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 “Thanks for the dinner, Grammy. It was delicious!” I waved as I walked out the front door. Pappy followed me outside to the porch.

“You doing okay with your geometry? Need any money for supplies or anything?” I smiled up at him. “No, I’m doing okay. Don’t be such a worrier!” I laughed as he enveloped me in one of his bear hugs, all but squeezing the air out of me.

He followed me down the stairs and across the grass to where my car was parked in the driveway. “Huh,” he said, leaning over to peer at my windshield. “Looks like you’ve got a crack there.” He pointed at the glass, one gnarled finger that shook ever so slightly.

I peered with him. “Looks like,” I replied. “I’ll take it to the shop this weekend and have them fix it.”

I got in and buckled my seatbelt under his watchful eye. Waving, I backed out of the driveway and headed home, content and happy in every part of my body.

. . . . .

“Hey Mom, I’m home.” The house was dark, only the ticking of the clock and the snoring of our dog breaking the silence. I walked into the living room and started to turn on the light.

“Leave it off. I’ve got a migraine.”

I peered through the darkness at the dim shape on the couch. “Oh. Can I get you anything?” I asked, hoping to make a quick escape to my room to work on my history assignment.

“You were over at your Grammy’s?” she asked. “Did you think to bring me any dinner too?”

“Yes, I did. Grammy sent home a bunch of leftovers and two slices of pie. Want me to fix you a plate?”

Silence answered me, so I just shrugged and went into the kitchen to warm up the plate of leftovers. I was mixing a bit of butter into the sweet potatoes when I heard footsteps behind me.

“They weren’t always such good people, you know.” Mom leaned against the sink and watched me, her arms folded across her chest. “Your grandmother used to be addicted to Valium. She’d take pills and lay on the couch all day and smoke her menthols, only getting up when it was time to fix supper.”

I turned to look at her, not sure what she was talking about.

“And your grandfather …” Her voice trailed off for a long moment. “He used to come into my bedroom at night and pull down the blankets and touch my breasts. I would lie there awake, but with my eyes closed, too scared to move.”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. Was she talking about Pappy? I just stared at her.

“I told my mother once what he was doing. She just slapped me and told me not to ever say anything like that again. So I didn’t.”

I swallowed. “Did he … did he ever…?”

“No, it was always just the touching. But it happened night after night, until I was a teenager. And then he just stopped.”

I stood there, silent, until she turned and walked away, shuffling back into the darkness of the living room.

I fled, grabbing my car keys on the way out the front door. I had to move, had to think. I got into my car and started it, then just sat there, staring blankly. After a few minutes, I turned off the ignition and opened the car door to get out again. A glint of light caught my eye and I stared at the crack on the windshield. It had grown even longer, splintering off into two jagged lines.
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December 2012

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