Updated: May 26
My feet scraping against the rough driveway can only mean that I left my shoes in the limo. I love those shoes. I don’t care. Let the shoes go. Let this night be as forgotten as those shoes. In the fading light of dusk, I stop by the side of the driveway to count the thorns on the rose bush that Booker and I planted last summer. I’ll never water it again. Let it whither and die.
My parents will be sitting in their recliners, hypnotized by the blaring television, the louder the better. I grab, squeeze, and turn the cold brass doorknob. My hand slides but the knob doesn’t turn. Sneaking around to the back, I cringe at the noise that it costs me to open the annoying gate. When taking the wet and cold spare key from the pool filter, I drop the bottom section of my dress.
The side door looks sorry, with paint peeling from the wood, and paint streaked around the borders of the window.
Slowly, I insert the key into the lock, pausing no less than three times before it’s in all the way in. I unlock the door, sighing, taking a deep breath. The door swings open with an eerie squeak. I jump back, almost dropping my dress again. Daddy stands there smiling, sees my face, then frowns.
“Michelle? Are you alright?” Daddy asks.
“Yes,” I stammer then his arms envelope me.
Sobbing, I lay my head against his shoulder, inhaling his Old Spice deodorant. His hand patting my back gently, my heavy body begins to gradually lighten. He leads me into the house, up the short flight into the kitchen. Mom puts her carton of unsweetened soy milk back in the refrigerator then approaches.
“What happened?” she asks.
“Hold on a minute honey,” Daddy says.
“Mike, don’t you see? Michelle? What did he do to you?” Mom asks.
“Honey let her calm down,” Daddy says.
“Let her go for a moment, and just look at her, will you?”
My parents inspect me unhappily.
“Call the police,” Mom says.
“Wait a minute honey,” Daddy says.
“Call the police now,” Mom says.
“Let’s first find out what happened,” Daddy says.
“Did he rape you? He did. Didn’t he? Oh my God, he raped our daughter,” Mom says.
“Uh?” is all I can say but I manage to shake my head.
“Then he sexually assaulted her,” Mom says.
My heart falls cold with fear as my parents stare at me. I try shaking my head but I’m paralyzed. I follow them into the living room. Daddy staggers over to the little table next to his arm chair and picks up his cell phone. Before dialing, he stops to mute the screaming television.
“Daddy no. Don’t call the police,” I say.
“Honey why not?” Mom asks.
“Just wait,” I say.
“Let’s calm down a minute,” Daddy says, a big vein pulsing in the middle of his reddened forehead.
“I mean, let’s not call them at all,” I say.
“But look at you! Your dress has been torn apart. You have a hicky right on your chest! You’re weeping, and you don’t have any shoes!” Mom says.
“Yeah but,” I say.
“Mike call the police,” Mom says.
“Wait,” Daddy says. “Let’s hear the whole story first.”
“She obviously has Stockholm Syndrome! He assaulted our daughter! And I want him arrested today. No. Right now!” Mom says, snatching the phone right out of Daddy’s hand. She immediately dials.
I dart across the room to press the red button, hanging up her call and dropping my broken dress. Standing there waving my hands in front of my legs as if they can block my nudity from plain sight, I stagger backwards, almost tripping over the white fluffy hoops. Mom glares at me, but then she softens. She helps me to pick up the broken dress.
“Look honey. You might think you love him, but what he did tonight, that’s a serious crime. We can’t let him get away with it. Trust me. He’ll do it again. He’s a sinner and a criminal, and needs to be stopped,” Mom says.
“Yeah but Mom?” I say.
“Booker didn’t do anything against my will,” I say.
Mom’s eyes narrow under furrowed brows. She scans the room from left to right, then from right to left. She blinks six times in the space of one second. As she inspects my appearance again, a light of understanding kindles in her eyes and she clenches her fists.
“No daughter of mine would let some boy do that to her,” Mom says.