Dedication: Me. (because I wimped out and wrote it in second person.)

Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it includes references to childhood rape and abuse.

having a dad around was never really a common occurrence. by the time she was six, the only times she’d see her dad was on Christmas, and the times he showed up for her birthday were dwindling. but she found it odd how much time his work really took for him to be gone that much. but it wasn’t much of a concern. even her mom had always told her that they didn’t really need him around anyway. at least, not in terms of physicality. she knew her mom couldn’t uphold her and her sister. not when she’s been jumping from job to job, having yet to settle down as they get kicked from residence to residence. she remembers staying in a guys basement, not exactly sure who he was. living in their grandmas house until they can afford the next place. but then she gets told that her mom and dad aren’t exactly together anymore. she also gets told about her half-brother that’s been living with her dads wife. oh. her mother didn’t seem all too upset, but she knew better. saw the periods of counting what money they had to be able to buy dinner that night, the periods of her almost passing out when they were put bed a little earlier than normal. her dad showing up to spend time with them quickly fell into calls every few months. holidays were far and few, being sent checks for christmas and birthdays. but as long as she kept moving forward, everything would be fine.
it’s only after getting exposed to a certain site on the internet that she begins to understand, begins to piece it together. she begins to hate the visits to her moms old friend. begins to hate when her sister wouldn’t join her in his garage. when he’d smile at her as if it’d somehow fix what he’d been doing since they began to visit at age five. sitting her in his truck, telling her to keep quiet, though he figured she would anyway. she hated it all. so when she was finally about to turn nine, she spilled. they had moved once again after her mom found a new boyfriend, and the old friend was practically out of the picture. her mom was driving after picking her up from school, and a wrench in her soul had begun to swerve. the next day, she found herself at project harmony. it was bright and childish, something she’d learned not to associate herself with. there seemed to be pretty much only women working there, and it settled some sort of relief in her mind. she was taken from room to room, although most of it was fogged over. she does remember getting to pick out a blanket and stuffed animal, which were kind of ugly but brought a smile to her face. a small part of her wishes she didn’t say anything, so maybe the pained look on her mother’s face could contort into something more.
she’s turning eleven when they move again, a new city not too far. a new school that seems to promise more, but that stays a fleeting thought. she now has a baby brother which she’s learned to (kind of) take care of. her moms boyfriend moved in a year back, bringing nothing but arguments and a new figure she’s learned to turn away from. the only person she really hangs out with is her sister, as friends fly past after playing victim to her quiet and awkward nature. but then she gets put in therapy for the first time. insists that it’s completely unnecessary, but her mom knows that making up imaginary friends to please those who ask are anything but normal. the first session is long and quiet, as she had decided beforehand that if her mom didn’t need to know anything, neither did a stranger who flashed her smiles of pity in between invasive questions. after that, the therapist was never seen again and she continued school avoiding conversations that were deemed a waste of time. and then seventh grade started. the year she called the worst of all.
her second baby brother had been born sometime around the fall, and her family was slowly settling into their home that she thought they’d live in a bit too long to be normal. her mom’s boyfriend begins to go back and forth between quitting his job and switching to the same place across town, and her mom stays fairly stagnant in her small business. counselors begin to notice her lack of social skills and start asking questions she knows she doesn’t want to answer. she lodges herself into a friendship with a girl that walks home with her, and joins a sport that takes up enough of her time. but then her mom and her boyfriend start yelling in the dark of the basement, more than usual, and she cowers with her siblings until they “sort” things out and come back up with exhausted smiles. her mom’s boyfriend grows angrier as the days drag on and he begins to throw things. walks out of family outings, yells at every kid in the house, brings out his destructive nature. some days she hides in her room, trying to comfort her barely younger sister who breaks into tears many days of the month. other days she pretends with the rest of them that everything is ok, if even just for a little bit.
until it maybe really isn’t. if anything, she thought that he was just finally warming up to them. even though it seemed to be just her he was kind of warming up to. he sits on the edge of her bed one day, which isn’t exactly unusual as he’d started doing that to say goodnight. he leans in a little closer, and is practically breathing on her at some point. she decides that she is quite uncomfortable, but cannot find anything in herself to say anything. as she waits in silence, she is suddenly aware of everything around her. how the light is switched off, how the door is closed, how he came in after everyone had fallen asleep because she was never one to get much sleep in the first place. he leaves thirty minutes later and she cries herself to sleep for the first time in a long while, wondering why god had made this happen to her again. this continues as if some sort of twisted, broken record. nobody suspects a thing and for that she keeps quiet. some nights are worse than others. one night he gets drunk and gets closer than he’d ever had before. the next morning he apologizes with a hug and she smiles it off though she knows the last thing she thought was to forgive him. the worst of all seemed to be when everybody but him and her had left for a trip that she had mentioned having no interest in. after finding out he’s staying with her, the trip becomes the only place she wants to be. three long days go by and it hurts her more than ever to keep quiet when the rest come back with slight tans and souvenirs. seventh grade passes, summer passes, and she is in eighth grade, still as silent as ever. the broken record spins again and again, and almost a year passes since the first day it had happened, though she really doesn’t remember the exact date. winter break approaches with cold walks home and no sport to waste her time with. something in her begins to snap, as if her organs become mush and her ribs are torn apart. she speaks even less, and distances from her one close friend. it’s december 21, two days before winter break. she walks into school with her heart drumming in her ears. she cannot process anything around her, and wipes her palms on her jeans when she notices the sweat gathering. she walks up to the teacher in her third period, and asks to speak to the counselor. she does not bother to clear her sweat at this point and enters the office room. a few hours later, she feels oddly lightened and finds herself stepping into project harmony once again. a small smile appears on her face.