When I was 15, almost 16, we were to move from Scarsdale, New York to Hartland, Michigan.  My younger brother and I had strenuously fought against it.  I had finally found something like a community in school, and my brother was in love.  It was not good enough for my parents to be stronger than us, they had to be right.  Abbi was a bad girl for Tommy.  My friends were drinkers and Jews.  Over and over: Abbi, drinkers, Jews, bad, Abbi, drinkers, Jews, bad.  Tommy had threatened to run away right before we left.

But it was just hours before we drove off, and Tommy was still here.  Mom and Dad were lying on the floor in their bedroom with the door closed to keep the air conditioning in; all our furniture had already been moved.  I decided to sleep in a tent in the back yard, the same tent we had camped in as little children.  Tommy followed me into the dark, groped me and made kissing sounds in the air as he tried to find my face.  He pulled me against him. I pushed him back and walked out of the tent in disgust.  It seemed like every time I turned around someone was trying to grope me.

Breathing, breathing, I tried to think of where to sleep.  I decided on the basement bathroom because it had a lock.  I would never tell my parents.  This had happened to me before; they couldn’t handle it.

So, we went to new schools, with my parents working fourteen-hour-days at their new school.  My brother got a girl from church pregnant, and beat her until she miscarried.  My parents didn’t find out.  My sister began drinking after school.  I dated a boy for a year I had never seen clean or sober.  We were all set for our future fuck-ups.

I think back to the cool of the cement bathroom floor, after Tommy, where I breathed so hard.  I would spend twelve hours with him in the car the next day, and have to change in front of him in the camper.  I flipped to the ceiling of the bathroom, and saw myself curled around the toilet.  I got calm.

Flipping:  St. Peter and the Trees


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