To say Sybil and my mom didn’t exactly get along would be an understatement. The civil unrest had ended years ago, but in its wake was a frosty cold war of mammoth proportions. Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law didn’t exactly see eye to eye.
I nodded. “I’m heading over there now.”
“Fine. I’ll follow you. Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of pussy and cock today.”
I opened the front door for her and shook my head. “Jesus Christ, Sybil. My ears are bleeding.”
CADE & INDY—Aged 6
It was dark but moonlight spilled into my bedroom. The house was quiet, and I was in the middle of deciding who would win between Spiderman and the Flash if they had a fight, when something rattled against my bedroom window. I sat up, straining to hear in the dark. Again, something hit the glass. Pulling my blankets back, I climbed out of bed and went to my window. Peering out into the moonlit night I saw Indy standing by the sycamore tree. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt with a big pineapple on the front.
I pushed up the window and she came toward me.
“What are you doing?” I whispered loudly.
“Can I come in?” she asked.
I glanced over my shoulder. The house was still and no lights had come on in the hallway, so my mama and daddy weren’t awake.
“Of course,” I said. “But be quiet. My mama will tan my hide if she catches us.”
I helped Indy climb in through the window.
“Can I stay here tonight?” she asked, a little puffed. “I promise I won’t snore.”
“You want to stay here? With me? Why?”
“We can have a sleepover,” she said. She was smiling but I could tell it was forced. “We’ve been friends for a thousand years, Cade Calley, and I’ve never stayed over. I think it’s time we fix that, don’t you?”
“Sure,” I replied casually, but I was confused. I didn’t say anything as I watched her climb into my bed.
“Is everything okay?” I didn’t know why I asked the question. There was just something about her tonight that seemed weird.
Indy looked up, surprised. For a moment she looked sad, but then she shrugged.
“I don’t like it when my Uncle Calvin stays over,” she said quietly. She lay down and pulled the covers over her, leaving half the pillow free for me. She didn’t say anymore, so I shrugged and climbed in after her.
For a moment neither of us said anything.
“Why don’t you like it when he stays over?” I finally asked, breaking the silence.
Indy shifted closer to me. She was warm but squirmy.
“He makes me feel funny,” she said. To my surprise she reached around and pulled my arm around her. “Good night, Cade.”
And that was how we went to sleep, with her head on my shoulder and my arm around her waist. When I woke up the next morning, she was gone. But she was back again later that night, this time wearing a big t-shirt with a faded strawberry across the front.
Again, she climbed in through my bedroom window and crawled into bed next to me, wriggling until she was comfortable.
“Is your uncle still at your house?”
I felt her stiffen and nod against me. Then she let out a sigh and wrapped her arm around me. A strange feeling swept through me. A powerful need to hold her tight and keep her safe.
“Why does he make you feel funny?”
I felt her swallow and then breathe in deeply before letting it go heavily. Finally, she said, “He calls me his little princess and makes me sit on his lap. He puts his big hands on my legs and sometimes his fingers rub up and down my back. And he looks at me funny. He always licks his lips and his eyes get all funny looking.”
Another strange feeling moved through me. I had no idea what it was because I had never felt it before. But it made me feel angry. I didn’t want her uncle doing that to her.
“Does he do anything else?”
She was still for a moment, thinking in the darkness, then said, “The other night, he opened my bedroom door. I could tell he was just standing there in the doorway, watching.” She swallowed deeply but she lay rigid next to me. “I could hear him breathing and I got scared. But then he closed the door because he heard a noise down the hall. A few moments later I heard him tell mama he was looking for the bathroom.”
I frowned in the darkness. What Indy was telling me didn’t sound right. I didn’t understand why, but I knew it was wrong. Remembering what I had promised my mama about protecting Indy, I wrapped my arms around her and held her to my chest.
The following night we lay in the exact same spot and the exact same position. I had my arm around her while she curled into my shoulder. She was warm and smelled like soap.