“Cult Child” excerpt

“Sister Freda’s husband, Wasal, comes to the girls’ room at night and chooses a girl to go read stories. He comes to the door and talks quietly to Sister Debbie. He tells her who he’s taking, and she calls the girl’s name. We’re always in bed already when he comes to get a girl for the bedtime story. We’re in our nightgowns and panties. When Sister Debbie calls the girl’s name, she gets off her bunk and goes to the front of the room.

Brother Wasal takes the girl’s hand and they leave. I feel left out. I think it’s because I’m in trouble all of the time that he doesn’t choose me to read stories. I vow to try and be good and not talk so I can hear a story from Brother Wasal. Maybe he’s not as bad as he feels to me sometimes, if he’s nice enough to read us bedtime stories.

Brother Wasal has a chunky belly and his pants buckle right in the middle of it. His face has lots of fleshy folds around the jaw, and he oils his black and gray hair to the side then back really slick. He breathes a little heavy when he talks. Once during a meal, I see Brother Wasal looking straight at me, but I turn around fast towards my food and do not meet his eyes. Tingling comes alive right below my ribs. That’s how I know someone isn’t good. When they come near me, I get a burning feeling right in the spot where the bottom of my ribs meets above my belly. Sometimes I feel sick inside, churning and gurgling all of the sudden like I need to get to the bathroom fast or I might have an accident.

But I don’t think about that feeling with him when I watch the girls go off for story time at night. I just feel jealous. Brother Wasal doesn’t take a different girl each night. He takes the same girl every night until he’s read her all of the books, and then it’s another girl’s turn. Brother Wasal takes some girls for a longer time than he takes other girls. All I know is that it feels like forever before it might be my turn to go.

Then one night, when Brother Wasal comes to our room, Sister Debbie calls my name. My heart starts fluttering because I feel excited. Finally! I climb down the metal rungs on the side of the bunk and go up to the door. Sister Debbie is looking at me with her slit eyes. I always feel her hatred pierce through me, in my skin; pin pricks down my spine. I think Sister Debbie is mad that I finally get to go have story time. She doesn’t want me to get to do anything special. But this time Sister Debbie can’t say no because Brother Wasal is the boss of her. I feel like saying “ha ha” to Sister Debbie, but I wouldn’t dare.

I turn toward Brother Wasal. He is smiling at me, and his eyes have wrinkles by them that make him seem nice right now. Why didn’t I notice those before? He has his hand stretched out, and I take it. It feels big, warm and strong over my little hand.

“Alright then,” he says to Sister Debbie as we start down the hallway. She nods back and closes the door.

I walk quiet beside Brother Wasal. He smells like the soap we use in the bathroom. It’s called Irish Spring. He smells like something else too. I only smell it when he talks. It’s a sweet smell on his breath that I would one day find out is liquor.

“Brandy.” Leis would later tell me. “He smelled like brandy.”

He has sweat on his top lip. He asks me if I’m excited to hear a story, and I nod. I don’t know if I should talk so I just don’t.”

“Cult Child” is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Cult-Child-Vennie-Kocsis/dp/0692235647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406752046&sr=8-1&keywords=Cult+child+by+vennie+kocsis

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