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It is impossible to say how at first the thoughts came into my head that formed the opinion I carry out about her, but they are there, and they are strong, and full of love for her like no other I have ever—or will ever, as far as I am concerned—meet in the many years of my life that are yet to come, through the few years of adolescence I have left and the many of adulthood.
She came into my life as soon as my mother remarried, as if she was an angel sent down from Heaven to keep me sane if my new father would break out in rage and hatred like the one before he. Just in case he would overdose himself on alcoholic drinks and turn full of insanity and become incredibly violent, resulting in broken body parts and emotional scars, and him out on the streets or living with his secretary or boss, even, if she was attractive enough for him. I knew him as not much more than the Italian man whom my mother was having an affair with, and even at the wedding, I did not think of him as my father, and I probably never would. But I would see him as a father figure, nonetheless.
On that same day, I met her. In addition, she was sweet to me, like a friend would be. But that wasn’t good enough. That would never be good enough. Although I had known her maybe fifteen seconds when I first had this affliction of feelings for her, I would not let it leave me right away.
I met her on the outside of the church. She must have been a churchgoer, I assumed, because of the clothes I saw her in. She was wearing a white satin dress and her auburn hair was tied back in a blue ribbon, revealing the beautiful and soft complexion of her face.
We met on the steps of the church, even before the ceremony of my mother’s newlywed life began. I wondered where she had come from and why she was on the steps of the chapel. The cold winter air blew the few lose strands of her hair off her face. She was smiling with luscious lips. I could see faded freckles on her skin in the glow of the sun above the candy-colored lake off to the distance in the West. And to my greatest fantasies and dismay, I could tell, just by the way she glanced at me, that she thought high of me. She smiled and brought her hands together, hanging them in front of her stomach—her slim, firm stomach.
A few strands of my hair fell in front of my eyes. It was the same, if not maybe a little darker, than the hair on her head—and elsewhere, possibly, she looked about my age, give or take a year. She took the liberty of pushing those strands out of the way and tucked them behind my ear, where they reluctantly stayed only until they got bored and wanted to slip away. Her fingertips making contact, accidentally, with the skin on my face was the greatest sensation I ever had experienced in my sixteen years alive.
She was still smiling. She brought her hand back to her other one, still hanging where it had been a few seconds ago. In a voice of iota loudness, she spoke softly through those luscious, pink, lips. They words flew out like that of sweet poetry or a great singer on the radio. Only one word came out, but it was relaxing to hear. “Hello,” she had said to me when we were on the steps of the chapel. After a few more seconds of her thinking—possibly expecting a response—and me cherishing the sound I had just heard, she said, “Who are you? My name’s Dawn Smith.”
Dawn Smith. What a beautiful name, I thought. “Oh,” I said, but it was inaudible, even though my lips had been moving. Then I thought before I said anything. Smith! That was the last name of my new stepfather. And this was her daughter. This was the daughter he had mentioned to my mother when they were out together, and she later messaged to me. I was outlining feelings for my stepsister. My stepsister. She belonged to my stepfather. I was astonished, but I did not show it directly. You would have to dig deep down through the passages of my mind to find that feeling, but it was there.
The worst of all this was that even after I acquired that piece of knowledge that I was grateful I documented then, was that I still looked at her and started feeling love for her. Love much unlike that of which you give to your family—like your sister, perhaps—but love for that of someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. She approached me closer, but only by a half step. “My name is Stephen Mellon.”
She did not seem surprised at all. She then, in a voice as pleasant and arousing as ever—when you added the words—said, “So you’re gonna be my new stepbrother. My older stepbrother. So I’ll be seeing you a lot.”
What was she doing? I was stupefied. I could not tell if she was some form of psychic, and knew of my newfound emotions, and was teasing me with them, or if she was legitimately thrilled in that special way that I was going to be near her often—living with her, as a matter of fact.
I think the deal was sealed, and the truth decided, when the next couple of seconds rolled by in the late afternoon of that slow-paced winter day in 1967.
In the completely empty parking lot of the Long Island church, she was in the perfect place to do what she did next. She turned her head to her right for a moment, to make sure no one important was watching, then moved even closer to me, so close, now, that I could feel her pressing up against me where I would usually be unyielding under circumstances not involving my family on such a surprising occasion in such a surprising way. I was frozen solid when she seized my shoulders tightly, wrapping her long fingers around me, and pulling me closer, still. I became hypnotized looking into her big brown eyes. But then she closed them, and leaned towards me. She tilted her head slightly to the left, and pressed her firm, delicious lips hard against mine and her tongue dove deep in between my teeth, searching for mine. She found it and drew it out, and into her mouth. After that, I was no longer shocked and I held her too. My grip was tight on her shoulders and I pulled her close to the point where our chests started to touch. I closed my eyes and joined her French kiss.
I withdrew, but she did not, entirely. She kept her arms on me and fell to my chest. She said, resting her head on me, “God sent you to protect me from my father, didn’t he?”
I held her close when she said that and said, simply, but to her with all the meaning and serenity in the world, “Yes, I guess he did.” However, while I said this to her, I was somewhat scared of what her father was like. In any case, he could not have been worse than mine was. But if she said he was bad, I would have to believe her. Why would she be wrong.
And the church bells started to ring, as if a promise that all was going to be well from then on.
It was only early—very early—that next morning when Dawn came to me while I was trying to fall back asleep. It must have been some time around four-thirty, but I could not tell because I couldn’t see my watch in the light, and my bedside clock was dead. I was lying in bed, but she knew I was awake. She slipped through the door and then closed it slowly—so slowly that it took her near thirty seconds to do so.
“Stephen,” I heard her say. I only lifted my head up for a moment and then rested it back down, just so she knew I was awake and alert.
She approached me in the bed, her feet moving silently on the carpet of my bedroom. She slowly sat on my bed, afraid the springs would shift. She seemed paranoid that any noise she made would wake her father, and he would immediately come rushing to her, and find her out of bed. Then he would instinctively come to me, certain that I was raping her. And then something else. Something wrong. Something…deadly. With one of the guns he had locked in a chest downstairs he would…
I trailed off when she fell on her side on the bare mattress beside me. I meant to put new sheets on my bed when I decided to change them last night, but I was just too tired to do so. She lay facing me, her eyes wide and her smile welcoming. Her hair smelt of Tee Tree shampoo. It was relaxing. One cool, smooth leg of hers climbed atop mine and coiled around to the best of its ability.
Then her knee came up slowly and gently rested on the place. It did not move. Nothing moved, accept for our beating hearts. She said, “You’re house is creepy,” in a high voice. “Can I stay here with you?” She poked her finger to my chest and traced a line up and down my chest.
She pushed her nose against mine, like a rabbit, and I said, “Okay,” rubbing with her.
She sat up then, and shifted herself to get on top of me. She stared down at me. “Hi,” she said, lightheartedly and playfully. She once again—as she did earlier, during that enchanted moment on the steps of the chapel—pressed her lips against me, kissing hard. However, this time, she did not draw out my tongue.
She slipped down, and was lying on me, nuzzling her face on my face and neck, making sweet sounds.
As she did this, I lay quiet, not moving, not talking, barely breathing. It was impossible for me to believe that I was in instant love with my stepsister. It was impossible for me to believe that she was in love with me. True love—love at first sight. I can say that I never believed in that, and I still don’t, because this is all a dream, and really, I am to wake up in my bed and prepare for my mother’s wedding to an Italian man of thirty-nine with no children, or if so, none as beautiful as Dawn Smith was.
The morning rolled on and four-thirty became five-thirty. She had stayed with me, always some part of her touching me in one way or another, and I cannot say I at any point told her to withdraw. Even when she went below the belt, if she ever did. It is impossible for me to replay the events of that fateful morning with my new sister in my bed because I cannot remember them for myself to any stretch of the imagination. It is as if someone had robbed me of this thought for the many years to come, or I have selectively repressed it because of its immoral and promiscuous outcome.
All I can remember clearly from that time was that, with every little squeak made, every thump, every moan, and every single sound in the atmosphere, scared me to death, and I wished that I would vanish from here, as to not be present when we were caught by her father opening the door to come and ask me a casual question and end up in a hate-driven fit of rage at the sight of her with me in the way we were. But I thanked God that he never came, and that we were still a secret.
I would wake up tomorrow morning—if I ever fell back asleep—and find her in her own bedroom in my home and I would be here, in my bed, alone. We would coincidentally walk out of our rooms and meet at the same time even though she had actually been waiting, listening for the squeal of my door to slip out of her room and greet me. We would walk downstairs and find our parents sitting at the table in the breakfast nook, my mother ironing her clothes from last night’s wash and her father sitting at the table, reading the New York Times to see if the New York Giants—the professional football team he used to play on before arthritis forced him into retirement at the age of twenty-seven—had made progress in the tableau of the scores of all teams.
Yes. That is what would happen. That is how the day would work out. I knew I was dreaming because this was simply unfeasible and the situation unattainable by any draw out of the mind's eye.
Eventually, in my dream, of course, Dawn rolled off me and bounced on the mattress next to me. She embraced herself close to me and then fell silent, her breathing slow and relaxed, making moaning sounds of delight as the minutes passed and each one made her more and more comfortable.
Then she said to me, “Do not worry yourself. My father will not know. He is a truly heavy sleeper, and since I turned eleven, around four years ago, he has trusted me to sleep on my own and not get out of bed for anything more than a glass of water or a trip to the bathroom.” She sighed again and I felt so relieved. I kissed her forehead. (This was my dream, after all.)
I woke up the next morning to find that I had slept for a few hours. Then I was scared again. Scared because Dawn was in my arms, her soft breaths on my neck as she slept with her face hidden by my shoulder. I slipped out from her embrace, which was held through the hours of her sleep, and stood to the floor. I turned around and looked at Dawn on the bed. The golden light of the morning made her look unbelievable. There was something about the woman body that made it meant to be stretched out on a mattress. It didn’t matter why or how. Just on a mattress. That looked beautiful.
“Did you two sleep okay?” a voice asked behind me.
I jumped around in a panic, falling to the bed in front of the sleeping Dawn. That woke her up as banging into a baby’s cradle wakes it up. She looked into the room and saw my mother standing next to the closed door, which stood tall behind her. Dawn sat up, a look of horror on her face.
“Mother!” I screamed, but bit my tongue thinking that it would cause the Italian man to come in.
My mother was laughing. She was laughing at me. And Dawn too, most likely. She smiled, put her hand back on the doorknob. She looked like she had something to say, but only smiled and walked out as if she was seventeen, instead of thirty-two, and my mother—our mother.
She left the room, closing the door behind her. Our heartbeats slowed.
Dawn looked to me. I saw fright in her eyes. She gulped, and then spoke. The voice that was once so musical and harmonious to my ears was no hoarse and trembling. “What if Daddy finds out?” she asked me, but I didn’t really know what to tell her. I was just as confused and somewhat frightened and on-edge about her brutal father as she was. But did Mother know of how aggressive her husband of seventeen hours was? I didn’t think so, but I had to pray that she did?
The two words, “It’s okay,” came out of my mouth. They must have helped because she smiled again. She was always smiling. Even though I had only seen her for the past few hours, I had always seen a smile. Never even a straight face. Always a smile. Always.
She left my room and hid behind her door, doing the things girls do to get ready for the day, whether it was going to be a lazy day or a busy day. It was cold and there were no classes, so my guess was it was going to be a lazy day.
And I guess it was a lazy day. It felt like one, the way it feels like you made the right choice about playing a poker hand and waiting patiently as each other player bet their last bets before the cards were shown. It wasn’t just a lazy day. It was going to be a good day.
Father slapped Dawn hard across the face. She was knocked to the floor, now on her hands and knees, preparing to cry. Daddy had never hit her before, except when they were joking around and they would slap each other on the back a couple of times. But this one was different. He hurt her. He was being bad. “Are you out of your damn mind?” he screamed at her, still on the floor, trying to get up, but in shock.
If Mother would have seen him hit Dawn the way I had just seen it, he would be gone forever. Mother would take Dawn and me and we would go far away from him, and leave him to die alone in a moat of despair and grief.
Dawn started to cry now. She did not show it at first, but she was tearing. She wouldn’t actually cry because it would show weakness. Likewise, Daddy liked it when he was mad, to make people feel weak and subordinate to him.
Dawn managed, after several seconds of awkwardly trying to stand up, got to her feet, still in a crouching position afraid that if she got up, her father would beat her until she went back down.
She did get to her feet, and her father did not beat her back down. He was still angry though, and when he was angry, he wanted to hurt—hurt whomever he was mad at.
He grabbed Dawn by the shoulders and turned her to him so she would look at his face and scream because of how mean he looked.
I dare not write the words that that man screamed and hollered at her, because they are nothing but ignorant insults of no reason or rhyme. His profanity was over the limit, nauseating.
He wrapped his huge hand around her thin, weak neck and started to squeeze. He repeated insults to her to make her feel as miserable as possible. He told her (and I hurt when I hear this) that she was a dejected w**** who disserved to die for her wrongs.
He shook her while still holding firm grip of her neck.
She had her hands on his wrist, trying to pull the hand away, but with his other hand, slapped her across the face when she did. She was gagging, and breath was becoming hard to reach. He was crushing her windpipe, and she would surely die.
Then he stopped, and released her as and withdrew his hand the way a child who was caught trying to steal an extra cookie from the jar would.
Now he was the one trembling, and he said, through bore teeth, “Okay,” and held his hands up like a criminal told to “reach for the sky, dirt-bag.” He dared not to move from me, or try anything because he knew damn well I held the barrel of his loaded shotgun to his right temple.