The first thing I sense as the fog of sleep slowly evaporates around me is the shift in my mattress. Suddenly, I’m not sleeping on a flat surface, my body rolls back; I feel his arm against my bareback. My senses are bombarded with several things at once. I realize that I am not wearing the nightgown that I put on before I went to bed. I smell the sickening smell of his breath, of unwashed armpits. The acrid smell of coal dust permeates his skin. I hear the sound of his short, quick breathing. He starts to wrestle my panties off and out of one of my legs. He doesn’t bother to take them all the way off. Then my stomach lurches as I hear the worst sound of all; the awful and all too familiar sound of his belt as he loosens it. That sound jars me awake and I should be terrified. I know what is happening, what is about to happen, but I am just too numb to muster up the panic.

I squeeze my eyes shut and silently scream, “Oh, please G-d! Please, not again!” Even as I am praying, the sadness envelopes my heart as I realize that G-d doesn’t hear me. I know that there is nobody to hear my cries. I know that I cannot tell anyone. I tried to tell. Even though I drew him a perfect picture of a vasectomy scar, the judge didn’t believe. He ruled that I was coerced. I didn’t know what that word meant, but it translated to “beating” when I was sent back to him, from the foster home. The truth was a lie, and the lie was not believed. I will never tell again. All I can do is go limp, pretend that I am still asleep, and hope he finishes quickly.

I had been lying in my favorite position, which was the fetal position on my right side, with my left thumb in my mouth. Now, I am lying on my bare back with my panties crumbled around one knee. He wads up the blanket and shoves it under my bottom, spreads my legs as wide as they will go, then positions himself with both knees on my thighs, holding my legs apart. I feel the crushing weight of those knees burrowing into my thighs. The pain is familiar so I just resign myself to continue my fruitless and hopeless cries to an absent G-d. I feel his warm breath on my neck; he leans back, spits into his fingers and rubs them along my opening; up and down, then his finger slips into my vagina. I try to pretend that I am still asleep, but I can’t stop the sudden intake of breath. He knows I’m awake, but he is pretending too. He pulls out his finger and begins fumbling with his penis. The smell of his unwashed, sweaty manhood assaults me. He starts to rub it against me, again; up and down, using his finger to open me further. I then feel his hard penis pushing against my tight skin. I know it is going to tear again. I squeeze my eyes tighter and clench my jaw in anticipation. Just as the searing pain reaches my consciousness, the darkness evaporates. The room begins to get lighter and lighter. The light starts out as a pale blue, but it gradually gets brighter and more intense blue. The bed is gone. The room is gone. I no longer smell the body odor or the liquor on his breath. I hear nothing. Everything is a misty blue. There is no sound, no smells, and no pain, only the misty blue nothingness that calms and soothes me. I’m floating, not walking, and not flying; just floating in a sea of blue, clear air. It’s not water, it isn’t sky either. It is more like an alternate plane of existence, like an existence within an existence; an echoless expanse of pure blue nothingness. This is my secret place.

Somewhere from behind me, I hear a faint jingle; the unmistakable, familiar, and sickening sound of a loose belt buckle, then, a zipper. The bed shifts around me and the darkness returns. I’m a little confused as my senses slowly come back to me. The first thing I feel is the pain between my legs. I can feel the familiar bruising in my thighs from the weight of his knees. I know I will be in pain for days. I know I will once again cry out in agony as I pass my water in the morning. I make a mental note not to use the potty (chamber pot). I will make my way out to the outhouse; to be alone with my pain and despair. As I said before, there just isn’t any point in crying. Nobody hears, nobody cares, and G-d has ignored me; again.

I wait for the door to close, and then reach down on the floor. My hands fumble around until I find what I am looking for in the dark; my discarded nightgown. I use it to wipe the blood and semen from my torn flesh. I then turn over, assume my favorite position, slip my thumb into my mouth, and slowly begin rocking. I begin slowly because I know that if Dad hears my bed squeak, he will come back; this time with his belt in his hands. He hates my rocking. He says it sounds like I have a man in bed with me. Maybe that is why my mother ignores it when I do. I carefully and expertly find my favorite spot on the bed; the spot that doesn’t squeak. And the rocking slowly brings on the nothingness.

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