Friday, February 17, 2012

Chutes and Ladders

Sexual Content

I am eight years old.  It is a Saturday and that means chores.  I am startled awake by the sound of a bucket striking the floor next to my bed.  I know by the urgency of my step father's actions that there will be no breakfast.  There must be a lot to do.  There might not be lunch either.

He helps me change out of my nighty.  This takes a long time because he is allowing a little play time with Buddy.  There will be no mess to clean because I will swallow his seed as he has been teaching me.  I am to look him in the eye as I do this and anything but a smooth ingestion will be met with a slap.  I will lay on the floor naked and apologize for not appreciating his gift.  Today, I fail, like most times, and the floor is cold and hard as I take it on with the same bruises I always use to catch my fall.

I have wasted too much time and instead of only washing all of the windows in the house from the inside, I will wash them from the outside too.  It is March in Vermont- the month of the brutal lion.  He says it is warm enough.

By three-thirty in the afternoon, I am finished with the insides of the windows.  I have had to do them over and over again because there is always an imperceptible smudge not to his liking.  They must be prefect, or why do it at all?  My stomach is a cloudburst of rumbles and loud strikes of hunger-lightening.  He tells me it's too bad I didn't eat what he had offered this morning- maybe I wouldn't be so hungry.  Ingrates and wrongdoers don't get food.

There is some sun left in the day which is good because my step father can stand outside and watch me clean the picture window above his workroom.  I can't place in my mind exactly which window he is talking about as we both go outside to set up a ladder.  I am craning my neck to see a window that I have never noticed before.  It is so high up that I will have to climb one ladder to a slanted first story roof and then another to get to the window.  I have never been on a ladder before.  My hands are slow to move in this cold and my flesh is raised.  I am only wearing my nighty.

The journey up the ladder involves extreme control- the rungs are an impossible stairway to an absurd destiny.  My legs quiver with each mount and threaten to give out with the strain.  The ascent is made harder by the length of my nighty.  He stands just under me and is looking up and I have no choice but to raise it higher than I would like to in order to keep scaling the ladder.  I pause to rest and look down.  Now my legs are weak from exertion and feebler still from trepidation.  My step father whips the verbal belt- keep climbing!  I push the bucket and cleaning supplies to the crook of my arm and continue on.

I reach the roof at last.  I am feeling accomplished until I realize I will have to step onto the icy slant in my slippers which are soaked through and my feet are numb.  My step father rattles the ladder from the ground and I jump off of it, planting my leg through the thin skin that is left of the old shingling.  I feel the skin on my leg strip away as I lodge deeper into the infrastructure of the roof.  There is a moment of silence as both of us wonder, in that quick time between disasters, if I will hit the ground and if I do, how damaged will I be?  But the roof holds and time stretches out again and my step father laughs off his prank.  He orders me to pick myself up and finish the job.  I can't imagine how to extract myself from this crevice- my body has reached it's limit.  My leg is mangled and I can feel blood warming what skin is still  intact.  My body is so cold that I can feel a familiar sleepiness coming over me that I have felt while being made to abide the cold for too long before.

His face is monstrous with rage. He is losing his patience, but I know that he will not climb the ladder to pull me out.  He will not even climb it in order to slap me.  He is afraid of heights.  He is infuriated that he has no control over how fast I move until he works out a way to regulate and bring himself back to full reign.  He is taking the ladder away and telling me to sleep well.

I cry out.  Please don't leave me here!  Please!  I will get up now.  With the strength that is born of frenzy, I grope at anything in front of me for a stable enough hold.  I use my fingertips to pull my body up and catch at something with my foot and splayed myself over the surface of the roof, holding on to these ancient shingles to keep from falling.  I roll to my side and sit up in time to see him turn and come back a few steps with the ladder.  I am going to get to come down now.  The sun is sinking and it will be time for dinner soon and we never miss dinner when my mother works so hard to make us happy.

I am scooting my way to the edge of the roof in preparation for the climb down, but he only stands just far enough away and  laughs.  I am the dumbest child alive- can't I see that there is still another ladder to climb and window to clean?


  1. he's lucky he's dead.

  2. I totally AGREE!!!! I hope it was a very painful Death!

  3. It was a massive heart attack that killed him in less than a minute. Life is weird.

  4. I hope he suffered. I cry for you :*(