At Bay Path’s Writer’s Day, author Lisa C. Taylor led her audience in several writing exercises. For one, she had us start with the words “True story,” and her advice was to choose an actual event from our own lives but to write from the point of view of the other person involved.
Instantly, I thought of a time in junior high school when I stayed at a friend’s house, and her father came in our bedroom late at night with my friend’s uncle by his side. I was mystified by the panic their arrival created in my friend–until years later when she told me her father repeatedly molested her when she was young.
Somehow, the memory of that night–and my naivete–is what popped into my head when Lisa instructed us to tell a true story. Many free exercises astound us in this way, rising up so clearly, innocently and unexpectedly.
I apologize in advance that the content is outside of what I normally post and hope you don’t find it too disturbing.
True story. My dad crept into my bedroom at least once a week when I was growing up, his breath wreaking of the beer he’d been drinking all day. He’d climb in my bed, and while he pushed up my nightgown and rubbed himself all over me, my mother listened to his groans and moans of ecstasy and my weeping from her room across the hall, and did nothing. She did nothing, that is, until my father came to see me while my best friend was visiting, and my mother was worried our dirty secret might get out.
My friend Eileen was sleeping over. We’d watched Jaws for the fourteenth time and eaten three bowls of buttered popcorn, kernels and all. We’d scratched each other’s backs and told stories from school, and as we started to fall asleep at about one in the morning, my dad and his brother, my Uncle Fred, came quietly, drunkenly, into my room.
“Hi, girls,” my dad said. He rocked and swayed in my doorway.
“Hi, Mr. Bromer,” Eileen said with a cheerful smile. She did not understand why they had come—that there was one for her and one for me, that they intended to push up both of our nightgowns.
“Mom,” I cried out urgently. “Mom, come here now.”
But my mom did not come. My father headed to my bed, Uncle Fred to Eileen’s. Then my dad said, “No I want the fresh one,” and he headed toward Eileen and her sleeping bag on my floor.
I started to cry, and I jumped to up run for the door, but Uncle Fred blocked my way.
“Mom,” I called desperately. But my mom did not come.
Eileen, by this time, did clearly get that something was wrong.
“Margaret,” she called to me. “What’s going on?”
“Scream,” I told her, and she yelled, “Mrs. Bromer.” Only then, did my mother get her short, fat, aging body into my room.
“Get out of here, Douglas,” she said to my father. “Get out of here, Fred.”