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I'm Fine...And That's A Lie

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When my father comes home that evening, Abby and I are still sitting at the table eating mac and cheese. I stand abruptly and serve my parents, without so much as a word of exchange between us, although my father does look at me with disgust.

What’s his problem this time?

“What the h*ll are you wearing?” He points at Jess’s skirt. He turns to my mother. “Did you buy that for her?”

My mom shakes her head vigorously.

“I borrowed it from a friend.” I tell him, innocently. My father lights his cigarette, and gives my mother a look she knows well. She ushers Abby to her bedroom, and my mother hides in her own. I know what’s coming; another angry outburst. Perhaps some more bruises. More I have to keep secret and lie about.

“You look like a prostitute!” My father’s voice reverberates off every object in the room, and rings in my ears. I wish I could say I was used to his insults, but I’m not. It hurts every time, especially when the words wh*re, sl*t, or prostitute are involved. What would he think of me if he knew what I’d done with my uncle?

“I won’t wear it again.” I say, and I mean it. I don’t want him to think I’m a prostitute. I don’t want anyone to think of me that way.

“No daughter of mine is going to dress like a sl*t! Got it?” My father yells in my face. He is standing over me, lowering his face down to my level, making me feeling wretchedly small.

I’m not your daughter,I want to say, but I know better than to provoke him. “I said I won’t wear it again.” I say quietly, while observing the linoleum floor.

“I know you won’t.” He straightens himself, and he now towers a full foot and a half above me. “Take it off now.” He says firmly.

“Now?”

“Now!”

I quickly strip down to my underwear, and my father tears the skirt from my hands, and chucks it into the garbage can. He tosses his cigarette in along with it.

“Daddy! You can’t throw it out! It belongs to my friend!”

My father grips me with his large hands. They wrap completely around my thin arms.

“Want to try yelling at me again?” My father roars. I think he must have been a bad tempered lion in the previous life. I shake my head without making a sound, and swallow hard. When my father releases me,I tremble like a leaf in the wind. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his lighter. He examines it for a moment, before lighting it.

What are you doing? I want to ask, but I can’t seem to vocalize anything at the moment. I don’t have to ask though. I find out soon enough. My father pins me to the ground, and the lighter’s flame meets the flesh of my thigh. I can’t help be scream out in pain. My eyes go wide when he lights the lighter again.

“Daddy no! Please no.” I plead.

He ignores me completely, and burns me again. The smell turns my stomach. In the end he brands me with his lighter, twice on each thigh. For some reason burns aren’t enough. He tosses his lighter aside, and pounds his fist forcefully into my thighs as well. I sob out loud as his fists hit the tender burns. I keep my eyes closed, to avoid looking at my ‘father’. When the beating ends, I still won’t open my eyes. I just lay on the floor shedding bitter tears, wishing I could disappear.

“Now I know you’ll never show off those legs again.” I hear my father spit, and then leave the room.

I don’t know how long I laid on the floor in the fetal position. It feels like an eternity, when I finally open my eyes. It’s difficult to stand on trembling legs that are now a gory mess. Large blue bruises mark the spots where my father hit me. The burns are bloody thanks to the punches afflicted upon them. I’m more concerned about the skirt though. I peek inside the trash to see if it is salvageable. It’s not. The cigarette has burned a hole right through the faded denim. I haven’t a clue what to tell Jess.

I struggle to walk down the hall and I encounter my mother on the way to my room. She takes in my mess of an appearance, turns her eyes away quickly, and says nothing. She walks past me to the living room, and flips on the television, to distract herself from her present issues. Jerry Springer is on. Yippy for her. I shake my head as new tears fall. There’s no way she didn’t hear me scream. Why didn’t she do something? Doesn’t she care at all?

Abby is crying, when I open my bedroom door. I don’t look at her until I’ve put on some pants.

“It’s okay Abby.” I say. “I’m fine.” And that's a down right lie.

“But you screamed. You never scream…. It scared me.” My little sister sobs, wiping her nose on her sleeve. I want to hug her, but I hurt too much.

“I’m fine.” I say again, before crawling into my bed, and falling asleep.





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