Escaping the past

*trigger warning: contains references to familial sexual abuse*


Short story (500 words) written for Prompted: Holding Back | Tipsy Lit.

I do not fear pain, it has always been a part of my existence. Father did this to me, along with my uncles. All those years of sharing us out, a gaggle of girl cousins brought up as one. Until I became a woman and undesirable; then they attacked and left me for dead. Except I wasn’t dead.

My therapist tried to tell me that I was a survivor; I think that I am just unlucky. I realise now that I shouldn’t have tried to find help, that I shouldn’t have told the truth to the police.

I didn’t know that the doctors would poke me and prod at me with their hands and their instruments. I was put in the spotlight, feet up in stirrups, cameras rolling; an interesting thing for them to examine and discuss, take pictures of to put in their reports.

Then there were the interviews, the endless questions. ‘Do you recognise this man?’ ‘Was this man ever there?’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Are you absolutely sure?’ And all the adults assumed that I wanted justice. I didn’t care about justice, I wanted the escape that my father had granted my sisters.

The court case lasted months. The papers and the television had a field day with all the salacious details. I was brought to the courtroom like the fugitive I had become, covered up, hurried along. The court order not to print my name or my picture was unnecessary; until the hospital I had not existed. They never could prove how many of us had been killed.

When they were jailed I was expected to celebrate. I was given a new life in care; that was no life. All those damaged kids, taking out their anger on each other. I counted down the days to my sixteenth birthday when I could get away.

My therapist told me not to hold it all inside, to express how I felt. I felt numb, cold and broken. Week after week I would stare at him silently across the room until my half hour was up. He would sigh deeply, telling me that I must try to help myself and move on.

I look at the bloody knife in my hands, at the man lying dead on the floor. I let it all out as he advised. When he grabbed me from behind, his whisky breath in my ear suggesting a release, I was not afraid. I taunted him, confused him, found the voice I had buried and made him angry. It was his anger that I channelled until I found my own, it was the system that I stabbed at again and again.

He was wrong though, there was no release in letting go. I feel exhausted but still empty and so alone.

I go to the window and open it for air, look down at the teeming life below. I climb onto the ledge and breath in the smell of the city. I hold out my arms and I fly.


9 thoughts on “Escaping the past

  1. Pingback: Polling Prompted: Holding Back | Tipsy Lit

  2. Really enjoyed this one.Well, enjoy is a light word … whereas empathize is probably better. (No familial abuse, but the emotions played out here)

  3. I know these emotions well. I’m not sure if I like how it changes into present tense at the end. Though I don’t see how it could have been done differently. Very powerful.

  4. Deeply moving and powerful. I was unable to vote (couldn’t get on the page!), today, but this one was really great! I think the change to first person could be helped by simply placing a
    * * * between the two sections. The shift would then bring the reader right into the present, where this ends. Really strong piece!

  5. Very strong piece and I can imagine this was quite draining to write. I feel so bad for this broken person and wish so much someone could have helped her find a way through. But it’s true, the system is not very good at helping victims feel less victimized and very good at making them feel more like a victim than ever before.

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