Soft tingling sensations were running up my chest as I began to rouse from my dreams. Wretched things, filled with horrors, and thoroughly despicable happenings I couldn’t recall just now. The touch was light, and feathery. I found myself peeking my eyes open in an attempt to comprehend why it felt like I had fingers on my chest. Peering down I noticed that I did indeed have digits tracing circles on my skin, and staring with blurry eyes towards the being alongside me I realized it was Belle.
I sat bolt upright as though I had been shot. Out of instinct I pulled her hand away from my chest, and flushed when I felt the wetness against my skin of my own urine. I had had another accident whilst I slept, and for some reason she was in my bed with me.
My head was pounding, from the vodka I had downed heavily the night before, and I cursed myself for it. I had stolen it from the kitchen cupboard wanting to be able to dull the pain that occupied my mind all the time. I hadn’t meant for…well what was this anyway?
“Why are you in my bed?” It was the first logical thing I could think to ask her. Then the images came rushing back to me. The fuzzy memory of her barging into my room unannounced whilst I was pleasuring myself, followed by her finishing the job I had started. I had been out of it, and more than just a little bit needy.
“You don’t remember?” Was all she managed, and I turned my head from her in shame.
“Course I do.” I looked down at the soaked protective layer of my bed, under the blankets and saw that she was slightly wet as well.
“I have to shower.” I didn’t want to speak about what we had done. What I had done in my weakest moment. I had longed to forget all of the abuse, just for a little while. She had caught me at my weakest point, and I had seduced her. I should have let her go. She had asked me to let her go. I cleared my throat, “And so do you.” I motioned towards the obvious wetness against her bared skin, but she didn’t seem so bothered by it. “I shouldn’t have asked you to stay…I soaked you and the bed.” I muttered, before running my fingers through my hair.
Her expression remained the same, quite unreadable for me. “The kids have wet the bed whilst they slept in mine before.” She stood from my air mattress, “It isn’t anything to be ashamed of, Eli.”
I was though. It made me feel like a child again to constantly wet the bed. I couldn’t remember when the nasty habit had started up, but I knew it wasn’t long after I entered the asylum. I couldn’t pinpoint much of anything. My head felt so fuzzy sometimes, even now because of the damage done to it by constant electro therapy treatments. I knew I had missing time, and lots of it.
“Do you hate me now…for what we did?” Her question took me slightly off guard and I found myself staring at her.
How could she think I would hate her? Blame her for something we had done in a moment of need? We had been in need of one another, and her touch hadn’t felt repulsive when my skin decided it wasn’t going to crawl because of the vodka. I missed the feeling of what we had done last night. Her touch had made me feel things that I didn’t understand, and that was how the shame pushed its way through. Nothing else.
“You’re my sister. I could never hate you.” I told her the most logical thing I could think about in this moment. I was still naked, but I didn’t bother to cover myself. What was the point? She had seen all of me last night anyway.
“Are you going to shut me out?”
I froze again, and furrowed my eyebrows.
“Why do you keep asking me these strange questions?” I finally retorted with one of my own.
“That’s what you used to do. You used to give me a small piece of happiness, and then rip it all away by icing me out. I can’t take that again, Eli. I won’t.” Her words were sharp, and they stung more than she could possibly imagine.
“I did?” I couldn’t remember it, but why would she lie?
“Yes. Every time we were together you felt so bad. It was always a struggle for you to admit you loved me. Always.” She finally stood from my bed, and moved around it to stand in front of me.
I took a step back out of instinct, and saw her face fall.
“I won’t shut you out.” I finally decided, and she looked up.
“But you can’t touch me…it makes my skin crawl. I…can’t explain the feeling. I am sorry.” I felt bad. Worse than ever. But what had been done to me still haunted every waking moment that I spent on this Earth. I couldn’t heal, and even worse I was unable to attach myself to anyone, or anything in a manner that felt natural, because I no longer knew what natural was.
“Okay.” Was all she offered me in response to the words I had spoken.
I knew I had hurt her again, and it churned the pit of my stomach. What if I allowed a small bit of discomfort on my own part to make her happy? Just to see a smile? I stepped forward and slowly; cautiously, lifted my hands, cupping her cheeks I traced my thumbs against the supple, and soft skin before giving her a kiss. A light, and very un-brother like kiss.
When I pulled back she was looking into my eyes with tears in her own, and I instantly believed I had done yet another thing to hurt her.
“I’m sorry.” I breathed out, lowering my hands.
“Don’t be sorry. I missed this. I missed when you would kiss me.” She was itching to touch me, I could see it by the way she was clasping her fingers together in front of her. She would never go against my own wishes, even if they were unreasonable, and wholly unfair to her.
“C’mere.” I whispered, and pulled her close into a hug. One hug. I could bear that much, and I sank into it, ignoring how my skin crawled from the contact, and instead focusing on my little sister, and how happy this made her.
When at last I pulled back she was reluctant to release me, but did. “Oh Eli…” She breathed, and I flushed slightly. She held me on this high pedestal when I knew I didn’t deserve to stand upon it. I was a wreck, and worse than that I would probably never fully recover from all that had been done to me, but I was here. I was standing in front of her, and she loved me. What more could I ask for?
“C’mon…lets go, and shower.” I couldn’t face anymore mushy moments between us. She must think me to be cold now. She had said as much, but it wasn’t something I could control. My emotions had gone for years unprocessed, and now that I had the ability to use them normally again I had thoroughly forgotten how.
Making my way through the house I grabbed two towels, and made my way into the bathroom. I had become quite familiar with showering every morning. I was almost always gross when I woke up, and as embarrassing as it was for me, it was even more embarrassing that I had also soaked my little sister as well. I turned on the water, letting it warm against my skin, not minding the cold it began with, seen as I remembered taking several cold showers in the asylum. I remember being stripped down, and made to stand in a shower room, with freezing cold water pouring down on my frame. I was so out of it most days, that I had no will to fight against the cold, and would stand in an almost cationic state from exhaustion, and my round of shock treatments that day.
“Eli?” Her voice pulled me out of the completely crippling memories that I was forced to endure, and I realized I was standing quite still, my eyes had glazed over, and I had stared into space, “Are you okay?” She asked me.
I reached up, pulling the showerhead from the socket, before handing it over to her so she could wet herself down. “Yea, just fine.” I muttered, but knew she probably didn’t believe that any more than it happened to be true.
“Do you think I can sleep with you…again I mean.” Her voice was sheepish, shy, and it was several minutes later after all of our skin was lathered up in soapy bubbles. I wasn’t caught off guard with the question, not as much as I should have been.
It would make her smile. It would make her so happy if I said yes. Wouldn’t it? Wasn’t I beginning to want to make her happy? My mind wasn’t anywhere near fixed, but there was this yearning that had begun in the pit of my stomach, and it was one that told me that all I wanted was to see her smile. It was tugging on me, and completely natural. An underlying feeling that I couldn’t even describe fully to myself. I should have said no. Right off the bat, a week ago, maybe I would have, but that part of me that wanted to make her happy was front and center right now.
“I can try to do what we did last night, if it would make you happy.” I finally managed to say, my hand spraying her down to wash the soap off of her skin.
Her eyes widened, they had shot down the instant she had asked it of me, and I could see something akin to shock on her features. “Really?” She breathed out in a barely audible voice.
“I wouldn’t lie to you.” I said at last, “I just might not be able to….to bear it sober.” I knew how my nerves were when it came to intercourse now. How scared I was that I would be unable to even let her kiss me without having a nervous breakdown. What I feared above all else was going back to that place. If for any reason my mind broke, and my psyche fractured I knew what would happen. I knew that I would have no choice but to return to that dreadful place.
“Why would you do that for me? Even though it could hurt you?” She asked me, her eyes filled with sorrow.
“Because you are my sister, and I love you.” I breathed out and saw her breath hitch in her throat.
I couldn’t believe anything that had transpired between us. Not the pleasurable night last night, or the fact that he hadn’t shut me out. Even this version of my brother seemed good at shutting me out, and keeping things to himself. I was pretty certain I didn’t know a fraction of the things he had endured in that god awful place, but somehow he had managed to pull mildly out of it to face me after what we had done in need last night. I was now downstairs, feeding each of our children, whilst he was upstairs, I assumed changing out his protective sheet, and changing into his work clothes.
We shared another shift today, and I was beginning to realize something I needed to do tonight at work. I was distracted as I heard a knock at the front door, it was nearly noon, and I had taken a double shift at work tonight. I would be there well into ten at night. So would Eli, because he had insisted on also taking a second shift.
Heading to the door, I opened it, letting in Isiah with my usual smile. I flattened my hair to the best of my ability, and gave him a hug. He had become something of a friend, more than just a babysitter. Even the children sometimes referred to him as an uncle. “They are just finishing their breakfast, I got them up a little later today.” I explained, as Eli came down the stairs, tucking in his shirt.
“So I see.” He beamed as the children lurched forward to give him the usual morning hugs to which he returned them.
I set my attention on my brother next, seeing him flattening his hair to his head in the same manner I had just been doing myself. He offered me a weak smile, before I grabbed my car keys. “You ready?” I asked him.
“Yea, I think so.” I turned back to the children, and reached out my arms.
“Come give me, my goodbye hugs!” Each of the children did, even little Hope whom was always quick to follow whatever her siblings no matter what it was they were doing. Once I kissed each of them I mused, “Be good.” To which I received giggles in return.
“They always are.” Isaiah was already sitting down on the couch, and the children moved to sit with him. I turned back towards the front door, and opened it heading out. Eli followed behind me, and silently climbed into the car with me.
“It’s going to be a long day.” I commented, and received a nod, with a shrug.
“I rather like long days.” He said softly, and I pulled out of the driveway, staring over at him for a moment before looking back at the road.
“Yea? Why is that?” I pried, curiously. I mostly wanted to keep a nice conversation between us.
“It distracts me. Keeps my head clear.”
There was a sad underlying connotation to his words, and I forced my eyes back onto the road, and swallowed thickly. “It gets bad sometimes, doesn’t it?” I breathed out.
“Sometimes.” Was all he offered in response, and we went silent.
Once at work there were ample distractions prime, and ready for the taking. My first customer of the day, helped me to spill coffee all over the floor, by ‘accidently’ brushing the back of my thigh. I was grateful that Eli ( or even my boss ) hadn’t seen. I didn’t want any altercations over me. I had endured worse than groping by male customers. I had instead chalked the entire thing up to my own clumsiness, and apologized.
By midday, Walter came in for his own shift. He was working a shift well into the night this evening, and as usual the instant he saw me, his smile widened, and he greeted me with a cheek kiss. It was almost as though I was his girlfriend, but we both knew I wasn’t. The rest of the afternoon well into the evening went vastly without incident. I was exhausted as the end of my shift was nearing, and the restaurant was pretty well wiped. It was time for my final break, and I headed into the kitchen, and whispered into Walter’s ear, “Take your break with me?”
He immediately smiled, because the last time I had asked him to take a break with me, it had been a doubly difficult day, and I had needed a bit of stress relief against the side of the building in the alleyway out back. Tonight was different however, I needed to speak to him.
I took his hand, softly, and headed out the back door, telling the manager I was taking my fifteen minutes. We headed out back, and I tucked my hands into the pockets of my waitress dress, scuffing my shoe lightly against the pavement. I didn’t know how to even begin. My mind was in a tumble, I simply knew that whatever it was we were doing I didn’t want to continue any longer.
“I thought you said you didn’t want any more alleyway quickies.” He teased me, with his hands resting on my waist. I didn’t push him away, merely shook my head.
“No that isn’t what this is.” I reached my hands to grip his wrists, lightly, moving them from my waist, and he seemed a little disappointed, but he shrugged his shoulders.
“So what is this then?” he pried, and I chewed on my lower lip for a moment.
“I don’t want to do what we have been doing anymore.” I blurted out, my eyes shifting up towards his.
“Oh? And what is it we have been doing exactly, Christa?” His hands slid into his pockets, and I gave another shrug.
“You know…the fucking.” I finally came right out, and said it.
He paused for a moment, then nodded his head, “Right. And what has brought about this change after three years?” He snapped in a bitter voice, and I stared up at him, “It wouldn’t have anything to do with your brother coming home would it?”
“Well, Eli returning is part of it—“ he scoffed, and began to run his fingers through his hair, obvious annoyance on his face.
“HOW LONG?!” he shouted, and I jumped taking a few steps back from him.
“What do y—“
“DON’T PLAY DUMB WITH ME! HOW LONG?!” He shouted again, and I had tears in my eyes at this point, because he was losing it. I didn’t mean to hurt him. Fuck I had been so damn selfish with my needs for him, but I couldn’t do it any longer.
“I don’t know what you are—“
“I knew you would go back to him. And I actually fucking believed a few years away from you, and it would work. I could have you.” He was beginning to rant, and I was beginning to inch my way towards the door. He was beginning to scare me.
“Walter nothing happened with me and Eli.” I lied through my teeth, but I wasn’t going to tell him what we had done. Not when he was like this.
“Don’t fucking lie to me! WHEN did he fuck you?! Lay his filthy hands back on you?! He has really fucked you up! I tried to save you! Oh I fucking tried!” he was ranting again, and he grabbed my waist, and pulled on me.
I squealed, but I wasn’t officially afraid yet.
“My mom put him away! What are you talking about?” I breathed, trying to make sense of his words. Trying to rid myself of his hands, but his grip was too tight. I would bruise for certain, and my hands went to his chest, in case I had to shove him away, out of instinct.
“I fucking saw you. Okay? I saw what he did to you. How he fucked you against the wall in the basement. I heard you moan for him.” I stared at him in shock, how did he know about that moment? That secret instance between Eli and myself. I had never told him about any of the times my brother had been with me. Not one of them.
“W-What…?” I was speechless.
“That’s right, Christa. I turned you into the police. I was the anonymous tip. Not your mother! I thought if I could just get him away from you…But no you always go back to him!” He was continuing to rant, and I felt my face turn red with anger.
All this time I had blamed my mother for locking Eli in that terrible place. Believed that she had called the police on us, and gotten her ‘friends’ to lock him away because she wanted us parted. Our children lost their father for three years, and our lives had been turned upside down. Eli had damn near lost his mind, and all of this time I had been sleeping with the one responsible. Inviting him into my bed, and my life. Now I recalled that he had come around again, right after the arrest, stood by me through the rumors as though they hadn’t shocked him—because they hadn’t.
“How could you?! HOW COULD YOU?! You fucking monster! You took him away from our children! You took him away from me! I loved him! How DARE you!” I shouted as I slapped him, my fury from all of the years without my brother, and all of the frustration that I had endured, was all at the hands of my rapist. Walter.
“I loved you! And you never fucking cared! You didn’t even give me a chance, and then you dumped me out of nowhere! I couldn’t understand why! All that time I couldn’t understand what had happened to cause any of it! I had come over that day, I wanted to see you, and that was when I heard you in the basement. Saw what you were doing. With him.”
I remembered the noise we had heard! We had heard him! But thought it was the floorboards creaking! I felt sick. I felt so fucking sick.
“You ruined everything! You destroyed my life, Walter! I never loved you! I will never love you!” I shouted as loud as I could, and that was when I felt it. He hauled off and slapped me as hard as he could, and I cried out, landing to the ground, at his feet. Next thing I knew he was punching, and kicking me, and somehow this was worse than the rape. Worse than last time I had pissed him off.
I cried out, and whimpered as he kicked at me, and that was when I saw the door fly open to the back, and Eli launched out, dragging Walter away from me, attacking him as he had attacked me. Fists, and punches flying. I struggled to stand, gripping at my aching side as I struggled to pull Eli off of Walter.
“Stop! Please! Eli! Eli! Stop!”
“YOU PIECE OF SHIT! HOW DARE YOU LAY A HAND ON MY SISTER!” The shouts were echoing through the alleyway, and by this point we had a massive audience. Everyone from the kitchen, and even some of my fellow waitresses were witnessing the tussle between my brother, and Walter. Eli wasn’t in the right headset for this! He was still damaged, and broken from the asylum and all of the torment he had endured within it. He was going to end up dead, or worse over this, and I turned to scream at my fellow co-workers.
“Someone stop them! Do something!” I was in too much pain to wrestle them apart, and my lip was bleeding. I began to register the metallic taste in my mouth and I reached up to wipe the blood. Finally one of the cooks surged forward, and pulled Eli off of Walter, whilst another pulled Walter to his feet. Both were beaten badly, and I knew I was not much better off.
“Call 911!” I heard someone shout, as a few people restrained Walter whom was still trying desperately to get at my brother.
“You sick bastard! All I ever did was love her! You just can’t keep your prick in your pants! You can’t help fucking her life to shit!” Walter shouted at Eli, and Eli struggled to break free from the hands that held him back.
“I didn’t do anything to her! You claim to love her?! You just beat the shit out of her you asshole!” Eli shot back, and I stood there, tears trekking down my face, not wanting to face anything right now. I moved close to Eli, and despite what I had promised, I coiled my arms around him, sobbing into his form. He ceased struggling as though only just realizing that I was there. Finally his arms engulfed me, and I sobbed into his chest. I was in pain, but all I wanted was Eli to hold me, like he used to. He seemed to sense that much, and his arms found their way around me, protectively.
“He won’t hurt you again. No one will ever hurt you ever again, Belle.” He whispered softly to me, and I couldn’t respond, I just kept sobbing, into his chest. Everything we had lost. Every last piece of what could have been our lives was shattered all because of what Walter had done. All because I had trusted him once. I had destroyed the only person I ever loved, and it was all because I had tried to make things right between Walter, and I a long time ago. How could Eli ever forgive me now? I had helped to destroy his very existence. His very being. Everything he was today, was partially my fault, and that broke me, more than Walter, and his fists ever could.