Fishin’ in the Dark

It was the summer before I graduated high school.  I was sixteen.  We lived in the middle of no where, around the corner from my best friend.  We lived in this old a-frame farm house without central air or heat.  We sweated like pigs in the summer and froze during the winter.  We survived by squeaking by using window unit air conditioners and space heaters.

Jack A, for whatever reason, got it stuck in his craw that we had to go fishing every day that the sun was shining that summer.  There were some days that it wasn’t and he went anyway.  It was an obsession for him.  He wasn’t working or contributing to the home financially.  It was all about fishing.

Fishing, fishing, fishing, and fishing.

Needless to say, I got sick of it.  Totally and completely sick of it.  I was able to convince my mother and Jack A to leave my sister and I at the house.  It was in the afternoon.  My mother had gotten off work and they took off to go fishing.

I started to not feel well.  It got to the point that the feeling was more than uncomfortable.  I had no idea what was wrong.  I felt like someone was stabbing me in the ribs whenever I took a breath in.  The more time that passed, the more intense the pain got.  I started crying due to the pain that I was in.  Suzie started to cry because she was scared for me and my parents were no where to be found to make it better.  Not that they ever made anything better.

I laid down on the couch with Suzie patting my head.  She was being very sweet to me.  She was genuinely worried about and for me.  She kept telling me to call them but I couldn’t.  This was before the cell phone craze and even if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t have been able to afford one.  I felt even worse than just the stabbing pain because it was scaring her.  I knew, beyond all knowledge that once my mother and stepfather got home, my conditions would only worsen.

It was almost dark when they did get home.  I was still on the couch, curled up in a ball and still crying.  Suzie sitting on the floor next to me.  The second that they walked in the door Kim had this look on her face like she was being assaulted.  Jack A just walked in as if everything were normal.  Neither of them asked what was going on or what was wrong.

Suzie walked up to my stepfather (her biological father) and told him that he was going to take me to the doctor.  He asked her why and she retorted that it was the right thing to do.  He said fine.  He loaded me up into the white cadillac and drove me to the hospital.  They did a chest x-ray and discovered that I had a bad case of pleurisy.  For those that don’t know what that is, it’s technically an inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs.  It stems from a  viral infection most of the time.  Typically you can’t die from it.  It’s just extremely painful and can pose the problem of possibly collapsing the lung.  The concern with me was that very thing because of the build up of fluid.

Because of the severity of my case, they wanted to drain the excess fluid and place me on a twenty four hour observation.  All of this, I uncovered at a later date.  The doctor’s didn’t address me but my stepfather.  Jack A refused the course of treatment from the doctor’s recommendation and requested that I be placed on medication and that he would monitor my condition from home.  He promised that he would bring me back if my conditions worsened in any way.

They removed the IV from my arm, gave me a bandaid, and sent me home with Jack A.  I knew beyond all doubt he would kill me at some point.  I knew that every penny of that trip to the hospital would be taken from my hide.

Upon arriving home, my mother sent me to my room.  Jack A conversed with my mother about what they were going to do with Suzie the next day.  She had made arrangements for Suzie to go to a friends house.  With the medication that I was taking, I would be unable to take care of my sister Suzie, who was six years old at the time.

There was a horrible side effect to the medication .  It gave me really horrible migraines.  Jack A thought that fact was hilarious.  The next day, my mother took my sister to her friends house.  I stayed home with Jack A.  We had a stereo system that he was rather fond of.  He decided to put on a Grateful Dead CD and turned it on full blast while my head pounded.  Sleeping was impossible.  However, that was the thing that I needed the most.

I did the best that I could to close out the base and the noise by putting a pillow over my head.  Because of the pillow, I didn’t hear Jack A on the stairs.  The next thing that happened made me believe, affirmed the truth, that Jack A’s intention sooner or later was to kill me.

Before I could remove the pillow, I felt a pressure on either side of the fluff.  Panic ensued and in that panic I scrambled with my hands, searching for the source of the pressure.  Searching for the reason behind why I couldn’t remove the pillow which would allow me to breathe.  I felt his hands griping the pillow.  I scratched and clawed at his hands.  I searched the air for his face.  I searched for something that would give me back the air my lungs needed.  In that moment, I recognized what he was doing.  He intended to smother me.  He intended to kill me.

My thought process slowed down.  The panic left.  The fight went out of me.  It left me like an exhale.  The thought, and the only thought, that ran through my mind was:

FINALLY!

Finally…

Finally, I could see an end to my hell.  Finally it was going to be over.  Maybe it was the lack of oxygen, but it was like a wave crashing over my body as I lost consciousness.  Obviously I am not dead and that wasn’t the end to my story in a very literal way.  I wish I could just end this entry with a ‘I came too later’ but I can’t.

I did come to later…

My stepfather used me as a sex toy while I was unconscious.  When I regained consciousness, the sweatpants and underwear I had been wearing were on the floor.  My stepfather was gone.  Gone fishing to be exact.

When this all occurred, it had been early morning.  When I had a mind to do so, I checked the clock.  It was around noon.  He returned home a few hours later.  I was sitting at the table, showered, and completely dressed.  Any time that he would use me, I scrubbed until patches of my skin would bleed.  I only showered when he wasn’t home.  It was the only way that I knew it was less likely that he would barge in.  Even with that, he would still get home sometimes before I could finish and barge in for the hell of it.

When he arrived home, I was sitting at the dinner table.  I wasn’t doing anything but trying to not think.  If I cracked, I knew it would turn into a chasm as big as the Grand Canyon.  I felt like I was being held together by Elmer’s Glue.  I was sitting there when he walked in .  He went straight to the refrigerator for a coke.

I cleared my throat.  He looked at me as I stood up from the table.  I placed both hands, palms down on the wood for the support.  I lifted my head as high as I could and did something that I could never bring myself to do.  I looked him straight in the eye and made a declaration.

I told Jack A that if he ever touched me like that again, I would kill him while he slept.  In that moment, he knew that I meant it because I did.  I meant every word.  I made a choice and I chose to speak up.  He would either be angered enough to finish what he started or he would stop using me but either way… it was my choice.

I never believed he would let me walk away after making that declaration.  That promise.  He did though.  My mother walked in with my sister and that is what I believe to be my saving grace that night.  I went upstairs and went to bed.  Exhausted.  If he killed me while I slept instead, it would be an end to hell.  If he didn’t retaliate, and we continued on the way things were going, then hell would continue.  BUT…

AND it was a small glimmer of a chance…

But if he took me seriously, then at least the sexual abuse and the rape would stop.  At that time, I didn’t know the significance of what I had done.

When I made that declaration, I was taking back a piece of my dignity.  The sexual abuse stopped.  The beatings and the emotional abuse got worse.

But the sexual abuse stopped!

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