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Today's Story by Caroline Taylor

You grabbed my arm and dragged me across the kitchen.

The Year That Nothing Made Sense

Dear Rob, healing

You may not remember me, discount but

Of course, you remember me. You threw me through the window. I’ve got the scar to prove it. Scared my mother to death.

Dear Rob,

I am writing you after so many years because I feel I owe you an

Apology? Hardly. More like an explanation. I was a real pill, after all. But then, that was the year that nothing made sense:  the year that started out with me thinking you were the coolest guy around and ended up with me hating you so completely I stopped speaking to you.

Dear Rob,

I feel compelled to write after so many years because I feel a need to make amends to all those people whom I have offended. No, I dont have a terminal disease, although that could happen. It’s just that my conscience has been bothering

Actually, it’s my older sister Martha whos been pestering me to death. You see, she has this cockamamie idea that you and Mom had a thing going. Right under our noses. Not that we noticed. Or, at least I didn’t notice. I had other things on my mind.

I remember standing at the bathroom mirror, wondering why I didn’t have pleasantly rounded breasts like Martha’s. There was the constant battle to keep my complexion clear because it seemed that every time the school scheduled a class picture, I’d be plucking my eyebrows and suddenly notice a big red pimple right in the middle of my forehead. In my eighth grade class picture, I’m wearing bangs to hide that pimple. And almost overnight, it seemed, Tommy Spencer stopped riding his bike past the house and throwing rocks at me as I sat on the front porch. ‘Im not even going to mention how many agonizing hours I spent trying to figure out why he didn’t seem to want to play War anymore.

Of course, that made Martha laugh at me like she always did. Tommy’s growing up, stupe. But he’ll be back one day, only he’ll have a different kind of game in mind.

Dear Rob,

Do you remember being snubbed by a thirteen-year-old girl back when you were stationed at Fort Bliss? You started out staying after church to enjoy one of my Mom’s traditional Sunday dinners. Then you began hanging around whenever you could, helping Mom around the house. My Dad was gone such a long time. She must have been lone

You shit. How could you do such a thing? You took advantage of her! Of course, she was sympathetic when you suffered those horrible headachescaused, you claimed, by a metal plate in your head following brain surgery. She gave you aspirin. Put cold washcloths on your head. Did everything she could to help poor, pitiful you when all the while . . . Maybe that’s why I hated you. Some kind of subconscious Freudian awareness must have triggered my horrible behavior.  Although its much more likely that I happened to be at that awful age where hormones take over and reason gets shoved into the back seat, if not locked in the trunk.

Dear Rob,

I feel I need to explain my wretched behavior toward you all those years ago when you were stationed at Fort Bliss and came to visit us so often. Even though I was only fourteen, I should have been polite enough to greet you in the morn

What was your shaving kit doing on the shelf in the bathroom? Why was your robe hanging on the back of the door? I can’t fathom why I never asked you about these things, except I wasn’t speaking to you, and I didn’t think anything untoward was happening with Martha and me always there. Anyway, I had other things on my mind, like, would Alan Quincy ask me to go with him to the basketball game, or would Cindy Fallows forgive me for wearing the same outfit to class as she did? I don’t recall having the presence of mind to think she owed me an apology.

Remember how you and Mom would always hang around, smoking and talking, while we washed the dishes? Well, one night when we were supposedly asleep, Martha slipped out of bed and found the two of you in the living room, dancing cheek to cheek. Tha’ts why shes convinced you

Rob,

I think you owe me an explanation. I know many years have passed since you

Why drag up the dim past? Mom and Dad are no longer among the living. Anyway, if anything was going on, it was definitely over by the time Dad finally came home. It ended the night you had the nerve to tell me to take out the garbage.

You’re not my father! I yelled. So don’t act like it.

In a flash, you grabbed my arm and dragged me across the kitchen where my shoulder banged against the doorway. Hauling me into the dining room, you pushed me so hard that I stumbled across the floor, my momentum carrying me straight through the plate glass window and onto the front porch. I don’t remember hearing the pane shatter, but there was blood dripping onto my shirt from a gash over my eyebrow. I put my hand up to my temple. It was sticky.

Looking back, I can see that it should have been the time for various truths, no matter how unpleasant, to reveal themselves. Unfortunately, all of us were too swept up in the urgencies of the moment:  getting me to the hospital where I got my head stitched, sweeping up broken glass, mopping up spilled blood, covering the broken window.

Dear Rob,

I never got the chance, years ago, to thank you for giving me the scar that bisects my left eyebrow. I’m not the snotty brat I was back then. I’ve learned how to behave politely toward people I loathe. But there is one thing I’d like to say: You took advantage of a lonely woman. You fooled her daughters, or at least one of them. I used to think your headaches were because they’d surgically removed your brain, but now I realize it was a completely different organ.

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Caroline Taylor’s stories have appeared in The First Line, The Greensilk Journal, A Fly in Amber, Long Story Short, Orchard Press Mysteries, and the Dan River Anthology 2009.

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