Fig Street is Copyright © W. G. Sweet 2020
All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2020 Wendell G. Sweet
Some text copyright 1984, 2010, 2014, 2015 W. G. Sweet
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2020 Wendell G. Sweet. Dell Sweet, W. G. Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell G. Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.
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This excerpt is used with permission of the publisher.
It was the fifth grade, when she found out about that, and how right mother was about it too. She’d seen it, just as mother had told her she would. It was Johnny Creed, and they had been out back of the school like any day, cutting through the woods on their way home. And everything had been fine, really fine, just exactly as it should have been, and then Johnny had shown her just how boys really were.
It hadn’t been Johnny’s fault though, mother had explained that, it had been Millie’s own fault. Millie’s own fault, because she had sat down there, on one of the little side trails, with Johnny, and when Johnny had touched her, when he had touched one of her small breasts, she hadn’t stopped him. She hadn’t even known he was going to, he had just done it. One minute they had been talking about school, and the next he had kissed her, and then he had put his hand there. How could you stop something, you didn’t know was about to happen? She had asked herself back then. She hadn’t gotten any answer at all, and she hadn’t dared voice the question to mother.
It had felt good sort of, kind of scary, but kind of good, and it hadn’t felt bad, not at first it hadn’t. It hadn’t begun to feel bad, until she had thought of mother, and what mother would say if she knew. Then it had felt bad. Very bad, and she had run away as quick as she could, crying as she went, and she hadn’t stopped until she had been safely inside her own house.
Mother had known, somehow; however it was that mothers just knew that sort of thing, she had. She had just looked once and known. She had marched Millie down to basement, stripped her down, and looked to make sure Little Johnny hadn’t done anything else. Hadn’t touched anything else. That had been bad, but the beating that had come next had been even worse. But she had deserved it, and mother had explained that too.
She had held her, after the beating, and told her just exactly why it had been her fault, and just exactly how it was that it would never happen again, and Millie had agreed. It had been her fault, not Johnny’s, boys couldn’t help that part of it, just like mother had said. It was her fault because she had wanted to grow breasts in the first place. She had wanted to grow them to attract boys. She had acted just exactly like a little tramp. And the beating had been absolutely necessary, mother had explained in order to force that truth out of her. After mother had told her what it was, what had caused it, and she had admitted to it, it had been better. Mother had held her and rocked her, until she had finally fallen asleep. The next day came the over-sized clothes, and the Ace bandage.
The Ace bandage hid those sinful things, as mother called them, the baggy clothes took care of the rest. And then the hair came off. Short was the way it ended up, like a boys hair, and short was the way it still was-what little could grow past the scars was cut short twenty five years later.
School had been hard after that, or at least until she had gotten used to it, it had been.
The other children called her names constantly and made fun of her hair, and the way she dressed. But mother had been right, in fact; Johnny had never even spoken to her after that. And after a while none of the other children spoke to her either. They even stopped calling her names.
It made mother happy, and because it made mother happy, it made Millie happy.
And of course she had Jake. Jake never tried to touch her as Johnny had done, and he was there whenever she needed someone to talk to. And he was forever keeping an eye on her, and better than that, keeping a close eye on anyone who might want to hurt her.
There was also Emma now, but Emma was a bad girl, and Jake usually kept a closer eye on Emma. Millie herself thought that Emma was a nice girl, pretty, and not the slightest bit afraid of anything, as she herself was. But if Jake said she was a bad girl, then she was. Jake would know that sort of thing, after all.
She fixed herself a sandwich and grabbed an apple from one of the overhead cabinets. Since mother had died, she found she could eat anything she wanted and not get in trouble. That meant no peas, no carrots, and absolutely no fish.
She had missed mother at first, but only at first. After that she had been glad that mother had died. With mother there had been no freedom, no friends-except for Jake, and she hadn’t believed he existed anyway, and most of the time she was being punished for some infraction of the rules mother had set down for her to follow. Now there were no rules, none at all, and she could eat whatever she chose to, whenever she chose to. She blew out the candle, and carefully replaced it in the cupboard before she left the kitchen.
Millie found her way into the living room through the darkness, debated briefly, and decided it would probably be okay to turn on the television set. The shades were down, after all. She waited… Apparently Jake must agree, she decided, he hadn’t said she couldn’t.
She settled down in front of the TV to watch the evening game shows, and eat her dinner. Much later, after the last show, she took her dish into the kitchen to wash it. She lit her small candle once more.
No dishwasher in Millie Langford’s kitchen, absolutely not. It was just as mother had left it. Changing it would mean letting someone into the house to do the work, and that could not be allowed. Millie wasn’t exactly sure why it couldn’t be allowed, it just couldn’t. Jake had said so, so it was not something she would even think to question.
She drew the water, hot, just as mother had shown her. Cold would not do, warm would not do, hot it had to be. ‘If your hands are not red, Millie, how on earth do you expect to get the dishes clean?’ mother had asked her. She was right of course, mother was always right, and it stung, it stung really bad, but hot was what it had to be, and so hot was what it was.
Just as she was putting the dish back in the cupboard, she heard a loud crash from the basement. The dish slipped from her hand and shattered on the floor. She ran from the kitchen and sat in the living room, shaking.
The basement was the one place in the house that she could not bring herself to go. The basement had always been a bad place, for bad little girls who broke the rules. It still was, she suspected, and there was no way she was going to go and see what was down there, she told herself. In fact, first thing tomorrow morning, she would go to the hardware store and get the strongest lock she could find to put on the door. That should keep whatever was in the basement, in the basement, she thought…
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