What did he say?

From Infinite Sum:

I went out for coffee with Lydia then thought, how stupid—I couldn’t say anything in a store. We carried our drinks down to the park where I thought, how stupid—how could I talk with the forest still watching. Then we wandered the quiet streets back to Lydia’s house. I imagined I’d wait until we were inside, but instead my words just tumbled out.

“In the park. When I was a kid. This guy kept touching me.”

“Why didn’t you just say no,” said my sister, her voice as brittle as saccharine poured into coffee. “It’s what I did.” And I wondered what she meant…

I told my brother and he hugged me and said, “Poor you. Did you know our Lydia got abused too?” So I wondered if you can measure depth with the number of times it occurs, and define who’s more hurt…

Mom didn’t want to believe me at first. I sat beside her on the sofa and we stared at the TV’s empty eye. She said she would have known. She would have noticed it. She said I couldn’t have got home late from school so many times. She said someone would have told her. My school work would have suffered and the teachers would have said. I was never any good with secrets so it couldn’t be true.

Mom said they talk about recovered memories and so many times they’re false. Auto-suggestion, she said, and it’s all the psychiatrist’s fault. So what had my therapist said to me?

I said I never forgot, so I didn’t need to remember, and it had to be true.

She said I’d forgotten his face.

I said I never knew it…

Daddy cried…

I could tell when Lydia told Troy because of the way he looked at me, as if he was trying to imagine [those] hands on me, or else his own. I was glad I didn’t live in Paradise now. I was glad to get in my car and drive away, back to Donald and the children, back to the safety and secrecy of my home…

The therapist asks me, “What about when you told Donald? What did he say?”

Donald said men have needs and he was glad our children were all boys.

“What did he mean?”

I didn’t ask. I think he meant he loved me and it wasn’t my fault.

If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t tell, ask yourself how you would respond when someone you love tells you.

 

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Infinite Sum by Sheila Deeth: https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Sum-Mathemafiction-Sheila-Deeth/dp/1949600033/ published by Ink-Filled Stories

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