Rape is such an ugly thing. A man or woman steals something and leaves something more damaging in its place. The trauma is life changing and at best, hard to control. Ryan wouldn’t wish that on anyone, except maybe a person who had done it to someone.
Ryan was raped. Uncle John had raped him and had plans to continue to rape Ryan, but Ryan was strong enough to stay alive. He sought refuge in his artwork; it was the only reason he wanted to be alive. When that was taken away from him, he wanted to die.
He stared at his mural in the dark. He remembered every detail that plagued that wall. He imagined the mushrooms crying, hoping that Ryan would help them. “Ryan,” another mushroom said as she held onto the bars of her cage.
“I’m going to die here?” she asked.
“Yes,” Ryan said. He had explained in detail the scene that would take place upstairs.
Ryan had noticed a minuscule beam of light. It came from the room above. Must be the kitchen, Ryan thought to himself. The light disappeared and Ryan had realized it must be nighttime.
There were no clocks below the house. Many times it felt like time refused to be there. It was a place where even time didn’t want to exist.
Sam was awake. She rocked in her cot, while she held her knees to her chest. She was lost in thought, thinking of her friends and family. She wondered if Tommy Rosen would still want to date her. She wanted Tommy to love her and maybe one day marry her. They could have two, no three babies and two dogs. Her mother danced in her head as she twirled in the kitchen with her apron on, she missed waking up to the smell of bacon. The toast that awaited her at her plate would push the smell of butter into her nostrils and when she opened her eyes, she expected
Ryan drew with his mind and painted with his thoughts. Rainbows, grass and life he whispered to himself thinking of the butterflies that flew around the old tree and over the mushrooms. One stopped on a mushroom and flapped its wings as if it were staring back at Ryan.
Sam continued to daydream. Now she was thinking about having a baby. Perhaps Tommy would want at least one boy, she thought but the thought escaped her suddenly. “What if I’m already pregnant?”
“You’ll die before you find out.”
“Fuck you, Ryan.
“Fuck you and your fucking face. You know you are just as responsible,” she screamed.
The light upstairs shined through the tiny hole and moments, seven clicks later, Uncle John appeared at the door.
“What’s going on?”
The light remained off as Uncle John continued to flick the switch. He leaned back into the other room and kept trying the switch. He disappeared after several tries.
Ryan grew scared. Uncle John grew frustrated and when he was frustrated he would take it out on one of his captives. Please not me, Ryan thought.
He returned with a flashlight and stomped down the steps. “What the hell is going on down here?” he asked.
“I missed you,” Sam said. “I . . . Want you inside me.”
Ryan was shocked and confused. It was a weird sensation that made his face twitch. Sam was taken upstairs and, unlike before, she didn’t return.
Next: Piece 10
Ryan’s eye was swollen. His leg hurt and it made it hard for him to stand. He decided to sleep instead. Many of his paintings and drawings were missing and scattered on the floor, which was typical. Uncle John always took his best pieces and left the rest, like a pig that only ate caviar. He thought it was strange that the nude he had painted was destroyed and left on the makeshift easel. He had seen Uncle John punch hole in it with his fist. The delicate stretched canvas was torn like the ends of a popped balloon.
“Sorry,” she said repeatedly.
He didn’t know Uncle John would do that to him. He placed his hands on the bars of his new caged room and stared at his art supplies across the room far from his reach.
He cried in secret as he sat on his cot. Uncle John returned, his face was red and he took a willing Sam upstairs. “Sorry,” Ryan said after she had left the room. She returned, her head hung with shame.
She looked at him and they stared at each other for what felt like hours until the bulb that swung had flickered and then died. He was sure she couldn’t see him lip the words “I love you”. He tried to see her in the dark and when he realized he couldn’t, he pretended he could. He imagined her smiling, happy to see him. He saw her beauty for what it really was – a work of art.
“Sam,” he said.
“Yeah,” she responded.
“Let me tell you what will happen to you. And maybe if I’m lucky he’ll do it to me too,” he said.
Next: Piece 8