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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/751803-Little-Secrets
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Drama · #751803
No one could have prepared her for the pain she was about to endure, a lifetime!
Little Secrets
Written by Sugaree


Part One



         Skyla tripped as she ran through the shack, frightened that she would not escape in time to avoid her obviously crazed first cousin’s assault. She could feel her heart beating violently against her rib cage. Tears were blinding her. Strength and experience from escaping crazed men a frustratingly greater part of her life led her into in a condemned shack.

         She couldn’t believe what was happening. Skyla had thought that this was going to be just an ordinary evening chat with her cousin. He’d come to town and like usual, he called her to see what she was up to.

         This particular evening Skyla was bored to high heavens and needed to get out. The phone rang. “Hello,” she answered in a semi sensual voice just in case it was one of her potential lovers. It wasn’t.

         “Damned,” she mumbled under her breath.

         “Skyla, what’s going on?” the caller snarled into the phone.

         Skyla chuckled to herself because it was obvious he had either heard or sensed that he was not whom she wanted on the phone by the uncertainty in his voice.

         “Nothin’ much. Just reading. Wassup with you dear Cuz?” The tone in her voice cheered a bit so not to alienate yet another family member.

         “Wanna go for a ride…smoke one?” Darnell replied in a bored voice.

         Darnell was Skyla’s first cousin. He was attending the local college. School was out for summer. He lived three hours away but still frequented the college town to visit his grandparents and check out the ladies that were attending summer school.

         Skyla answered him nonchalantly, “Sure, Darnell. Sounds good to me. Give me a few minutes to throw some decent clothes on.”

         “Girl, you don’t need to get all dressed up. We just gonna go ride, chill a bit. Damned! Women!”

         “Aw shut it up. I’ll be ready in about 20.” She hanged the phone up abruptly so not to hear his smart response. She laughed to herself at how annoyed he gets when someone beats him hanging up.

         Skyla was already dressed in a pastel yellow cotton summer dress. Although it was 10:00 p.m., the scorching Louisiana heat was still at 90 degrees.

         The insect repellant she sprayed on served a dual purpose; Lotion and repellant. She rubbed it into her tender, young 16-year-old skin. She was pleased at the golden glow the sun had temporarily given to her usually fair colored skin. Now it shined as well.

         She pulled her long jet-black hair up into one ponytail pinning it so that it would not aggravate her neck. Pleased with the lovely display of wild curls, she flicked the lights off then headed down the hall to her grandmother’s room.

         The doorbell rang just as she told her grandmother of her plans to make sure that it was fine with her.

         “Hold up a minute,” she shouted loud enough for him to hear from the distance. She grabbed her sandals and keys then walked out of the door closing it behind her. She made a mad dash through the assortment of insects gathered around the porch light. She couldn’t believe how hot it was since it was ten o’clock.

         As Skyla opened to heavy 1970 Ford car door, flashes of the good old days danced through her minds of when the car belonged to her grandfather. He’d take her up into town, buy some ice cream at Mike’s Café’ and maybe even take her to get some new clothes. She remembered the safe feeling she got being with him.

         Skyla plopped down in the now worn, tattered seat, the same spot she used to have to crawl into. Now her six feet slender frame had to bend to get in. This time, there would be no granddaddy to close the heavy car door and make sure the gravity did not close it on her legs. The hill of the driveway nearly made the door slam before she was completely in. She quickly pulled her legs into the safe zone in the car.

         “What’s wrong with you, Knucklehead” Skyla teasingly harassed him while scrutinizing his solemn facial expression. “Must be that girl playing with ya’ head again.” She smiled at him, then kicked her sandals off and turned the music up louder once they were away from her grandmother’s drive way.

         “Yes yes yes. That is my cut.” Cameo’s, “Why Have I Lost You” was blaring through the speakers. She sang the song with the group word for word, snapping her fingers to the rhythm.

         Darnell and Skyla had become pretty close lately. They had always been cool with one another. It was within the last couple of years since Skyla had been banned from her paternal grandparent’s home for speaking up about her father’s indecent activities with her as a child that Darnell and she started hanging out. Her cousins in her age range knew that she was telling the truth but were too afraid of being ostracized too. Skyla understood. She was very sad and missed being with her family and some of them missed her too.

         Skyla found out that she had been banned when some of her cousins came over to visit one holiday while they were in town. They gave her all of the juicy gossip about her. The adults were saying that she was promiscuous and that her reputation in the town was pretty bad. They were not so happy as the barer of bad news either. Skyla’s instincts told her that some of her cousins might have been influenced by the lies their parents told them in an effort to make them stay away from her.

         Skyla had never partaken in consensual sex. As far as anyone there knew, she was a virgin.

         Skyla’s face was blank as she listened to how the stories had changed to make her the villain versus her father and Chauncy. She had never imagined her confessions of “daddy’s little secrets” turning out this way. She never imagined her friend would boast his mannish notoriety at her reputation’s expense. She always believed that they would be friends. She always thought that her aunts and uncles would embrace her, tell her that everything was going to be okay now and that she wouldn’t have to worry about ever being harmed by him again.

         Instead, the family discussed the issues amongst themselves, persecuting her instead. Most of her cousins were her age proximity, which was from preadolescence, up to freshman in college. This Fourth of July day they had Uncle Joe's car. Normally when they would get an adult's car, it was time to show boat. This day was different. They had an agenda, a serious discussion and Skyla was the topic. The looks on their faces were indicative of some heavy conversation.

         Skyla braced herself based on one phone call she received that they were coming over to talk to her. Each of the five took turns sharing what they got out of the family’s meeting. They discussed how one aunt said that Skyla seeks attention.

         Another said that she had a bad reputation in town and another discussed how their brother, Skyla’s father loved children and would never harm a child, especially not his own. Skyla held back the tears that were mounting inside. She could barely believe what she was hearing. She clinched her hands together as she listened to what was sounding like a surreal event.

         One cousin, Renard, stared into Skyla’s face. He knew the truth. He was there and had experienced her father too. Skyla did not say a word, as he had obviously chosen the “winning” side. She thought back to times when she and Renard had been placed together so that her father could watch.

         After they told her this, they all gathered into the car and went for a ride around town. Skyla’s mood was not the same. She was not her normal cheerful self, joking and sharing stories. She managed a smile occasionally, but desperately wanted to conclude this day. She could not shake the feeling of abandonment, deception and pure hurt. She wanted to go home but attempted to be okay in the front of her now estranged family.

         The evening of that gloomy day, Skyla locked herself in her room and cried so hard all day until her eyes looked blackened, the pit of her stomach ached and her head pounded in agonizing pain. Every attempt she made to vanish the thoughts of how her confessions ruined her, they were replaced with a voice telling her that she had done the right thing.

         When she would hear this voice, she looked into the mirror. Her face appeared different every time.

         She was afraid to take an aspirin or any other type of pain medication fearing the thoughts that raced through her mind of suicide. She believed that her life was doomed and nothing could change it.

         Her grandmother knocked on her door several times attempting to find out what was wrong. Skyla was too ashamed to discuss it with her. Instead, she told her grandmother, through the closed locked door that she was not feeling well. Her grandmother could hear her griping and gagging. “Grandma, I think I ate something that made me sick. I will be okay.”

         Skyla had to snap out of the trance thinking about that gloomy day had put her in. She knew that the deep thinking was a direct effect of what she had inhaled with her cousin Darnell. She released the thought for the moment. She also knew that as much as she would have liked to put those days behind her, the agonizing memories of her hurt would be revisiting her periodically.

         She shook her head, placing her hands over her face as if she dry washed the memories away. “Damned, the DJ is jamming tonight. He is playing cut after cut! Turn that up boy, what you doing?” Skyla snarled in a pseudo playful manner.

         Darnell attempted to pass Skyla the joint but she resisted. He blew the smoke into her face hoping she’d catch a contact. “Girl, just hit the damned thang. It aint gonna do nothin’ to ya but make ya feel good,” he insisted in a low toned southerner’s voice.

         She looked into her cousin’s face deciding that he looked like some television character with his big eyes and sharply cut masculine face. She wondered how she had missed his transition from boy to man. His mustache was like little peach fuzz, his voice baritone.

         Skyla was skeptical but decided to try it. She had had a bad experience with it before and vowed never again. “Okay…. shit, what the hell! I will try it again, but if something weird starts happening, you better hold my hand," she laughed and shouted to Darnell.

         The last time she’d tried it she was nearly raped, but surely was assaulted. She had met a freshman on campus the summer before that was from Chicago. Skyla frequented that city since her mother and seven siblings lived there. She considered this guy a “homie” and relaxed one day with him smoking marijuana. That turned out to be such a mistake. He waited until it was obvious that she was real high then started tussling with her to get out of her clothes for what seemed like forever.

         Darnell continued his speech about her relaxing and having some fun for a change versus being depressed about the past.

         “Okay, okay! Stop preaching and pass the darned thang would ya’?”

         Skyla took the joint from Darnell’s hand very hesitantly. She kept thinking about her disastrous experience. She inhaled. She paused a minute to reap the effects, then passed it back. Her mind drifted back to the day she had been assaulted by her homie.

         Skyla had to snap back into reality again when Darnell passed it back to her.
She inhaled just a little more to see how a second puff would affect her. It was okay. She slid deeper into her seat, relaxed. They continued to ride around town. Nothing was really going on. It actually looked like the ghost town it always does in the summer when the college kids were gone.

         Suddenly, Darnell made a sharp turn down an extremely dark road as if he had been toying with the idea of doing it and decided to just do it. She was scared. Too many things had happened to her already in the dark. Her instincts warned her that nothing good was about to happen then either.

         “Where the hell are you going, Darnell?” Skyla was very irritated and insisted that he turned around. Skyla’s instincts were telling her to get out of the rolling car, but instead, she rationalized that this is her cousin and that she was going to be fine. This rationalization did not stop her heart from pounding in its cavity. She thought her ribs were going to crack. She was so lonely for her cousins that she endured the painful fear.

         The wooded area seemed like a stage for the movie, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” she had seen prematurely at the age of twelve. Since viewing that movie, she would get jittery with any scenery remotely looking like that setting.

         “Dude, I have seen too many scary movies for this shit," Skyla said, sitting erect in her seat at that point. She had seen the vacant wooded area many times, almost daily, even knew that her family owned it, but never thought of actually going into those woods.

         "Aw girl, you alright, just chill. This is my hiding spot that I come to when I wanna chill," Darnell explained.

         Skyla felt like she was sitting on pin and needles. They parked near an abandoned shed or old dilapidated one room house that looked like what slaves used to occupy. Darnell released the lever on the old ford their grandfather had given him; pulled the seat back then lit another joint. This time passing it to Skyla right away.

         “You must be crazy! I aint smoking that out here.” Skyla was looking around as she locked the car doors. “This is just too creepy. Lets go.”

         Darnell ignored her, laughing. She looked at him and decided, yet again, that she was safe with her cousin. Not completely relaxed as she was riding within the town limits, she still relaxed back into the seat. This time she did not want the music up too loud just in case something was coming.

         Skyla resumed her thoughts of how the “homie,” Ralphiel Dunbar, had played her while under the influence of the very drug she was indulging once again. The scene played out in her mind.

         Ralph pulled up in his 1970 burgundy Cordova. She was sitting on a bench with some other friend’s at Sonic’s Drive-thru restaurant when Ralph signaled her attention. She went over to talk with him and inspect his new set of wheels. They caught up on some news about one another, laughed and continued talking.

         “Wanna take a ride?” Ralph asked cheerfully wanting to parade around to show off his new toy.

         “Sure. Let me go and tell my girlfriend that I will catch up with her later,” she said to him knowing that it was wrong since she was only fifteen at the time and that her grandmother would not have allowed her.

         Skyla went over to where her high school friends were gathered, joking around as usual. She told her friend, Lolita, that she would call her later. Lolita looked at her with squelched eyes and said, “Girl, you know we gonna get in trouble if someone finds out.”

         Skyla said innocently, “Oh, he is a friend from Chicago. It’s alright.”

         This is what Skyla believed too. She bid her goodbyes to the rest of the crowd and walked back over to where Raphial was parked. She opened the door, hopped in and said, “Ready?”

         They drove back into Grambling but took the longest route through a smaller subdivision called Mt.Olive. The rural roads of that small town wreaked of fresh botanicals and in some parts the stench of farmland. The scenery was beautiful, especially on this nice sunny day.

         Ralph turned the music up, lit a joint and drove slowly as if to savor the moment. Skyla sat back, inhaled the freshness of the air blowing into her deeply tanned face. She pulled the band off to let her hair catch the breezes. Ralph reached over to run his fingers through her wavy black hair. She thought it odd for him to touch her like that, but decided he was just admiring. This made her blush that a college boy had not been the wiser of her real age, versus the fake one of 18.

         When they made it into town, Ralph asked if she wanted to see his new apartment. Skyla, again, was hesitant, but answered him yes.
They pulled up to the small row of apartments on Main Street, near the campus, diagonal to the campus police station. She had been to this and many of the other apartments in his complex since she had been raised in that town. She realized he was proud of his first apartment and didn’t say anything.

         The old white paint was chipping, the three stairs that lead into his apartment needed serious repairs and the furniture was the same as the tenant’s before. This had been one of her cousin’s places that had already graduated. She had even spent the night here several times prior to his occupancy.

         The decorum was slightly different. Ralph had spruced it up with some posters from Chicago, some black lights and a few other details that connected him to his identity.

         Skyla took his tour, which was short. The living room was about eleven by ten, the kitchen and bathroom were the same size; just enough room serve the sole purposes. She had no intentions on viewing his bedroom, but Ralph decided that she should see his new stereo system.

         He opened the bedroom door, then directed her into it. A quick thought passed through her mind that she shouldn’t, but then she thought, “What the hell. He is cool.”

         They sat and continued to catch up on some issues that they frequently chatted about. Ralph loved going home on breaks, but had stayed this time since he needed to take a course that was only offered this summer.

         Ralph lit another joint, passed it to Skyla. She accepted it thinking that he would not see her as the mature young woman she was attempting to display. She had been around several other college girls and knew how to fake her falsely stated age well.

         She had tried Mary Jane before but this was totally different. Her body felt as if she were floating in a new and unfamiliar land in her mind. The little raunchy apartment now seemed like one of the brand new ones built called Chateau Normady where she had attended several parties that very summer.

         Suddenly, she started seeing Ralph’s facial features in a different way. He actually seemed “cute” now. His big brown eyes slightly protruded from their sockets, his deep brown skin had a thin layer of sweat that aluminates a golden gloss. He had started acting strange, but so was she, she thought? Ralph changed the music on his new stereo. Skyla asked him who that was. He identified the group as some underground music he’d picked up in Chicago the last time he went home.

         Skyla’s sad drug induced thoughts of that day were interrupted by her cousin’s question.

         “So, Cuz, what’s been up with you?” Darnell asked with a serious tone this time.
Darnell broke the silence just in time. Skyla did not want to remember that dreadfully denouncing day at Ralph’s. She wanted to be able to blink and the memory to vanish.

         Skyla knew that tone that Darnell was using. She knew Darnell wanted to know how she was taking her family’s new attitude towards her. She looked down, away from the intentional look Darnell was planting on her. She feared that agonizing cry would return in light of her current stupor.

         “Well, I am surviving. I am still in shock that it went this way, but all in all, I am doing ok.” Darnell took another long puff and passed it to her very insistently. She took it, even to her own surprise since she had been back down memory lane thinking of Ralph.

         “I miss being there with everyone. It seems so weird to just hear that you all are coming to town instead being at Mama Rachael’s house helping her cook dinner for when ya’ll arrive. As much as shelling peas and shucking corn got on my nerves, I still miss it.”

         A tear was about to form in Skyla’s eyes when she quickly turned the music up just a little to distract herself from the flood her eyes normally let out every time she thinks of how badly she had been treated by her aunts and uncles. She didn’t turn it up as loud as she did in town still.

         They both went back into deep though provoked by the seriousness of the subject accompanied by the affects of marijuana. Skyla drifted back to where she left off with Ralph, still wondering why he acted in such a way when she believed that they were so “cool” with one another.

         The incident happened so shockingly that she never could figure out how it transgressed to sexual from a friendly chat.

         Ralph sat next to Skyla on his bed. She was looking at the many posters displayed on his wall of some artists that had not made it to Grambling’s radio station. She noted how close Ralph was sitting and moved over. His eyes seemed to pierce straight through the thin chiffon blouse she was sporting on that hot summer day. She felt discomfort known all too well from previous stares from men. Skyla believed in her high mind that she could will his attention elsewhere by talking about something that had happened on campus. She had been successful with it before, so she believed.

         Ralph engaged himself in the new chat while continuing his sultry stare at Skyla. She knew that it was time to go.

         “Ralph, I am ready to go,” she stated attempting to look away from his roaming eyes.

         “What’s the rush?” he said as he slid closer to Skyla.

         “My mind is not where yours seem to be heading. That aint happening, Mister!” Skyla stated firmly, staring straight into his eyes.

         “You a fuckin’ tease. What the fuck did you come here for then?” his toned changed to a mean and unfamiliar voice to Skyla.

         “I am not a tease, Ralph. You asked me to come over and see your place. That is what I did. I have seen this place many times. I did it for you thinking you had something special or new and that we had a platonic relationship,” Skyla demanded.

         “Oh, so you’ve been here before with somebody else,” he questioned her insinuatingly so.

         “NO! My cousin lived here and other people I knew before that! Remember, Ralph, I was raised here,” Skyla said defensively.

         Ralph came closer, this time attempting to calm her down. She wanted to leave. He realized that he was not getting anywhere with her and pushed her back onto the bed. She resisted the kiss he was trying to place on her lips by turning her head. He kept on trying. He mounted her body with his thin one. She believed that she could push him off since he was her size or thinner. She had not realized his male strength, despite his size.

         Skyla did realize that she might be in trouble and pushed him with all of her strength. He fell to the floor only to get up angry. She attempted to run to the door. He grabbed her by her blouse, ripping it right off. She looked at him with an evil stare, as if she could not believe he’d done this to her.

         Ralph looked as if he was surprised that the blouse came off too. He laughed. She laughed too, thinking that it was over. She knew that she still would never speak to him again, despite their shared laugh.

         “Ralph, please take me home,” Skyla pleaded with him.

         “You know where the door is,” his tone resumed it’s maniacal state.

         “What is wrong with you?” Skyla was seriously afraid of him now.

         “What the fuck do you think? You come up in here, play these games looking all good and shit and think you aint gonna get up off none?” Ralph shouted as if Skyla owed him herself for visiting.

         Skyla realized that he was serious and decided to leave although her blouse was torn, baring her blue-laced bra. She opened the door and there were several more male college students sitting out chilling in front of their apartments. She knew not to leave like that.

         Fear started playing with her mind. She had heard of girls getting gang raped being in the wrong place. She decided to stay and attempt to calm Ralph down. He was not listening and must have sensed Skyla’s fear of going out.

         “Yeah, go out there and get fucked by many or stay in here and get fucked by me. You do have a choice, now don’t you lovely lady?” Ralph said as he unfastened his belt buckle.

         “What did I do to you to make you change so drastically, Ralph? We were fine, chillin’…what is it?” Skyla remembered pleading.

         This time Ralph was ignoring her. She sat down on the old very used sofa. Ralph walked back and forth from his bedroom to the kitchen area. Skyla just sat there, waiting for the men to leave. They never did. She then thought to look out to see if there was a familiar face to ask for help. There was one, but she did not know him well and did not want to risk them all having her when she decided to close the ragged curtain back and attempt to rationalize with Ralph, again.

         Ralph laughed at her attempt, still treating her like a bitch he had never conversed with, one he had never referred to as “homegirl.” Ralph took her by her arm, slammed her down on the bed, attempting to part her legs with all of his male strength. He managed to free her of her pants despite her desperate struggle.

         Skyla was crying, begging and pleading with him not to do this. “Ralph, please, please stop. You know my uncle is a police. I will tell him what you have done, please,” she begged. Skyla knew that she would not tell because she was not supposed to be there. She also knew that she would not tell since no one did a thing about her own father.

         Skyla had decided there was nothing she could do. He was going to have her. So, since he was, she may as well fuck him up. She grabbed something hard that lie next to his bed and hit him on the side of his face.

         “Bitch! What the fuck…” as he slapped her face leaving her disoriented. She still maintained her closed leg position remembering that the legs are the strongest part of the body. A flashback of her struggles with her father surfaced. She went limp. She could feel her body start to float, as it seemed to do when her father tussled with her this way.

         Thinking fast, she remembered hearing that rape was about power. The floating feeling was in full effect at this point. He had taken her aback. She turned her face to meet Ralphs’ demanding kisses. She kissed him deeply, begging him to fuck her. She put her arms around his neck, holding him tightly.

         “See, I knew you wanted this,” he encouraged while trying unzipping his pants with his free hand.

         Skyla bit his lip till his blood spilled into her mouth. She would not let go as he struggled to free his lip from her teeth. He reached for her hair, pulled it till her neck seemed like it was going to break. She released his lip.

         Ralph continued his grip on Skyla’s hair. She was pleading with him to let go. He must have enjoyed her contorted facial expression since his erection was rising even higher. She decided that the pain was not all that bad and smiled at him again in an effort to disable the section in his psyche that needed this type of stimuli.

         “Harder! Is that all you got? I figured a little skinny as wimp like you couldn’t hang. That’s it? What is that little thingy poking me? Skyla was delirious with laughter and fear. This too was nothing new to her.

         She remembered how her dad would always start off tickling and playing some sort of child’s game as a prelude to his escapade into the underworld of child sexual abuse. His child.

         Just as Skyla was sinking deep into that moment of Ralph and her daddy, Darnell broke the silence. “What are you thinking about over there? Man, I was lost somewhere out there thinking about how you must feel not having your family support you on this,” Darnell said in a sleepy tone, yarning and stretching his long arms.

         Skyla was still shaken by her previous thoughts before Darnell intruded them.“My mind was racing back and forth between this guy from Chi-town trying to rape me last summer and how my daddy used to do when he wanted to. That was some wicked shit we smoked, got me all off into another world, one I never wanted to revisit. Not even in thought,” Skyla said trying not to show her emotional roll-a-coaster the visit into memory lane had taken her.

         Skyla shared the story with her cousin. Darnell asked her why she had not mentioned it. “Sky, you know you can tell me anything,” Darnell told his obviously shaken cousin.

         “For the life of me, though, I can never remember how that ended, Skyla said ignoring the sentimentals her cousin was giving. She did not want pity. She just wanted to know why or how she kept ending up a victim of male sexual appetite since childhood.

         It used to be the same way with my dad. It was as if something or someone would come and take over from there, every time,” Skyla attempted to explain.

         “I would end up back in bed, wondering how or who had put me there. I had even started wondering if I was just having nightmares. Well, I figured they were not nightmares by some physical evidence or the wrappings of ice cream we would go for afterwards, she quietly stated. Like with this case, Darnell. I don’t remember how it ended. I remember screaming out of the window to some familiar people taking a short cut through his apartment complex. I recall him making me shut up…then nothing else,” Skyla said as if she was trying to put the puzzles into their proper places.

         “I do recall not telling my uncle since I was not supposed to be there in the first place. I didn’t tell anyone but my friend in Chicago about that. I was too afraid of people thinking it was my fault, ‘if’ he did do anything,” Skyla questioned.

         “When my dad would do it, that same feeling would come over me. The next day or week would be here and it would seem as if I had slept the entire time away,” Skyla said in a puzzled tone.

         “All I would remember was that ‘it’ was happening,” she said sadly while fidgeting with her hair, actually pulling it and did not even feel the pain. Darnell reached over and patted Skyla on her thigh.

         “Well, if it’s any consolation to you at this point, he did it to me too.”

         That thought had not really registered with her. She was looking at Darnell’s hand on her thigh and wanting him not to touch her. Touching was not a friendly thing to do in her mind.

         Pure shock came over Skyla when his words did register. Her heart must’ve skipped two beats. She turned the music down and looked into her cousin’s face with a sincere and disgusted face.

         “Darnell, you too? Why didn’t you say something?” Skyla’s voice was cracking as an image of what he must’ve gone through with her father penetrated her mind.

         Darnell’s facial expression was of pure repulsion. He was staring straight into the blackness of the night. The moonlight shined into his face revealing his wet eyes. Skyla sat quietly, not really knowing what to say to him. Nothing had been said to her about her own situation with the same predator, her own father. Darnell’s father’s brother.

         A pedophile was in the family having his way and there was nothing to stop him for sure now that he knew no one did anything against him when his own daughter disclosed the truth.

         The silence was creepy but not from the dark woods this time. Darnell began to talk in a quieted voice that was unfamiliar to Skyla. She decided that it was because of the nature of the conversation. Or, maybe it was the weed? She needed to process this horrible information. Make sure her ears were functioning right.

         Skyla’s hands were trembling, as was her voice when she interjected, “What did you say?
The look on Darnell’s face answered her question. He had said exactly what she thought.

         “Darnell, I am so sorry that that my father did that to you,” Skyla said to him as she looked into his saddened eyes that had fixated on an object outside.

         “It’s not your fault,” Darnell’s alter voice chimed in. The voice that did not want Skyla to hear pain and shame.

         Darnell began to tell Skyla what her father had done to him. She really didn’t want to hear the gored details but decided that her cousin indeed needed an ear. She listened attentively as he told her.

         “I was outside playing with the dog, running around when I tripped on one of the tree stomps in the yard. My leg was bleeding. Uncle Terran came out to see why I hollered. He helped me inside. Nobody else was there. Daddy and everybody had gone out to the country to visit Aunt Belinda.” He sighed and strained to tell the rest of the story.

         Uncle Terran helped me stand on my good leg so that he could pull my pants off to get to the cut better. I didn’t want to pull them off because of another time when we came here to visit he tried to touch me but I got away that time. But my leg was bleeding.”

         A tear rolled down his face as he continued. At this point, both of them were crying. Skyla leaned over to hug him. He leaned into her. She just let him cry on her shoulder, whispering to him “Let it out. I understand.”

         Darnell continued,” He wiped my cut out with some peroxide, and then put a Band-Aid on it. I was getting ready to go back out but Uncle Terran stopped me. He put his hand on my dick through my shorts. He started rubbing his own, then took his out. He put my hands on it.

         Darnell started to cry aloud, still talking. He told me that we would go to the carnival in Houston…just keep our little secret. That’s when he grabbed me by my hand and sat me on the chair. He stood in front of me with his dick in my face. He kept rubbing it on my lips, still rubbing it…. until, well, you know. I tried to get up but my feet were stuck or something was wrong,” he sobbed even harder. I must’ve wanted it like he said when I told him that I was gonna tell.”

         Skyla could feel his pain. She hadn’t brought a purse along to get some Kleenex out for them. They just let the tears drop.

         The mosquitoes seemed to have started biting more. Darnell popped one off of Skyla’s shoulder that he saw in the light of the full moon. That broke the monotony and she pulled back to her side of the seat. Darnell ignited the lighter attempting to find his joint. He did. He lit it and began smoking it as if it were a serum that would relieve the agonizing memory of his favorite uncle attaching his 10-year-old innocence.

         Skyla wasn’t sure what to say still. She just sat there. She was in a strange daze. Almost as if she was happy. She was happy to know that she wasn’t the only one, not that this had happened to her cousin. Now she just needed for him to confess this to his parents to show them that she was not lying on their precious brother.

         This time when he passed the joint to Skyla there was no hesitation. She positioned her fingers to accept the half smoked joint. They both sat in more silence. She began to tell him, for the first time, the details of how her father had started molesting her.

         She was explaining this to him to let him know that she believed him and that they together could combat this problem so that it would not happen anymore. This time his demeanor was quite different. He was kind of cocky. Like he had not just finished spilling his guts about his uncle orally pleasuring himself with him. Like he had not just stated the pain of his uncle attempting to enter his virgin ass in exchange for something he would never get. Skyla knew this since she had been promised so many toys and clothes and trips to Disney Land.

         Skyla remembered how her dad would sit her on his lap afterwards, explain to her that he loved her and just wanted her to know that is how it is going to be when she grew up and got her own husband. He explained to her that it needed to be their little secret though.

         Soon after the tear dried up, the promises of everything imaginable to a child was delivered along with the false images of fun and laughter.

         Skyla could not believe that Darnell was acting like he never said a word of these incident just minutes before. Skyla just figured he was embarrassed at what he had just shared.

         Darnell took the last of the joint and smoked it real deep into his lungs, holding it in for a greater effect. Skyla was still a bit crept out about being in the middle of nowhere when Darnell’s entire facial expression changed right along with his tone.

         She asked him what he was thinking about.
“I was just thinking that if me and you did it no one would have to know,” he rambled through letting smoke out of his lungs, not even looking at her.

         “Darnell, why would you say that to me? Not you too, of all the people.” Skyla began to cry and very hard. Darnell just continued to stare out of the window, now with a cold blank face. He explained to her as he grabbed her breast, why he said that.

         “No one would believe you anyway if you did tell because they didn’t believe you about your own father, that's why you didn't tell about Homie,” he retorted too matter of factly for Skyla’s comfort.

         She reached for the door handle through tear-blinded eyes. “I can’t believe you are saying this to me, Darnell. Noooo, not you, not you.” Skyla was trembling at the thought of having to run through the woods, away from her own cousin she’d trusted enough to even come to this isolated area with.

         Darnell reached for her. She opened the door and started to run into that ‘slave’s quarter’ looking shack with broken old wood pieces for doors. She was afraid but more afraid that he would do something he would not live to regret. She was sure that she would kill him. She had been through far too much at that point and was no longer accepting harm.

         She ran through the rubbage surrounding the shack in search of a hiding place. She could here him running fast to catch her. She couldn’t find a place to hide. The sounds of crackling branches and leaves kept him abreast of her whereabouts in the dark.

         All she knew was that she would keep running. Her light colored dress was not making this escape easy. When she looked down at it, it appeared to be glowing in the moon’s light.

         A vine from some unknown plant caught her foot that made her stumble. He was able to catch up with her. She collapsed attempting to make herself invisible but her dress led him straight to the corner where she landed.

         “Please stop running, Skyla. Please. I am so sorry. I promise not to hurt you.” Darnell reached for her. She was frozen in fear. She was screaming although she knew that no one could here her. She knew that the land next to that wooded area was empty as well since her family owned it too. Through all of this, her mind was not letting her down. She was thinking hard.

         Darnell was saying something but she was not even trying to hear him. The feeling she would get of floating resurfaced and took her legs faster than she ever thought they could go. Another unknown piece of debris caught her foot. This time she fell.

         She stood up, ready to fight him. He attempted to grab her. She reached for his neck in hopes that her hands would land near his jugular vein so that she could rip it out.
Darnell was a college wrestler so that plan failed. He had her now. She continued to kick and scream until all of her energy was drained. She collapsed again, this time aware that she could be laying in something dangerous or extremely nasty. The rain storm just yesterday left this wooded low land like marsh. The earth had not had enough time to soak in the Godly revivals of the rain, but it sure did seem to Skyla as if it were soaking her deeper into it. She moved to a dryer spot upon regaining her breath.

         Skyla spoke in an almost silent whisper to her cousin, “If you do this, you may as well kill me, Darnell.” She was hoping that he did not take that statement as an invitation. That he was at least somewhat in his right mind. He did know that her uncle on her maternal side was a police of that town and would at least thoroughly investigate his story.

         He began to sob so desperately that she decided to listen to him. She was still physically on guard though. She had armed herself with a fallen piece of wood with nails protruding. Her eyes were glued to his every move. She was not sure if he was just resting or if he was sincere in his sorry apology.

         “Skyla, I am sorry, I really am. Just get back into the car, please,” he begged.

         Skyla was trembling, heart rate still elevated from the nightmarish dream she was starring in. “I cant believe you would say something like this to me, Darnell, after all YOU of all people know what I have been through,” she screamed at him still crying harder than she had cried the first time her own dad had terrorized her. “You fuckin’ bastard! I will kill you,” she yelled as loud as she possibly could, wiping tears from her face. “How could you, Darnell, noooo not you too, please say this is a dream.”

         Darnell was crying too when he collapsed next to her. He decided that he wanted to die right then and there. He pulled a small shiny object from his pants. Skyla was still in shock as she reached for it. She could see that it was a small shiny gun as her eyes focused on it. He hollered in agony as he placed it upon his forehead.

         “NO! Darnell, no. Please don’t do this,” now crouching next to him pleading, still crying. He confessed more of what his uncle had done to him and how it made him feel to Skyla. He was still pleading that he was sorry. “I never meant to hurt you. I am so sorry. I know that you will never forgive me and I just cant live with that. Hell, I cant live with none of this shit.”

         Skyla kept her eyes focused on the shiny piece. “Darnell, I will forgive you and won’t ever tell anyone what happened here, I promise. Just don’t do this,” she begged.

         “I am worthless, useless,” he shouted. Skyla wanted to agree with him. Her love for her cousin restrained her since he was in such a vulnerable position. She was praying that this was not some type of insane decoy to get her close enough to him to finish what he was attempting.

         It was not. Darnell’s sobbing silenced to a normal level. He was still visibly shuddering though. Skyla placed her hand on the hand that had the gun in it. “Please let go, Darnell let me have that. Skyla was not sure if he should do that because she was still so furious with him. Darnell relaxed his hand. Skyla sighed. Now this gun was in her hands. Now she had become a different person. She had finished growing up in the little time they had turned into that dirt road to the empty dark “hiding” place.

         She was not sure what to do from there. She looked down at Darnell, still sobbing his apologies to her. She was growing more and more fear. But this time it was her own self that she was beginning to fear. Something or someone seemed to be taking over her mind and her body. It felt like what had been described as possession.

         Skyla walked back into town. She welcomed the bright streetlights that had not long been placed there for the college students. Her feet hurt as she had stumbled on debris, fallen branches and nature itself, just trying to make it to safe grounds.


Part Two



Skyla was having quite a bad day. Her summer had been long and it seemed as if her school year at Alma J. Brown High was going to be even longer. She had heard some rumors about herself floating around. She knew that none of them were true and was just trying to keep a focus on graduating. She had so many goals and aspirations. She was a sophomore and two more years were beginning to seem impossible in her state of mind.

No one knew that she still cried every single night. No one could know that her clothes she wore, she despised. Not because they were ugly or out of fashion.

Skyla took her clothes off immediately everyday when she got home from school. She needed to shower off the filth that she believed was on her. This had become a routine since she could remember. Her grandmother often wondered what the rush was, but never bothered to ask. Skyla would place her face under the steaming hot stream of water and cry. She was having a difficult time erasing memories that haunted her, left her weak and in a constant pensive mental state. Her grades were beginning to suffer from her lack of concentration. She was in trouble and no one could help her.

“Skyla, someone is on the phone for you,” her grandmother shouted above the loud streams of water. She knocked on the door hard, startling her.

“Ok, Grandma. I will call them back,” she yelled. Skyla knew that that irritated her grandmother to have the phone ring so soon after she and her friends had been together in school all day. They could not help it. Skyla had lived a life that only they could dream of, or so they thought.

It was a Friday, the third day of school. It seemed like a lifetime for Skyla since she was ducking and dodging all of the questions about her cousin Darnell. She just wanted to be left alone. Her classmates were worse than the press that met her as she was stepping on the plane back to Chicago that summer. Everyone wanted to know what happened. Skyla wanted to know what happened too. Her memory just would not allow her to tell the story. She was not hididng anything. She just needed time to process it all.

Skyla stepped out of the shower, refreshed and happy to have had those silent moments alone. She reached for the Jean Note’ body splash, splashed some on, gathered a fresh soft water washed drying towel, and headed for her bedroom across the hall from the bathroom. She wanted to talk to her grandmother that was eager to listen, but just could not. She was too ashamed at all the press and scrutiny they were getting because of her. Her constant questions atopped with all the others questioning her had started to irritate her. Her grandmother knocked on her door:

“Skyla, you need to come out of that room sometimes. Get out here right now and wash these dishes,” her grandmother demanded.
Dishes were the very last thing on her mind at that point. Skyla was contemplating suicide just on the other side of that very door her grandmother stood outside of.

“Okay, I will…just let me finish getting dressed will you?” she screamed at her grandmother.

“Watch that tone young lady. Lord, I just don’t know what else to do,” she heard her grandmother mumbling as she walked away.

Skyla continued taking her time getting dressed. She stood before the mirror first, admiring her shapely body. She had on a one piece body suit with cris-crossed straps. It was the burgundy one she liked most. She finished putting lotion on her legs and laid back on her bed. She wanted to crawl up in it and resume that crying spell she had just finished in the shower. Instead, she slipped on some shorts and joined her grandmother.

“Grandma, who was on the phone? She asked as she headed for the kitchen to do her chores.
“It was one of those hussies calling time you make it home. What on earth could you’ll have to talk about that much? Her grandmother demanded.

There was silence. Skyla did not want to have to answer this question because they talked about any and everything that came to mind. Skyla wanted to explain to her that she needed those friends considering what happened with her paternal family and the companionship she lost as a result. She did not think that she would understand, so she did not bother to explain.
“Skyla, just tell me what is wrong baby. You have to talk. You cant just go on like this,” her grandmother annoyingly pleaded with her, again.

“Please, just leave me be, Grandma! I don’t know what to say. I have said enough. Look where it has gotten me. All these people are talking about me, forming opinions about something they know nothing of. The ones that do know, want to hide the truth and make me the villain. What is there to discuss at this point?” Skyla said as she slammed the dishes into the sink breaking one.

“I have told everything that I am going to tell at this point. The rest, I don’t know or care to either! Just leave me alone! Skyla rushed to her room to calm herself. She laid in her bed where she stayed the rest of the weekend despite her grandmother’s continuing annoyances to get her to come out.

Sunday was there and already it was time to face those scrutinizing faces. Skyla was growing more and more anxious about returning to school. She wanted to crawl under a rock and just die there.

The phone rang out disturbing her thoughts. She got up from the Lazy Boy to answer it. One the other end was Chauncy Williad. He was cute and she liked chatting with him. He had been her friend their grandparents started hanging out. She had hooked one of her close friends and him up despite the fact that he wanted to be with her. She just did not have an interest in any one from her school. But, if she did date someone there, it would have been him.

Since she had hooked Chauncy and Gabriel up, Gabriel had started acting strange with her. She was not sure if it was because of what was happening in her world or if it was because Chauncy made it so obvious that he wanted to be with her instead of Gabriel. Later on in life she found out that Chauncy had used the very oldest trick in the book. He used one from the bible itself. He used the tactics the snake that approached Eve with the forbidden fruit trick.

Skyla realized that Chauncy coaxed information only privy to Gabriel out of her, used it to display anti-loyalties to her in exchange for the apple. She realized that he had deceived Gabriel into divulging her own friends’ deepest secrets during most intimate, vulnerable moments in their relationship. He unethically served his guts as a gourmet dish; all dressed up in the name of friendship, to make the woman he desired most believe that her friend was not. He had played both sides of the game.

That particular realization lingered more than she ever imagined it would, throughout her entire life. Beware of friends.


“What it is, Chauncy? Skyla said in her coolest voice.

“Nuttin much, just checking on you. I will be near you in a few. Can I stop by?” Chauncy asked surprisingly enough to Skyla.

“Sure, I was just reading some homework. It’s not due till Wednesday though,” Skyla said anticipating her friend’s visit.

“OK, see ya in few. I want to talk to you about something,” Chauncy added.

That tone made Skyla nervous but she decided to let him come anyway.

“That’s the last fuckin’ thing I need is some more gossip! Skyla said as she hanged the phone back in its’ cradle.

Skyla went to her room to put on some more appropriate clothes since she was having a platonic visitor. She selected some basic blue jeans and a Grambling College T-shirt with some flip-flops for her feet.

Just as she was about to comb her hair down, the doorbell rang. She went to it thinking it could not be Chauncy already. It was. He had someone she really despised with him and would rather him not be in her yard, let alone seen at her front door.

“Why did you bring him with you?” Skyla spoke aloud disregarding what his unwanted friend, Marvin, thought.

“He’s alright,” Chauncy interjected as he slightly pulled Skyla to another portion of the yard for privacy.

“Sky, I don’t know what kind of games Gabriel is playing or what kind of friend she is, but don’t trust her. You know I know what I am talkin’ bout too. She aint shit to you,” Chauncy had a serious look about his dark skinned long thin face. He was a senior, a popular one that everybody lusted over. She had some feelings besides their regular friendship for him but wanted, now needed to keep them inside.

“What is going on? Why do you say that, Chauncy? Skyla asked.
“What’s this about you don’t know if you were wrong about what you said your father did? Chauncy asked, but with a knowing look on his face.

“Oh my God! What on earth is really going on? Why would she tell someone something so personal?” Skyla said with rage in her voice.

“I don’t know, but you need to watch who you call your friend. You know it should have been me and you in the first place, right?” Chauncy looked into Skyla’s face. He seized the moment of her vulnerability to the bad news he bared.
“Look at me. I know that you are a good person. This shit just aint right, Sky, Chauncy said as he wiped a tear forming in Skyla’s eyes. Come here. Let me tell you something,”

Chauncy opened her front door leading her inside. I want to be with you. You do see how your girl has been treating you and you know that I have always wanted you, right? So, fuck her! She is not your friend.”

Skyla was taken aback by his bluntness. She did not respond. She just stood there, looking into his eyes trying to find some truth to what he was saying to her. Her trust had been so misused that it was hard to believe anything, especially confessions from the heart of a man.

“Chauncy lets not rush this, okay. I do have feelings for you too, but Gabriel is my friend,” Skyla stated while looking into his light brown eyes she had never noticed this way before now. She had never had a reason to be this close to him. Never close enough to feel his breath on her face, to smell his sexy scents or even feel his muscled body.

“Sky, just think about it,” Chauncy said as he looked down into Skyla’s eyes, and then kissed her on the lips.

Skyla was certainly confused then. She had never been kissed without mal-intentions before. She welcomed his lips again and again until she was enthralled in a deep French kiss that landed him on top of her on her grandmother’s couch.

She realized things were going fast when she felt him reaching for his buckle. With one swift move, he had his penis out, rubbing it against her inner thigh. Suddenly, she felt him shudder then ask for a napkin. She was staring at him, curious as to what he was doing. Yet, she was familiar with this strange convulsion.

She went into the kitchen, grabbed him a napkin, and walked back to where he stood holding something in his hand. He wiped a slimy substance off into the napkin, folded it and told Skyla that he would call her when he made it home. Skyla was left standing in a daze. She did not know if she was love struck of just what had happened or just what.

She returned yet another long French kiss with Chauncy. He promised that everything would be okay, then left. Skyla watched him as he and his friend walked away. She noticed that he still had the napkin and was showing it to his friend that she despised. She laughed to herself thinking that was really a nasty thing{/} to show if it is what she believed it was.

It was Monday and the alarm clock was going off. Skyla had stayed up late, thinking and writing her latest conquest with Chauncy in her diary. She wrote of feelings for him as he had changed their fate as friends to lovers. She wrote of how her former friend had betrayed her. She wrote till she cried raindrop-sized tears on her ink filled paper about all that had taken place in her short-lived life thus far.

She hit the snooze button just as her grandmother called out her name attempting to help her get up as she went off to work. She yelled to her grandmother, “Goodbye, I love you.”
Skyla could not stop thinking of her and Chauncy’s last evening. He had made her feel real good telling her all those wonderful things that make a girl feel loved. She especially admired the way he stared so sincerely into her dark cat eyes.

She was very careful to select the right clothes to wear to school today. She decided on her straight-legged electric blue slacks with a matching vest and a pastel blue shell underneath. She decided on her two and a half inch pointed toed J. Rene’ blue pumps.
Her hair was curled the night before to assure that the curls would not be too tight, flowing the length of her mid back.

She applied minimal makeup to her eyes and lips. Took a quick glance at herself and went out the door headed for school. She was not going to worry about what people would be saying about her new relationship, nor the other issue floating around her cousin’s mysterious disappearance and her lack of memory regarding it.

Skyla walked down the long outdoor corridor to her high school building. Immediately, all eyes were on her. She was sure that they were admiring her clothes. She continued to walk down the hall that lead to the classes. She stopped at her locker where one of her classmates stood arranging her books for the day.

“Skyla, Skyla Skyla.. Shame on you girl,” Shurron Andrews said in a knowingly voice.

“Good morning to you too, Shurron. And what should I be so ashamed of,” Skyla musingly said to her classmate.

“You look nice, just like you jumped out of Vogue today,” Shurron said avoiding the answer to Skyla’s question.

Just as Shurron closed her locker, and began to walk away, Gabriel walked up to her, questioning her new relationship with the love of her life. Skyla walked away from her, wanting to punch her instead. She had betrayed her by leaking information to the press that she knew that only had been given to one friend, Gabriel.

Gabriel was known for her gossiping, but, somehow Skyla believed she would be different with her since she was the one that had befriended her upon her arrival to a new school of snooty folk that looked down on her and her family for the service work they did in town versus a respectable intellectual career on campus or at the elementary- high school in some fashion with the exception of cleaning and garbage disposal. Skyla was well diversified through her extensive traveling and knew that it was not the right to look down upon Gabriel. Instead, Gabriel used her friendship to gain the likes of others to heighten her own social status.

“Skyla, I heard about you and Chauncy. Tell me that it’s not true,” she meekly asked.
“Well, it’s according to what you heard, Gabby,” Skyla stopped to look into her former friend’s face for the truth probably would not be spoken through her mouth. Skyla knew this as a fact.
“I heard that you too had sex this weekend,” Gabby replied.

“Gabby, don’t lie to find out what you want to know, just ask,” Skyla stated sharply as she caught a glance of Chauncy walking away from where she and Gabby stood.
Skyla walked away from Gabby leaving her with unanswered questions.

She could feel the stair Gabby was shooting at her back but dared not continue to badger her. She knew that Skyla was a time bomb that would probably kick her ass especially since she had been wrong for deceiving her first.

Skyla walked toward her first hour class when she realized that all eyes were on her. Another of her friends came up to her, asking the same questions about her relations with Chauncy, but had details. Skyla knew that this gossip was true and who it had to come from; Chauncy himself. She was so pissed and was walking toward Chauncy as he stood there like a stud that had conquered his conquest. She could tell by the look in his eyes, the smirk on his face and his body language that was totally different from the evening prior, that he had indeed shared this twisted story with her classmates.

Skyla felt so betrayed and ashamed that she went out of the back door of the school, never to return. Her trance like stance had reappeared. She felt as if she were floating while walking home. She noticed the college freshman football team practicing. A few of the new guys that did not know her whistled and called out to her. She ignored them all, still walking home to safety.

Skyla was too fed up with all the betrayal when she entered her house. She looked in the medicine cabinet for something to end the pain she had been enduring a lifetime, all surrounding sex. It was 9:00 a.m. She opened all of the pill bottles, not bothering to read them, went into the kitchen, poured some water in a tall cup and began to swallow the pills. She sat and waited for something to happen. Nothing had yet when the phone rang and her neighbor down the street asked why she was home.

Skyla believed that it was the end for her. She believed that it was ok to share her pains. She began by telling her about how her father had started when she was only six, how her family had treated her, all the way to her “homie,” then her stepfather, then Ralph. To add to all of that, now her short lived boyfriend, Chauncy. Her voice had begun to slur. Mrs Hanson asked her what was wrong.

”I took the pills in the cabinet. I just cant take this anymore. Tell my Grandmother that I am sorry about the shame this will bring to her. Tell her that I love her and not to worry about me anymore. I will be away from here now,” Skyla slurred into the phone.

“Skyla, please tell me this aint so…Skyla, can you hear me?” Mrs. Hanson begged for a response. Skyla could hear her, but was crying too hard to respond. Mrs. Hanson stayed on the phone, pleading for a while longer for Skyla to tell her what she had taken.

Skyla could not answer, but could hear her. The pills had started working. She could feel herself drifting away. It felt good to Skyla to know that she would never have to hurt those ways again. She placed the phone in the cradle, sat down and waited for her peace of mind to finally take place in her life.

As Skyla sat awaiting, images of how her classmates looked at her and shook their head as if they were disgusted by her actions. She had not even attempted to tell the truth, tell her side of the story since they had already persecuted her and labeled her as a whore that just fucked Chauncy for coming to the door and saying sweet nothings to her.

Skyla actually got a laugh out since she knew that no man had ever been inside of her that she had ever wanted there. Each encounter with sex that she had experienced was based on deceit. Chauncy had never touched her private parts. He had the semen in his napkin because he was so excited to be in his position. Skyla remembered him showing it to his friend as they left her house. Yet another man had deceived her. This one she had chosen.

Mrs. Hanson knocked on the door furiously. She called Skyla’s name out several times. Skyla could hear, but could not respond. He body wanted to answer. She was now aftraid of what was happening. She could hear little voices of nicer people in her past telling her that is was not her fault what her dad had done to her. She had visions of better times that she wanted to do again. She had visions of people laughing or pointing fingers at her grandmother for raising a child that would commit suicide. Skyla wanted to get up and get the help Mrs. Hanson was trying so desperately to give her.

Skyla stood up, holding on to the breakfast bar. She walked slowly to the door, at first changing her mind because she did not want to deal with the shame of what she had attempted and decided to sit down and die again, instead.
The feeling that she was experiencing right then was the same one she would feel when her daddy or any of the others had assaulted her. She felt as if she were floating. This time it was not so scary. This time she could hear people telling her not to give up. She could hear someone saying that they loved her and that everything was going to be ok. She could hear the sounds of someone crying, and it seemed as if it was about her. She had never known anyone other than her grandmother’s love. This was a strange feeling.

From a distance, Skyla could hear a glass break. She was not sure where or why or if someone was breaking in. She wanted to die anyway so it did not matter. She lifted her head just enough to see who was calling her name. It was two neighbors now. She could hear her little secret friend telling her to get up through sobs. She looked in the direction that they were coming from, but saw no one. She heard a loud boom, and then saw Mrs. Hanson and Timothy from across the street. She smiled at them, wondering why they were there in heaven with her.

Her eyes strained to see them better because they were blurs. She closed her eyes instead, then drifted into that familiar floating feeling that normally annoyed her. She welcomed it after this experience.





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