Heroes

Trigger warning – child sexual abuse, drugs

This is out of context unless the blog has been read in a chronological order.

Guinevere, around 5 years old:

”They didn’t even get our clothes off! Only my pants, and I’m putting them on right now!” Philip, one of my older cousins, was performing a victory dance while simultaneously struggling to pull up his trouser legs. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. My head hurt so much I couldn’t move an inch. Eric gently put me down on the asphalt, only to lean into the flowerbed and vomit. Then he sat down on its stone ledge and picked me up again. As the strength of the pain in my head and neck started to fade, he was having a hard time convincing me to be still. 

”You might have a concussion”, he stated. ”Please just sit down for a little while”. Three seconds later I tried to stand and toppled over. Eric caught me.

”’S been a little while”, I mumbled. 

”Please rest until I say so”, he begged me. ”We can play a game. Some nice, calm, sitting-down game.” 

”Thief-and-police!” I suggested.

”No, that means running around”, he answered and firmed his grip on me where I was seated across his knees.

”King-of-the-hill!” Philip jumped up from where he was seated next to us. ”I LOVE king-of-the-hill!”

”I don’t think Bianca is up for King-of-the-Hill right now”, Eric observed. ”Maybe when she’s rested and her head doesn’t hurt anymore.”

”We could play the nice things game”, I said.

”BOOORING!” Philip shouted. Eric laughed.

”You don’t even know what it is”, he pointed out.

”I don’t have to. It sounds really boring. It’ll put me to sleep. See, I’m already snoring!” Philip threw himself down in the middle of the flowers with some very dramatic snores. 

”Watch out for the vomit!” We shouted in chorus.

”It’s simple”, Eric said. ”We take turns saying kind things to each other. Because they tell us we’re bad and disobedient, but we haven’t done anything wrong”. Philip was listening now.

”I’ll start. Philip, you are really brave to fight like you did”, Eric continued.

”I think you’re brave too”, I said. ”I wish you were my brother”.

”My father says I’m a coward”, Philip told us. 

”How can he say that!” I protested. ”That’s a lie!”

”Because I run away”. Philips voice became quiet. ”I run away if he tries to touch me.”

”Running away is a brave thing to do”, Eric argued. ”’Cause you risk him getting angry with you. You know you’ll get punished later and still you run. That’s incredibly brave”.

We said so many kind things to each other, after a while Philip’s eyes watered.

”I’m not sure I like this game!” He declared. ”It makes me cry!”

I don’t remember how we got to this cellar. At first, I was alone with my Uncle and Eric’s father. I pretended not to listen when they were talking with each other, but this I overheard:

”We’ll break them down in front of her”, Uncle said. 

Eric’s father made some sort of protest in reply. Uncle responded by producing something from the inside of his jacked with a triumphant smile. It was a small, transparent plastic bag filled with dried leaves.

”This’ll do the trick”, he pronounced. ”We’ll destroy her heroes for good! She’ll have nothing left to worship”.

When Eric entered the room, I ran towards him and made him pick me up in a hug so I could whisper:

”They say you are my hero and they’ll destroy you”.

”Don’t worry”, he whispered back. 

Philip was hauled into the room by Eric’s mother and some other woman, while shouting and kicking furiously. 

”There’s no need to be so dramatic”, my Uncle (and Philip’s father) declared. ”All we will do today is to sit still in a circle”.

I couldn’t smoke because it made me cough too much. The adult men were frequently accusing Eric of faking his inhalations, in between dedicating each of their draws on the joint to various cult leaders and deities (the beast, the big whore, parts of the anatomy of the big whore).

This is what the Society is all about”, Uncle proclaimed.

”Word, brother, word”, Eric’s father concurred.

Of course, Uncle had lied to us. Now we were backed up against the wall, preparing to fight, because they’d ordered us to get naked. Uncle was threatening us with punishments if we continued to disobey him. The mayhem started when Philip screamed:

”DEATH OR LIBERTY!” And the he leapt at the men thrice as big as himself. They retorted by dragging him into the middle of the room, trying to rip his clothes off. I screamed and ran forward to free Philip. Then Eric jumped in front of me, trying to protect me from the wrath of the adults. Everything was happening so fast. Arms and legs kicking and hitting everywhere around me, I wanted to bite the men but they moved too much. Suddenly Uncle kicked me straight into a wall. I saw it flying towards me, then nothing. 

When I came to the women were back, talking in angry voices. Eric screamed ”She could have died, I’m taking her out now!” And then he lifted me up, walking the stairs into daylight. Philip ostensibly helped Eric carry me, in order to escape out of the building to a more public place (where it would be harder for the adults to haul him back). We were left alone outside the house.

”It’s ok to cry, your dad can’t see you now”, Eric consoled Philip. I leaned towards Philip and hugged him, and he fell towards us shaking with grief. He sobbed for a long time and when he calmed down he said:

”I can’t remember the last time I cried. It must have been years”. He dried the tears from his face with the hem of his sleeve. It was then that Uncle exited the building and stopped to stare at us.

”I can’t believe it!” He bellowed. ”In there, you fight like savages not to touch each other. And so I come out, and here you are, sitting in a heap, HUGGING!” He took a moment to compose himself, but lost it again:

”ARE YOU DOING THIS ONLY TO PROVOKE ME!? ARE YOU?! ARE YOU!?”

Eric’s father appeared and asked Uncle what was happening. 

”Dooon’t worry”, he said reassuringly. ”In a few years they whon’t fight ush; they’ll fight each othher over her. Or shhhare her. Offf course”, he added as an afterthought, ”my shon whill whin. She’ll choose Eric!”

”No way!” Uncle exclaimed. ”My son is more handsome. She’ll choose Philip! After all, they are closer in age.”

”Closer in blood thoo”, Eric’s father noted. ”That would be insheshtous.”

”AS IF YOU CARE!!” Uncle screamed.

”Their children ’ould be rethaarded”, Eric’s father continued. 

”Like you!” Uncle blasted back.

”No need to inshult me; we’re all bastards here.”

”Not me I’m not!” Uncle replied.

”Bhet you are”, Eric’s father said.

”No I’m not!”

Look at you. Look at your father.” 

This earned him a furious punch which entirely missed its mark.

”I hope the police comes”, Eric remarked.

”Who do you think will win?” I asked.

”My father is stronger”, Philip answered.

”But mine runs faster”, Eric burst out laughing. Uncle was chasing his father around the yard, until both of them fell screaming into the bushes. 

In that moment – with Eric and Philip on either side of me – I felt so safe and so grateful. The memories of the cellar were already fading from my consciousness, but one image remained. The three of us backing towards a wall, and Philip and Eric moving to stand in front of me.

I still had heroes.

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