By Krisserin Canary
It was the second time, but she would never get used to it.
Her mother was in the next room, either pretending not to know what was happening or willfully allowing it to take place. She hated her for it. To her it was her mother's fault. Her mother told him about the bowl of Halloween candy hidden under her bed, that she'd eat snack sized bar after snack sized bar before sleep. She was being punished, but she knew she didn't deserve it. No twelve year old does.
A light hung above her lazily illuminating the room. She squeezed her eyelids shut, blocking out the familiar shapes and haunting shadows. She refused to watch him do it, wouldn't give him the satisfaction of showing him fear.
He sat down next to her and placed his hand on her cheek. It was warm despite who it belonged to.
"Relax. It shouldn't hurt too much."
Her face radiated heat from the pounding in her chest. She opened her mouth, wide, before he could ask. She knew what he wanted, and didn't want to hear his voice again. She prayed it would be over soon.
There was pressure, a pinch. Her mind fumbled trying to think of other things. Her birthday was next week. Maybe grandma would make her a cake.
She could hear him turn on his favorite toy, the whining and buzzing closed in on her from a distance. This was the part that always hurt the most. She anticipated the pain.
She went numb.
School parties with cupcakes covered with rainbow sprinkles. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a tall glass of milk. Oreos and milk. Chocolate milk. His scent accosted her. Her eyes rolled upwards, away. Her eyelids fluttered.
His sterile smell stung her nose. He'd swabbed himself with alcohol in an attempt to disinfect the evidence of previous tortures. It failed to mask his ripe odor. What would he smell like after he was done with her? She hoped he smelled like blood. A rancid metallic sting that would prove to her mother that he'd hurt her, maimed her.
She gave up hope quicker than she took it up. Her mother didn't care.
He leaned in closer and the heat of his breath mushroomed. It was wet and smelled of processed cheese. She squeezed her eyes harder until her temples throbbed. He was too close, his hand pressing down on her shoulder. A small yelp escaped her throat, giving her away. His hand was on her cheek again, patting it as you would an obedient dog. She tried to understand why he felt the need to touch her face.
Fatigue was catching up with him. His breath sped up; she could feel the exhales increase on her cheek. He was almost finished. He always got like this when he was close.
The buzzing stopped, the pressure of his hand disappeared. Feeling returned to her fingers. Her lips tingled. She closed her mouth, the corners torn from being stretched beyond their limits. She kept her eyes shut until she was sure he'd left the room. Thankfully, he hadn't felt the need to say anything.
Her mouth was sore. Globs of drool lay heavy on her chin. He must have really enjoyed himself this time.
A few minutes later her mind settled down. It was over. Hopefully it would be awhile before it happened again. Maybe this was the last time. She contemplated a life without pain.
A minute later she swung her feet over the edge and made her way out into the hall, tiptoeing to the bathroom. When she emerged a strange woman was waiting for her. She was smiling.
"Please come with me."
The woman opened a file with Sarah's name on it and ran her finger down the middle of the page.
"I think that's it for now. We'll see you in six months for your regular cleaning."
She considered the possibilities. Six months of sleeping in on Saturday mornings. Pop tarts in front of the television. Cool Cokes on hot summer days spent next to the pool. She swallowed it, nodded in acceptance.
A glass bowl filled with sweets lay glistening on the counter before her. She grabbed a purple sucker and stuck it in her mouth on her way towards the door. The sugar seeped into the sores in her mouth and stung.
A lot of damage can be done in six months.