A couple of weeks after her 13th birthday, Barbara woke up feeling moist between her legs. She reached down with her fingers and almost screamed when she saw blood on them. Her underwear and pajama bottoms were soaked through, and there was a large, red stain on the grey bed sheet.
For a brief moment, Barbara pondered the possibility of her imminent death due to blood loss, but soon recalled reading about menstruation in a book she stole from Greta’s room. Knowing that her life was not in danger, she decided to focus on the task at hand – hiding the evidence before anyone sees it.
Barbara looked at the clock and realized that there was not much time before her school bus would be there to pick her up, which meant she could not wash the blood-stained fabrics then. She hoped that throwing them in a hamper and then throwing some clean clothes on top would keep Roberta from finding out about the recent developments.
In haste, Barbara dropped her underwear outside of the laundry basket.
“What is this?” Roberts asked, pointing at the stained panties as she entered Barbara’s room.
Barbara’s heart sank when she realized that her step-mother was going to find out about her period after all. Roberta dumped the hamper content onto the floor, revealing the stained pajama bottoms and the sheets.
“You wretched little girl!” Roberta screamed, and pursed her lips.
Barbara retreated into a corner where she tried to transport herself to her “happy place.” Whenever Roberta, or Greta – her daughter, would bully Barbara, she would squeeze her eyes shut and visualize herself as a four-year-old kid. It was a beautiful spring day. Mom was making PB&J sandwiches as Dad was packing a blanket for the family picnic. Then, the three of them would get into a car and drive to a nearby park. Once there, they would sing, fly kites, and laugh all day. Those were the days…
But things have changed since then. Barbara’s mother passed away from cancer when the girl was only six years old. Even though her father was devastated by the loss of his wife, he always tried to be the best father to his precious little girl. Every year that went by, however, it became more and more difficult for Father to take care of his daughter and work full-time.
It seemed like a miracle when, one day, a widow moved in with her daughter next door to Barbara and her father. The woman was not working and so offered to watch Barbara after school when her father was at work. Greta – the daughter was only a couple of years older than Barbara, and they got along swimmingly.
Soon, the two moved in, and Barbara’s father married Roberta. That was when things began to change for Barbara. At first, she did not want to bother her father with tales of how badly her step-mother and sister were treating her. He worked long hours and would come home so tired.
“He works like an ox,” Roberta would say with sympathy. “For you. He is killing himself at work. For you,” she would add, looking at Barbara with dismay.
Then, when it got to be too much for Barbara, she would tell her father, but by then, he would not believe her.
“Oh, that just cannot be. I know you miss your mom. I miss her, too. Roberta and Greta are such kind people. They did not have to come into our lives and take care of you and me, but they did because they wanted to. Be grateful for that,” her father would say.
He died when Barbara was eleven.
Now, it was just Roberta, Greta, and Barbara in this perfectly imperfect Cinderella story.
“Are you listening to me?” Roberta screamed at Barbara who was now sobbing in the corner.
“Stand up straight when I am talking to you!” she ordered. “I will bring you a bowl of water and some soap. You will not leave your room until your laundry is done,” she added and left the room.
*** 20 years later ***
“Any siblings?” Bob asked Greta while swirling his Cabernet.
“No,” Greta promptly replied and took a gulp of her wine.
“I mean, not a real sibling anyway. It’s a long and boring story,” she added.
“Do you want to just skip dinner and come over to my place?” Bob asked with a charming smile.
“What kind of girl do you think I am?” Greta asked and giggled.
Bob did not push, but hoped that Greta would give in to his proposition.
“It is our third date, after all. We should celebrate. Ah, sure! Why not?” she said and stood up.
Bob threw a few bill onto the table and offered Greta his arm. She latched onto it and out they went.
“I marvel at how alike we are. I don’t really have a real sibling, either. Although, I always wanted one. A sister to have tea parties with. To gossip about boys. You know, silly stuff like that.” Bob said, and looked longingly out the window of his apartment.
Greta looked at him apprehensively, wondering if she should take any of it as a red flag.
“You’re not like gay or anything?” she asked, and started to unbutton her blouse.
“No. I’m not gay,” Bob said, focusing his eyes on Greta now.
He opened a drawer by the bed and pulled out handcuffs and duct tape.
“But, I do have a secret,” he added as he approached Greta. “Will you let me tie you up?” he asked.
Greta blushed, but outstretched her on the bed, ready for the tying.
“Good. Good,” Bob said to himself as he finished handcuffing Greta’s right leg to one of his bed posts.
Then, he took a whip out of the drawer below the one he opened earlier.
“Oooh, kinky!” Greta squealed.
“You wretched little girl!” Bob screamed and whipped Greta.
Her stomach stung. “What the hell?” She yelled out.
“Remember how you and your mother treated your not-really-real sister?” Bob asked just before the whip made contact with Greta’s legs.
“What?” Greta screamed, trying to loosen her restrictions.
“I was born a girl. My name used to be Barbara. I used to be a wretched little girl. But not anymore,” Bob said with pride, wrapping the whip around Greta’s throat. “By the way, I have a date with your mother tomorrow,” he added with a smile.
“Write a story inspired by the word ‘wretched.'”
– prompt used for this CW piece.
P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
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