were private. Then he started coming into her room at night.
Daphne blinked tears now as she walked towards her aunt. She put on a false smile and hugged her and glanced George's way. He standing a few pews over and talking with another relative.
“My precious Daphne! How long has it been? Dear, why haven't you answered any of my letters?” Bettina asked, in her little girl voice.
“I've just been busy at school, Auntie. I want to thank you for affording me the money to go to college. I'm sorry I haven't written.” Daphne felt like a scared little girl again.
“Now, you know that I don't hold that little misunderstanding about George against you. Is that why you didn't write? Did you think I was angry at you?”
Daphne stiffened. Years before she had told Bettina about George coming into her room at night and Bettina flew into a rage and scolded her. Bettina told her no one would believe such a preposterous lie.
Something inside of Daphne suddenly snapped at hearing Bettina's words. Glimpsing George's smug smile across the room, she felt the unleashing of ten years of pent up fury coming out at last.
“Aunt Bettina, there was no misunderstanding. You called me a liar, but I told you the truth!”
“Shush now, Daphne. You know I can cut off your funds for school, and I will if you cause a scene. George never laid a hand on you. You suffer from the same mental illness as your mother, you know.” Bettina admonished.
“I'm a lot saner than you, and I don't care about school. It's only hush money. I can't keep it inside anymore. What you did to me was atrocious, calling me a liar, when you probably knew it was true all along!”
With that, Daphne turned to the crowded room of relatives. She clapped her hands and indicated for everyone to listen to her, and looked directly at George.
“Everyone, I have something you all should know. Ten years ago George Riley molested me. Not once, b-but many times over a two year period.”
Daphne's voice began to choke, and she turned and left the sanctuary, not staying for the funeral. As she drove home, she thanked God for giving her the courage to speak up after all these years.
Back at the sanctuary, one could have heard a pin drop. All eyes were on George and Bettina. George said nothing, and Bettina finally broke the silence.
“Daphne obviously inherited her mother's mental illness. She has to be crazy to say such a thing!”
From the back of the church, a soft voice spoke up. “No, she's not. He molested me two years ago when I went to spend the summer with you, Aunt Bettina.”
All eyes turned towards Angel Davis, Daphne's twelve year old second cousin. Angel stood there with tears in her eyes, and truth on her face.
George turned crimson red and guided his wife out of the sanctuary. Two weeks later Angel's father filed charges against George for sexual assault. Daphne testified at the trial and George was sentenced to five years probation.
Daphne's tuition was paid in full by Bettina, and she graduated with honors. She went on to become a Christian counselor for sexually abused girls. The family never heard from George and Bettina again.
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