The Darkest Secrets Never-Before Told

Submitted into Contest #55 in response to: Write a story about an old family secret surfacing generations later.... view prompt



My late grandpa had been hiding a secret forever until he died a few years ago; it was a secret so dark that not even I knew about it until now. Despite having resolved to create a better life for himself with sports, he still continued to get plagued by that secret.

His life began when he was born into a once-wealthy family in Chisinau, Moldova (which was Bessarabia back then); his father was a wealthy mechanic who used to buy flowers, designer clothes, boxes of chocolates and even jewelry for his wife until the day the Soviet Communists took over the country; afterwards, the father not only lost his business, but his wife even lost everything that he had bought for her. The family even lost their mansion and had to move into a one-bedroom house with an outdoor kitchen, a basement and even an outhouse...and that was when his father began to turn into alcoholism, which turned him from a loving father (and a doting husband) into a very hateful, abusive, sadistic monster who stopped spoiling his wife and started beating her up in addition to also beating both of his sons up (especially my grandpa). My grandpa’s younger brother got beat up too, but not as much; his baby sister, in the meantime, did not get beat up at all. The father would also delight in locking my grandpa in a dark, filthy basement and then telling his drinking buddies that my grandpa was a bad kid who deserved to get abused for merely existing. Then when my grandpa got older, the beatings became so bad that he had to run away and live in the streets everytime. Then one day, he met a Jewish girl who eventually became his wife three years later (despite her parents’ temporary disapproval of a Russian-Orthodox Christian man becoming her husband); alas, the beatings only ended after they got married. Then when he had to join the military, his wife had to stay with his parents for a while and that was when my grandma became the first to find out that secret: that her father-in-law was an abusive alcoholic who used to be a wealthy mechanic until Stalin took away his business. Meanwhile, my grandpa’s father continued to drink (or abuse his family) until he eventually died from alcohol poisoning in his early 60’s.

Then when my grandparents started a family of their own, both of their kids (an older daughter and a younger son) eventually found out the same dark secret that my grandma had found out when my grandpa joined the military and she was witnessing her father-in-law beat her mother-in-law up.

Meanwhile, my grandma herself had her own secret: that the strict man, whom she had known as her father her whole life, wasn’t her real father and that her real father was cheating on her mother with random women and they had to get a divorce afterwards; after which her mother eventually met and married the man who became my grandma’s stepfather, who was responsible for fathering my grandma’s two younger sisters (who currently happen to live in Israel); after all, my uncle found out that secret after he went to Israel to visit his aunts, cousins and grandparents. Also, my grandma has had a cousin in New York, who happened to be a gangster and had to go to jail for his crimes as a mafia member.

Anyway, after they emigrated to USA through Austria and Italy (and then spent a 4-day drive from New York to California, where they finally settled in afterwards), my grandpa had never told anyone else about his dark secret, even when his father eventually died from cirrhosis, because he was too traumatized to ever do that, so he had to keep it to himself until he eventually died from dementia in his mid-70’s.

One day, he found an Australian Shepherd dog (whose former owner used to beat her up a lot) and took her in (despite my grandma’s distaste for pets), after which he took very good care of her until he was old enough to get put down. That dog in question had a very dark secret of her own, which I only ever found out seven months ago.

Shortly after my grandpa died from dementia, we were visiting his grave in Davis when I suddenly found out his secret myself: that his father was an alcoholic and a sadistic man who used to beat my grandpa and lock him up in a basement (and then tell his friends that my grandpa was being bad) and that my grandpa used to live in the streets because of that.

One day, I also found out that my grandma’s stepfather wasn’t her real father and that her birth father was cheating on her mother when my grandma was a baby and that her mother remarried when my grandma was a three-year-old toddler.

Meanwhile, my other grandmother has her own dark secret: that her (now ex) husband not only cheated on her with random women, but even walked out on her and their two sons without even paying for child support...and that Nathan was her second husband. Her ex also used to beat his sons (especially the older son, who eventually became my father) with a belt for even the smallest transgressions. That secret led to her being a bitter old woman that she is today, who is hellbent on making people’s lives miserable like herself...until one day, when she suffered a stroke and had to go into rehab in order to recover.

One of my great-aunts, in the meantime, has her own secret: that she once had a husband who happened to be an only child while my great-aunt herself has two older sisters; one day, she caught him cheating on her with another woman, so when they got a divorce, she became a single mother and even after emigrating to Israel, she continued to raise her only daughter on her own, with the help of her parents and middle sister. She also despised animals (which as another dark secret of hers), even to the point where she kicked my grandparents’ cat into running away and even going so far into going crazy everytime her San Francisco-based cousin would have the latter’s daughter’s cat around.

Some people have their own secrets and my grandpa’s secret was the darkest of them all. That’s the story.

August 18, 2020 06:04

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14:00 Mar 26, 2021

I'll admit it; Your bio drew me into reading this. You didn't disappoint, even though it's your first(?) story. I think your style is really quirky, and I haven't seen much like it. You write narrative like dialogue, which I think is always really fun!


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Jonathan Blaauw
08:34 Aug 27, 2020

Good job, this is a great story. Well done. You’ve made it interesting and engaging and your writing is nice and clear. And this is only your first submission. Welcome! Hope to see lots more in future. The only thing I found slightly missing here was feeling. We don’t get any real sense of how the narrator feels about all this; so it’s not clear what relevance it has for the storyteller and, thus, for the reader. It’s implied, of course, but I think this is one case where you want to not just hint at the emotive aspect, but drag it kickin...


09:29 Aug 28, 2020

Thank you! Unfortunately, though, I’m not really that good about describing feelings in this story. But again, thank you!


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