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 Epiphany, Hotel Amerika, Fiction International, Notre Dame Review, Day One, and Descant, among other magazines.