90 comments

Sep 12, 2020

Drama

( Warning: Mild depictions of sexual abuse)

Everybody has their demons. Mine is a man who is gentle and kind by day. He brushes his daughter’s tangled hair with painstaking care, dances in the rain with his smiling face lifted to the sky, and sings “Here Comes the Sun” in a voice like honey. My uncle was a good man. When you passed away, Mama, he and his wife took me in, and he held me in his arms while I cried for you. He comforted me, telling me that you were scattering lavender with the angels in heaven. He was a good man. 

    But by night, he is not my uncle. By night he is a fox, sly and cunning. His voice slurs and reeks of alcohol when he stumbles into my room. 

   When I was a little girl, who cared only for collecting pennies from the 1970s and making wishes on dandelions, I knew nothing of The Man who now creeps into my room when the house hushed and moonbeams illuminate the dust in the air. 

    My uncle taught me to play the piano. He would lay his warm hands on mine, guiding me to the right notes. When I stuck a sour chord, his breath tickled my ear as he laughed his throaty little laugh. 

When I turned seven, he presented me with a shiny silver locket to wear around my neck, with a picture of my aunt and uncle inside. I put it on, and I could almost feel it’s little metal heartbeat against my chest. I treasured it and wore it every day for years to remind me of my uncle’s kindness. I was so proud to wear his picture around my neck, because he was the father I never got to have. I wanted to prove to the world that having an uncle as good as mine was better than any old father. He was everything an uncle should be. 

Was, was, was. 

  Is it right that I should be scared of the world, Mama? Is it right that I should tremble when a man brushes against me in the street? Does it have to be this way? I don’t think the whole world is big enough for me to hide from him. 

   The memory of the first night my uncle came into my bedroom will never leave me. It is etched in my mind forever.

 It was late, and I can’t say for sure what woke me up. Perhaps it was the creak of the door or the sound of his boots on the wooden floor. Blearily, I opened one eye, trying to figure out what woke me. A dark figure was illuminated by the dingy hallway light outside my door. Content, I closed my eye again and settled back into the soft pillows. It was only Uncle, come to say goodnight. I smiled to myself at the thought of his scratchy beard on my cheek.   

He stumbled in and sat heavily at the foot of my bed. I froze under my covers. My eyelashes fluttered like a caged bird as I pretended to sleep. Something about his presence just didn’t feel right. I wanted him to laugh, tickle me under the chin, and sing me to back to sleep, like every other night. 

He leaned closer, his eyes hungry, and in that moment, Mama, I knew that this was not the uncle I loved so dearly. My cozy bedroom was too small, the walls were closing in. I felt his calloused hands caress my trembling body and his ragged breath in my ear. ‘Are loving uncles allowed to touch their little girls like this?’ I wondered to myself. Is this fatherly love?  I hated the feeling of his body pressed against mine. My eyes stung, and I choked back a sob. I just wanted to be far away from this man and his prying fingers. Yet I didn’t move. I was terrified.   

In the morning, I crept out of my room slowly, my eyes red from crying myself to sleep. I felt dirty, as though my body was covered in insects. I ran to the bathroom to wash away the horrible feeling that lingered. But even as I rubbed my skin raw scrubbing and scrubbing, I still felt The Man’s handprints emblazoned on my skin like medals of shame. I couldn’t wash them away. 

A sob burst from my throat, and I balled up the soaked washcloth and threw it at the bathroom mirror as hard as I could. I watched as the water the wet rag had left behind ran down the mirror in rivets, blurring the reflection of my tear-stained face. I missed you so much in that moment, Mama.   

 The next night, I couldn’t sleep, I was so scared that The Man would come to touch me again. Under the covers, my nightgown covered in little pink flowers twisted around my legs from all my tossing and turning. My eyes kept flitting back to the door, and my body was stiff, listening for footsteps in the hallway. 

He didn’t come back that night, but that thought that he might was enough to keep me awake. I shivered anytime I remembered the way he had touched me. I was powerless to stop him. 

It wasn’t long before he was back almost every night. It became expected, like how you wait in horrible anticipation for the doctor to stick a needle in your arm. I was tired, Mama. I was so tired of his dirty hands touching my body. Sick of scurrying from place to place to avoid seeing the man I once called Uncle. Disgusted with the fake sugar-spun smile he wore during the day. I was tired of living my life in fear. 

One night after he had gone, my hands were balled and my lashes were wet with tears. I sat up in bed and looked around the room that had begun to feel like my prison. The four pale green walls had somehow stolen my voice from me. Why did pretend to be asleep when he touched me? Why did I not yell and pull away from his grabbing hands? 

 I bit my lip until it was white. Thinking of the way his eyes had greedily scanned my vulnerable body made me want to crawl into a hole and hide. Bile rose in my throat and a wave of red hot anger made my chest ache and throb. I scrabbled at my neck for the necklace that he had given me. It was nothing but a cruel reminder of who my uncle once was. 

My ice-cold fingers closed tight around the thin chain. Fingers shaking, I gave a sharp tug. The locket snapped from my neck and fell to the carpet along with my trust. Broken, broken, broken.  

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90 comments

Zilla Babbitt
13:56 Oct 17, 2020

Hi Helen, I'd like you to know that I really appreciate you taking the time to upvote me (I saw the note in your bio-- now that's gone, I'm less sure, so if it's not you, ignore this). I really appreciate that. I'm not sure why I didn't comment when I first read this, which was awhile ago. Basically, this is really well done, and heartbreaking. Keep it up!

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Willow Byrd
17:01 Oct 17, 2020

Aww, thanks. I haven't upvoted you yet, but would be more than happy to do so :)

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Zilla Babbitt
17:08 Oct 17, 2020

Oh, I wasn't asking for that, thanks though. It must have been someone else then. Embarrassing :)

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Willow Byrd
18:19 Oct 17, 2020

No worries at all. Happy to give a fellow writer some support :)

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Hey Helen! Wow, this is an emotional and touching story. This topic really sent shivers when I was reading it. It reminds me of all the darkness in the world, that people aren't who they are. It's beautiful, it touched my soul. I know that while I type this, another little girl is going through this, a horrible thing that will remain deep scars. ~SS

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Willow Byrd
16:12 Dec 20, 2020

Thank you so much for reading. What you say very true, and I wanted to spread awareness of the terrible things that happen with my story.

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You are welcome! Yes, these are very horrible things and I decided to do some little awareness things in the future when I can! ~SS :)

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Willow Byrd
16:14 Dec 20, 2020

I just saw your bio!! Thank you so so much for mentioning me. :) :) I'll be sure to upvote you a ton!!

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You are so welcome!! Thank you for mentioning me as well! Same over here!!! Lot's of goodness! ~SS

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I just upvoted! :)

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05:32 Oct 22, 2020

Wow. This was scary yet so strong. I like how you left it at a cliff hanger but it would be super nice if resolved it somehow? Especially in this matter about sexual abuse. Anyway, all in all really nice. Keep it up. P.S I looked for you on the leaderboard and can't find how anywhere. so...?

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Willow Byrd
12:21 Oct 22, 2020

Hi Rachel, thanks so much for reading my story, I definitely wanted to resolve it more, but if I'm remembering correctly, it was a few hours under the deadline and I didn't really have time, which annoyed me greatly. I was on the leaderboard a few days ago thanks to some generous upvoting, but I have since been surpassed. I think I'm in like 101st place now :) Thanks again for reading!!

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07:15 Oct 24, 2020

That's okay! I know It's hard to write under time limit. Yeah... I was on the leaderboard too but now I'm not Lol

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Willow Byrd
13:34 Oct 24, 2020

Yeah lol. I'm about 2 points shy of being on the leaderboard again 😂

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Ari Reynes
13:57 Oct 24, 2020

This is really good, and I only saw one mistake. In the third paragraph from the bottom, you had this sentence: Why did pretend to be asleep when he touched me? I think you forgot the 'I' between did and pretend. Otherwise, this was amazing. Great job! I'll try to read more of your stories.

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Willow Byrd
14:14 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and for the edit! I'm so glad you liked it!

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Ari Reynes
14:16 Oct 24, 2020

No problem, it was great!

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18:04 Sep 26, 2020

This is a story so full of heart, I want to melt :(( I feel so bad for her! Also, you are mentioned in my new story! Go check it out! P.S. I'm upvoting ya!

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Willow Byrd
21:15 Sep 26, 2020

Oh my gosh, you are so nice!!!! Thank you so much!!

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Willow Byrd
21:20 Sep 26, 2020

Omg, you got me almost 200 points more than I had before!!! Thank you so, so much!!!

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21:20 Sep 26, 2020

No problem!! :)

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Willow Byrd
01:52 Sep 12, 2020

So, this is a bit more adult then I usually write, but hopefully it's ok. If you spot any grammar issues, PLEASE tell me. Let me know in a comment what you thought about this one... I'm still a little unsure :)

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Radhika Diksha
03:31 Jan 04, 2021

It was so emotional for me to even read it. You did a great job explaining the feelings and everything. I don't have words to describe it, but it was great. Keep writing.

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Willow Byrd
12:53 Jan 04, 2021

Thanks so much!! Sorry to hear you were downvoted. :( I've got to go to school soon but I'd be happy to do some upvoting for you after!

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18:30 Nov 20, 2020

Hey Helen! I just came back to read this masterpiece! Its still touching and still holds so many emotions..

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Willow Byrd
18:46 Nov 20, 2020

Aww thanks so much!

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18:57 Nov 20, 2020

Of course!

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Amaya .
23:44 Nov 17, 2020

omg I literally have the 642 things to write about book! It's so much fun, seriously

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Willow Byrd
00:15 Nov 18, 2020

Yess! I stopped putting out prompts cause I've been busy. I guess I kinda forgot about it.

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Amaya .
00:16 Nov 18, 2020

haha it's a good book though

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Willow Byrd
17:17 Nov 18, 2020

Yeah :)

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04:26 Nov 06, 2020

Hey, Helen!! I feel like we haven't talked in so long!! Do you think that you could check out my new story? :)

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Willow Byrd
13:02 Nov 06, 2020

Hi Kylie! I would love to!! I haven't really been actively on Reedsy lately, other than to check notifications. Great to hear from you!!

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15:55 Nov 06, 2020

Yay, you too!!

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Lisa Hills
04:27 Oct 25, 2020

This was beautiful! Well, not the actual story. Your writing is the thing that's beautiful. The story was heartbreaking. You portrayed the girl's feelings perfectly. Awesome story! :)

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Willow Byrd
13:02 Oct 25, 2020

Aww thank you so much!

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00:32 Sep 14, 2020

Wow...this was touching..very touching and emotional. I loved how slow it was and every word was lingering I also liked the fact that I could tell the emotion of fear the girl felt. I also enjoyed the last two paragraphs. Such a beautifully written story..

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Willow Byrd
01:19 Sep 14, 2020

Thank you!

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Thom Brodkin
18:20 Sep 12, 2020

This broke my heart because it’s not fiction. It might not be your story but to so many children it’s theirs. The emotion of your writing was so deep it invaded my soul. This is why we write. To touch people, to move people, to change people. This was excellent. Great work. I also chose this prompt and submitted a story I wrote in March for a different contest. It is actually my very first attempt at creative writing. It’s called “Choices”. I would love a read and a like but only if I earn it.

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Willow Byrd
18:24 Sep 12, 2020

It's so true. I wrote this because this IS the life of some little girl out there. Thank you so much for reading, and I will absolutely read your story!

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The Cold Ice
07:21 Nov 15, 2020

Wonderful story

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Lisa Hills
04:29 Oct 25, 2020

This was beautiful! Well, not the actual story. Your writing is the thing that's beautiful. The story was heartbreaking. You portrayed the girl's feelings perfectly. Awesome story! :)

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Skye Thorne
17:53 Oct 14, 2020

This was incredible. Heartbreaking, real, and so beautifully written. Can't wait to read more from you!

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Willow Byrd
18:32 Oct 14, 2020

Thank you so much, it means a lot!

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Syeda Fatima
10:33 Sep 25, 2020

I have read this story twice. a soul pinching one that sends shivers down the spine and tears down the cheek. no words to explain your mind-blowing friendship with words! Excellent Helen

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Willow Byrd
12:09 Sep 25, 2020

Oh, thank you so much!

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Sandeept Dhakal
11:25 Sep 16, 2020

This was such a heartbreaking story.

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Rachel Ryan
02:27 Sep 15, 2020

God, this was haunting. Reading it sent a shudder down my spine and it serves as a stark reminder of the evil in this world. But well for handling a delicate situation so poignantly.

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Willow Byrd
12:14 Sep 15, 2020

Thank you, I appreciate you reading it!

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P. Jean
19:34 Sep 14, 2020

I loved the tender way the girl/child became aware of the changing roles. The demon and the victim. Here outward fear even brushing someone in the street. I felt emotional for her. Very well written!

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Willow Byrd
19:48 Sep 14, 2020

Thank you!

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P. Jean
19:55 Sep 14, 2020

Very welcome!

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