She touched the knobs on the bedpost, her fingers caressing the cold, dark wood. She was tired. She would have slept for days if she could, but the image of his face behind her closed eyes kept her awake. And he would be here any minute. She was alone in the house. There would be no way out tonight. He would be coming for her. He would want her, would want to touch her. She felt sick at the thought of him. She had loved him once. She hated him now.
The door opened and he entered, smiling. He always had that look on his face when he was with her, a pained, sick look. She looked away.
“Take off your dress.”
She obeyed. She had no choice. She knew what he was capable of when angry. Shuddering, she pulled the zipper and let the dress slip to her ankles.
“Hang it up.”
Again, she obeyed. She walked to the closet. She could feel his eyes boring into her naked flesh. She tried to cover herself as she walked the short distance back to the dresser.
“Put your hands down so I can see you.”
She ignored him as she opened a drawer and took out the satin gown with its lace trim. She hated that gown. Hated the feel of it on her skin. Hated its innocent pink bow in the center of its square neckline and hated the betrayal of its sheerness.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said.
She stared at her feet as he sat on the edge of the bed, telling her how much he loved her with that sick smile on his face. She felt her stomach twist and could no longer stand.
She walked past him and climbed into bed. Squeezing herself under the covers, she pulled the blanket tight around her neck and buried her face in the cold pillow. Maybe he would leave her alone. The blanket moved and she cringed as his cold hands slid along her legs, beneath her gown and inside her.
He whispered the question in her ear, voice husky and cracking, breath hot on her face. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut.
“Don’t you want Daddy to rub your back tonight?”
Clothed in white, I walked a sunlit path until I came to a great ocean. She forced me to taste her waters and I began to drown. She billowed above me. She reached for me, crushing me in her tide. She pushed me down, closing around me. She stole my breath to feed her lust. I looked into her depths and saw others bound there. They beckoned me to join them. She pushed me down further still, bidding me to accept the silence as the others had, but I could not. I looked into their faces. They did not fight to free themselves from their watery grave. They were content to lie there, content to conceal the betrayal of innocence, but not I. I fought to rise above her. I broke free from her embrace. I left her treacherous waves, clothed in shame, and walked the path once more.
I came to a fork. One path was dark and consumed by thorns. The second path was filled with a bright light. I chose the path bathed in light and was lured into darkness. The light blazed, giving birth to a fiery beast. She rose slowly above me. She reached for me, searing my skin with her touch. She pushed me down and a wall of fire encompassed me. She bound me, melting my lips. Her smoky hands clamped around my neck. She stole my breath to feed her malice. I looked into her depths and saw others bound there, their faces twisted with rage. She pushed me down further still, bidding me to accept my anger as the others had, but I could not. I looked into their faces. They did not fight to free themselves from their fiery grave. They were content to burn there, but not I. I fought to rise above her. I broke free from her embrace. I left her treacherous flames, clothed in anguish, and walked the path once more.
A heavy fog began to rise around me. I wandered until I came to a clearing. There I found a woman sitting on a stool, wet and naked. I approached the woman slowly, moving the damp hair from her face. Her skin was hot and burned my hand. She did not see me. Her gaze was fixed upon the empty canvas before her. In one hand, she held a paintbrush and in the other, an empty glass. She wept bitterly. Her tears streamed down her face, collecting in the glass. I watched as she dipped the brush in her tears and began to paint. Stroke after stroke, she slashed at the canvas in fury yet no image emerged. She turned to me and painted lips upon my face. I started to thank her and a web grew in my open mouth. I tore the web away and the woman laughed as it grew back. She turned back to her canvas, painting furiously. The more she painted the tighter her web bound me. I fought to free myself as her agony stole my breath. There were no others this time. I was alone. She bid me stay in this waste, but I could not. I rent the web from my face. I fought to rise above her. I emerged from her cocoon of sorrow and faced her. She stood and pointed with her brush to the painting.
The fog parted as I crawled through the canvas. I shed my shame, anger, and grief. I stood. I breathed.
Clothed in desire, grace, and hope, I walked a sunlit path once more.