He yanks at my hair and I can almost hear his surprise as the wig flies off in his grip. The wig hits the dingy wall above the bedframe like a diseased pigeon smacking into a window before collapsing in a heap on the pillow. It isn’t a very nice wig, the yellow synthetic fibers obvious as you got a closer look at it. It’s all I can afford.

He jerks on my real hair this time causing me to inhale sharply as the back of my neck cramps with his effort. I clamp my lips shut to stifle my shriek.

“Was it like this? Is this how he made you feel?” he asks quietly, his hands wrapped in my hair.

“Please . . . don’t . . . I don’t want to go there,” I plead as I lie trapped in his arms on top of the bed.

“Tell me, Roxy,” he demands. He rips through the lace of my panties, and I start to struggle.

“No!” I can feel the rough weave of his pants up against my bare buttocks as I fight him. The fabric chafes and rubs causing the panic to well up in my chest.

“It doesn’t have to be this way if you tell the story.” He fumbles with the zip on his pants. I can feel him shift his weight as his pants slide down past a point where I can no longer feel them. It offers little in the way of relief as I know what’s likely to come next. I brace myself.

He pushes himself inside me with a sigh.

I let the angry tears come.

He doesn’t fuck me further.

“Who was he Roxy?” he asks gently.

It’s his sudden kindness that undoes me. It’s like lancing a boil as all the pain, shame, and humiliation ooze out of the secret dark places.

“My uncle,” I whisper hoarsely, squeezing out the words. He lays a brief, chaste kiss on my cheek before placing his head on mine, his hand slowly stroking my hair. He still doesn’t move inside me.

“When?” he asks, continuing to stroke my hair. Up and down.

 “I was barely five,” I admit, the embarrassment staining my cheeks although I know he can’t see it. It’s easier to tell the story this way, easier to let the words flow when I can’t see his face. It’s like talking to myself. 

 “And,” he urges. He’s panting slightly.

“It was my grandmother’s house. He was staying there. He had had too much to drink. Later, he told me I was special,” I utter the words like they aren’t real. They are someone else’s words, someone else’s story. It isn’t mine. I am Roxy. Roxanne doesn’t exist anymore.

“He took away your innocence,” he states simply. He shifts his arm beneath my neck.

His words move me in a way that I hadn’t expected. It isn’t that they aren’t true, it’s more that even though I know them to be true, they don’t feel real until someone else says them. I’d shut that box and locked it years ago, not expecting a stranger to be the one to open it again. How else was it to be? What do you do when your five years old and scared? You push the pain and the guilt far down inside yourself until you can’t see it anymore. It’s how I survived and up to now, that’s exactly what I’ve done. No one asks the question, no one cares how I ended up here. I am just Roxy the girl who makes fantasies real.

The sob erupts from my chest before I can stop it. It starts somewhere deep within my belly and travels up through my ribcage before taking a hold of my shoulders. This time the tears that come unbidden are full of loss and sorrow: for the little girl who’d put on the brave face all those years ago, for the older version of her who ran away from the chaos only to end up on the streets before finally landing here. This is where Roxanne has become Roxy, and it had started in that one dark moment in a forgotten room full of shadows and sexual whispers. I cling to the bed sheet, gripping the tatty fabric in my fists.

“Shhh,” he coos into my ear. “Let it out, that’s it.” He rocks me back and forth on the bed. “Let the darkness come.”

He starts to move inside me. Slow and insidious.

I lie there confused, the motion disorienting me. The emotion that is so raw and real moments ago fizzles out in the wake of his violation. Instead, a new emotion is filling me up. Disappointment. Suddenly, I feel a hundred years old. Nothing ever changes.

“I don’t want this.” I try to pull his prick from my body. “You need to leave.”

He sighs in my ear. “That’s what they all say, but I’m going to save you. You don’t have to put on the red light anymore.” He tightens his grip on my neck, his pace picking up.

The fear kicks in immediately, but it’s too late. He shoves me into the bed with a force that leaves me breathless, holding my head flat on the mattress while extending his hold on my neck. My neck muscles revolt under the strain as I struggle beneath his weight, desperate to keep my mouth clear and free. I take in a lungful of air. “You don’t have to do this,” I gasp, the tears free flowing now. He pushes me further into the mattress.

“Let go of the darkness. Let me wash away your sins,” he replies calmly as he ruts on top of me. He says it in a reverential way as if he’s praying in church. He doesn’t panic, he doesn’t sweat or struggle. His voice is almost clinical in its detached tone.

“Please,” I beg one last time. My muscles are cramping with the exertion of fighting him. I can’t hold my head up much longer, and I’m so tired. Tired of it all. It seems so unfair to have it come to this. I take in a mouthful of cotton sheet this time around and I gag.

“Roxanne you don’t have to put on the red light,” he croons. Over and over. Like a needle skipping over a record’s surface. He grabs a pillow and shoves it over my face.

I let go.

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