vergogna | a short story

When she pulled her panties back up, she thought of her father. A shooting pain in her stomach. She had always been familiar with the terror echoes her father abandoned in her body, but this one hit differently. This one made her feel like a criminal on death row. She had told this boy, who was two years older than her, that she wanted to have sex with him, she never said that it would be her first time, only she would acknowledge that, in silence. He had been inside of her, the cemetery of her forefathers, and she wondered years later, how disconnected all these bodies were from hers, from her pleasure, how they didn’t match. How they didn’t resonate with her soul, they would just tear into her flesh and none of them would come close to render her ecstatic.

She had done it and she knew that her father would know. At this point, she didn’t understand to what extent things were wrong. She had gotten what she wanted, but what she desired was something else. There were worlds between this boy and her. She thought of herself as a woman, but let herself be hidden and locked away like a child, a pattern that she had integrated and duplicated without questioning it.

A new sense of strength gathered in her body but as she was approaching the car that would bring her back home, from this boy’s basement corridor, she thought of all the things she could do to erase the traces or consequences of what they had done. Nothing was meant to survive from him in her. Precautions didn’t suffice for her. She leaned her head against the window of the car, so this is what it feels like when two persons do what they both want.

When she held her keys in front of the locked door to the house she perished in, the sense of wrongdoing, that her body was not hers to give away, that it didn’t belong to her in the first place, that it could be tarnished and trashed in a heartbeat, crawled back into her. She was accompanied by many voices in her head but hers got crushed as soon as she opened the door. She felt like the only pulsating blood-filled stain in a pitch black room. Remembering what she had read in a magazine, she called back her newfound sense of autonomy and took a shower.

She knew that he was there before she saw him. She didn’t say anything. When he smiled, he was threatening. She wanted to wash herself everywhere, but stopped herself and rubbed her arms, her shoulders, several times instead. Crying now would mean admitting guilt. She could already sense shame, it was never hers, he didn’t need to say anything. He made emotions travel fast. Without moving her head, she could detect his frozen silhouette on the toilet seat, smoking. A cloud of damp shower gel smell and cigarette smoke invaded the bathroom and he got up and stuck his head out of the open window. She wanted him to disappear into the night sky.

A shower in the middle of the night, my girl?

It says it all, when you stop breathing whilst someone speaks.

I felt hot and sweaty.

He turned around with her panties in his fist, smiling at her, his eyes dead.

You think a shower makes it go away?

He stopped blinking, fixed on her.


She crossed her arms in front of her chest.

The stench of this boy, my girl.

He inhaled as loudly as he could using his hands as well as if he had formed air, and the sound of it in his nostrils disgusted her.

It’s all I will ever be able to smell on you. On my girl. You. Look at these!

He shows her the inner side of her panties. His pupils enlarged. His lips pressed tightly together.

The shamefulness and guilt pull her tongue into her throat. She can’t find her voice amongst the voices. Her mouth is stuck and open. She can’t answer.

This is what you do? It’s done. Look at you! A piece of meat. I’ve raised a whore in my house, then?

He is laughing at her, he is killing her.

He puts out his cigarette on her panties, never taking his eyes off her.

She is thinking about all the things that he did, everything that he let happen to her, how his violence sucked the souls out of them all, how he raped and took what he craved, how he cheated and screamed, how he came home late or never at all, how he stayed away, how he fought and infected everybody, how he made everybody a part of his insanity, how he inflicted death, how he fucked other women whilst her mother was pregnant, how he never stopped, never stopped being a predator, and she never stopped inhaling his smoke. But saying this to him would bury her voice for good. Her voice knows better. Her voice knows that she has to wait. Her voice knows when it’s safe to emerge. Her voice will reappear on this page. Her voice is what keeps her alive.

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2023 | Instagram: croque_melpomene

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