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The Harrowing survival of Sidney White - Your WRITES

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Disclaimer: This story does contain domestic abuse. If reading about domestic abuse bothers you, please do not read this.

Virginia adjusted the rear-view mirror of the Mercedes, glancing momentarily at her eyes. When she saw the reflection of her own eyes, she smiled vainly. She always had known that she had gorgeous eyes. They were blue like a spring sky, and when one looked at them from the side, they appeared to be grey. She never had met anybody with eyes like hers. They were simply beautiful.
She got out of the car, glancing at herself in the side mirror as she locked the door. She smiled and checked her teeth. They were perfect, as usual. She had just been to the dentist a few weeks ago, and the dentist had assured her that she had the whitest teeth in the land. He never had seen better kept teeth throughout his entire career.
She walked up the front walk toward the house. She swayed her hips as she walked, and one could tell by her walk alone that she was none other than Virginia White. She walked with a graceful poise that one might have expected from a Bette Davis or Princess Diana sort, and she knew it quite well. When she walked, she could feel people’s eyes on her. She knew that every woman envied the walk of White.
When she got to the door, she rang the bell. She had the key in her purse, but she preferred to have the door opened for her. It made her know that people cared about her. It reinforced the fact that she was mistress of this house and everybody who walked through its doors did so only to serve her.
In less than half a minute, the mahogany door was opened. To Virginia’s disdain, Dodge had opened it.
She walked through the door, pushing Dodge aside. “Why did you answer the door? Why couldn’t she have done it? Does she have more important things to attend to?” The walls of the entrance hall were mirrors, and Virginia marveled at her reflection.
“Sidney is upstairs,” Dodge replied, giving Virginia a small kiss on the check, to which she responded with a smile.
Dodge had been living with Virginia for three years. At twenty years old, he was twenty-three years younger than she was, and she enjoyed that. Having a young lover made her just as young. Dodge was of slim build with well-defined, muscular legs that came from daily running. He had shoulder-length, jet black hair and sultry, green eyes to offset it with a sense of that mystery that makes up natural beauty. He was hardly as attractive as Virginia, though, and she knew that he must know that.
“Sidney!” she called in a voice of strained tolerance. “Sidney, dear, please come down and give your loving mother a kiss!” She took off her navy sport coat and tossed it at Dodge, who went to hang it in the closet, and she waited for Sidney to appear at the top of the staircase.
Sidney came to the stairs. Standing at the top, holding onto the banister with the gaiety of youth, she said, “Mother, I’m so glad you’re home.” She ran giddily down the stairs and gave her mother a kiss on either cheek.
Fourteen years old, Sidney was the epitome of youthful beauty. She was very tall for her age and expected to grow much more by the time she reached maturity. Her hair was black as night and fell down her back like a placid river. Her eyes were the softest shade of green. Her complexion was white as snow, and she had rosy cheeks that never had been tainted by the damnations of youth. He nose was dainty, but her lips were thick and red, which seemed to give her an eternal pouty look. Her breasts were still nothing more than budding knobs, but her beauty was enough to turn heads when she walked down the street.
Virginia held Sidney at arm’s length and looked her over. “Where did you get that black skirt from, dear? I think it’s too, too—what’s the word?”
“Billowy,” Dodge suggested.
Virginia turned her head and glowered at Dodge. “It’s far too billowy,” she said to Sidney. Then, in a condescending tone, she added, “That’s probably why you couldn’t come and answer the door for me yourself.”
“I—I was busy writing.”
“Oh, Sidney,” said Virginia, pushing Sidney away from herself dramatically. “Writing is so blasé. Anyway, when your mother comes home, you have to show me the respect that is due me.”
Sidney nodded her head dejectedly.
“Did you at least prepare my dinner?”
“I did—“ Dodge spoke enthusiastically, but Virginia glared at him, and he got a lump in his throat. “—actually.”
“Seriously!” Virginia declared, throwing her arms in the air. She shook a hand out at Sidney. “What is wrong with you? You force Dodge to do everything around the house.”
“Nobody forced me,” said Dodge. “I did it out of love.”
“Would you just shut up? I am trying to discipline my daughter here.”
“I am sorry, Mother,” Sidney started. “It won’t—“
“It won’t happen again,” Virginia said in a mocking tone of voice. “You bet it won’t happen again, little missy, or I’ll take away all your reading privileges.”
“No—“ Sidney’s voice pleaded.
“Then, don’t treat Dodge like my slave.” Virginia stormed into the kitchen. “Where’s my dinner?” she asked Dodge, who trailed behind her.
They entered the kitchen. On the table was a steaming plate of lamb chops, corn, and brown rice. Virginia’s heart melted. She looked at Dodge lovingly. “For moi?”
“For you,” Dodge said with a pleased look on his face.
“Ginger?”
“Lots and lots.”
Virginia sat down at the head of the table. On the wall directly across from her was a large, Victorian mirror in which she could admire herself while she ate.
“You know,” she said to Dodge as he sat down at the table to keep her company, “my hair turned out very well today.” She tossed her head to the side, letting her bangs whisk across her forehead.
“It always does, my sweet,” Dodge replied.
“Yes. Doesn’t it?” She took the steak knife that Dodge had set out for her and began to cut up the lamb into tiny pieces. When it was entirely cut, she ate it one small morsel at a time.
“How is the lamb?” asked Dodge.
She swallowed what she had in her mouth and giggled. “Dodge, you know how I love ginger.” She laughed. “I love it almost as much as I love myself! Sidney!” she called.
Sidney came running to the doorway to the kitchen. “Yes, Mother?”
“Please be a dear and draw up my bath.”
“Yes, Mother.” Sidney disappeared at once.
“That child is so insolent,” Virginia said to Dodge when Sidney had gone. “Sometimes, I regret having adopted her.”
Dodge chuckled. “She can be a handful sometimes. And, just imagine when she starts showing an interest in boys. She’s so beautiful, the boys will be all over her, and—“
“Dodge!” Virginia flared. “Nobody is as beautiful as I am. I am the fairest woman in all the land, and don’t you ever, ever forget that!”
Dodge pushed out his chair and got up from the table. “You are such a witch,” he said under his breath, and he walked out of the kitchen without another word.
“Where do you think you’re going, mister?” she called after him. She stuck another forkful of lamb in her mouth.


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Sidney sat at the desk in her bedroom, staring at the screen on her computer. She was in the middle of a story about a fairy princess who escaped a dark dungeon and fled to a far away land, where she discovered a cave full of elves who offered to take her in as their queen. She had written a great bulk of the story and had just barely managed to introduce the leader of the elves, but now she was suffering from writer’s block. She looked at the screen, put her elbows on the desk, and buried her chin in her hands. Nothing came to her. She had been like this for nearly two hours.
Her desk was decorated with several awards from writing competitions. There were three blue ribbons from her elementary school, a plaque from her seventh grade English class, and two trophies from national contests she had won when at the ages of eleven and twelve. Some of her poetry had been featured in a regional journal last year, and she had recently submitted to an online magazine a short story about a farmer who had to cope with a drought.
She looked around the room for inspiration, but none came. She heard her mother’s car start up in the driveway. She stood slightly and looked out the window as the car drove away. Without thinking, she smiled a wry smile. Her mother, after all, had been the inspiration for the story that she now was writing.
She stood up. Two hours was too much time not to be able to write. She had to do something. She decided to get something to drink. Ordinarily, her mother did not allow her to take things from the refrigerator on her own, but when her mother was gone she often did as she pleased. She didn’t fear Dodge like she feared her mother.
She opened the door to her room and let out a shriek, clutching her bosom. Dodge was standing uncomfortably close to the door.
“Dodge,” she said. “What—what are you doing?”
“Nothing,” Dodge replied. “Just going to take a nap.” He continued down the hall to his bedroom quite casually.
Her hand still gripping the front of her blouse, Sidney walked down the winding staircase slowly, keeping her eyes on every step. Nothing could be heard in the house save the creaking of the stairs under her feet. It would be fine for her to take something small from the refrigerator now. She was very thirsty.
When she got to the bottom of the stairs, she glanced casually up to the top and saw Dodge. He stood there looking down at her for a moment, and then he returned to his bedroom.
Dodge never had given her any trouble. As far as she knew, he never had told her mother about anything that she had done around the house, and he did not seem to fear her mother much less than she.
She walked into the kitchen. A dreary light shone through the sliding glass door. Apparently, the sun was momentarily behind a cloud cover. Sidney went to the refrigerator. As she opened it, she looked around herself to make sure that she was alone. She knew that she was alone, but she looked out of habit. If ever her mother caught her at the refrigerator without permission, the consequences would be surely dire.
She took a carton of orange juice from the shelf and shook it. It was half empty, so she would be able to take from it without leaving any evidence that she had done so. She put it on the counter, got a glass from the cupboard, and poured the orange juice. She drank it at the counter, not wanting to spend too much time in the kitchen lest Dodge find her in there. When she finished it, she dared to pour herself a drop more, then she returned the orange juice to the refrigerator and washed the glass. She dried the glass and returned it to the counter.
She heard Dodge’s footsteps on the stairs. She closed the cupboard quickly and scuttled out of the kitchen. She did not fear him, but she did not want to take the chance of his finding her in the kitchen by herself.
As she walked into the entrance hall, Dodge stopped three steps from the bottom and looked at her. “Is everything alright?” he asked.
“What? Yes. Everything is fine.” She lowered her eyes, did not want him to see that she was hiding something.
He nodded his head. “Fine? Are you—sure?”
“Yes. Yes. I just wanted to go for a walk.”
“Why don’t you then? Why don’t you go for a walk?”
“I—I was just going to do that. Thank you, Dodge.” She walked quickly to the front door and let herself out of the house. She locked the door behind her and walked quickly down the walkway.
As she walked down the street, the cloud bank moved away from in front of the sun, and the street was lit up again by the radiant sunshine of a spring afternoon. Sidney enjoyed being outside. She particularly enjoyed being able to leave house, but she loved fresh air and often dreamed that she could move out of the city, far away from her mother, and live in a cave or in a forest where there was always fresh air and the skies were ceaselessly filled with birds. How wonderful a life like that would be.
She watched the cars cruise down the street. As each car appeared, she feared that it might be her mother’s. She envied the people in those cars, the white Suburbans and the maroon Hondas and the yellow Datsuns. She envied their lives. The people in those cars did not have to go home to a mother like hers. They were free people with loving families, families that cared about them, families that were not based on fear and servitude.
Somebody honked a horn and yelled an obscenity from the window of his car. Sidney turned to look and saw that a teenage boy was crossing the street, and the car nearly had hit him. The driver’s reaction had caused her skin to crawl. The flustered look on his face made her quiver, and she hurried her pace, wanting for the car to disappear down the street.
By the time she had walked around the block, she felt that she could sit down and write, so she returned home. When she got to the door, she discovered that it was unlocked. She pushed it open cautiously. It made no sound, and she peered in the house to see if everything was okay.
Her mother’s car was nowhere to be seen. She had not come home yet. Sidney called out Dodge’s name. When he did not answer, she took a look around the house. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, though. For a moment, she wondered if she had forgotten to lock the door, but she was certain that she had locked it. She never walked out of the house without locking the door behind her. Still, nothing seemed to be out of place.
She called Dodge’s name again. He did not respond. She did not know what could have happened to him, but it was possible that he had gone to sleep or he simply did not hear her calling him. She went up to her room, made sure that the door was locked behind her, sat at the computer, and began to write.


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The doorbell rang. Sidney sat up in bed. She threw away the blanket, put her feet into her slippers, and ran down the stairs as quickly as she could, making sure to rub the sleep from her eyes as she did.
When she reached the door, she paused and composed herself. Then, she opened the door. “Mother, I’m so glad you’re home.”
Virginia pushed Sidney out of her way and swaggered into the house. “Sidney,” she said with annoyance, “what are you doing up at this hour? You’re a little kid, for God’s sake. Get to your bed now.”
“But, Mother, I wanted to open the door for you.”
Virginia turned and glared at Sidney. She thrust a folded hand onto her hip melodramatically. “Do you think I need your favors? Go upstairs and go to bed. Now! My God, why can’t you behave like a normal child?” She flung her arms into the air. “What did I do to deserve an insubordinate child like you?”
Sidney began to cry then ran up the stairs, nearly losing her slippers along the way.
Virginia went into the kitchen. She turned on the light and looked into the mirror. Her hair was unkempt, and her mascara was a bit smeared. With a slight harrumph, she straightened her shirt, swearing under her breath. She smoothed out her shirt around her chest and stuck out a hip. Yes. There was no denying the fact that she was a beautiful, beautiful woman.
With a sniffle, she turned to the refrigerator. She opened it up and picked up the orange juice. It felt very light. She shook it. Had she drunk from it in the morning? She shook it again. It was possible that she had had some in the morning, but it was too late to consider that now. She poured herself a glass and sat down at the table to drink it.
She heard a bang in the living room as though somebody had closed a window. “Dodge?” she called out, but there was no answer. She did not have the energy to concern herself with that man now anyway.
The light shuffle of footsteps let her know that somebody was awake and wandering around the house, but she was not going to get up and investigate who it was. Whoever it was could come to her, and then she could deal with the person accordingly.
Within moments, Dodge walked into the kitchen. He was wearing a thick, blue bathrobe that only went down to his knees and childish bear slippers. He had a glazed look in his eyes, and the black sleeping mask pulled up on his forehead made him look like a winning panelist on What’s My Line?.
“Did you just get home?” he asked her in a whisper.
She glared at him, unable to tolerate the fact that he was whispering when there was nobody around to hear them anyway.
“I had a long day, Dodge,” she said in a tone of disinterest. “It’s so, so difficult being me.” She tossed her hair out of her eyes in order to demonstrate how difficult it in fact was.
He pulled out a chair, being careful not to let it squeak on the floor, and sat down.
Virginia put both hands around her glass and leaned as far out over the table as she should go, causing discomfort to her bosom. “Dodge, Dodge, Dodge. You are so—“ She waved her hand in the air as though she was searching for a word, but no word was coming to her. “so—“ Her face fell forward on the table for a moment.
“Tell me how ravishing I am,” she said in an almost inaudible whisper before lifting herself back into a normal position.
“Virginia,” Dodge said, “you are certainly the fairest in all the land. Your eyes are so—“
“God!” Virginia suddenly moaned. “You are such a blasted sycophant!”
Dodge just stared at her. He had no clue what a “sycophant” was. “Thanks,” he mumbled.
She waved her hand again. “Continue. Continue.”
“Your eyes,” he repeated, “are so luxurious. Your hair is silky smooth like an ice sculpture—“
“Oh, I like that analogy. Ice sculpture. Tell me more, my darling.”
“Your skin is pure and unblemished like that of a baby. You have the body of a goddess, and frankly, you stir my loins.”
Virginia momentarily realized that she looked a bit foolish, and she tried to compose herself, to make herself seem more ravishing than she might have appeared at that particular moment.
“Is everything alright?” Dodge asked her.
“No,” she said, annoyed that she had to state the obvious. “Everything is—not alright.” The word “not” she said breathlessly, and she shook her head roughly at the word “alright.”
“Whatever is the matter?”
“’Whatever is the matter?’” Virginia repeated in the cruelest mocking tone she could get out of her mouth. “It’s that girl!” she hissed, throwing out an arm in the direction of the hall. “She is nothing but trouble for me.” In a pitiful, choked up tone, she added, “And I do so, so much for her, Dodge, I do.”
Dodge stood up to get for himself a glass of orange juice and allowed her to continue talking.
“Dodge,” she said in as straightforward a voice as she could muster as he poured his orange juice.
“Yeah?” he said, a slightly uninterested tone, with his back still to her.
“Could you—kill her?”
The carton of orange juice slipped from Dodge’s hand onto the floor, and what remained inside it leaked slowly onto the burnt umber tiles. Dodge picked it up, put it back on the counter, and brought his glass to the table.
“Virginia, have you been drinking tonight?”
Virginia shook her head violently. Dodge just sat there and stared at her and, after a moment, she nodded her head like a frightened animal.
“I think you need to get some sleep,” he whispered with a comforting smile.
“Why are you always covering up for her?” she asked suspiciously. Then, a wry, wicked smile appeared on her lips, and she wagged a finger at Dodge. “You be careful, Arthur Hunter. That girl is a Grade A slut. Don’t you go banging my daughter as long as you’re sleeping in my bed.” She let out a horrific cackle, throwing back her head and knocking her glass onto the floor.
She let out one last groan and passed out.
Dodge stood up and picked her up from her chair. He flung her over his shoulder as though she were a little boy and carried her up the stairs.
When he reached Sidney’s room, he stopped for a moment by the closed door. He could hear the sound of her breathing from the other side of the door. For a moment, he unconsciously leaned his forehead against the door, closing his eyes and listening to her light breathing.
Then, he carried Virginia to her room and laid her in her bed.
As she lay there undisturbed and undisturbing, he climbed into the bed next to her and made love to her.


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The clouds were gathering. There was gloom everywhere, and the air was almost chilling. The rain had not yet begun, but one could feel it in the air. It would not be too long before the onslaught would begin. The cars on the streets were few, but they were noisy as people scramble to race home before they had to face the wrath of Mother Nature.
Somebody rang the doorbell. Sidney stood up from her computer and looked out the window. Dodge’s Honda was in the driveway, but her mother’s car was nowhere to be seen. She hesitated, not really wanting to be torn away from her story, before going downstairs to answer the door.
Sidney looked through the peep hole. She did not see clearly who was standing outside the door, but it appeared to be a boy about her age. He rang the bell again, unaware that she was on the other side of the door. She could not guess who it might be, but she opened the door for him, albeit cautiously.
The boy on the other side of the door jumped back with a start. He had not expected it to be answered so immediately. He was, indeed, about Sidney’s age. He was in her class, and she knew him well. Ben King had keen, blue eyes and soft, blond hair that fell down in front of them. Unlike Sidney, he was a drop on the short side. He had a boyish chubbiness in his face that most adults said he would grow out of, but Sidney found it rather cute and would not have minded at all if he never grew out of it.
“Ben,” she said with a half-smile, rather surprised that he had shown up at her house. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh. I’m sorry,” he said, looking suddenly at the ground. “Have I come at a bad time? Am I disturbing you?”
“No,” said Sidney, scanning the street for any sign of her mother’s car. “No. You’re not—disturbing.” With her eyes on the street, she finally said with reluctant uncertainty, “Would you like to come in?”
Ben looked up at her with elation in his eyes. “Sure!” he said.
Sidney opened the door and allowed Ben to enter. Ben never had been in Sidney’s house. He lived on the other side of town in an apartment complex, and he now looked around the expanse of Sidney’s house with awe and admiration.
“Nice house,” he said, not sure what else to say.
Sidney shrugged her shoulders. She was looking for Dodge. She had been in her room most of the afternoon, but she knew that he was somewhere in the house, and she did not feel comfortable that he might know that she was entertaining a boy.
“Let’s go upstairs,” she said hastily, and she led the way.
Ben followed her up the stairs, sliding his hand along the brass banister. He looked at the paintings that lined the wall, two Picasso prints and one that looked like a self-portrait of a dark-haired woman, and another one that was a scene of people in Victorian garb gathered around a lake. He nodded his head, impressed.
When Sidney reached the top of the stairs, she looked cautiously to see if Dodge was around. When she did not see him, she motioned silently for Ben to follow her, and they went quickly and quietly into her room. When they walked into her room, she checked the hall one more time then locked the door. Ben smiled nervously. He never had been locked in a bedroom with a girl.
Ben looked around the room. It was very much a girl’s room. Above the bed with pink ruffles, a net was hung in the corner of the walls. On the net were several stuffed animals, teddy bears, a ragged dog with one eye, and a pair of large mice with green sweaters. Farther along the wall, there was a poster with a rearing unicorn on a bright pink background. The closet doors, on the opposite side of the room, were decorated with another unicorn poster and a poster of a castle that was sitting on a cloud bank.
“Nice room,” he said respectfully, sitting down on the bed. He noticed the computer. “Oh. What kind of computer do you have there?” he asked her.
“It’s a Macbook,” she replied meekly, pulling out the chair and sitting down in front of the bed. “I do a lot of writing.”
“What do you write?” asked Ben, now taking notice of the awards that were on the desk.
Sidney shook her head. “Everything. Basically.”
“You’ve won awards? For your writing?”
“Yeah,” Sidney replied nonchalantly. “A few. I recently sent in a short story to a magazine. I’m still waiting for a response from them. Now, I’m writing a new story.”
“What kind of story are you writing?” asked Ben with interest.
“It’s a fairy tale. I don’t usually write fairy tales, but—“
Ben glanced at the poster of the castle. “You have fairy tale stuff all over your room, though.”
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“Oh, sorry,” said Ben suddenly. “What kind of fairy tale are you writing?”
“I’m only in the middle of it. I was writing when you showed up. It’s about a beautiful princess—“
“Like you,” said Ben without realizing it.
Sidney looked at him, puzzled, for a moment, then continued. It’s about a beautiful princess who’s locked up in a horrible dungeon by an evil witch. She escapes with the help of a magic feather that a bird drops through a small window. Then, she flees to a far away land where she’s discovered by elves who invite her to live with them and make her their queen.”
“And, everybody lives happily ever after?”
Sidney looked at Ben sadly. “They want to,” she said after a moment.
A blinding flash of lightning was followed momentarily by an ear-piercing crack of thunder. Ben looked out the window. The rain was pouring out of the sky.
Sidney looked at Ben’s attire and smiled. He was wearing Bermuda shorts, a No Fear t-shirt, and sandals. “You didn’t come prepared, I guess,” she joked.
Ben laughed nervously. “No,” he said with a grin. “My whole family is like that, I guess.” As soon as he said the words, he felt guilty. He knew that Sidney did not come from such a family as he did. He knew that she was adopted and there was no father in her family and she had no brothers or sisters. That was what they called a nuclear family. She never had been given the opportunity to have a nuclear family.
“When’s your mother supposed to get home?” he asked her.
Sidney looked out the window. “Really, I don’t know. She works until six, but she always comes home much later. Well, most of the time. She’s very—unpredictable.”
“Hey.” Ben jumped up from the bed. “Let’s go get something to eat. Do you have anything good downstairs?”
Sidney did not know what to say. She would feel her mother’s wrath if she were to take food without permission, but she could not tell that to Ben. Moreover, if her mother knew that she had a guest—and, no less than a boy—she dreaded to think of the consequences.
“Ben,” she started.
“Yeah,” he said. “What is it?” Then, he saw the terrified, lonely look on her face. He sat on the bed again, knowing that this was no time to leave her side. “Sidney, what’s going on?” He took one of her hands and held it.
She lifted her eyes and looked at him. “It’s—“ She wanted to tell him, but she never had told anybody. Her relationship with her mother had always had remained a secret that she alone guarded. She shook her head. “Nothing,” she said.
“It doesn’t look like nothing.” Ben looked into her eyes. She was a beautiful girl, and he wanted to hold her in his arms, to comfort her, to tell her that he would protect her.
Knuckles pounded on the door. “Sidney!” came the sharp voice. “Open up this door this minute!”
Sidney snatched her hand away from Ben. “My mother!” she whispered.
From the terror in her eyes, Ben began to understand what was going on.
Sidney looked around for an idea of what to do with Ben.
Virginia pounded on the door again as another clap of thunder sounded outside. “Sidney, you open now! You know I don’t allow you to lock me out!”
“I’m coming, Mother,” Sidney responded, looking around the room still.
Ben motioned under the bed. Sidney considered it for a brief moment and then nodded her head. Ben wriggled under the bed as quickly as he could.
“Sidney, what’s going on in there?”
Sidney tried to collect herself so that she would appear calm, but when she finally opened the door after a final check of the bed, Virginia’s eyes were too wide with madness to see Sidney’s state of mind anyway.
“What is going on here?” Virginia demanded. She slapped Sidney across the face. “How dare you lock me out, you wench?”
“I—I didn’t think you were home.”
Virginia looked around the room. “Yeah,” she said suspiciously. “Well, it’s not your place to think now, is it? What are you doing up in this room, Sidney?”
“Nothing. Just writing.” Sidney now stood close to her computer, standing purposefully between it and Virginia.
Virginia glared at the computer, which sent Sidney’s heart into a frenzy.”
“You were talking to somebody,” Virginia finally said, slowly and deliberately. She walked over to the closet. “To whom were you speaking?” She flung open the door but saw nothing but a few skirts and suits. She spun around and grabbed Sidney’s face, squeezing her cheeks until they turned red. “To whom were you speaking?”she asked more slowly, sticking her face in Sidney’s.
Virginia released Sidney’s face, and Sidney replied softly, “I wasn’t speaking to anybody.”
Virginia nodded her head understandingly.
Then, with a wild smack, “You lying bitch!”
The force of the blow knocked Sidney to the ground.
As Sidney lay on the floor stunned, Virginia noticed an indentation on the bed that indicated that somebody had been sitting there. Now she knew where Sidney’s guest was hiding. She went to the bed and sat on the indentation. She slid one leg seductively over the other, crossing her slim legs very ladylike, and she folded her hands neatly and placed them on her knee. She smiled cheerfully at Sidney.
“Get up, my love,” Virginia said in a sweet, tender tone.
With a hand on her jaw, Sidney got to her feet slowly, not allowing herself to take her eyes away from her mother.
“Get up, dear,” Virginia repeated. “You really should put some ice on that.” She nodded her head sympathetically and then moved her own jaw from side to side.
Sidney looked down at the bed, hoping that Ben would not blow his cover, and Virginia followed her eyes.
“You look nervous, my dear,” said Virginia, taunting Sidney. “Very, very nervous. Almost as though you were hiding something.”
Sidney started to respond, but Virginia cut her off. “Or somebody.” She began to swing her legs, kicking her heels under the bed, enjoying watching Sidney writhe in fear.
“Sidney,” she said in a tone of voice that dripped with butterscotch sweetness, “who’s hiding underneath your bed?” She leaned forward and whispered, “You can tell your dear mother.”
Sidney’s cheeks flushed. Her heart sank, and she felt a horrible lump in her throat and dryness in her mouth.
Virginia slowly uncrossed her legs and then stood up. She moved so slowly as though she were in slow motion. When she was standing upright, she walked toward Sidney. Sidney cowered instinctively, but Virginia did not touch her. She just said softly, “Please do not force me to get angry. Please, please, Sidney, just tell me who’s hiding under your bed.”
Ben crawled out from under the bed. “It’s me, Mrs. White,” he said guiltily.
Virginia turned around. She saw Ben and laughed. “A boy?” she cried, turning again to Sidney. “You had a boy up here—and with the door locked? You hid a boy under your bed—and God only knows what you did on top of the bed!” she added with a demented laugh, striking Sidney’s face.
“Mrs. White—“
Ben tried to intervene, but Virginia turned on him at the top of her lungs, “Get out of my house, you God-forsaken bugger, you! You have no respect for women!”
Ben hesitated, but he looked into Sidney’s eyes and saw in them that she was pleading for him to go. He walked out of the room, and once he was out of the room, he ran as fast as he could to get out of the house. He did not bother to close the front door behind him, and the rain that beat down upon him had no effect on him, but when he reached the sidewalk, he turned back to the house and watched the role playing of the shadows in the upstairs bedroom.
The screams were drowned out by the rain.


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The storm had not let up. It had continued throughout the night. Torrential rain pounded against the roof of the house. The wind slammed some of the downstairs windows, filling the whole house with uneasy ruckus.
Dodge woke up. Virginia was lying next to him, curled up almost in a fetal position with her hands tucked snugly under two down pillows. She looked so cozy and comfortable. He wished that she could maintain that poise when she was awake, but that was a pipe dream.
He got out of bed and put on his boxer shorts which had been on the nightstand. He scanned the floor for his slippers. He found them near the bathroom and slipped his feet into them. Then, he walked out of the room, closing the door gently behind him.
The noise the storm was causing bothered him. It could wake up people you did not want to be awake. However, he thought, he was in fact the only one awake. If Virginia and Sidney could sleep through a storm like that—
Well, they could sleep through anything then.
Sidney’s door was slightly ajar. Suddenly grateful for the thunderous storm that was raging outdoors, he calmly pushed the door open with his foot. Sidney was asleep in her bed, almost entirely covered up under her pink unicorn quilt. He walked quietly into the room and stood by her bed.
He looked down at her, watched the almost unnoticeable rising and falling of the quilt with every breath she took. She was so angelic, so beautiful, so arousing. The palms of his hands began to feel sweaty, but he knew there was use imagining things that were beyond his boundaries. He resigned himself just to stand there and watch her sleep, wishing that he could put out a hand and touch her.
Sidney stirred, and Dodge turned around and slipped out of the room. When she opened her eyes and lifted her head from beneath the blanket, she looked around the room. The door was slightly ajar, and she wondered if she had seen it move or if she had been imagining things.
She got out of bed. Seeing that the window was open, she slid it closed and went into the bathroom to wash up. As she stood at the sink with the hot water running, she raised her head to the mirror and saw that her cheek was swollen. She leaned into the mirror and looked at it carefully. She touched it. It was sensitive, but not in any kind of intolerable pain. She was scared to have to go out in public like this, though, but she doubted that her mother would allow her to stay home from school.
Looking in the mirror, she leaned carelessly onto the sink, exhausted and hopeless. The water continued to come out of the faucet, but she paid it no heed. She just stared at her reflection until she no longer saw it; she no longer saw herself.
The crash of thunder outside the bathroom window brought her back to her senses. She straightened up herself and turned off the water. She decided that she would have to leave the house. She might not go to school, but it was far better for her to leave the house than to spend the entire day in the house fearing that her mother might come home and do something awful to her.
After she got dressed, Sidney sat at the computer. She opened up the folder where she kept her writings and went through the titles. Everything was there. She opened the new story and scrolled down to page thirty-two, which was where she was at the moment. She just stared at it and then closed it.
There was a USB on the desk. She stuck it into the computer and saved the writing folder onto it. She checked the USB to be certain everything had been saved on it. She removed it from the computer and stuck it into the breast pocket of her flannel shirt.
Then she went downstairs. The house was still except for the storm outdoors and the rattling of windows. The light in the kitchen was on. Against her better judgment, she went into the kitchen.
Dodge was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in his hand. “Good morning, Sid,” he said.
“Good morning,” she replied, her voice thick with fatigue.
“Long night?”
She nodded.
“She told me all about it.”
Sidney looked at Dodge. She never had realized he was capable of sympathy.
“She told me you had this boy locked in your bedroom.” He looked at her with a depraved half-smile.
Sidney turned defiantly to the stove. “I must eat something, then I am going to school.”
“With a shiner like that? What do you think you’ll tell them when they ask you how you got hurt?”
Sidney picked up two eggs from the egg basket on the counter, then pulled down a frying pan from the top of the cabinet. Only after a long pause did she say, “I’ll tell them what I’ll tell them.”
“Quiz show zealot,” I see, said Dodge, nodding his head.
Sidney turned on the igniter for the burner and lit a match. When she put the match to the burner, the blue flame leapt up at her, giving her a start. She adjusted the flame, put the pan on it, and cracked the eggs into the pan.
“Your mother doesn’t want you to have boys over,” he said in a voice of warning.
Sidney did not respond. She rummaged through the drawer until she found the spatula.
“Did you hear what I said? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a jealous God, and your mother is a jealous mother.”
Sidney turned to him. “What do you mean by that?”
“I mean,” he said, rolling his hand in the air, “what I mean.” He grinned. “Look, Sid, your mother doesn’t get so many gentleman callers at her age. I’m the only one she has. The fact that you have boys who show an interest in you—who want to—well, that fuels your mother’s insecurity. You know what I am saying?”
She turned back to attend to her eggs. “I understand,” she mumbled. In a minute or so, the eggs were ready. She turned off the gas, put the eggs on a plate, and sat down at the table across from Dodge.
“You’re a very beautiful girl,” Dodge said. “Very beautiful.”
Sidney suddenly felt Dodge’s foot touch her leg under the table, and she pulled her legs under her chair as tightly as she could. Dodge just laughed wistfully.
Sidney ate her eggs quickly, only glancing up at Dodge to see if she could read anything in his face, then she washed her plate and hurried out of the kitchen. She took a coat and umbrella from the closet in the entrance hall and rushed out the door.
As she stood on the porch opening up her umbrella, she recalled Ben’s bravery the previous night. Although it was his presence that had earned her her beating, she was still grateful that he had been there, grateful that he had tried to stand up for her, and grateful that now somebody knew her secret.


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Let me know when it is done so I can print it out, hold it in my hand and read it--seriously.


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