by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Jessie lay down in her bed and closed her eyes. She imagined herself floating away from her bed, through the ceiling and away from her home. She imagined floating among the clouds, a gentle breeze flowing through her hair, the warm sun shining on her face.
‘How wonderful,’ she thought, ‘to be a bird and fly wherever you could.’
Jessie concentrated real hard on floating away from her bed, willing her body to do the impossible; sprout wings, so she could leave her room far behind.
Of course it didn’t happen, but for a few brief moments she felt as though she might. She’d pictured herself so clearly among the clouds that she almost thought she was there. For a few brief moments she’d forgotten what day it was and the plans her mother had for her. For a few brief moments she felt joy.
Then the sound of her parents arguing broke through her reverie. She heard the sound of glass breaking and knew her mother had probably thrown another dish against the wall; or her dad, if he hadn’t been quick enough to get out of the way.
Jessie felt the scar on the bottom of her chin, remembering how she’d failed to move quickly enough and caught the edge of a glass her mother had flung in her direction. Took four stitches. The doctor hadn’t even questioned her mother’s story about Jessie falling and hitting her chin on the edge of the coffee table. After all, Jessie was seven at the time and all kids were prone to accidents. That’s what the doctor had said, when her mother had cried about how she should have been watching her more closely. The doctor had said it was amazing how children even made it to adulthood, the way they bounced off of everything.
Jessie’s mother had laughed at that, touching the doctor’s arm. She was always doing that with men, laughing and leaning in, giving a touch. Jessie hated it when her mother did that. Daddy said she acted like a whore and Jessie knew that was something bad, having to do with how her mother was around men.
The doctor had smiled back at her mother, but it was a strange smile and Jessie saw her mother lick her lips in a way that made her feel funny. Jessie knew her daddy would call her a whore if he’d seen her do that, but he wasn’t there. He was at home; passed out from all the beer he’d been drinking.
The next day, while daddy was at work, the doctor came over to check on Jessie’s stitches. At least that’s why he said he was there, but Jessie knew it wasn’t the real reason. After he looked at her chin her mother had told her to be a good girl and watch the T.V. Then she and the doctor had disappeared into the bedroom.
Jessie had tried to ignore the sounds coming from the room, but it was hard. She knew daddy wouldn’t like the doctor being in there. Jessie had tiptoed to the door and looked through the keyhole to see what was going on. She’d been shocked to see her mother with no clothes on, sitting on top of the doctor, moving her hips up and down in a strange, rhythmic motion. The doctor had his hands on her hips and was thrusting upward. They didn’t have any covers over them, and Jessie could see that the doctor had taken all of his clothes off too. Jessie knew they shouldn’t be doing that and felt bad that she had decided to look. She was just getting ready to move away from the keyhole, when her mother threw her head back and let out a sound that she’d heard her make the other night when the neighbor’ wife had come over to visit.
Daddy had been gone then too and she’d sent Jessie to bed, but she could hear them out there laughing and then she’d heard them in the bedroom. Now she wondered if they had gotten naked too.
When her mother was done she’d looked towards the door and Jessie moved away quick. She was sure, from the smile on her mom’s face, that she’d known Jessie was there and that she’d enjoyed the idea of Jessie seeing what she’d been doing. When they came out of the bedroom, her mother had given Jessie a bowl of ice cream and told her not to tell daddy that the doctor had been there.
“You Bitch!” Jessie heard her father yell and snapped out of her memory. She closed her eyes again, trying to will herself to fly. “You almost took off my damn head!”
“Well here, let me try again!” her mother screamed and Jessie heard the sound of more glass breaking.
The baby started to cry and Jessie covered her ears, trying to drown out the sound of the chaos in the next room. She hated it when her dad drank. He always brought out the worst in her mother when he did, not that that was hard to do. Jessie’s mother always seemed to be looking for an excuse to fight with him.
“Now look what you’ve done!” her mother screamed. “You woke up the baby.”
“Don’t blame me!” her father yelled. “You’re the damn psycho bitch breaking all the dishes.”
“You bastard!” and more glass crashing against the wall.
“You’re nuts!” her father yelled. “I’m outa here.” Then Jessie heard the front door slam shut and shortly after, her father’s car squealing out of the drive.
Jessie felt sick in the pit of her stomach. Her father wasn’t much, but at least if he was here her mother wouldn’t be able to carry through with the plans Jessie knew she had for her. He may be many things, an alcoholic, and an absent father most times, but he was still her father and there were some things he wouldn’t permit. But if he was true to form, he’d be down at the bar right now, complaining about his bitch, whore wife, and would be gone most of the night. He’d be no help to her.
The baby continued to scream as Jessie heard her mother tearing apart the living room. Once she’d worked herself up into a rage, she had a hard time bringing herself back down. Jessie curled up into a ball wishing again that she really could fly. Eventually things began to quiet down. The baby was still crying, but Jessie’s mom was no longer tearing things up. As much as she hated the noise, at least her mom had been too occupied to concentrate on Jessie. Jessie began to tremble, fearing what was coming next. She hoped her mom had forgotten what today was, but considering the fight she’d just had with her dad, designed, Jessie was sure, to get him out of the house, Jessie didn’t think she had much hope in that.
“Jessie! Jessie, come here!” her mother called.
Jessie wanted to stay in her room and try to fly, but Jessie knew things would be worse if she didn’t obey her mother right away. So, hesitating only briefly, Jessie slipped out of her room and slowly walked down the hall and into the living room.
“There you are!” Jessie’s mother said, smiling brightly, as though she hadn’t just thrown a fit a few minutes earlier. She was holding the baby in her arms, who in turn was looking at their mother as though she had grown two heads.
“Maybe she has,” Jessie thought to herself, being careful not to smile, so her mother wouldn’t accuse her of being up to no good.
“Just look at this mess,” her mother said, gesturing to the pile of broken dishes and debris lining the living room floor. “Get it cleaned up. We’ve got company coming over in a few hours.”
“Who’s coming over?” Jessie asked, being careful to keep the fear out of her voice.
“A few friends.” Her mom said, noncommittally. “After all, tonight’s a night for celebration.”
Jessie closed her eyes, feeling a wave of nausea come over her. She had hoped her mom had forgotten, she usually did, but Jessie wasn’t going to be fortunate enough this year.
“After all,” she went on, “it’s not every year my baby turns sixteen. Jessie had hoped she’d forgotten, she usually did, but Jessie wasn’t going to be fortunate enough this year.
“After all,” she went on, “it’s not every year my baby turns sixteen. You’re practically a woman now.”
Jessie thought she was going to be sick. Maybe she’d misunderstood what she’d heard her mother and Bob talking about. Her mother couldn’t really be planning on letting…no, she had to be wrong. Her mother was many things, but she couldn’t be that bad.
“Why just look at you. I bet the boys at your school can’t keep their eyes off of you. You’ve certainly got my figure. The girls too. Bet there’s more than one that would love to get their hands on you. Maybe you should let them.”
“Oh God!” Jessie thought. “Please get me through this day.” Sweeping the glass up, Jessie asked, “Is Bob going to come?”
“Well of course he is.” Her mother said, a bit of a laugh to her voice. “You know he wouldn’t miss his favorite niece’s birthday.”
Jessie felt like she was going to vomit. He wasn’t really her uncle, but her mother made her call him that. Jessie hated ‘Uncle’ Bob. He was fat and greasy and always smelled like alcohol. Whenever he came over he would always make her give him a hug and then sit down and pull her onto his lap. Last time she had felt his bulge pushing at her through his pants and his hands had strayed a little too far up her leg. She remembered how glad she’d been when her mother had come into the room. She’d made Jessie go to her room. A few minutes later she’d heard her mother’s bedroom door close and the mattress springs begin to creak. Jessie’s room was right next door and she’d tried to shut the sounds out, but the headboard kept hitting the wall and she’d been unable to reach the quiet calm she needed to fly within her mind.
Then to her horror, she’d heard her mother as she climaxed, screaming out Bob’s name, begging him not to stop. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Bob was yelling too, but he wasn’t calling out her mother’s name, but Jessie’s, moaning it over and over again, while her mother kept encouraging him. When they were finally finished, Jessie was curled up in a ball, tears streaming down her face.
“When?” she’d heard Bob ask.
“When what?” Jessie wondered.
“Not ‘till she’s old enough.” Her mother answered.
Where they talking about her?
“She’s old enough now.” Bob said.
“No, not yet. I’m not ready to share you.”
“Well when?” Bob asked. Jessie had heard her mother yelp, as though he’d done something to hurt her.
“When she’s sixteen.” She said, a whimper in her voice Jessie had never heard before.
That had been four months ago and Jessie had been dreading her birthday ever since. She had tried to talk to her dad about it, but he was always drunk and never seemed to understand what Jessie was trying to get at. He’d start talking about how much she looked like her mom, then he’d go on about what a whore her mother was, then he’d look at Jessie and say, “you’s gonna be a whore too. I can see it in your eyes. You’re just like her.” So Jessie stopped looking to her dad to get her out of it. She knew he would, if he would just listen and if he were here tonight, mother wouldn’t dare have Bob over. But he was gone, just like he always was.
“There now.” Her mom said, surveying the room. “Good as new. Now Jessie, I have a birthday present for you. It’s in my closet, in my bedroom. Go get it and try it on. It’s a cute little skirt and shirt. Bob helped pick it out. I think it’s gonna look darling on you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jessie thought, looking at herself in the mirror. The cute little shirt her mother had bought for her, barely covered her breasts and the skirt didn’t even come down far enough to cover her butt. She couldn’t really expect her to wear this.
“That’s a cute little ass you’ve got there.”
Jessie jumped at the voice and turned to see ‘Uncle’ Bob standing in the doorway.
“Well, aren’t you going to give your Uncle a hug?”
“You…you shouldn’t be in here.” Jessie stammered.
“Why it’s alright girl. Your mom sent me in here. I came to give you your birthday present.” Uncle Bob leered at Jessie, eyeing her breasts, which were pushing out the top of the shirt.
Jessie folded her arms, trying to hide herself behind them.
“Now is that any way to greet your uncle?” he asked, coming into the room and shutting the door. “Come here and give me a proper hug.”
Jessie shrank back against the wall as Bob moved towards her. He must have come straight from work because he still wore his Sheriffs uniform and Jessie wondered how someone as sick as he was managed to retain such a position of authority.
“Come on Jessie girl.” He said, moving closer to her. “Come show your Uncle Bob how special you are.”
“I don’t want to.” Jessie whimpered, but Bob just laughed and said, “Sure you do.”
He was at her now and grabbed hold of her wrist. “Now Jessie, don’t make me mad. You wouldn’t want me to think you’re a bad girl and have to put these cuffs on you.”
“Please don’t.” Jessie cried.
“Maybe you’d like that though. Your mama likes the cuffs. She likes it rough too. Do you like it rough Jessie?”
Bob pushed Jessie against the wall, groping at her breasts with one hand and reaching beneath her skirt with the other. Jessie closed her eyes as she felt his fingers push their way between her legs, forcing them apart, his fingers flicking up and inside of her. She willed herself to fly, but instead remained pinned against the wall as Bob’s tongue penetrated her mouth, his saliva making her gag.
“That’s my girl.” He said, mistaking her closed eyes as a sign of pleasure and not the revulsion she felt. “Go with it.”
His mouth clamped down on her neck as he worked his way to her breasts, which oddly enough had begun to ache. Jessie moaned, as her body began to betray her and prayed for a way out of this nightmare.
He ripped the shirt away from her body and deftly removed her bra. Jessie cried, begging him to stop, but he just laughed and told her he knew she didn’t mean it. “Look at you Jessie. How beautiful you are. You can’t really mean for me to walk away.” Then he lifted her up and carried her to her bed. There, he hovered over her, his fingers massaging the warmth between her legs, trying to make her ready for him. He continued kissing her, telling her how he was going to make her a woman and then he began undoing his belt buckle. As he did, his holster dropped against Jessie’s leg and she saw her way out.
Jessie reached for Bob, who mistakenly thought Jessie was trying to help him get his pants off.
“Yes girl!” he said. “Come on. Help get it out. Come on!”
But instead of reaching into his pants and grabbing hold of his growing member, Jessie grabbed his gun, pulling it from the holster. Before he had a chance to respond, she pulled the trigger, shooting him square in his piggish face, splashing blood and brain matter all over her.
Jessie’s mother came running into the room and screamed when she saw what Jessie had done. Turning to her mother, Jessie pulled the trigger again and shot her mother.
The baby was crying, so Jessie gave her a bottle and sang her back to sleep. Then she laid her in her crib, shutting the bedroom door, so as to muffle any noise. Then she called 911 to let them know what she had done.
As she listened to the sirens heading to her house, Jessie went back into her room. She pushed ‘Uncle’ Bob off of her bed and lay down. She closed her eyes and imagined she was floating. She could almost feel herself leaving the bed. When she could feel the breeze through her hair and the sun on her face, she lifted the gun and put it to her head, pulling the trigger. Strangely she didn’t feel any pain, just joy, as she was finally free to fly among the clouds.
copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar