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Subject: short story

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Date Posted: 00:59:46 07/01/01 Sun

Family Album

Christmas sounds filled the house. The songs I started listening to the day after Thanksgiving. My sister's two boys fighting about which computer game to play--Blakestone or Doom. The phone ringing every twenty minutes. The doorbell announcing the arrival of yet another combatant. My son, John, who despises his aunt. My aunt Grace my sister only talks to when she has no choice. Grace's husband Burl nobody likes. My boyfriend Tony who doesn't like any of them. I shouldn't have bothered cooking the turkey. I could have just thrown some raw meat in the middle of the animals and watched them fight.
I took a chance on feeding them at the table instead. Everyone was too busy eating to talk very much. I listened to "God rest ye merry gentlemen . . . " and wondered. Are you resting, Dad? You never let me rest. I still don't. I fight you every night in my sleep.
After dinner we went to gather around the Christmas tree and collect our loot. It would be over soon. I couldn't wait for them to go home and leave me and Tony in peace. As soon as they'd finished filling the room with wrapping paper they fled--as usual. There is a God.
"Go and take a long bubble bath, Babe. I'll clean up", Tony said as he massaged my shoulders with those strong hands I loved. "Your muscles feel like knotted cable."
I found him waiting in bed for me when I forced myself to leave the warmth that enveloped me like a womb. The scent of candles and his cologne seduced me. When I slid between the cool sheets and felt his warmth I forgot about my family. While we made love I drifted in a warm river, bobbing gently with the current until I was caught in a whirlpool that dragged me down to the bottom, before thrusting me back to the shore where I panted and gasped for air. Tony held me close enough to hear his pounding heart until I fell asleep with his arm around my shoulders. There's a hand around my throat! He's holding me down again!
"Don't, please don't daddy! It hurts. I don't want to. It hurts. Stop. I can't breathe. Please don't put it there."
"Wake up, Jessie. Wake up. It's me. Tony. We're alone. Wake up. He's not here. It's O.K., you're with me. He can't hurt you. Wake up."
I opened my eyes and saw Tony's face close to mine. My hands were clenched into tight fists and I couldn't feel my fingers. As Tony stroked my face and rocked me in his arms my fingers loosened and my breathing returned to normal.
"I'm so sorry, babe. My hand was resting on your neck when I woke up. You had another flashback. I'm so sorry."

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