I am 13 years old. My stepfather is not as interested in my blooming body anymore, so now he leaves me in a careless pile- dirty laundry to be kicked about the room and eventually under the bed. When he needs something, he digs me back out and tries to launder me into something wearable again. I just don't suit him anymore though, no matter how he tries to alter me. I have grown too big and the more he tries me on, the more ragged and soiled I become, again to be shed and tossed to the floor. He fuels his needs with brutality now- leaving me pained and terrified. Somehow, even clothed, I feel more naked and used up than ever before.
Because I am useless beyond the chores that I do, I am allowed to see my best friend more often. I think he likes to send me off with her knowing that I would never dare speak of so many years of molding, finessing, oppressing. We both know that his terror tactics will keep his doings deeply cellared.
At a restaurant with my best friend's family, she and I hit the bathroom for some lipgloss and giggles. When I am with her, things are lighter of heart and lesser of mind. While she is in the stall, I look at myself in the mirror to check the makeup she applied earlier. I lock my gaze with the stranger I see. So many times I have caught glimpses of her, only to look away, as strangers will do. But today, we meet in this bathroom, through this mirror, and it is clear we will finally get to know one another. We hear my friend chattering as though she is in another room, so far from our minds as we settle deeper into each the other. She tells me something. I am caught off guard by her frankness. I am shocked to hear her outright disclosure. I realize she is correct. I say it out loud. I think there is something wrong.
It is quiet now. I am aware of the humming fluorescent lights, voices droning in the restaurant, the rolling of toilet paper as my friend scurries to finish up and come to me. The stranger in the looking glass recedes and I see myself very clearly now. I have been abused. I have endured an exquisite hell. My life has been uniquely perverse. There have been so many violations that I cannot speak of just one. When I tell my friend that I think I am being abused, it is with the same wonder and disbelief of having seen something rare- an unfamiliar and boldly marked butterfly. I know it is right before my eyes. There is that familiar sense of wonder. It fans its wings, unafraid of inspection and then takes flight, bobbing in the invisible and minute currents that only the memory of a truth can ride.
I meet my friend's eye as she emerges from the stall and rushes to me. Now I know. She knows too. What should we do now? I keep my eye on the horizon as my butterfly drifts out of sight. I have committed to memory this oft undetected creature. Of this sighting, I am sure. There is nothing to do but to carry on. Dinner is waiting.