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I sat in the dark of my room, thinking. I became fixated on the distant humming of the furnace and the headlights of the cars going by through the barely open window shades. For a second, I wondered what life would be like if I could just stay in this tired trance with nothing to care about, nothing to stress over, nothing all day, everyday.
“You’re going to miss the bus!” My mother screamed so loud I felt bad for her vocal chords. I got up slowly, letting my thoughts slide down my body until I couldn’t see them anymore. I should talk to someone about my thoughts, maybe a therapist. But, you never know what they’re thinking. You never know what anybody’s thinking. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m thinking.
I hobbled over to my vanity and winced as I looked in the mirror, my greasy hair that hasn’t seen water in days, the sagging bags under my eyes and my acne scars looking particularly vivid even in the dark of my room. The dark. I reached under the lamp feeling for the switch, and, when I finally did, I mustered all of my strength to slowly switch it on, feeling the smooth but somehow harsh rivets. Light filled every corner of the room. I adjusted my eyes and looked in the mirror a second time. My silhouette developed as a picture does on film, and for a second, I saw a different person. A girl. A girl that looked like me, with long hair, with my face, my eyes, my everything. There was only one difference. She was smiling. And then she was gone.
My mind was playing tricks on me, once again. Like when I was little, I would associate things like Barbies with positivity. I never wanted toy cars or trucks. I think my parents realized there was something wrong with me because when I was ten they found my container of Barbie dolls and took me out to the backyard to burn them along with my pink clothes and the perfume that I had stolen from my teacher's desk in second grade.
“Hurry up!” my mother screamed again. I splashed some water on my face, and I knew I was not ready for what was going to happen.
This time, the church was silent. The only sound was the clock ticking back and forth, slowly. The sun creeped out from behind dark clouds and shone through the dome shaped windows spattering around on the marble floor. It was an uncomfortable peace.
Footsteps. At that moment the peace was broken. The faint tap of heels echoed throughout the halls. Quiet again. The clock chimed loudly and more shuffling sounds filled the halls. Then the whispering began.
Forgive me father for I have sinned
Forgive me father for I have sinned
Forgive me father for I have sinned
I was a sinner. I am a sinner. I walked around the church with a group of more sinners; I don’t know why we haven’t burst into flames yet. I liked life before, before confessions were daily. It doesn’t matter what I like though, because I am a sinner.
The day everything changed was an overcast Tuesday afternoon. I was getting lectured by my mother because I had been caught hanging out with the “fairy” crowd. The wrong crowd.
“Those kids are going to hell!” she said with fury in her voice. “I didn’t raise no faggot.”
There was a knock on our door, kind of hesitant. My mother gave me an angry glance. She stomped to the door and unlocked it.
“Mrs. Johnson?” A sullen man, wearing an oddly large white bowtie and a brown suit that looked like it had been rented for prom, held up a badge that had the letters H.O.G.
“Miss. Johnson,” my mother said reluctantly. “Has something happened?”
The man seemed to ignore her question. “You’re not married?”
“No… my husband left last year,” she said, irritated. “Has something happened?” she asked again, a little louder.
He gave her an uncomfortable glance. “Well.... kind of.” He looked down at me. “I’d rather talk to him, ma’am.”
She looked at me and shrugged. “Go ahead.”
“Can we talk in private please?” the man asked. My mom looked offended as I led him to my room. I opened the door awkwardly, and he walked inside. He moved slowly around the room admiring the many posters on my off- white walls. He stopped in front of the sublime poster slowly dragging his fingers along the smooth surface.Before he could say anything, I asked, “What does H.O.G. mean?” He looked at me directly in the eye and confidently said, “House Of God.”
“Like church?” I asked apprehensively.
He nodded slowly, pulling out a book from his inside pocket. He got on his knees and started feeling under my bed.
“So do you have a girlfriend?” he asked, straining his voice as he reached even farther. He had rested the book on the ground, and I could see now that it was a bible.
“What are you doing?” My voice got a little shrill, knowing what was laying under the bed. He didn’t answer, instead he put his other hand under the bed and pulled out a plastic container.
“Stop!” I screamed, almost breaking into tears.
My mom shoved the door open. “What’s going on here?!” He still said nothing as he popped the lid open. He stiffened, and my mom peered over his shoulder. In that box was everything that I was ashamed of, my deepest darkest secrets. He started pulling out magazines: Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Tiger Beat; cutouts of dresses and jewelry fell out as he placed the magazines on the ground next to him.
“No…” my mother said quietly, putting her hand to her forehead as if she was checking for a fever.
The man kept going as I screamed at him; he pulled out a bag that I knew was stuffed with makeup. I jumped. I pushed the man to the side and held him down, but I wasn’t strong enough so he pulled away. I grabbed his face hard and felt myself scratching him, almost ripping the flesh off his face.
He stopped for a second, put his hand to his face, and then looked at it, almost shocked that he was bleeding. He took a deep breath and reached inside his pocket, pulled out a cell phone and pressed the screen. Suddenly, three men barged in and one of them grabbed my arms and pinned them behind my back.
“Hey!” I screeched. “That hurts!”
“Do you want me to take him now?” one of the men asked in a deep voice.
“Take him where?!” my mother screamed. “Why is this happening?”
Again, they ignored my mother. The man stood for a second, thinking. He then stood up slowly, wiping the blood off of his face.
“No. I want him to watch,” the man said with a snarl. He unzipped the bag and took out a red lipstick. I cried out to my mother, who couldn’t look me in the eyes.
“Do you see this, boys?” he said, pointing the lipstick at me. “This is why we do our job,” he said with a sense of satisfaction. He walked towards me as I tried my hardest to fight but he grabbed my neck. I heard the cap of the lipstick fall to the ground
“Do you like wearing this?”
“No…please don’t…” I gasped, trying to draw a breath. He smeared the lipstick across my face slowly with a sneer and spit forcefully.
“Get this scum out of my sight,” he growled. One of the men dragged me across the room and out of the house. As I was being pulled to a big bus with dark tinted windows, I turned around to see my mother watching with disgust, not at the men, but at me.
As I was forced through the doors of the bus I only had one thought.
“I deserve this.”