Chapter 8: The New Routine

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 7

I didn’t go to my grandma’s house nearly as often now. I still went after school most days, mom and Ray were usually passed out anyway. When they left the door open, I went home and quietly ate some crackers, or even Ramen noodles (grandma taught me how to make those in the microwave) and I’d read. That was when I was the happiest. A book in my hands and no one but me in the world.  On the weekends I would have to go play with David. Mom would pick me up and remind me that we don’t share our private things, sometimes she would get me a Happy Meal, most times we would go home, and I would go to my books.

I piled up all my stuffed animals in the corner, and I would burry myself in that corner under all the fluff and read. The weekends I got to go to my grandparent’s house and stay there were my favorite, I didn’t have to see any of my mom’s friends when they came over. I didn’t have to see David when he came to party with them. And so went my days.

I grew that summer and David came to see us more and more. And I went to him more and more. Always playing the same game. It became routine. Mom would go to his room for a bit, and leave without looking at me, I’d go to that bed, smell the sweat and the sheets that never got washed, feel those calluses on me, and count the specks on the ceiling. After a while he would put my hand on him and expect me to do it myself. I tried to say “no” a few times, but I was punished for not listening when I got home. See, if I didn’t do it then he didn’t give them the money, or the drugs, they were trading me for. A drastic punishment every time I said denied his little game. Stare at the ceiling. Don’t pay attention to your body. Don’t smell him, don’t listen to his voice, don’t feel him, just count the dust.

By the end of the summer we moved away from the block with my grandparents. Into a townhouse complex. Our building had four townhouses all lined up side by side. David lived on the next block. He was over more and more. And I went out back every chance I got. There was a field behind the house, and a giant dirt mound where they put the dirt from building the complex. That dirt mound was my new safe haven. I went out there from the second I got home right up until sunset. Any chance to get away from that house. I did my homework on that dirt mound, ate snacks out there. I never hung out with the other kids at school. I always felt so dirty. Even though I took baths and showers and scrubbed until my skin was red I felt so dirty. I was sure the other kids could smell those pillows on my clothes.

So I went to school, kept my head down, spoke to no one and came home to do the same. Only speak when spoken to. Leave the twins’ things alone. Only eat what you are told to and nothing else. Don’t bother me unless you’re bleeding. Do as your told by all adults even if you don’t want to and tell no one. These where the rules I lived by. If I broke them I paid the price. I learned that I was only worth what someone would give them for me and that I had a job to do.

When I started coming home to both of them sleeping in the living room I would tiptoe into the back, drop by backpack in my room and go to my dirt mound. My grandparents got me a swing set, I was 7 then and it was an Easter present, it was stationed in the back, right where our back yard met the field. I sat on the swings, read my books, and lived outside as much as I could. On day, I was playing on that set and fell down under the swing, I had fallen off the seat. I landed on my knees and went in to wash the dirt from my skin, but my knee hurt so bad I couldn’t really bend it. Which didn’t make sense I fell less than two fee to the ground. I called for mom and told her that when I moved it, I felt something in my knee, so she pushed on it and sure enough there was something there. It looked like a thick hair; I was sure it wasn’t a bee stinger I would be swelling my now. She got some tweezers and grabbed ahold of it and pulled. It was a needle. I had a needle buried in my leg. She threw it away, told me to stop crying and go back outside, and she went to her room.

So, I went back to my swings and dug. I sat down and ever so gently, as gently as I could fearing another needle, dug under my swings, and found more. They had been disposing of their used needles here. Would I sleep now? What was in those needles? Should I go to the doctor? Would a doctor even know what to do? I sat there and felt sick. I buried the needles again and never touched that swing set again.

My mother told my grandma that I just didn’t want it anymore, that they were selling it because I was ungrateful and never wanted to play with it. I couldn’t tell grandma the real reason that I didn’t use it anymore, that would be breaking a rule, and if grandma ever found out it would be much worse for me, I was certain of that, mom had said so herself.  And so, my swing set disappeared. The twins got new bikes. I got new panties and training bras. I only wore them when I went to David’s house. And he would comment on how much I’ve grown, how pretty I was. How I was becoming a young woman. I was seven. A young woman? I was younger than his own daughter, who he legally couldn’t see anymore. If only I’d known that if I told the right people I wouldn’t have to see him either. 


Submitted: January 14, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Brittney Campbell. All rights reserved.

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