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I'll Do It Again Tonight
The sinking feeling starts when I sink into bed. Every night it starts, my stomach plummeting down, down, down as if I’m gonna throw up. I’ll pull the covers over my face and hope that maybe tonight will be the night in the nightmare when I wake up. Some little part of me, somewhere way back there in my brain, knows that this is reality, though. You’ll do it again tonight, you know.
Yes. I do know. I’ll do it again tonight. I know because of the girl that sinks down into bed next to me. She’s wasted away like a lollipop that you just can’t stop licking. She’s as pure as an element (I think that’s the one they say can’t be broken down anymore?). I love that girl with everything that I have, even if that’s not a lot, so I’ll do it again tonight.
If something was really sinking in my stomach, it’ll have hit my intestines before I hear our Papa slam the old wooden door that’s always wanting repairs. He’ll be drunk again, I’d bet my left shoe on that. Whether it’s drunk and angry, drunk and depressed, or drunk and insensate, he’ll always be drunk. I’d pray for him if I had the heart, but it all went to that skinny girl beside me, and there was none to spare for him.
When I hear my Papa’s bottles of Lord- knows-what being thrown against that dilapidated, old door, I’ll hold my breath. Will he come in here tonight? One time he came in to whisper drunken love into our young ears. A million times he came in to strike drunken hate upon our thin faces. No matter which it may be, I’ll wait a good 390 breaths before I’ll dare to pull the covers back from my face and rise up from the bed.
This’ll be the worst part. Well, maybe not the worst part, but definitely the most heart breaking. My sister will feel my stirring (The hunger makes both of us light sleepers.) and she’ll stir as well. “Lemme come tonight.” She’ll beg and I’ll nod my head “No”, not requiring thought to carry out the response. I’ll think about it later, though, as I’m pulling on my muddy boots that were as ragged as the foot that filled them. I’ll see her face, so innocent, so stubborn, so worn, and I’ll see how that used to be my face too. Those lively eyes, that child-like pout. I used to be a child, too.
If I couldn’t keep that, I would make darn sure that my sister could.
The night air will be cold. I guess sometimes it’ll be warmer, but tonight it will freeze my blood as solid as the ground my feet will pound against. The path will be beaten down in the grass from my feet pounding it so often. It’s a miracle that our Papa doesn’t notice and figure out what I’m doing every night. Or maybe it isn’t – he doesn’t notice much anymore.
By the time I arrive at the meeting point between the two tall Evergreens my teeth will be chattering. No matter how the weather is they’ll clank together, either from anticipation or cold and anticipation. He’ll be there chattering, too, but only if it’s cold like it’ll be tonight. He doesn’t get scared of anything; he doesn’t feel guilty about anything. I think I hate him, but I know I need him to feed my sister, so I’ll meet him there anyway. He’ll kiss me before we go off, hard and without much feeling, and all I’ll be able to think about is the pain of both our teeth chattering together.
I’ll make it through that kiss because I’ll have to, and when it’s over we’ll be speeding off towards town, as fast as the wind itself. The sinking will come back when we’ll stop in front of the grocery stands, all locked and covered for the night. He’ll smirk because a key will be hidden in his hand, and he’ll know I’d starve and, what’s worse, my sister will starve if he didn’t have that key. He’ll find that pretty darn amusing.
The grocer’s boy will unlock the stand and tease with me by tossing potatoes from hand to hand or hovering his hand over loaves of bread and then laughing as he whipped his hand away. After getting his sadistic kicks from making my empty stomach grumble in desire, he’ll hand me a meager handful of bland sustenance, claiming that my kiss wasn’t “real” enough for him that night.
I won’t say a thing in response. Instead, I’ll turn and scramble back through the woods to our squat square of a house. I’ll tiptoe up the latter to the loft where my sister will be snoring softly, and I’ll shake her awake with glassy eyes. The majority of the food will go to her despite her weak protests. I’ll be able to see her secret ravenous hope that I won’t listen to her pleas with me to take more bread, so I’ll tell her how silly she is and push more food at her.
This time, when she falls asleep, it will be a deep, content sleep. As for me, I’ll stay awake hours longer, mulling over my horrid father and the horrid kisses I give up to the horrid grocer’s boy. I’ll pull the covers up over my head and hope that maybe tonight will be the night I’ll wake up from the nightmare. The sinking feeling will return as that hope sinks down, down, down. But I’ll know that sinking feeling in my stomach will fill the empty hurt in my sister’s, so I know that tonight, and tomorrow night, I’ll do it all again.