“Now remember, I don’t want you talking to him unless I’m around, you hear?”
“I’m serious. Now tuck in your shirt—he’s here.”
The front door swung open and there stood Uncle Tommy, drenched in sweat from a day’s work in the summer heat.
“It’s a scorcher out there, ain’t it?” he said, putting his bag on the floor and untying his boots. “I appreciate you letting me crash for the night.”
“Just so long as you’re gone in the morning,” my dad replied coldly.
“Now,” Uncle Tommy said, turning to me and lowering himself to a knee. “Where’s my hug at? Been a while since I seen you last.”
I took a couple steps toward him and leaned in for a hug. His tight embrace made me uncomfortable, and I let out a light whimper.
“Don’t you know it’s a hundred degrees out there?” he asked, tugging at my long sleeves.
“I haven’t been outside today,” I recited to him.
“Don’t you have some chores to finish up?” Dad interjected.
I knew that was my cue to leave, so I shuffled off to my room.
Later that night I lay in bed, tossing and turning, unable to be comfortable, when I heard the thud of footsteps in the hallway outside my bedroom. After several long seconds of silence, the door opened quietly, the dark silhouette of a man entered the room, and the door closed again. For several more seconds there was nothing but unrelenting silence. I might have thought I had dreamt it all if it weren’t for the sound of a hushed breath being carefully released.
I could feel him getting nearer. The warmth of another person in the room was unfamiliar at this hour. I was not prepared for this; I prayed he would go away, to even come back in the morning if he must.
He reached down and touched me. He rolled me onto my stomach and lifted up my shirt. From the corner of my eye I could see two things: the faint beam of a pocket flashlight, and Uncle Tommy’s eyes studying my bare skin. His rough fingers ran up and down my back. Suddenly, he got up and walked to the bedroom door and left. I tried again to fall asleep, eventually succeeding.
He was gone by the time I awoke.
Around noon the phone rang while my father was out.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Yeah. Your dad around?”
“No sir. Went to the store.”
“Good,” he said, sounding a bit nervous. He paused for a moment. “I’m calling about last night. I don’t know if you were awake or not—”
“Well, then I’ll just get right to it. I’ve got a question for you, and I need for you to be honest with me. Can you do that?”
“How’d you get all them bruises?”
(Disclaimer: I did not write/own this piece of writing.
I did not alter anything. All credit goes to the original author.)