Do you know why I refuse to refer to you by your "title?"
Are you still on this impression that we are equal?
And why is it that YOU are greater than ME?
I brought you into this world. I can surely take you out of it.
I'm not leaving. I don't care what you do.
Is that an invitation?
Good. You're smarter than I give you credit for.
Still, why do I have to call you "Mother?"
Didn't we just discuss this?
You call THAT a discussion?
You listen here-
And she beckons for you.
Shut up. I heard her. I'm not deaf.
Then why are still conversing?
Because I rather argue with you then argue with Her.
I hardly call this "arguing."
Then what is this?"
I see this as a mutual standstill in time? Or, I guess, a verbal standstill.
What does that mean?
Not my fault you are illiterate.
"Misti Anna Creek! Get your butt down here now!"
Ignoring her again? You know she won't take too kindly to that.
I don't care. Let her get mad.
Misti, life is about learning to become a mature adult.
You are preaching to the WRONG choir Ray.
I just don't want you hurt again. You remember last week?
I'm fine. I wasn't even bleeding. Just a small bruise, that's all.
"Either you get down here now, or I'll come and drag you down!"
It's okay Ray. I'll go see what she wants.
Can we talk later though?
Of course we can.
I stood up and grabbed my blue penny coat off the edge of my bed. Wrapping the arms around my waist, I headed out the door. I went to descend the stairs when I saw my disgruntled aunt. Her normally soft blonde hair was rather ratty and sloppily prepared today. She covered her emerald green eyes with a pair of Shaden sunglasses. Her torn, old plaid dress was splotched with a permanent stain of coffee and blood. Laid gently over her shoulders was a sickly green jacket with enormous pockets.
"Misti…." She started, pausing for my reply.
"Yes Auntie?" She removed her sunglasses and I saw a large red ring wrapped solely on her right eye.
She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a cigarette and lit it. "I have been calling for you." She wasn't screaming. And yet, she's really peeved at me. Instead of trying to find excuses, I simply apologized. "You're sorry?" I looked at her, and I saw a faint smile creep and slap away the cold grimace that seemed dormant on her lips. "Of course you're sorry. You don't seem to understand one, simple concept."
I knew what came next was coming. I always knew my aunt's next move when dealing with me. She raised her fist into the air and punched my forehead. Pain splintered my skin as blood dripped down my forehead into my eyes. I felt a sharp pain stabbing my stomach as she kicked me to the ground. With tears in my eyes, I looked up at my aunt. I tried to find the words I've always dreamed of saying. The words that would either set me free from my abusive relative or send her into a homicidal rampage. All I could muster, however, was a simple "I'm sorry, Auntie…."
This set her off again.
"YOU'RE SORRY?!" I saw she was literally shaking from anger. She kicked my face multiple times before shrieking at the top of her lungs, "IF I HEAR YOU SAY THAT ONE MORE TIME, I WILL BEAT YOU SENSELESS AND BURY YOU IN THE BACK YARD TO SUFFOCATE!" She started to walk away before turning back to me. "Misti?" I looked at her face, wincing from the pain. "Get up and get ready for school." She turned and headed down the stairs. "Remember." Her voice trailed off as she escaped my line of vision. "Be home by six, or else."
I knew she would hurt you again.
So did I.
What was her reason this time?
No excuse, as far as I know. Just angry I guess.
What time do you need to be home by today?
I think six….Maybe seven?
You need to remember. If you are wrong and show up an hour late….
I know Ray. I'll just assume five to be safe.
What if it was four?
School lets out at 3:30.
It takes 55 minutes to ride the school bus to my house.
Oh. That's good, I guess.
You better get out of here. Gym is about to start.
Okay. I'll see you after sch-
"Who are you talking to?"
I snapped back and turned to face the girl standing behind me. Hanging past her petite waist, her silky red hair was tied into one, single braid. Her chestnut brown eyes were softly accented by her fair skin. She, like everyone else in the school, wore the pale green and grey uniform-A button down plaid shirt with matching pants and/or skirt- Wrapped around her neck was a small gold chain with her name spelled out with diamonds- Naomi Smith.
I smiled and turned back to my locker. Plastered across every scrap of blue metal was a drawing of me and Ray. From childhood drawings to high school sketches, every piece of my "friend's" existence outside of my head laid out for the world to see. That is, when my locker was open.
"Naomi, did Carson give you the new schedule?" She smiled and shook her head.
"Are you going to answer MY question? Or do I have to guess again?" Even though Naomi has been my best friend since Kindergarten, I have never told her about the voice I converse with in my head. It's not like I don't trust her. It's just that she tends to tell her dad what I tell her. This wouldn't be a problem if Mr. Smith wasn't looking for a reason to send me to the insane asylum. I merely shrugged and slammed my locker shut.
"I wasn't talking."
"Yes you were."
"No, I wasn't."
"You mentioned something about riding the bus home."
I turned to her, smiled, and raised my finger to my lips. "You must have imagined it." I said, silently laughing with Ray. "Be careful, or they'll take you to the loony bin." She started to laugh and waved it off. I knew she would hear me again, but I was prepared for every situation she could catch me in. Well, almost every situation. I was dreading the day she catches me saying "Ray."
She suddenly frowned and crossed her arms. "Misti, I know you said something about riding some bus home today." She looked at me and continued with, "Why are you hiding a minimal thing like that from me?" Normally, she wasn't as "pushy" when I tell her she's crazy. But today…. I wonder what's wrong with her…..
"It's nothing Naomi." I said, turning towards my locker. In my head, Ray was buzzing up my ear, telling me I should tell her the truth. But, as if he was a mere insect, I waved him off and started to head for my next class. I was one step from the gym when I heard Naomi talking. I stopped and tried to make sense of it, but I was too far away. I just shrugged and entered the gym, a faint trail of invisible blood dripping behind me.
I heard it around 8 p.m. that night. A drunken voice was shouting my name outside. I didn't have to look outside to know it was my aunt, wasting the buzz she received on her daily stop at Mr. Ted's Strip n Booze. I wanted to go out there and help her back into the house, but I knew she wouldn't recognize me and that would just provoke her to attack again. So I just stayed inside, drinking some iced tea that chilled my bones. It was roughly 8:49 p.m. when my aunt came stumbling into the house.
I turned to look at her.
She had a long, sleek piece of leather in her right hand, the brown wearing down to an unusually faint red shade. Her left hand had a thick, yellow cord that trailed behind her as she walked in circle after circle. I knew she was drunk, but she was acting too stable to be completely ditzy drunk. I just sat in my seat, watching in amazement as she cleared the living room and made it to the refrigerator safely. She did a quick 180 and promptly fell down. I didn't laugh.
She stood and continued to circle some invisible creature. She stopped suddenly when she probably thought that the figure was gone. She looked at me. "Misti," she slurred, raising the leather up a tad bit. "What day is today?" I stood and strolled merrily into the kitchen. I turned and observed the pale green fridge. On it was a pink and black calendar with a happy family sitting at a picnic table together. Every other day was circled in red sharpie, every day with a little number written in purple and green ink. Today was Thursday, one of the many dates circled. I took a big gulp and turned to my aunt.
"Today is….Thursday…" I muttered, quietly and slowly walking away from the calendar, away from my drunken aunt.
"Excuse me?" She held her left hand to her ear, motioning with her right. "I couldn't hear you. Did you say it was Thursday?" I didn't reply, my head somehow bobbed to make a nod. "Good." She started to walk to me, a crazy look in her eye. "So I guess we should get started. Are we going to be a good girl?"
She slapped the leather strap against the floor, the loud crack shaking the windows. "Or are you going to run again?"
I don't know why, but I knew I had to run. I turned and started to dash towards the cracked door, but a tall, dense figure pushed me to the ground. I looked up and saw my aunt's assistants-Rocky, Luke, Dana, and Kenny- blocking me from freedom. I tried to crawl away, but Rocky grabbed my neck and hauled me into the air. Dana and Luke forced my hands behind my head, Luke tying them with the yellow cord. "Okay fellows." I saw my aunt walk into my line of vision. "Let's get started, shall we?" She walked back into the kitchen and I heard her ripping something off fiercely. Rocky turned me, despite my struggling to escape his dirty grasp. Sure enough, I felt his hands grab my waist as he sat me on the ground. When I was lounging on the tan-red carpet, he knelt beside me and started to feel my chest. His cold hands made me shiver and I heard his laughter.
"Don't worry missy." He grunted in my ear, pinching my skin. "I'll be gentle. Until I take you home with me. Then I'll wear you out till your skin is red." I shuddered and turned away from him. He laughed and continued to rub my chest roughly, boasting about his great seduction skills. I silently cried, and I could hear Ray trying to calm me.
A few clinking and shattering cups later, my aunt came back with the calendar page in her hand. "Well let's see how many whacks…" she smacked the wall with the leather strap. "And let's see how many hours in hell you get today." She added up the little purple and green numbers and smiled. "Oh goody." She looked at me and held up the belt. "Including the mandatory 5 whacks, your little slip-up yesterday, and being late from school a total of 20 minutes since Tuesday, that's going to be exactly 50 whacks." She ripped the paper in half and shoved the pieces into my mouth. I spat them back out and received a sharp blow to my face from my aunt. Already, a small trail of blood dripped down my cheek, quickly chased by tears. "Now dear." I looked up at my aunt, her sick smile making me mentally throw up. "If this hurts, you can just exchange one whack for an hour in the Pit." I shuddered.
The Pit was a beat-up old trailer that my aunt lived in before she divorced my uncle and took his house. When I was younger, I played in the house with my cousin Rue. Now, it's mainly used for my aunt's drug lab and the locale for my forced prostitution. My aunt calls my clients "hours", though a normal session with an hour is more like 2 hours in regular time. With an average of 43 hours a week, I make roughly $2,766 not including the deduction my aunt receives for keeping the whole thing a secret. I guess if I wasn't forced, the money would help my view on it. But my aunt sees it more as a punishment for minor things I do around the house. If I take too long washing dishes, she adds an hour to my list. Every minute I'm late from school is another hour. I remember I once received 10 hours during spring break when I brought Naomi over for half a day.
I fought back tears and shook my head. Even if it was extremely painful, 1 whack is better than a guy, or sometimes a group of guys, violating me. My aunt smiled. "Good. I like when you fight the inevitable." She pushed my small body down so that my face touched her shoe and snapped her fingers. Almost instantly, Dana and Luke ripped my shirt off, their hands lingering on my bra. When a quick movement, my aunt smacked my pale stomach. I yelped in pain, just to send another whack across my back. Standing over me with the same sick smile, she asked me again. "Do you want to exchange your remaining 47 whacks for hours in the Pit?" I shook my head, wincing as she kicked me onto my back. "I do think I am done with this toy." She threw the leather strap away and reached into her back pocket. "I bought a new toy today and completely forgot about it. I'm sure you will like it." She revealed a bright purple whip, made entirely of sleek and shiny pink metal. "Want to switch now?" I took a long look at the torture tool before whispering no. "My, my. You are stubborn today." She stood over me and raised the whip over her head. Before proceeding, she looked at me again. "Last chance," I looked at my aunt's misshapen eyes. "Save yourself from the pain. Just exchange the whacks for hours."
Somehow, I managed to pull myself up into an awkward sitting position. I looked at my aunt, the whip shining from the hidden lamp in the distance. "No." I said, my voice shaking my raw throat. "No, I will not exchange the whacks for hours. And do you want to know why?" I looked around me at my willing captors. Their eyes were round with fear. Were they scared of my aunt, about how she would beat me for saying more than a simple 'Yes Madam' or 'No Madam'. If she was willing to kill me and threaten them so they would hide my body, take the blame, or even worse. Or, were they scared of me? A beaten, tied up teenage girl that could send them all to Hell with 3 simple words. 'They tortured me.' Obviously, they were scared of my aunt. They could easily get rid of me if I threatened to tell the police. Not because they were worried about getting caught, but because they all signed a blood contract that they would serve my aunt in any endeavor she pursues, no matter what it is, in exchange for food and boarding. I looked back at my aunt and crossed my eyes at her. "I don't care anymore. Whack me, make me prostitute myself, it doesn't matter!" I scooted as far as I could from her, staring straight into her pale face. "Do what you want with me. But you'll regret every single strike, every single fraction of a second, you choose to torture me with!" I managed to stand, though I knew I wouldn't stay standing soon. "I don't care anymore!" I was shaking to the point I couldn't even feel the carpet between my toes. "You will regret the day you ever hit me. You will regret the day you took me away from my parents. And…" I paused, trying to think of a third thing. Finally, after a second of thought, I finally whispered. "You will regret the day you divorced Uncle Jake, the only thing in your pathetic life worth holding on to." In an instant, I was lying on my back, a knife held up against my throat.
During my little speech, she dropped the whip and pulled out the silver dagger with Uncle Jake's initials etched into it. I tried to push her off me, but I felt my arms give out under her massive weight. I gasped as she grabbed me and hoisted me into the air. I could feel her smile into my skin, the cold expression chilling my bones. I heard her whisper something, but her words didn't transfer into my brain. She repeated, her usual sweet, sometimes angry voice was gone. The dark, venomous croak she had know uttered 4 words. My heart fell and I could hear nothing but the few words that was so disturbingly scary to hear my aunt say:
"Let's play a game…"