As soon as she walked through the doorway, she saw it. The small trash can in her room had been gone through and the chip bag that had held the used condom was now opened and at the very top of the pile.

Annie felt her heart drop to her stomach and her throat begin to close. Her forehead felt tight and her face began to tingle. She sat on the edge of her bed and stared at the beige plastic can and tried to calm herself. She wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but she knew it would be painful; emotionally and physically painful. She didn’t have much time before her mother came home from work and she knew this would be addressed immediately.

Her first thought was to leave and not come back. She was nearly 17 years old and close to graduating. She had a part-time job waitressing but knew that wouldn’t be enough to live on. Moving in with her boyfriend wasn’t an option and she had no friends that were in the position to take her in. There seemed only two options left, stay and take what came or end it completely.

She had toyed with the idea of suicide many times before. Too many to recollect them all. She had tied plastic bags over her head until she was on the verge of passing out and tore at her mouth until the material tore and she breathed the air in quick gasps. She had many times placed her head in a noose she made with an old jump rope, she had lined up pills, and she had cut herself, but she never had the courage to follow through.

It wasn’t just lack of courage that prevented her from killing herself. She hadn’t lost all hope yet. There was still a tiny voice in her head that told her to hold on. That this hell could not last forever. That she could not allow them to defeat her; they couldn’t kill her spirit. But it was so hard to listen to that voice. It had been so long, as long as Annie could remember, that she had been hit, touched, blamed, forgotten about, and used that it was difficult to believe that someday she would be away from them.

She decided that her sentence in her parent’s prison was nearly up and she would stand and take whatever came. There were only a few more months before she would be able to legally leave and never come back. 

Annie stood and crushed the garbage down with her foot and paced her small, dark room until she heard her mother on the front steps. She heard the front door open and close and keys being placed on the hall table. She listened as heavy footsteps crossed the house.  Annie waited to hear her mother come up the stairs to her room but she never came. She could hear her mother starting dinner and thought that maybe she’d let it go. Sex wasn’t something that they were comfortable discussing together, so maybe her mother felt it was best to just ignore it. Annie hoped that was the case.

After a short time passed, Annie went downstairs to the kitchen. As she entered the room, her mother spun around to face her. In her hand she held a frying pan, halfway filled with bubbling oil. She backed Annie up against the back door and, with her jaw clenched and her eyes wild, she called her daughter a whore.

Annie was caught off guard as she felt the cold door at her back. The pan was just inches from her face and she felt the heat of it and became even more afraid.

“Who do you think you are? Having sex in my house! You whore!” The hot oil would come close to the edge and then recede again as she emphasised the words. Annie said nothing at all. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t think of anything except that her mother was going to throw that oil on her or hit her with the pan.

Suddenly, Annie’s knees bent and she slid against the door. Her thoughts became hazy and she struggled to focus on her screaming mother. “Get up! Get off the floor you goddam whore!” When she didn’t get up, her mother yelled for her to go back to her room; to get out of her sight. Annie raised herself to her hands and knees and crawled to the stairs. She stood up and went up to the quiet of her room.

She lay, face down, on her bed and tried to imagine herself away from the constant threat of physical or emotional violence. She couldn’t. She could think of nothing but what would happen after her father came home, most likely drunk, and heard about the hidden rubber. She thought again of the plastic bag.

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