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Coming of Age Drama Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

(There are mentions of incestual abuse, as well as sexual situations)



Her feet dragged as she climbed the stairs in her ugly waitress shoes. The uniform she wore was too baggy and long, but it satisfied what her boss wanted. Sighing, she stuck her key in the door.


As the decrepit door swung into the dingy apartment, she wasn’t surprised to see toys all over the floor. Obviously, the talk she had with Pinky hadn’t been heard. But her bed was calling, along with the knowledge that an alarm would wake her at five-thirty the next morning.


Oh wait – it was just later this morning. The day had run into the next somewhere along fifty-fifth street as the bus motored to her stop. It was Monday morning, and she was supposed to present an oral report in her English class.


Once upon a time, she’d loved her classes. She excelled at school, learning and fitting in well with her peers. Her life was idyllic for most of her life up until now. But that was before the accident.


Tina didn’t like thinking about the accident. Or the call she’d received that night. Why had her parents been so irresponsible? Driving drunk on a wintry night ended their lives and set hers into this dreariness.


Why on earth did they entrust Uncle Henry to take them in if they died? Uncle Henry was about as responsible as a three-month-old puppy. Tina knew he’d pee on the floor if she didn’t remind him once in a while that her baby brother crawled there.


And oh joy – there were always Uncle Henry’s visits to her room.


And Tina hated thinking about that even more than the accident. Because those nights were the shame of her existence. Everything was awful, but it would be bearable if it weren’t for the things he did to her; and the things he wanted her to do to him.


Dark red blotches covered Tina’s neck and face. Her shame was unbearable because she didn’t have anyone to talk to. Her mother was always there for her to talk about these kinds of things if she needed to. But she was gone.


Tina knew she couldn’t go to bed without at least washing her face, and as she entered the bathroom, she decided to take a shower, too.

Thinking it would save her time in the morning, she didn’t think about the fact that Uncle Henry was home. And when the shower curtain was pulled back, she was startled and immediately fearful.


“Hello, beautiful. Would you like me to come in and wash your back?”


Tina’s lip pulled back from her teeth. “No, that’s okay. Go back to bed, Uncle Henry. I’m just about done in here.”


But the shower curtain remained open, and he continued to watch. Tina’s head felt like it was full of stinging bees. She couldn’t think; she couldn’t say anything. She just felt dirty and naked.


Though she’d barely washed her hair, she turned off the water and reached for the towel. But Uncle Henry was quicker. He held the towel out to her.


“Let me dry you off. I’ll make you warm all over. Wouldn’t you like that?”


Tina’s skin crawled, and she wished for a hole to open and swallow her. Anything to take her away from the here and now.


“Uncle Henry, please. I’m tired. I just want to go to bed. I’ve got school tomorrow, and then I need to do the laundry and go shopping when I get home. Please? Just give me a break.”


Uncle Henry’s lower lip stuck out as he made a sad face. “Okay, sweetie. I’ll leave you alone tonight if you promise me something for tomorrow night.”


Her insides churned. There wasn’t any way out unless she found a Knight to save her. And there was a fat chance of that; she was pretty sure all the Knights were dead. At least the ones who were close by.


“Uncle Henry, you’ve got a date,” she said as sweetly as she could muster.


This would put him off for now, and tomorrow she’d make sure she found a way to keep him away from her.


Just then, the baby, Jessica, cried out.


“Uncle Henry, I need to go to Jess. You know how she gets if no one goes in there.”


“Yeah, I do. Go get the brat to shut up. I really hate your parents for saddling me with that kid.”

Pulling the towel around her, Tina rushed out of the bathroom and into Jess’s room.


Her little sister was crying until she saw Tina step into the room. The smell that immediately hit her when she opened the door told her Uncle Henry hadn’t been taking care of Jess at all. Tina wondered if she’d even been fed.


The shabby changing table creaked when Tina placed Jessica down. Big blue eyes locked with Tina’s brown ones, and the sisters shared a special smile. Tina loved this little girl with everything she had, but life was unkind to them both.


As she pulled on a pair of sweats, Tina reviewed her lot in life. Was there any hope? Could she find a way out of this?


Tina couldn’t afford to have a sitter while she was at work, but she was able to bring Jess to the county daycare for unwed mothers. It was the only offer of help she’d received from anywhere, and Tina was grateful. At least Jessica was taken care of from seven-thirty until two o’clock every day.


Cradling her little sister, Tina took her into the kitchen and warmed up a bottle. The big blue eyes looked thankful as she took the nipple into her mouth.


Yup. Uncle Henry hadn’t fed or changed her since Tina left for work at four-thirty. He truly was a scumbag.


After rocking Jess to sleep for the few minutes, it took, Tina, stretched her back until she heard the vertebrae cracking. She ran her fingers through her drying hair and wondered if she could stay awake long enough to put a comb through it.


She decided she couldn’t. Her bed called out to her, and she answered.


*****

When school let out, Tina rushed to pick up Jessica from daycare and catch the bus home. She was mentally thinking about the laundry and a shopping list when she remembered her promise to Uncle Henry.


Was I nuts? Why did I say that? And how can I get out of it?


A crowd of boys was hanging around the front of her building. Tina recognized a few from school, but she didn’t know all of them.


She smiled politely at the boy who opened the door for her and was surprised when he spoke.


“Aren’t you the girl who lives with that old guy? Is he your dad or your boyfriend?”


“He’s neither. He’s Uncle Henry, and he’s a creep.”


The words tumbled from her mouth without any thought. When she heard them, she pulled herself back. Back into the careful mask, she wore for the world – back into the quiet girl who was just passing time until she graduated.


The boy looked at her askance. “Does he hurt you?” He stepped closer, and Tina recognized the Knight she’d been praying for.


“No. Not exactly…”


“Does he try to get to you?”


Tina’s tears answered his question. She watched his face turn into a grimace.


“My name is Brandon. What’s your name, little girl?”


“T-t-tina,” she stuttered. “And I’m not a little girl. I turned eighteen two weeks ago, but I won’t graduate until June.”


“Don’t you worry about him anymore, Tina. I will take care of him.”


Tina wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be relieved or scared. What did he mean?


But maybe it was the answer to her prayers.


***

The apartment door swung open to the acrid smell of pot. Uncle Henry was sprawled on the couch. As always, the television was playing some sort of pornographic movie he’d found.


He grunted to Tina as she walked in.


“Hey. Aren’t you supposed to go shopping tonight?”


“Yes, but I need to make a list first.”


“Well, I need some beer. Make sure you put that on the list.”


“Uncle Henry, I can’t buy beer. I’m only eighteen, remember?”


He leered at her. “You sure don’t look like you’re only eighteen.”


After some thought, he said, “You know what? You make the list, and I’ll go to the store. Then you can make yourself pretty for our date tonight. You didn’t forget, did you?”


Like I could.


“Um, okay. That sounds good, Uncle Henry. Just give me about five minutes to put the list together.”


Uncle Henry smiled his pervy smile as she looked through the cupboards and wrote down the items they needed.


She handed him her Food stamp card along with the list and smiled as best as she could.


“See you soon, beautiful.”


“Yes. See you soon.”


***


It wasn’t more than three minutes after Uncle Henry left the apartment that shots rang out. Tina counted four shots and then heard the sound of running.


Could they have killed him? Do I dare to even hope? Oh, I hope God understands. I hope that the cops don’t think I had anything to do with it.


Half an hour passed before the cops showed up at her door.


“Miss? Do you live here?”


“Yes, I do. I live here with my uncle and my baby sister.”


“What was your Uncle’s name?”


“Henry. Henry Johnson.”


“Well, I have some bad news for you. Are your parents somewhere close?”


“No. My parents died almost a year ago. My sister and I have been living here ever since then.”

“I need to inform you that your Uncle died. They rushed him to the hospital after he was shot in the street, but he was DOA.”


“Was that the noises I heard? I thought that was a car backfiring.” Tina hoped her lie wouldn’t make her sound guilty.


“No. They were shots. One of the local gangs must’ve shot him.”


My Knight in Shining Armor.


More relieved than she could say, and feeling safer than she’d been in such a long time, Tina continued to answer questions.


***


The new apartment was flooded with sunlight. The building was closer to school and didn’t require three transfers on the bus.


Tina didn’t have to work anymore because the state helped out with everything. It wasn’t a permanent solution, but it would give Tina time to come up with a plan for after graduation.


Suddenly, her back didn’t hurt. It was probably because she wasn’t carrying so much on her shoulders.

August 29, 2022 00:57

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2 comments

Corey Melin
01:27 Sep 05, 2022

Another story of the vileness of life. Corrupt souls that walk this earth preying upon the ones who try to live an innocent life. Very well done on showing the depravities of life

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Mustang Patty
14:48 Sep 07, 2022

Thank you so much for reading this story and for your comments, ~MP~

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