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It Gets Better

They were quite poor. Mommy had been abandoned by Daddy. Her family did not care to help her, expecting her to make her own way. She did what she had to do. She worked. The children dealt with it. Latchkey kids they call them now. Their clothes and breakfast were set out for them when they got up in the morning. Mommy was gone to work. When they got home they played in the yard or stayed with the lady next door. Mommy got home after 5 o'clock and made dinner and did housework. They had their own chores to do.

Then He came into their lives. Mommy took them to meet Him, and they went to a church, and that was that. A new father. Mommy didn't have to work anymore. It started a few months later.

She was eight years old. Her brother was ten. They had separate rooms now. She was alone. He would come into her room. He was big. Over six feet tall. And strong. A laboring man his whole life. He made a good wage because of his skills. He did things to her. And He told her He would kill her mommy and brother if she told. She didn't tell. Then.

Several months later her mommy asked her if Daddy touched her in funny, different ways. She was afraid so she said no. But she thought Mommy knew, or else, why did she ask? Mommy stayed home now. She didn't work. She wasn't always tired. Mommy used to be tired all the time. Mommy liked staying home.

They went to church every Sunday. They had to go to church. He said it was good for them. They had a preacher there in the small church and one day, after church, when everyone had left the building she went back in and went up to the preacher. She told him. He looked down at her.

When she left the church the preacher was walking over to Him. The two men talked for awhile making gestures she couldn't read. Then they all got in the the car and drove home. No one talked.

Mommy and her brother went into the living room. He took her by the arm and they went into her room. He told her He would send her away to the nuns if she was not obedient. Or He would call the police. She was afraid. Then He did things. She never talked to the preacher again.

She never told anyone again. Not while she was in that house. Things stayed the same for years. Almost every night He would visit her room. It was her world. It was the way it was.

The years passed. They moved several times. They moved away from the city. He wanted to live in the country. Her life stayed the same.

When she was sixteen she was still a small girl. But she had grown in strength of spirit. She told Him if He ever touched her again she would kill Him. He was older now. He had been in his 40s, and now was in His 50s. He was still strong, but poor habits had weakened Him. Still, He could make her life into hell. And He did. He took it out on Mother. All of Mother's spirit and strength had left her long ago in this house.

The girl was not allowed to go out alone. When she came home from school He made her take off her clothes so He could check to see if she had been a bad girl. The sheriff was always a threat. He could swear out a warrant and have her put in juvenile detention for being a bad girl. She kept quiet. She never talked back. She would try to study in her room but they always forced her to be with the "family" and watch the innocuous television shows, while He ranted about what was wrong with the government, or about how the house was always a mess, or about how she was ignoring Him.

She had learned something. In school, or on television, or in a book. She didn't remember. But she knew. When she turned eighteen years of age she was an adult. She was no longer under His control. She only had to make it until then. She would take the verbal abuse, the arguments, the inspections of her underwear. She felt sorry for her mother, but Mother had made this choice.

So she did her homework on the bus ride home and to school each day. That way she would be able to join the "family" and still make good grades. Because she was smart. She loved school. She loved reading. And she loved life. Art and music and literature. She loved school. Someday.

And she graduated. And she was eighteen. And the next day she packed her things and caught a bus back to the city where she lost her innocence. She quickly found a job. She got her own place after staying a short period with relatives. Life opened up. She never forgot. Anything.

But it got better.

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