Now I’m Clean – Short Story

That is where I drowned. Well I say drowned, more so I was dragged into the water by my feet and held under until my lungs didn’t know what air was anymore. Is that still drowning? Maybe it is, maybe that’s all it is. That’s what the records say anyway. When I was a kid I used to want to be a fish. I would watch the fish in the aquarium at the doctor’s office every time I had to get a flu shot, I looked forward to it, the fish watching not the shot. One Christmas I asked my mother for a paddling pool. She had a hard time trying to find one at that time of year.

 

She was a great woman my mother. She used to bake cookies before picking up my brother and me from school so we’d have something to look forward to on the way home. One Halloween she spent all of her money on our Halloween costumes, she insisted that her children deserved the best. There wasn’t much food in the house that week. My mother’s only downfall was my father. He left us when I was about 8 or 9, I can’t quite recall and my mother doesn’t like to talk about it. When I was little, when my brother hadn’t been born yet, they used to fight. They used to fight a lot. When they would fight I’d lock myself in the bathroom, climb into the tub and let the water pour onto my toes. I liked watching the liquid escape the taps in a hurry, or more slowly depending on how far I turned the taps. There was something transcendent about it. I used to imagine myself melting into it and slipping down the drain along with it. In those days I saw water as this living thing. I would cry when people drank it, thinking that they would leave me with nothing to comfort me, that they’d drink the taps dry. But the water never ran out, unlike my dad.

 

I guess you’re wondering why I’m telling you all of this, honestly I’m not so sure myself. I find myself searching my memory for some hint, some clue, some indication of why it all went wrong. Yes my dad left and yes my mother didn’t earn much money but I wasn’t a bad kid, neither of us were. Toby, my brother, played a lot of sport, and he was really good at it. I made the honour roll in class every year. I didn’t smoke, I rarely drank and I’d never taken drugs. So what took me to the local lake down the street and through the woods on the night of October 5 2003, if it wasn’t a teenage party ready to be shut down by the cops? The answer to the question burns the tip of my tongue as it sits there. Love.

 

Love brought me to that lake but love could not bring me back. Growing up I only knew love to be something that mother’s had for their children and children had for their siblings. It wasn’t until I met Jack that I thought I knew what love was. Like many doomed teen romances, Romeo and Juliet or Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in the Heathers, Jack and I met when we were 15, well I was 15 and he was 17. When I first saw him I got this weird feeling between my legs like I needed to wee. I remember asking my mother if boys made girls need to wee and she told me not to say anything like that again. My mother was very much against bodies and all of their fluids. She refused to cry or so it seemed unless she did so in silence. Sweating and weeing were also words we weren’t allowed to use. You must be surprised that at the age of fifteen I didn’t know what sex was or that feeling between my legs but it is the truth. My mother didn’t let us take sex-ed either. I’ve done a lot of growing up since that night, albeit in heaven or hell, heck I don’t know where I am. All I know is that I don’t want to be. It’s not peaceful like they write on Mass cards. People do forget you. You begin to forget yourself.

 

Jack and I met at a party hosted by one of the stupid girls who attended my school. I only went because my friend Sarah was going. Sarah has also forgotten me, though I saw her forget me in a naggin’ of vodka and a new boy every night. Maybe she hasn’t forgotten me. Maybe she’s afraid of forgetting. I was standing in the kitchen by the sink, as I often did in other people’s houses, letting the tap drip behind me. The sound like a pat on the back, a reassurance that I was okay. I never thought it would betray me. Jack came in looking for a cup and brushed past my thigh. Then the wee feeling. But after a few seconds the sensation had left my bladder and moves through my body, making the hairs stand up. I thought I was dying, so I threw some water on my face and that seemed to work, it wouldn’t have worked if I needed to wee. After a while Sarah came into the kitchen with Jack and a big smile on her face. She told me that Jack wanted to talk to me alone. I hesitated to take his out-stretched hand but his eyes belonged to a pop star and his smile was so inviting, to me, a fifteen year old girl who hadn’t even gotten her period yet.

 

Mother said that I was a late bloomer, although I think she’d prefer if nothing came out of me, and that was the end of that conversation. He led me to the stairs and we sat a talked about school and some TV show I can’t even remember because he didn’t seem interested in anything I had to say. All guys were like this right? If they’re mean it meant that they liked you aren’t we all told? If they’re possessive it’s only because they really like you and want to be with you forever. If they’re forceful, sure they can’t help it if you’re that attractive. I didn’t know how guys were supposed to act so I let myself fall into the pit that I thought was love. I know now what love is, and I know what lust is and lust is not love, not by a long shot.

 

Jack and I spent those next few weeks as a ‘couple’, which meant that I followed him around school and his mates would praise him for nabbing a virgin, a fine commodity we were. I thought I loved him because he brought me to sea world once. I stood dazed, looking at the fish swim effortlessly through the water. Fish had no problems I thought, not in here I thought. I remember wishing I was in there with them until I knew just what that meant, captivity. I suppose I should just get right to the point of all of this, that night.

 

I stand now looking at it, the place where I drown. I can see Jack sitting at the edge of the lake with me by his side. He has his arm around me, his stupid fucking arm and he’s trying to pull me onto his lap. I’m resisting, knowing that it wouldn’t be a comfortable position. He tries again then just pushes me to the ground and climbs on top of me. He kisses me and I kiss him back because yes I did enjoy kissing him. “Isn’t this nice”, he says, “being by the lake, I know how much you love the water.” I smile innocently moving my head to look towards the soft water of the lake. I hear myself tell him that I want to get up, that I want to get up, just let me get fucking up! I’m screaming now at the scene that unfolds before me. Just let her, me, get up! “Push him” I scream, “push him and run.” It’s no good I know but I think that if I do it enough times I could somehow rewrite time. His hands are trying to get under my shirt now and mine are trying to push his away. “Come on, I’m your boyfriend” he says as if that somehow makes this all okay. “I only want to kiss.” He laughs, he fucking laughs, I watch him laugh at me. He turns my innocent, pure body around and pushes my head into the grass. He’s hurting me, I can feel it in my already decayed flesh and the bones that are slowly disintegrating. I will never forget that feeling.

 

“Just shush now”, he whispers. I try to move but I cannot, I have to watch because my mind won’t settle until I have, until I’ve seen it from this side, until I know that I did nothing wrong. He lifts up my skirt and I can feel him hands move up between my thighs and I’m crying as I watch myself cry. How dare he! I feel the pain as his fingers penetrate me, my body, mine! After his fingers it’s his dick, his shitty disgusting dick. My body goes limp as the fight leaves me, hoping that he’ll just leave me alone now, the trickle of blood going cold against the inside of my thigh. I watch him look at my body, a look I have never seen before. He looks scared, an emotion I forbid him. I watch him call someone and then I feel my body feel his hands gripping my ankles and dragging me. Why didn’t he just leave me alone? He’s on the phone shouting something about prints and a football scholarship. Guess he couldn’t afford to be tied to me, to my tarnished, damaged body. So he does what any other sane person would do I’m guessing, he fucking drags my body into the lake. I think he thought I had died or something from the strength of his tackle, his not so spectacular penis. I feel the cool water wrap around me and for a second I think I’m safe, the water will save me and wash me of this horrible thing, it’ll make me pure again. I fall to the ground as I watch him hold me under, feel the pain in my lungs, fighting to live.

 

The water didn’t mean to do it, it didn’t want to be in my lungs. It was him, he manipulated it. It was him. I scream as I look at the empty lake. IT WAS HIM. He was never punished for what he did to me. The police found nothing, by the time they found my body all traces had been washed, I was pure again. He told everyone that I had asked him to drive me there that night and to leave me alone. And that’s exactly what everyone thought he did. I committed suicide they say. I was a bad kid, with a poor mother and a dead beat dad. Suicide, suicide by drowning.

 

 

Leanne Scott

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