The dream came again, and I knew what was happening even before I was awake. It was always the same; first the dream, and then the nightmare that was reality; the nimble creepy fingers exploring my inner thighs, and then searching my privates. As a well-trained slave—fully aware of my helplessness and sickening lack of ownership of anything, including my own body—I complied with my stepfather’s wishes, hoping he would be done without talking to me, as fewer things made me feel more disgusting than the gratified whispers uttered from the mouth of the fool – the lover, so pathetically addicted that it actually didn’t matter how I felt.

My mind wandered as I was positioned on my back like a dead person. In fact, I felt as if I were dead, or was I just hoping again, that if he saw what a stone his touch made me, that he would be too ashamed to take that which he could not hope to justify.

A moan and a shudder came from the heap above me.

I lay there, still feigning sleep, waiting for the sound of water to come from the bathroom. When it did, I turned and peered over into the darkness, looking for the sign of life, the only corroborating witness that I was neither a liar, nor insane. There was nothing. As usual, my stepsister Monica made no sound—no acknowledgment whatsoever. Even though she, the daughter of that beast, was probably first tonight—most every night for that matter—there never was any mention of it. It’s like it was maybe all in my mind.

I dozed off, thinking of the jet-set life of freedom I would someday lead. I was older now, a gorgeous, tall, sophisticated, and terribly important lady. As I arrived from some foreign land, all conversation would cease. Everyone would stop and stare, enraptured, as I swept into our tiny one bedroom Yonkers apartment, smelling like flowers, with fancy matching luggage, and a hat, and gloves and a pretty scarf around my neck. And my name was no longer just plain Mary. The awkward one who could never do anything cool or right, who Monica and the other kids laughed at when the nuns made me wet my pants and walk home from school that way. In fact, I didn’t even know that girl had ever even existed or had ever lived in this apartment. My name was Angelique, and I was a winner and a success.




Mary McBeth is an African-American writer and editor. To date, she has lived and worked in more than 220 cities, in 23 countries. She is currently living in Panama, Central America, where she is hard at work on her first book length memoir entitled, Where the Heart Is.