Christopher Linforth ~ Belief

On the day we flee town, we will want the neigh­bor­hood to know what hap­pened. We will tell sto­ries about our step­fa­ther to the kind and not-so-kind men on our street, to the cops who size us up to see if we are under­age, turn­ing tricks, will turn a trick with them. We will run door-to-door and con­fess to the rumors cir­cu­lat­ing in town. We will bypass the church­es, the mosque and syn­a­gogue, and the com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter run by our step­fa­ther. We will tell every­thing about him: his good works fundrais­ing for the school, his orga­ni­za­tion of the Maypole dance to rein­tro­duce the val­ues of the Natural World, his insis­tence on an order of things. Men above women—he voiced that belief many times. The tales of incest are false. Or pos­si­bly half-true. Either way, what he did to us will come out. We will see to that. We will leave this place, go find our moth­er. Some time ago she drove west, to Montana or Wyoming. Her good­bye note promised free­dom there, a wild land­scape of moun­tains and ranges. A place with­out our step­fa­ther. Our moth­er didn’t want much. Just some­where she could be safe. When she fled, she told no one. She slipped away, rode a Greyhound, hitch­hiked across sev­er­al states, found a cab­in in the woods. Her return to nature only spurred our stepfather’s beliefs, in using us as sur­ro­gate wives. This act was not reli­gious, though he was zeal­ous, a believ­er in him­self and his place in the uni­verse. He read up on obscure branch­es of Mormonism, the prac­tices of Seventh-day Adventists, the intri­ca­cies of Kabbalah and Jainism. He seemed to pre­fer, even espouse, a mish­mash of ideas: vows of silence and chasti­ty for women. He said we were equal to the dust on the floor. He pushed these prac­tices on us; he want­ed us qui­et; he want­ed us to be his. We will nev­er for­get his rough skin, his bloat­ed pot­bel­ly, his greasy sil­ver hair. We can nev­er erase the burn of him inside of us. Silence has lived in our house, in our neigh­bor­hood, all through this town. Our voice box­es are warm­ing up, our bod­ies flex­ing, charged with new ener­gy. Any day now we will shout.

~

Christopher Linforth has recent­ly pub­lished fic­tion in EpiphanyHotel AmerikaFiction InternationalNotre Dame ReviewDay One, and Descant, among oth­er mag­a­zines.