New Chapter One, “Mental” by Marie K Johnston



Chapter One

I went to sleep one night when I was seventeen and slept undisturbed for a few hours that school night in the middle of January during my senior year of high school. I woke myself up in the middle of the night during what I thought was a terrible nightmare.

My bedroom door suddenly flew open so forcefully that it slammed closed again. I opened my eyes. I saw my dad throw the door back open and walk into my bedroom, then slam the door shut again. I didn’t know why he closed the door at first because we were the only ones living in the house.

My father was smiling strangely to himself and I closed my eyes before he looked at me so that he would think I was still asleep. My dad had been coming quietly into my room since middle school, so I thought at first he was just going to stand over my bed and look at me while I pretended to be asleep, like he had been doing since I was 11. But I was confused with all of the noise he was making. I waited. There was a huge cold stone in my stomach, waiting while he is breathing in and out, in and out, next to my bed…

He is staring at me while I pretend to sleep, but this time is different because I feel like something really bad is about to happen for some reason. I am afraid he is going to punch me awake.

I know somehow that I should not move an inch. I can smell the alcohol on his breath; it is very pungent, and I know that he is quite drunk and probably in the middle of a blackout. I am afraid.

Before I open my eyes, I feel his weight on my mattress and hear his zipper. Now I know what he is about to do, and it is the thing I have been afraid of for years–but, especially most recently because during yet another blackout, he had told me that he wanted to be with a woman who was exactly like me! I tell myself I’m overreacting and that this is just a nightmare. He is adjusting my body, he is taking off my pants and underwear, he is half-naked and so am I. What a terrifying nightmare I am having, I think. I wonder if I can wake up? But I cannot move.

He is silent. He is having his way with me, even though I haven’t moved a muscle. He is staring at me but has a far-away look, and I am barely peeking with my eyes because I want him to think he can’t wake me up.

I don’t want to confront him—he has become a violent man during my parents’ divorce.  I don’t want to see what is happening to my body and what I fear will happen to my soul.

I was so sad when I went to sleep, I thought, but every pore of my skin is hot and sweaty and depressed and shocked and terribly saddened with every flick of his chrissakes and every blink of his eyes and every curl of his lips. I am being raped by my own father! How will I survive something like this, and what if I accidentally get pregnant?

When he is finished, he simply gets off me, puts on his pants and goes back to my parents’ room, which is only his room now. He doesn’t say a word and leaves without making any noise. He quietly just shuts my bedroom door and disappears like he was never there in the first place.

I am so beside myself that I do not move after he leaves the room. I do not put on my pants or underwear. I just fall back asleep like it never happened, telling myself it was just another one of my very vivid nightmares.


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