The Devil in an Unflattering Costume [[an excerpt from a larger story]]

2004

“Quien canta esa canción?”

“Extreme”

“Mejor déjalos cantarlo.”

I shielded my developing body as best I could. Since he married my mom I had gotten better at it. The trick is wrapping one arm over your chest under the opposite armpit and the other arm extended to the opposite shoulder. Covers you where it counts and gives you a sense of security, even at 11 years old.

My lower privates would have to settle for the soapy water.

“I’m taking a bath. Leave me alone.”

“No me hablas así. Es no fair. Yo soy tu papa.”

“You’re not my dad.”

________________________________________
2006

Dress up week at middle school was fun. I enjoyed making up my costumes and showing my friends. That day was superhero theme. I used a Wonder Woman costume my mom got me for Halloween a few years back.

“Cam on, Darse prisa.”

“I’m ready.”

“In the car.”

I forgot to grab a sweater and sweatpants. I always wore them when he gave me a ride. But I forgot it. Even after two years I still forgot sometimes.

“I like it.”

“What?”

Tu costume. Te miras very sexy.”

Reaching over to the notch on the radio, he somehow accidentally grabbed my leg instead. He was always accidentally grabbing something.

“Don’t touch me.”

I knew I shouldn’t have said that. Be quiet — that was my new angle. He lunged forward and wrapped his hands around my neck.

“No me hablas así.”

I choked out a few raspy okays before he let me go. 

“little bitch.”

When he was finished he dropped me off. He dropped me off an hour late and I couldn’t breathe. I leaned against the back doors of the building and tried to catch my breath, but It was miles away. Clutching my chest with tears in my eyes I didn’t understand why it had to be me. Why he had to pick my family. 

I watched my father physically abuse my brother every single day.

I supposed it was my turn now.
Maybe I’m overreacting.

I must be. Him and my mom always say I can be so dramatic.

I knew it wasn’t right. I knew he wasn’t right. 

But maybe I wasn’t either. Maybe I was messed up and needed to be punished. 

Maybe the universe set this up.

Maybe God knew I was no good too and decided to do something about it.

After all my mom met him at our church. He was in cahoots with The Lord I thought loved me.

Maybe the worst was over.

Maybe I’ve suffered enough.

Maybe God will have mercy on me.

Then again maybe he won’t. 

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