Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Short Story: Dirty old Town (for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month)

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. There are many ways in which I share my thoughts, beliefs, worries, memories, and hopes regarding this topic. But I find nothing quite shifts my thinking and triggers understanding in me like a story does. 

Hence, I am sharing this short story (fiction) with you. This story was inspired by a flash fiction prompt from Freewrite: You give your pet alcohol which causes them to break their one unbreakable rule: Never Talk To Your Owner 

Oh, also, here is a link to a video of mine, Molestation: A (Common) Story. The true memory that this fiction story grew out of is discussed in that video. I also offer a few tips and thoughts. 

Lastly, not only are many people feeling re-traumatized in this time of COVID-19 due to general anxiety, lack of control, and an uncertain future that will certainly be different, many people are also forced to shelter in place with their abuser. I encourage anyone wanting to know more about, or seeking help from, sexual assault, to contact RAINN(Rape Abuse Incest National Network), Dr. Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad), or another organization, person, or media that you feel comfortable with. By all means, feel free to contact me. I don't know if I can help but I know I care.

Dirty Old Town

"Dirty old town, dirty old town," I sang drunkenly, motioning to the dirty old town that was my basement bedroom.

I recognized the grey body that sauntered out from her cozy nest in my pile of clothes on the floor (dirty? clean? Dunno, who cares?) and headed to the food and water bowls I had placed on the floor under my window. A window up high that looked onto grass and, often, the naked feet of my family. Shoes were for wealthier folk.

"Hey, psst. Misty! Wanna drink?" I splashed a little of my Vodka, stolen from a friend's pantry, into her bowl. "You were there when it happened. I bet you need it like I do."

Misty stared at me, a little longer than I had anticipated and it brought the memory flooding uncomfortably back. Quickly, I looked away and took another burning swig.

Turning her green eyes and white whiskers away from me, Misty lapped up the alcohol.

I was supposed to be at school but the thought of hating myself and my cowardly choices in public, where I knew from experience someone would either reach out to help or hurt me, was too much.

I had instead snuck into the house to hide and get drunk.

"Pretty great, right?" I asked my cat. "It doesn't make the things go away, but you can think about them and do what you want and then blame the booze!"

Misty turned, drunkenly it seemed to me - but then, I was drunk - and replied, “Yes. Thank you."

I was dumbfounded. "Wait. What?"

"Yes," she replied. "I'm breaking rules, I'm feeling bad-ass, and I can blame the booze."

Her voice was soft and clear; unfamiliar. I tried to believe I was imagining it, you know? Talking to myself through her. Like the imaginary friends in those VALUE SERIES books my little sister and I loved so much.

But it was Misty talking to me. And I had a bone to pick with her.

"Oh, I see. You feel bad-ass NOW?" I asked, putting the half-full (half-empty) bottle on my floor and sitting on the mattress beside it. "What about the other night? Where was your bad ass then?" The alcohol had helped me have courage to ask and bring it up, but not enough to look right at her.

She sauntered, in a slightly winding way, in my direction and sat on the floor by the bottle.

"I wanted to scratch his eyes out," she said, braver than me, looking up at me. "I also wanted to leave the room," she admitted, looking down.

"Me, too." I said with a tight laugh.

"Look," she purred as she risked my anger and climbed onto my lap. "I was scared and uncertain of what I should do. I thought of scratching him but he's strong. He could - burp - hurt me and then you."

"My God, Misty! He WAS hurting me!"

I pushed her away and laid down. Then I quickly jumped off the mattress as the memory of my dad crawling in beside me tried to crawl in beside me.

"I know, I know," she meowed. Again, she moved to the bowl and lapped more booze.

"I didn't leave," she whispered.


I pulled out the chair of my desk, the one real piece of furniture in my room, and sat.

"We stayed," I admitted.

"I came with you to the bathroom when he was gone. Stayed at your side while you washed your face. Spent that night and every night since at your side."

Misty sounded desperate for my approval or forgiveness or something and I hated it. I wanted her to tell me I was okay, to forgive or approve of me.

"Whoop de do! I clean your poop!"

"Well, now you just sound like a child."

"I AM A CHILD!" I screamed.

We looked at each other. She looked down at her beautiful grey paws and I sobbed.

Misty crawled tentatively onto my lap and I lifted her into my arms. Together we curled up in the pile of clothes.

As my hand petted her back and her soft purrs petted my mood, I made a decision.

This problem was too big for me, a child.

But I also knew, because Misty had bravely (drunkenly) risked the rules and talked to me, that it was too big for everyone.

I would tell my mom about what happened and let her fumble. Ultimately, I would expect her help, but I would forgive the fumble.

Misty had given me courage, even that night. She had been a witness and stayed, I had felt afraid but not entirely alone.

She validated something in me.

"Misty," I whispered as I began to pass out.

She made no sound but I felt her lift her head.

I let go then. Passed out in my dirty old town with a plan to tidy up.