So, the next evening started as a scene of domestic tranquility, until it got weird and sexualized. It was actually so normal that it struck me as bizarre, because readers will know that normal is not my thing and it was not exactly typical in my childhood homes.
Dad was in the kitchen making dinner–a pork loin–and he’d baked bread, too, so the house already smelled good. I was in the big room playing chess with the young one. I was losing, as usual, because I’m the world’s worst chess player (I’m not so bad at the logic part, but the game involves spatial reasoning, and I can’t reason my way spatially out of a wet paper bag), but we were enjoying ourselves.
After he mopped me up with ease in about a dozen moves, I asked him if he wanted to play again.
“Yes!” he said. “It is fun! When I play with Father, I always lose. Everyone always loses with him.”
Oh, believe me, I know, I thought, but of course I did not say that.
Then, I suggested that we switch colors because maybe I would get his good luck if I played black.
He said that he always played black, and so I did the next reasonable thing and challenged him to a thumb war.
It was the first time I ever touched the boy, other than when I shook his hand when I met him. As I said in my last blog post, I’d been trying very hard to avoid even the slightest suggestion of impropriety.
Well, for whatever reason, we both found it hilarious and started laughing. He was making these kung-fu noises before he smashed my thumb down. We were both laughing really hard and telling each other not to cheat.
Then I said we should arm wrestle, and that was even funnier because it was even more ridiculous. He is only 14, but he is still bigger than me and I have skinny little bird arms that have gotten even skinnier because I haven’t been able to lift weights since the grease fire (couldn’t risk opening the wounds), so the “competition” was a joke and we were both laughing our heads off like it was the funniest thing in the world. You know how sometimes something is so funny that you can’t stop laughing…? It was like that. The tears were coming out and I was probably running my makeup. I don’t know why it was so funny.
Then he suddenly stood up from the table, ran over to me, and picked me up. He started spinning me around, making helicopter noises, until I had vertigo. I was screaming and laughing, but I didn’t seriously tell him to put me down, so I guess it’s my fault…?
He ran with me into the kitchen to show his Dad.
“Look! See what I’ve got!” he said.
Dad looked up from the oven, with a big smile on his face: “I see you take after me!”
The kid started laughing again and reversed himself, making car motor noises, and started to run off down the hallway.
“Hupp! Don’t run too far with my prize, boy!” His father shouted after us, laughing.
He carried me into the reading room just off the hallway, which is essentially a minor library. It has windows in it, and the orange sunset light was coming in, but it was a bit dark. New York doesn’t have the amazing, world-renowned sunsets of my homeland, but sometimes the colors still come through.
Then the elder son came in. The one who’d looked at me in my bath the night before.
I don’t think that I can convey the change of atmosphere in the room. We both stopped laughing immediately. You could have heard a pin drop. It was as if the temperature dropped 20 degrees.
He strode right up to us and extended his arms…and then said, incredibly: “It’s my turn. Give her to me.”
What THE FUCK?! I thought.
The young one gripped me tighter and started to back away.
“Put me down, please,” I said. My voice was calm, not breathless or screetchy. I was suddenly scared and I wanted to re-exert control. I also noticed that in all the roughhousing, my skirt had ridden up. I was wearing bike boyshorts underneath for modesty, so nobody was getting a show, but, when your skirt goes up, well, it’s a thing.
He did not put me down! WHAT?
I started to try to help myself out of his arms. I wasn’t making a huge fuss because I didn’t want to be dramatic, but I wasn’t going to just sit there and take it. The situation had suddenly gotten weird. Also, even though I’m skinnier now, I’m not a small woman–I’m quite tall and I’m not going to let some teenager hold me after I told him to put me down.
THEN it occurred to me that he did not put me down because he was scared of his brother. I don’t think he was ignoring me; I think he was off in his head.
Something is going on here that I don’t understand, I thought to myself. I felt I was looking at two boys that had a secret together.
The older one approached again, still holding out his arms. Like I was a book or an inanimate object.
“Put me down NOW!” I repeated, and rolled out of his arms and onto my feet.
Then came the voice from behind us, in the doorway. It was in his language, so I couldn’t tell what he said, but it sounded a lot like What is this?
It was Dad. The Calvary had arrived.
He extended his hand to me and I immediately ran over to him. I know that made me look weak, but I was scared. At the same time, I didn’t want to get the young one in trouble, because he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“(Young one) and I were just horsing around,” I said.
Dad stood there, appraising the situation. I understood, instinctively, that the boys were afraid of him. There was a lot of tension in the room.
He told the younger one to keep an eye on the pork loin in the oven, and then took me by the hand and pulled me down the hallway to his bedroom, where he fucked me, quickly and violently, on the carpet. The competition–if that’s what it was–had apparently excited him. I tried hard not to make noise, but, you know, it had to have been obvious to the boys what was happening.
Then we all ate dinner at the table. I guess you can imagine the ambiance for that one. Dad was the only one with any appetite, but we all ate, all right. The wit here, on the scenic Western slope, is: If he’s treatin, you best be eatin.
Secrets run in families like streams of water, down through generations.