'Amen' by Kathy Hoyle

Bare knees on cool wood, heads bowed, faces buried in a heavy, winter quilt. Hands together, eyes closed.
No smirking, squinting glances.
Six years old and three years more, sharing half the blood. The names of the other halves are whispered only on the darkest nights, to pinched- mouthed aunts who bring wine.
Say your prayers.
We try to make the words sound right, learnt by heart, repeated. Our mouths too small to make the cavernous O’s and gaping A’s. Oh, God! Amen.
I pray for Charlotte Blake’s red bicycle and the leather sting of the belt. It hurts less than the poker, glowing with menace, on the hearth. My sister tells me, in whispers, that she prays for the Daddies to come.
We are wicked girls.



Bare knees on cool wood, heads bowed, faces buried in thin, summer quilts. New twin beds. We had to earn them. Our backs are stained raw with welts. Hands together, eyes closed.
No giggling, silliness.
Thirteen years old and three years more, sharing secrets in a silent duet. In school, we dance together around the questions and the lies.
Say your prayers.
We make the words sound right. Our practiced, smooth sincerity saves us from the Cold Bath or a day of fasting. I pray for clear skin and that Charlotte Blake doesn’t notice I stole Advil from her schoolbag. I curl around the pain. My sister tells me, in whispers, that I am a woman now. She is too. A boy, dark and certain, has spread her wide like a gutted fish.  She prays he will come for her.
We are wicked girls.



Bare knees on cool wood, heads bowed. The pinched- mouthed aunts like sentinels around the bed. Twenty years old and three years more. The click and hiss of the Oxygen bottle mirrors our breathing.
Time ticks. The air, thick with the cloying scent of death. An animal whimper from the bed. We stand, look, without flinching. Parchment skin, blue-hued lips, tightened in pain. My sister tells me, in whispers,  it won’t be long now. I take her hand and smile, our prayers answered.
We are wicked girls.




First published in @reflexfiction. 

Comments

  1. I'm all for wicked girls. This is a great flash!

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