The leaves crunched under my feet as I walked the length of the driveway leading to the house that holds all my memories of a life I wish I could forget. The slivers of sunlight that filter through the dense trees lining the pathway could not dim the apprehension eating at my insides, as I drew nearer to the place that harbors all the pains of a childhood spent in darkness.
I could not walk any slower. I arrived at my destination too soon.
As I got to the first of the three steps that went up to the heavy door with its ornate carving, I hesitated. It seemed like I could not move any farther. My feet were rooted to the ground. My hands shook as I clenched them tight, to the point of numbness.
But, I could not delay any longer. They were waiting for me.
Trepidation in every step, I ascended the short flight of stairs and raised my clenched hand to knock on the wooden door. I heard shuffling footsteps on the other side headed my way and after what seemed like seconds, the door groaned open and there he was.
I was staring into the gnarly face of the man I call my grandfather. Even as he stooped low to stare myopically into my face, he still towered over me. He emanates a robustness not common among men his age. As I perused his countenance as unobtrusively as I could during the first five seconds of our encounter, my eyes were inevitably drawn to his hands. I could still remember the strength of those hands.
However, before I could venture deeper into that memory, I pulled myself back to the present. I took one of my grandpa’s hands, the one not holding the door knob and pressed my dry lips on its back – a sign of respect ingrained so deep in my psyche, I could not deviate from it no matter how I tried.
After what seemed like ages, but was just a couple of minutes of scrutiny, my grandfather grunted his welcome and ushered me unceremoniously inside. At this, my stomach clenched uncontrollably that I had to bite my lips to stop myself from crying out in pain. I had to blink back tears that threatened to pool in my eyes, as I scanned the dim living room.
I could not see my grandmother anywhere in the dark confines of the musty-smelling room. My granny who loved me in all the right ways, but who failed to protect me when I needed her most. The coffee table was piled high with her books, magazines, and crochet materials, but I could not sense her presence anywhere, even in the warm kitchen beyond. I could not help but shiver in alarm with her absence. The tingling sensation at my nape did not help matters much.
I turned around slowly and I saw Grandpa staring at me. There was a malevolent look in his eyes that made me swallow with unease. I stepped back involuntarily, as I warily watched him take me in. What must he be seeing?
I was garbed in the most unattractive pieces of clothing I own – an oversized hoodie over a dark shirt meant to hide the curves I started hating at the age of twelve. I wore these over baggy pants and paired everything with grungy sneakers. I deliberately left my hair unwashed and I cringed within myself as some of its clumpy strands touched my face.
I have always been obsessed about cleanliness. In the past, I used to scrub myself clean for hours while crying myself to exhaustion in my bathroom.
I thought my attempt to make myself look unkempt and unappealing worked. I saw a look of derision on my grandfather’s face. Still, I crossed my fingers in my mind.
I thought wrong.
In a move as swift and as agile as that of a cobra’s, my grandfather’s hand was suddenly at my wrist. The strength of his hold belied his age. I tried to twist out of his grasp, but I was no match for him. It was happening all over again.
I was 12 when I first experienced my grandpa’s wrath. I could not forget how I was almost tingling with happiness when I came home that day. I just got my first kiss. Yes, it was just on the cheeks. But, it was from Carlo. My long-time crush.
I was practically skipping and smiling so wide when I engulfed my granny in the biggest hug I could ever give. I was giddy with excitement when I regaled her with a blow by blow account of how I got the kiss I’ve been waiting for since I was seven.
I could still remember the twinkle in her eyes and the teasing grin on her lips as she listened to me. I could still almost smell her freshly baked potato chips and taste the acidity of her lemonade – snack staples she always had waiting for me every time I arrive.
They could almost overshadow the excruciating pain I felt when I bore the weight of my grandfather on my young body. Almost, but not quite.
I didn’t know that my grandpa was listening to my lively narrative of that day’s event in the next room. I didn’t see how his eyes narrowed with fury and his hands clenched into tight fists when he heard about what happened. I could never have guessed how that one innocent kiss sent him over the edge and into my room when all the lights of the house went out.
I only knew about it when he whispered everything to my ears as he furiously ground his body into mine, tearing me apart. One of his huge hands was on my mouth to stifle my cries and the other pinned my arms above my head. He said he’d kill grandma if I tell her. He told me how he’d rip my body apart day after day if I even breathe a single word to my friends.
Now, I can feel myself being dragged upstairs. His grip on my wrists is so strong, I thought they’d snap any second. There is no way I’d let him do this to me again. He is trying to break my spirit once more. Harsh words spewed from his mouth into my heart, telling me over and over how dirty I am.
When we get to the attic, which my granny transformed into my reading nook when I started reading at the age of five, my grandpa pushes me into the hard, wooden floor. I land on my back and immediately curl myself into a fetal position. Seeing this as a sign of weakness, my grandfather then lowered his eyes and started loosening his belt buckle. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.
I hurriedly sink my right hand into my hoodie’s deep pocket and hold onto the Taser there. I wait for my grandfather to go down on his knees, so he can get closer to me before I draw it out and gave everything it’s got to my grandfather. Surprise is written all over his face as he goes down and writhes beside me.
Without losing my momentum, I reach for my pocket knife next – grateful that the old man never thought to search me, probably in his anticipation of what he was about to do. I flick it open and without a second’s hesitation, I plunge it right into the center of my grandfather’s throat. I had killed a lot of watermelons in preparation for this moment.
The wound I inflicted was, to my eyes, not deep enough. So, I pull out my knife. Blood gurgles out. My grandfather is choking with the fluid gushing out of the hole in his throat. Even so, I thrust my knife several times into his abdomen. I didn’t stop even as his blood drenches my hands and my clothes. I wouldn’t have stopped if I did not notice something from my peripheral vision.
A note. There is an envelope propped on the pillows of my window seat. From where I am kneeling, I could see it has my grandma’s writing on it.
I leave my pocket knife stuck on the stab-riddled abdomen of my grandfather, stand up, and head to my beloved window seat. I pick up the envelope with my bloody hand and take out the stationery from inside.
Tears run over my blood-speckled face as I read what my granny had to say.
My dear Joanie,
I am so sorry for everything your grandfather has done to you and for not telling the authorities about it. You don’t know how hard it was for me to stay quiet, how I stayed awake during those nights when I knew he was with you.
You see, my dear, I couldn’t have stopped him even if I tried. What he couldn’t get from me, he got from you and he did not allow me to forget it.
This was why I asked you to come, Joanie dear. It was so he could spend some time with you again.
I hope you understand.
I love you,
Downstairs, I hear someone open the door. It’s grandmother and she’s calling out to me and grandpa.
I stoop down to retrieve my Taser from the floor. Then, I get the knife from my grandfather’s abdomen and went down to greet my grandma. I will make her pay, too.
P.S. This short story was originally posted on Wattpad.