|Warning:||Non-con sex, rape, m/m sex, incest|
|Description:||Someone is remembering a traumatic past.|
I had the Dream last night. It was the first time in months. But I know it will always return. After all, I can never forget any of it. That’s how my life began. The life I have now. I rarely think about the life I was forced to leave behind. What’s the point? I have a life. That’s reason enough to be grateful. So many people have gone out of their way to see to it that I should have no life.
But here I am. Still alive, with some of my loved ones around me. Jake is lying next to me in bed. Mother is sleeping in our children’s room, watching over them. But I will never stop hoping to see my brother again. To hold him in my arms, to tell him I love him. Will that day ever come? I have to keep believing that. It keeps me going, from town to town, from state to state.
The Dream is very accurate. Over the years the memory of the night it all began hasn’t dulled. It is still ingrained in my mind as if branded into it with fire. One moment safe asleep in my bed, like any child. The next…
I hear my brother crying. He is having a bad dream. That is what I am thinking. So I sit up, about to throw the covers back and brave the cold night air to wake him and comfort him. Most likely I intended to slide under the covers with him and spend the rest of the night close to him.
We have done that before, and though our father disapproves, mother never complains. I think she understands that the darkness can be frightening for a little girl. My big brother is always there for me. When I have a bad dream, he is always shaking my shoulder, telling me it’s alright. That no monsters will come and take me away. How was he supposed to know he was wrong?
As my eyes adapt to the darkness surrounding us, I notice that my brother isn’t asleep, neither is he alone. Someone is lying in bed with him, covering his body almost completely. I listen more keenly, and I hear someone else’s harsh breathing underlying my brother’s soft sobbing, once in a while broken by a whimper of pain.
Now I recognize the person in my brother’s bed. It is our father. What could he be doing to so hurt my brother? I am 11 years old and I know nothing yet about what pain and suffering adults can cause children. But something about this is stirring a memory at the back of my mind.
My mother and my teacher, mrs Tremayne are constantly warning me about bad men who might hurt little girls if they are foolish enough to go off with them. Perhaps bad men can hurt little boys too.
And now I remember some magazines with horrible pictures my friends Stephanie and Chrissie showed me a few months ago. Stephanie found them in her older brother’s room. The pictures show men doing disgusting things to women. It occurs to me that night that men might also do those things to boys. It is a frightening and strange thought that my father is doing this to my brother. But I have no doubt that this is what is happening.
There is no hesitation in my mind. My brother is always looking out for me. Whenever I am in trouble I can turn to him. Shouldn’t he be able to count on me for help when he needs me? I am not afraid. Although I know our father has punished my brother on a number of occasions, he hardly shows an interest in me, preferring to leave my upbringing to my mother. I clear my throat and call out to my father.
“Stop it. You’re hurting him.”
For a moment there is complete silence. Then I hear my father’s voice, filled with dismay.
“You should be asleep. This doesn’t concern you. Little girls can’t understand this sort of thing. It’s something between men.”
“I do understand. You’re hurting him, and he’s crying. Stop it. Mother will say the same thing.”
“You will not disturb your mother. She has a bad migraine tonight, and she will not like being awakened. Go back to sleep.”
For a moment I consider disobeying. But he is right. Mother often suffers bad migraines and if she has finally managed to fall asleep, I mustn’t disturb her. On the other hand, I can’t let my father go on hurting my brother.
“Leave my brother alone.”
For a second there is silence again. Then I hear my brother’s bed creaking as my father’s weight moves off it. He is standing on the floor, breathing heavily. I know he is angry with me, but I’m not afraid. No one has ever hurt me. Nothing happens. And eventually, I hear my father leave the room. I am determined to go and tell my mother about the incident first thing in the morning, but now I want to go to my brother and make sure he’s alright. He’s been awfully quiet for the last couple of minutes.
Whenever I’ve been hurt, from falling down and skinning my knees or something of the kind, he’s always comforted me. I stand beside my brother’s bed, speaking quietly to him, asking if he’s alright. There is no answer, but I can hear him breathing raggedly. That makes me think he is still in pain, and I feel worried. What should I do? Perhaps I should call a doctor? But I don’t know what to say to dr Witherspoon, and I sense that my brother would not want a stranger involved in this.
I put my hand on my brother’s head, but he turns away from me. No matter what I say to him, I can’t reach him. This makes me feel afraid for the first time. What’s wrong with him? In my fear, I turn on the lamp, but the curled up figure doesn’t look injured to me. I can see no blood, no bruising. Not that this is surprising. All I can see of my brother is his hair. He’s curled up into a ball, his back to me.
Eventually I turn out the light and go back to my own bed. I get no sleep that night, and I don’t think my brother does either. When I hear my parents moving about, getting ready for the day, I too get up. I hurry out into the kitchen to speak to my mother, but she’s too busy to listen to me. My words die unsaid in my mouth. I know it’s no use telling her anything important on a busy day. So I will wait until I get back from school in the afternoon.
My brother doesn’t get up, and I see my father going into the room, staring down at his son. Then he goes into the kitchen telling my mother that my brother will not be going to school today. He isn’t feeling well. I could have told her that, but if I had she wouldn’t have listened. It is frustrating to be a child and be unable to make the grownups listen to me.
On the bus on the way to school, I consider telling mrs Tremayne, but again I hesitate. What should I tell her? Would she even believe me? I have no words to describe last night’s events. It is most likely a mistake not to tell mrs Tremayne but I had no way of knowing that. I had no way of knowing how little time I had left.
That afternoon, my mother isn’t at home. Surprisingly, my father is. He tells me my mother is away visiting a relative and will not return until this weekend. As if reassuring me, he also tells me he will be not be going to work for the rest of the week. This does not reassure me, but I know no way of protesting. For the first time ever, my father is paying attention to me.
It seems to me as if he is herding me around the house, making sure I don’t go near my brother and never letting me use the telephone, not even to call Chrissie or Stephanie which I normally do each afternoon. After my homework is done, my mother usually allows me to play outside in the garden with my friends, or to go over to one of their houses and play there. Now it seems to me that I am a prisoner in my own home.
Later that night, when I go to bed, I notice that my brother is still lying in bed almost exactly in the same position I last saw him. When I try to speak to him, he tells me to go away. I go to bed, but I still can’t sleep, and after lying in bed a long time, I overhear a phone conversation my father is having with someone.
“I don’t think there’s anything else we can do. Will you help me?”
What the other person replies I can’t hear, but my father seems to be content with his response.
“Thanks. I knew I could count on you. Alright. Alright. How was I supposed to know she would take that attitude? You don’t need to remind me. How soon can I expect -“
Again a silence, while the unknown person gives him his answer.
“Good. I think I can manage until then. But you need to hurry.”
“Yes, I know you do. You’ve never let me down so far. Yes, you too. See you soon.”
For some reason this harmless phone conversation fills me with dread. I don’t know exactly why, but I suspect it to be about me. Next morning, I am sent off to school alone. My brother is still unwell. On my return that afternoon, he is sitting in front of the tv, looking almost normal. But he still refuses to talk to me. He is doing what he rarely does otherwise, treating me like my friends’ older brothers treat them. I want to watch a movie, but he takes the remote from me and switches channels to the ballgame. For once he is distant from me and it hurts me.
Next morning, he goes on the school bus with me and everything looks alright. Am I the only person who knows that it isn’t alright? Something is badly wrong, and I have no way of making things good again. Again, I consider telling mrs Tremayne or the school nurse. But at the age of 11, I had no way of expressing what was on my mind.
When I return home again, I am met by my father who is looking at me coldly and sternly. He takes me into his study and tells me to sit down. I feel as if I am going to be punished for something, but I know I have done nothing wrong.
“Listen to me, carefully. When your mother returns, you will not talk to her about – About what you saw the other night. Do you understand?”
“But why? Why do you hurt my brother?”
“Didn’t you hear me? I’m telling you to keep your mouth shut. Is that clear? If you don’t want me to hurt your brother more, you will keep quiet.”
Now I feel tears flowing down my cheeks. This shouldn’t be happening. It’s all wrong. My father ought not to be telling me these things. It is all like a bad dream, but I know I’m awake and there is no help anywhere. Naturally, I don’t want my brother to get hurt again.
“I won’t tell anyone.”
“Good. Now you may go.”
And I am only too happy to be able to leave his presence. A few days ago, I was living a normal and happy life. Today, everything is falling apart around me. My father turns out to be a cruel stranger. I don’t understand how things could change so.
At the end of the week I know my mother is returning, but by the time I have to go to bed, she is still not back. I tell myself I will talk to her in the morning. My father won’t be able to threaten my mother. She will know what to do. But that morning never comes for me. It feels as if I have barely slept a wink when I hear a noise.
Someone is standing in the doorway. No, two people are standing there staring at me. Somehow I know it’s me they have come for. Behind them I catch a glimpse of my father’s tall silhouette. He has let the men into our house and now they’ve come to take me away. I don’t know how I know this. I draw in breath to scream as loud as I can, but I have no time to make even the slightest noise.
The two men are wearing some kind of strange mask, and they shine a light in my eyes, blinding me. I feel the sting of a needle in my arm and my vision blurs slightly. After that I feel less aware of my surroundings, but I notice that my father is sitting down on the side of my brother’s bed, looking at him, touching him. It occurs to me that my brother should have been awake, and seeing what is happening to me. Yet, he is still lying there as if he’s still asleep. I don’t know what’s wrong with him.
The men lift me off the bed, and carry me off. I am taken to a large dark car that is standing in the drive outside our house, the engine still running. They put me on the back seat and close the door. In the front seat a man is sitting and as I am deposited inside, he turns to look at me. I feel a whiff of cigarrette smoke and a cold gaze rakes me.
Now I hear a door open and someone sits down in the other seat. It is my father. He looks at the man as if he knows him well.
“I don’t appreciate having to clean up your dirty laundry. Personally, I don’t care what you do to your brat, but if the authorities learn about this, I might not be able to protect you anymore.”
“Just get her out of here. I’m counting on you.”
“As you always do. Don’t get into the habit of turning to me for everything. I have more important things to do.”
My father puts his hand over the other man’s and leaves it there. The other man makes no move to remove it.
“Will your wife be a problem?”
“No, of course not. Leave her to me.”
“I intend to. Unless she makes trouble about this.”
“I prepared the ground a little by mentioning that hostage idea you told me about.”
“Ah, yes. If you had kept yourself in check we could have avoided this complication entirely. That was the understanding. You marry her, and you keep her out of our business. I always said it was a mistake marrying a woman like that. My wife is much more manageable. After all, who will take any notice of a woman who’s been in and out of nursing homes since the age of 17?”
“Forget about your wife.”
And now I see something else that is astonishing me and forever changing the way I look upon the world. My father leans over and kisses the other man on the mouth. The kiss lasts longer than I have ever seen him and my mother even hold each other. It is the sort of kiss my friends and I have giggled over in tv shows our mothers don’t want us to watch. In those tv shows men kiss women that way, not other men.
My father moves closer and puts his arms around the other man. A little while later, he tries to take off the man’s jacket and open his shirt. But the man pushes him back.
“We can’t be here all night. One of your neighbors might notice and find it odd that a car should be parked outside your house all night. If you want me to take care of your problem I have to go now. It’s a long drive to -“
“Yes. I understand. When will I see you again?”
“I’ll call you. Now go.”
But my father steals another kiss before he leaves, not giving me a second glance. Now I know that my father doesn’t love me. And I am beginning to suspect he doesn’t love my mother either. The man does look at me, with a chilling look in his eyes. He doesn’t say anything, merely turns the key in the ignition and drives off. The drive last so long I fall asleep before we get to our destination. Twice he wakes me and grabs me by the arm, telling me to relieve myself.
“Hurry up. I don’t want you to make a mess inside the car.”
Filled with shame, I do as he tells me. While I’m doing this, he is so close he can see everything. Not that he appears to be concerned with any of that. I can tell that all he’s worried about is that I might get away. This makes me determined to try and escape as soon as possible. I won’t accept this. Even now I haven’t learned to fear. But soon enough I do.
In the years that follow, I manage to run away several times, but he always finds me and brings me back. I meet Jake, and eventually mother finds me. Not my real mother. My new mother. Jake and mother are with me now. But I still miss my brother and my real mother. Not my father. I hope he’s dead. If he isn’t, I will kill him myself.
It’s strange how one thing leads to another. If I had pretended not to notice what my father was doing to my brother, I might still have been with my family. The little girl in my bed knew nothing of fear. I do now. Now I am afraid all the time. I run, I look over my shoulder, I hide.
But if I had the chance to do it over again, I would do the same. My brother was always there for me for the first 11 years of my life. How could I turn my back on him when he was in trouble? I only wish I had been able to do more for him. What has happened to him? How has his life turned out? Does he still remember me? Is he looking for me?
All those questions but never any answers. But I know this: Hoping to see him again helps keep me going. I love mother and Jake and my children. But I have to tell myself I will see my brother again. Hold him in my arms, tell him I love him. Because I still do. I haven’t forgotten. He still means the world to me. My brother, Fox.