Summer had fast past and now the stench of August heat was setting in. The roads overgrown with weeds, crickets and rabbits hopping about in between. At fourteen, puberty was becoming old news to Claire and things like shaving and applying deodorant were her top priority. “Personal hygiene is a woman’s best friend,” her mothers always relayed and Claire never doubted those sleek words of wisdom. She no longer played outside with her younger sisters as she once did but instead stayed indoors, reading Jane Austin and helping mom around the house. Southern belle she was not but a lady, she’d always be.
The doorbell rang, causing her to jump back to reality. She could hear her mother’s footsteps clack across the linoleum tiles, making her way toward the door.
“Jacob, thank you so much for coming so soon. If Mr. Hannon wasn’t in the city for the week, I’d just hold out but I can’t take the faucet dripping any longer.”
“No problem Mrs. Hannon, I’m glad I can help.”
She could smell his rich scent from around the corner; a mixture of sweat and cheap cologne. Jacob Landon, who lived down the street had always been a crush of hers. At sixteen, his weight had finally caught up with his height, filling his arms and midsection with lean muscle. She sometimes fantasized about grabbing his upper arms and holding onto them for dear life, like some damsel in distress she often read about.
“Right through here,” her mother instructed Jacob as she guided him to the kitchen. Claire briefly turned her head to see them pass, catching Jacob’s quick nod to her. Her heart beat fast, excitement that Jacob Landon was in her kitchen, only ten feet away from her at this very moment. She returned to her book, trying to focus on the black words typed across the page. She could hear Jacob clinking and clacking away at the sink, her mother standing by asking question after question.
“Here’s the problem,” she heard Jacob say, “your pipe down here is completely busted. You’re going to need a new one.”
Her mother sighed. “Wonderful. Why does these things always happen when John is out of town?” She imagined her mother shaking her head.
“It can be easily fixed,” Jacob assured her. “I can run to the store, grab a new pipe and have it fixed for you before dinner.”
“Really? Oh, thank you so much. Here, let me grab my purse to give you cash, how much do you think you’ll need?”
She didn’t hear Jacob’s reply, only the movement of both bodies returning to the hallway from the kitchen. “Thank you so much dear, I really appreciate it.”
“My pleasure Mrs. Hannon, honestly, I was just killing time around the house so at least I have something to do now.”
She felt the attention of both, even with her back to them. “Claire, honey, why don’t you go with Jacob to the store? You know, get some fresh air?” Her mother turned to Jacob, “It used to be I could never get her inside and now she stays cooped up all day with her head in those books”. Both Jacob and her mother laughed. Claire sat up, trying to dissolve the blush that had overcome her face.
“Sure, that would be nice.” Her eyes met Jacobs’ and she could feel the heat rise in her cheeks. She diverted her eyes and grabbed a pair of shoes while following Jacob out to his truck. I’m going with Jacob Landon, Jacob Landon! Wait till she told her friends, whenever she talked to them next that is. The truck made more noise than a steamboat with the inside humid and dry. With only a front row seat, absent of seat belts, Claire kept her hand firmly on the passenger door as not to slide down to Jacob. Even with the thick heat, Jacob had on thick jeans and a green t-shirt with sweat stains embedded under his armpits. He seemed calm and collect, asking her about her summer and what books she was reading. She couldn’t believe she was alone, in a car with the Jacob Landon.
The trip there barely took ten minutes, Jacob finding what he needed and then ushering her out of the store. The drive home was different. Jacob seemed off but she couldn’t tell why. His speed home accelerated that of before and this time, he barely said a word. Turning onto the dirt path, 1/2 a mile from her house, he pulled over and turned off the ignition. She was confused, curious but didn’t say a word. Jacob slide down next to her and put his arm over the seat, gently stroking her hair.
“You look really pretty today Claire, almost like you’re a woman now.” His voice dropped an octave. His tone frightened her.
“Thank you.” She didn’t turn her head, just stared straight ahead, frozen.
Jacob moved in closer, this time taking his other hand and moving it under her light summer dress. “I bet you’ve never been touched, have you?” She shook her head. “You’re becoming a woman now, don’t you think it’s time?” She remained motionless. His hands pulled down her underwear and soon she felt his fingernails scratch across what her mom referred to as her “privates”. “Yes, yes,” he moaned softly into her ear, “doesn’t this feel good?”
“I, I no Jacob,” she stuttered.
His hand that was stroking her hair, brushed across her face and was soon cupping her chin. “What?”
“Jacob, don’t, no,” she whispered. She couldn’t speak.
He shoved her head back, smacking against the glass window and pulled her down on the seat. “Don’t you want to be a woman Claire? Don’t you want to be wanted?” She couldn’t move. Her throat ached to scream but no sound came out. He ripped off her panties, her favorite pair her mother bought for her at the department store and soon she could hear him unzip his pants and suddenly he was in her. Sweat ran down his forehead and fell onto her chest as he pushed in and out of her, treating her like some tool. The pain started off small and then grew the size of a basketball. She felt like throwing up, or passing out, whichever freed her faster. His face scrunched and he let out a moan, putting a stop to all motion. Soon his heavy weight was lifted off her and he was sitting back behind the wheel.
“Sit up you little slut,” her ordered. Her legs felt like 100lbs stones. On the floor lay her panties, ripped into three. He took a piece and wiped himself off then threw it at her. “Get yourself together, wouldn’t want your mom knowing about this.” She looked down at her dress, now crinkled with a slight red stain. Jacob started the car and soon they were in front of her house, like nothing happened. He opened the door to get out but turned to her before moving. “Say one word to anyone and I’ll be forced to come clean about how you begged me to pop your cherry.” His eyes cold. “Your mom will be so embarrassed Claire and your dad, how will they even look at you?” He shook his head. “Their daughter, the little slut. That’s what you are, you know?” She kept her eyes on the dashboard and remained silent. He grabbed her inner thigh. “Understand?” She nodded.
She followed him up the porch steps and into her house. “That was quick!” her mother exclaimed upon greeting them inside. Jacob made his way to the kitchen to replace the pipe while Claire walked past her mother and into her bedroom without saying a word. That night and days after, she laid curled in bed, afraid to come out of her room. Her mother blamed it on the flu, never thinking twice it could be something else. She couldn’t look her parents in the eyes, ashamed of what she’d become in those brief but excruciatingly long minutes. She no longer read the tales of romance as the thought of being touched made her shudder and cry. She sustained from school dances and chats with boys, finding solace in solitude and dark rooms.
Forward to years later, revenge finally took its toll. Doubt left as quickly as it came. The burn of her vagina, the rash on her thigh. She could feel it like it was yesterday. Jacob Landon, the bastard that took her life was about to get his due punishment. Without blinking, she jammed the knife into his chest, maneuvering it like a joystick. She dug deep and pulled it out, slamming it back into his chest, this time deeper and with harder thrusts. And again, and again. The odor of warm blood filled her nostrils, causing her to step back. She looked down at the pathetic soul lying beneath her. His skin, aged and wrinkled, covered with blood. She stepped over him, leaving the knife jammed in his chest and made her way out the door. Several years from now, she’d be known as the Killer Queen. But today, she was just Claire, the shy girl who never spoke much and winced whenever you tried to make eye contact. Yes, today she was just Claire.
By Amanda Stewart