Ian Livesey CC
I Could Tell
I was bent to the lower supermarket shelf, when I felt his eyes drill into my back. I looked round, and saw him. The nappies slipped from my hands, and dropped to the floor with a slap.
Six foot two, a Cambridge undergraduate, and son of the local Member of Parliament, Thomas wore a fisherman’s cap, and ex-military coat; his epaulettes glinted with emblem buttons, and he walked collar up, hunched against the elements. He had big, blue irises, limpid, and pure; his long lashes curled appealingly outwards, and framed his regard with innocence. His hair was shaved at the sides, and naturally brown tendrils clustered his skull, dyed to a blue mohican. Thomas’s presentation was victorious, uncompromising, and he admired the war poets. I thought Thomas was wonderful.
We weren’t exactly going out; we didn’t kiss, or touch, or hug, and Thomas never held my hand, but we were hanging out. It was accepted Thomas had a claim on me. In retrospect, it was a strange relationship: he went to Iceland, and brought back a tub of herrings, which I didn’t like, and didn’t eat. He said if ever I was tempted to stray, to tell him straight away, and he’d return. I wasn’t sure what I might stray from, but thought the sentiment mature, respectful.
We chilled in the library of his parents’ home; purple wisteria smothered uneven panes in the rectory windows; what light came in was sucked into leather-clad hardbacks, shelf after shelf, lining the walls. Thomas recited Wilfred Owen; his voice staggered through trenches, quivered over human mutilation, and outlasted The Clash, their calling reduced to a hiss, from the turntable.
Thomas slammed the book shut, and announced,
“What does that mean?”
“I fancy men and women.” I did not understand how that could be, but was cool, and did not question.
Thomas visited our house. My father detested Thomas lounging on our sofa, his blue hair hovering in a fug of smoke.
“Get him out of here!” But my mother defended Thomas’s right to stay.
My sisters came in.
Thomas and I went to my room, above the kitchen. The odour of burnt lamb fat wafted from the grill, and clung to the curtains. My parents talked; their muffled voices passed from my father, at the head of the table, to my mother, as she stepped across lino, and carried dirty plates to the sideboard.
Thomas suggested we get on the bed. I’d kissed a boy before, and sat on the mattress. The tips of my toes touched the carpet. Thomas sat beside me, his feet flat on the floor. I leant towards him, chin up, for a kiss. He wrapped a hand around my waist, and deftly twisted me face down, on the bed. Thomas placed a hand on my nape, and with practiced efficiency, manhandled my head into the pillow, and pressed. The feathers squashed together, hard and flat, and cotton fabric indented my skin. I rolled my eyes back, but could not see beyond my floral wallpaper, pinned with a picture of a mare and her foal; they grazed in a stream of light, autumnal and gold. Downstairs, my parents continued to talk, and my mother turned the sink taps on. Thomas kept his hold on my neck; his other hand groped my waist, and yanked down my leggings, and pants. Exposed and embarrassed, my buttocks goose pimpled. My mother dropped plates into soapy water, and they clunked against the sides of the sink. Thomas fumbled with his trouser buttons; his hands clamped my hips, and he tilted my bare cheeks upwards. Thomas rammed his penis into my bottom. It hurt, and was tight. I was scared he would pierce something inside me. I swallowed back the pain, gripped my sheet, and fixated on the foal; his head was up, and sun glistered his tufted mane.
Thomas’s elegant fingers dug into my hips. As he pulled his penis out, and forced it in, he ripped the gathered frills of my anus. My mother lifted plates onto the draining board. My father dried up, opened cupboard doors, and banged them shut. Thomas’s thrusts intensified, then suddenly stopped.
The doctor asked questions. I hid the bruising, and made up a story. I didn’t know what Thomas had done, but knew it was wrong, and I was ashamed.
I told no one.
I went to university, and graduated. After arms-length romances, I met a man who shared his house with an ex-girlfriend’s rabbit, because he was too soft hearted to abandon the animal. His lawns were untrimmed because he couldn’t bear to slice through worms, and crossing roads, he extended his arm, between cars and me. I did not tell him.
My daughter was born. I nursed her at the kitchen table, while my husband put the supper on. I imagined my baby growing up, and saw her as a teenage girl, recalcitrant, and vulnerable; I pictured her life as mine had gone.
Ten years on, Thomas’s ex-army coat was threadbare; his hair was grey, and he was drab. I stared at Thomas while I stooped for the nappies, picked them up, and straightened myself. I stared at Thomas, with the threat: I could tell. I raised my right foot, and with deliberation, menaced a step towards him. Thomas retreated down the cleaning aisle, past washing up liquid, rubber gloves, and bottles of bleach. I chased him like a dog. At the door, he looked back, and something new was in his eyes: Thomas was afraid.
Florence is a U.K. writer and poet. Her work is published in magazines and newspapers, and performed at theatres and festivals. Her family does not know she was raped, so she's publishing under a pseudonym.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.