They day Christine graduated high school was the same day as her dad’s funeral. He was always calling her stupid. She went to graduation alone.
When Momma came home with another man, I tucked the big kitchen knife under my pillow. I’d be ready the next time someone touched me.
Daddy’s cigar smoke wrapped around me like a hug. I’m leaving, doll, he said. I looked from him to my mom. Suddenly, I hated her.
She chugged her beer as the kids shuffled toward the car. On the way home she grabbed another six pack, swearing it was the last.
That night, Bryce clamped his hand around her throat as he entered her. She hated the feeling, but she loved Bryce. So she let him.
One hand rested on my round, quiet belly, and the other clutched a cigarette. You shouldn’t do that, Mrs. Weatherly said. It’s dead, I answered.
She said she loved me. When I tried to kiss her at school, she shouted, dike and shoved me away. I learned to prefer loneliness.
Though pain needled my joints, the ninth doctor said, You’re perfectly healthy. As I leaned over the overpass, I wondered if death would be easier.
Ruth told Benny to wait while she went to the bathroom. When she finished, he was floating face down in the pool. He never listened.
When the firefighters carried her from the blazing house, she wept. Let me go back, she begged. They couldn’t rob her of her only solution.