“Where have you been girl? I told you to take Jackson with you to the park, but to come back before dark,” dad shouts, angrily. His jaw is set and I can see the flames in his eyes even in the dark of the night.
“I’m sorry dad, but we were having fun and then we had to take a bath because—” I was stopped by his hand slapping into my cheekbone.
“I expect you to follow orders, girl. It was one simple rule but you can’t follow it because you’re an immature piece of shit that’s still irresponsible even at your age. Imma teach you a lesson and maybe next time you’ll do what I say.”
He pulls me up off the ground from my hair and drags me to the “lessons wall”. I lift my shirt and bra, already knowing what to do, exposing my back to him while he gets the whip ready, and whipping it a few times in the air. I wince every time I hear it snap across the air making wind cover my back. Then he unexpectedly throws it at my back and I scream from the pain, immediately covering my mouth knowing that he’ll do it more if I scream. I suffer from ten whips and then he stops, putting the whip away. I know my back looks bad because Jack is staring at it with a scared expression and quickly wiping his tears, coming to hug me, whispering that he’s sorry over and over again. I cover my back again with the shirt gently and I tell him it’s not his fault but he won’t listen. My dad is right. I can’t listen to simple instructions and it’s my own fault that I got whipped.
I lay on my side in the dirt and try to sleep, but it’s always impossible to sleep right after I get whipped so I stare at the plywood wall and hope my back won’t get infected. I know that I should try to clean my back while I can, but I don’t want to risk waking up dad and having him get mad again. Who knows, he might even whip me again. So I lay there, cramps echoing throughout my entire body and aches forming by my shoulder bone and humerus.
The next morning, my back is stiff and I can’t move without screaming, so when my dad tells me to get up, I wait a few moments before I stifle my scream and get into a standing position. I tell dad that I’m going to look for food and warning him I might not have any by the time I come back and he nods saying that we haven’t had food for a week before and so since we just eat yesterday, it should be fine. He let me go anyways and I stiffly walked outside. The morning sun shines brightly on my face and I love the feel of it. I walk as best as I can with ten new whip marks fresh on my back and unstick the shirt from the bloody lines that appear on it. A man from another part of The Desert looks at me while I did it and I force a smile to say that I’m okay even though he obviously doesn’t like it because his face looks half angry and half sad. He gives me a sad smile back and then goes back to walking to his destination.
I’m pretty sure that everybody knows what dad is doing to me because they heard me scream the first time he did it and they saw the whip marks after. Nobody says anything though because we just don’t go getting into other people’s businesses in The Desert. I can tell that a few of the people who live here really want to help, but they know that it’s useless.