My story For DL's Highdrama Blogfest/giveawayBranded
By Summer Ross
You cannot redistribute or use this or any piece of this story without my permission
Childhood tastes like stale cigarettes and warm beer on a hot summer night. The small coals from the fire shimmer, beckoning with red embers the wandering eye. The waves on Alcova’s beach slide over rocks and sand in the light from the half moon. Stars are shattered across the cloudless sky. In the delusions of the romantic evening, her decision remains.
The rush of tears stopped years before this moment, but the relentless nag of fear charged forth with every intimate relationship. Fear of needing a man. It rakes heavy claws through self-reliance using money as a hook to catch its prey. Fear of being alone, abandoned like a piece of rotten meat thrown out to the wild dogs. Fear of the shadows restlessly waiting in the dark to take advantage of the little girl sleeping soundly on a bright orange beanbag while her father tends to his party guests. Tired eyes watch as three men enter the doorway blocking the small light from the hall, then nothing but the nightmares of a frightened child remain in the obstructed memories of the adult woman.
The sand slinks over small delicate fingers clenching into a fist. The breeze from the shoreline invades thought patterns bringing wisps of dead fish to scent the past. The moon hangs its heavy burden over dark waters, and goose bumps remind the body the fire will die. Another sawed off log from the pile of dead trees thrown into the pit and the coals glow hot. The memories invade like splinters sinking into flesh. A tool shed built out in grandma’s yard stands tall, foreboding, with old dried lumber hanging from tarnished weather worn nails. The door creaks open and slams abruptly shut behind the uncle setting the six year old on a stiff bench.
“We need to get a screwdriver,” uncle says unbuttoning the small denim shorts on the girl.
The fire is bright as her hands rub together embracing the warmth. The flames lap at the log with uneven strokes. Strokes like those felt in the hand of a ten year old dreaming of a thick straw as she lay half-asleep on the supple couch. She never opens her eyes as she hears the hushed grunts of a father kneeled beside her. Instead pretends to be asleep and lets go as she folds her arms crisscrossed underneath her chest.
Thirteen, the girl starts puberty and then losses virginity to her brother, who sneaks past the parents’ radar into a dark room shuffling blankets with shaky callused hands. Fingers crept silently along legs meant to be asleep. Her heart slammed into her ribcage every middle of the night for years until its left bruised. She climbed out of bed at seventeen to lock the bedroom door when the parental consequence of being grounded was overtaken by the need to break free.
In the end, despite the memories and touch that left an imprint on skin like branding a bull, the decision was found. The memories may haunt until death, her past will not vandalize her future.