When I circle the aisle with my shopping cart, a woman watches me. It’s nothing I haven’t experienced before, but it gives me anxiety every time. Twice, I’ve been asked if I need any assistance. Even if I did, I’d never ask. I don’t usually buy the family’s groceries, but I like to be helpful sometimes. I’m the oldest, and my brothers don’t speak enough English to do it anyway.
I’m going for dinner at my parents’ tonight. There’s no occasion, just a guy trying to spend more time with his family. It’s a lot more peaceful than the frat house, besides: much quieter, and much less chaos. I’ve always been grateful for my parents. They’ve supported me, and not to mention, I’d be living in foster care if not for them,
I was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most people don’t know that about me, but then again, I’m not exactly the most sociable of people. I suppose it has something to do with that one great event from my childhood, the one I’ve never talked about, but probably should. My mom has tried to get me to go to therapy. She says it’d be good for me, and maybe it would, but I just can’t seem to learn how to confide my deepest secrets in a stranger. I’ve confided in the Lord, and that’s enough.
My parents go to church every Sunday, and on holidays. Usually I go with them. Sometimes my brothers come, but the youngest is too little to really have a stance on that sort of thing. I think it’s comforting. I think it’s nice to have somebody to talk to at all times. When the one great event happened, I struggled. Anyone would in that situation. I was eight years old, and kept it a secret for seven years after it stopped happening. My parents believed me, at least. I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t.
I don’t remember my life in Africa. I was adopted when I was two years old, so I’ve spent most of my life in America. Still, people like to assume I’m not from here, or that I’m foreign. I am, I guess. I don’t like being treated like it.
In the middle of the whole foods aisle, a man runs into me with his cart. “Sorry,” I say. He gives me a dirty look, and walks on.
Last night, I met up with Eloise just after midnight, and I fucked her until she couldn’t breathe. We only hang out when she’s horny. At least I know I can count on her to come back around. One day, we’ll have to stop. I don’t think Fletcher would like it if he knew what we got up to. I hate keeping secrets from my friends. Eloise says she’ll make my life miserable if I tell anyone, and so I don’t.
“Don’t be such a baby,” my aunt would say, when I tried to refuse her. “You should feel lucky you get to do this. It just means you’re my favourite.”
For a long, long time, I believed that abuse was a sign of love. Of course it isn’t, and of course, no logical person would think that, but kids believe the people they trust, and that’s what leads to broken families.
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