Ok, first chapter of the novel I'm working on. This is actually my life story or segments of it. So I'm really putting myself out there. I need real critiquing. I should probably put a disclaimer here saying that some of this is graphic in a sexual sense. Probably will be more graphic in the rewrite. It's toned down a bit. I'm thinking of calling this Smalltown Secrets
Everything is hot and humid in the summertime in the South, even the dark basements of total strangers. I stand there trying to decide if my eyes are really open and wondering why it matters as rough hands paw at my clothes, managing to get my shirt off but not my bra so I reach back and unhook it for him with ease. I pull his shirt over his head as a hundred horror movie scenes flash through my head, slutty girls led into dark basements by horny, and often beautiful men they just met. They’re always naked and really getting lost in each other when the man in the hockey mask, with the knives on his hands, with a buzzing, bloody chainsaw shows up to hack them into tiny pieces, oh I can only wish. Of course, in the movies the teenage girls always have perky breasts and tiny hips and they never have children. I try, and mostly succeed to stifle the laughter that threatens to escape. I may not know much about this man, but I do know enough about men in general not to laugh during sex especially the first time, even in the pitch dark, or maybe especially in the pitch dark. My toddler daughter is upstairs among strangers, my cousin the only familiar face, but she will be taken care of, she always is, my little golden child who deserves so much more than me.
We are both starting to sweat now in the heat of the windowless basement. He runs his hand down my back leaving a trail of wetness. It is slick at first then sticky, and I haven’t yet realized how much is wrong here. I trip over clothing and fall back onto a bed, whose I don’t know nor care. I don’t care about much anymore except that when I pass out of the world my daughter never knows how strongly I sought death. Is there a word for indirect suicide? I think they call it self-destruction. Better she not perceive it as suicide. The bed is against the wall, and I don’t even feel my shoulder hit it as he turns me over onto my back and starts to pull my pants and underwear down as a single article of clothing, and more sweat drips onto my stomach and breasts, and then he’s smearing it with his hands. I don’t remember anyone ever sweating so much, and still I don’t know that something is wrong.
I struggle to find the button on his jeans, but he’s already there, pulling them off and I imagine him hopping around in the darkness and finally there’s nothing left between us but the hot, sticky sweat; there’s so much of it. As the single-most pivotal moment in my life approaches, I grope for this strange but beautiful man in the darkness feeling tight, hard muscles and another hardness farther down and thanking the powers that be for the darkness that hides my own, less firm body. My mind wonders, and I think again of my daughter upstairs and for a moment I almost make him stop. How many precarious situations does it take before bad turns to worse and my life really does end? If only the madman from the horror film really would show up, but no one comes, not yet, and my senses seem to heighten. I feel him slithering over me and into me and taste salt and something else familiar, and I notice the air doesn’t just smell musty, but also metallic. Then the world changes for me.
I feel a dripping on my face and it is so hot, thick, sticky. The guy on top of me doesn’t seem to notice that something is dripping on us or maybe he still thinks it’s just sweat. It’s so damn hot in here. He is still trying to find my mouth in the dark and the dripping turns into a stream and it’s sliding into my hair, down my neck, and the wrongness of it is now apparent. I shove the guy off me and yell at him to stop and find a light, and finally he realizes something is off. Is he really dense, or does he just not care? I haven’t known him long enough to have the answer.
“What is this shit?” he asks and even in my blindness I can see him trying to look at his own hands.
“Just find the light, already.” I say, trying not to imagine. I can feel my hair sticking to my head. Then the light comes on both literally and figuratively.
It doesn’t take nearly long enough for my eyes to adjust to the dim lights in the previously pitch dark basement room. Looking around I think at first that someone has been killed here, and we have been wallowing in the poor soul’s blood. We are covered with it. The room is covered with it. The bed, the wall beside the bed, even the floor is red with blood. My hair is matted with it and I can feel it drying already on my stomach and breasts and face. His face is also covered, and that’s when I realize the blood is coming from his nose. And this is how my life changes forever.
The thoughts are fast enough to almost be simultaneous,
He has some disease, he has AIDS, what have I done, I don’t really want to die.
The last one startles me more than the others and “What the hell is wrong with you?” is what I shout at him over and over again not quite oblivious to the people upstairs. He seems so unimpressed by the horror around us and actually laughs; at me is what I think. He’s laughing at me.
I can’t remember the first time I wanted to die. I’ve wanted for a long time to understand the beginning of who I am. Did it start with my first memory? I was two years old, and my mother was on her second marriage, driven into it to escape my dad who was still constantly begging her for reconciliation. My stepdad sat in an old recliner, and I was on the floor in front of him. He seemed a giant to me towering over me in that big chair, his hairy chest naked over his sagging underwear. He handed me a brown bottle that smelled rotten to me. I held it steady not sure what he wanted me to do with it, but knowing I was in trouble if I spilled it. He smiled at me, but I knew he wasn’t being nice, then told me to drink it. I choked on the first swallow and struggled not to spit anything onto the floor, and he yelled at me anyway to finish it all or else, and I knew all too well what that else would be, so I finished it. Then I threw up on the floor.
He just laughed at me.
Maybe that was the first time I felt hatred and despair, but I doubt it. Toddlers don’t know those things even in the worst circumstances. More likely that was the point where determination started. Determination to be strong, to be loved, to gain approval and who better to seek those things from than my own mother, and that would be the beginning of my self-destruction even before I sought it in those terms.