Brothers South of the Mason Dixon (South of the Mason Dixon 2) - Page 33


It is Christmas today. My dad gave me this diary. He said it was to write stuff in. I knew what a diary was. My friend at school Tabatha has one. She writes in hers all the time then brings it to school to read it to us on the playground. I think Tabatha lies in hers though. I also think it’s silly to write Dear Diary. She should name her book. Books have names. Everyone can’t have the same title of a book. Your name is Sparkle. I like that name. It makes me think of stars and at night I like to count the stars.

Scarlet Eleanor North

6 years old

* * *

January 7, 2004

Sparkle Rose,

I started school again today. I like going to school. During the holiday’s my mom drinks a lot from the wine bottle. And she takes those little pills that she keeps under her bed. She hits and gets mean. But at school Mrs. Washington is nice. She has a baby in her stomach. She looks fat but she’s not. I added Rose to your name because you should have two names. It’s prettier. Tabatha brought her diary to school and read about her presents. She got a pony. A white one. I think that’s a lie. But I didn’t say so.

Scarlet Eleanor North

6 years old

* * *

March 16, 2004

Sparkle Rose,

Dad came home yesterday but this morning he was gone again. He wasn’t here for my birthday. Mom slept that day and forgot. Mrs. Washington gave me a cupcake at lunch. It was pink. I like pink. I told Dad that I named you Sparkle Rose. He just nodded and kept reading the paper in his hands. I think he heard me. I wanted to tell him about the man Mom keeps letting in the house. Tell him about what happens. But my chest gets tight. My lips freeze shut. I feel sick in my tummy. I didn’t tell him. Now he’s gone.

Scarlet Eleanor North

Seven Years Old

* * *

July 9, 2004

Sparkle Rose,

It is summer time. I lost you but I had forgotten I hid you in my closet under the blankets in the corner. I remembered while I was eating my cereal. Mom has been gone for a week on a cruise. That’s a big ship. It goes to another country. Ms. Bianca is here at the house with me. She is nice. She makes me clean my room and she taught me to cook chicken noodle soup. We watch a station with cartoons every day. I like those too.

Scarlet Eleanor North

Seven Years Old

* * *

September 13, 2004

Sparkle Rose,

Tabatha invited me to her house yesterday. But she said today that I couldn’t come to her house. Her mom said my mom was a slut. I don’t know what that means. But when she said it she scrunched her nose. Then she didn’t talk to me anymore. And when she read her diary on the playground I didn’t get to listen. The other girls all turned their backs on me. Said I was bad news. I don’t know how I can be bad news. I’ve never been in the news.

Scarlet Eleanor North

Seven Years Old

* * *

December 25, 2004

Sparkle Rose,

It was Christmas today. I got a baby doll. I got an art set. And I got a set of dishes with food. It isn’t real food. The kind you play with. Dad was home for when we opened the Santa presents. He left after. Mom wouldn’t get up from the couch saying her head hurt. I think he got mad at her. He left. I wanted him to stay. I wanted to make him cinnamon toast. Ms. Bianca taught me how this summer. I made some for Mom but she was back in her bed. I ate all of it and put it on my new dishes. It didn’t fit good. My dishes are small and have kittens on them.

Scarlet North

Seven Years Old

* * *

May 3, 2005

Sparkle Rose,

I want to be a grown up. I want to live in a house by myself. I would like a cat. I would also like a dog. But just me the cat and dog in our house. I don’t like my house. Mom took the lock off my door. She was mad because I locked it. Now I have no way to get away. When she sends him in here and he calls me baby doll and princess I can’t get away from him. Mom said I had to be good or she’d tell the police what I let him do and they’d put handcuffs on me. I don’t want to go to jail. I don’t think I do. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

Scarlet North

Eight Years Old

Bray

THE SICK KNOT in my throat was choking me. The entire drive I struggled to breathe past it. Air was limited. My jaw ached from how tightly it was clenched. Locked. Unable to loosen. Fury was there burning just under the surface. The only thing stronger than the fury, the need to kill someone with my own two hands, was pain. A debilitating pain. A pain that ran deep and raw.

Not for the first time I slammed the steering wheel with my hands and cursed loudly. To God. To Scarlet’s fucking parents. To every goddamn church going hypocrite in that town that turned their back on a kid. The roar from my chest didn’t ease the agony.

It hadn’t been my words to read. They’d been her secrets. But the first entry I glanced over made me smile. It had been so innocent. Sweet. A side of Scarlet I didn’t know. The next page was hard to resist. Instead of a smile, the mention of her mother being mean and hitting caught my attention. I couldn’t stop then. And as sick and fucking horrifying as the reality was I needed to read it. I knew with each soul shattering page that Scarlet had never told anyone.

“JESUS, SCARLET!” I yelled into the truck. My chest felt as if it had been ripped completely open. How was I supposed to keep from killing someone? The monsters all deserved a slow excruciating death.

And the things I’d said to her during sex. The fucked up things I’d done. She’d let me and come back for more. Jerking the truck off the interstate, I slammed it in park then jumped out and doubled over just before vomiting. My body heaved and tears stung my eyes from the pressure. Once it stopped I stood there in the evening breeze. I closed my eyes and let the tears that I didn’t know I had in me begin to slowly roll down my face.

The bitter taste of reality. The ugliness that went unnoticed. The little girl who became a survivor. Chills ran down my arms and I wished there was some way I could take all that pain away. Free her from the hold it had on her. Give her happiness. Not the forced shit I had seen in the past.

Pressing the ball of my palms to both eyes to stop the flow I growled at the unfairness. The brutality. Abuse. Neglect. And lies Scarlet had been forced to grow up with. When she ran from me, I thought she was weak. A coward.

I was angry at her for not being strong enough to stay. For not wanting me enough. I was so fucking wrapped up in myself that I couldn’t see it wasn’t about me. The whole damn thing hadn’t been about me. She’d not been so obsessed with me she chose to hurt Brent. Scarlet had been simply trying to survive.

I climbed back in my truck and pulled onto the road. I had to face her. That meant I had to get control of myself. She didn’t need to see me like this. I wasn’t even sure how the hell I was supposed to tell her I knew . . . her darkest secret. The one she had only told a diary she named Sparkle Rose. I’d invaded her privacy. “MOTHERFUCKER!” I slammed my palms against the steering wheel again.

Nothing in my easy ass life had prepared me for this. My father had died. We’d lost him. They think that’s what fucked me up. It’s what it had been blamed on. But Jesus, what a pussy I was. I had lost a parent, but I had a mother who would stand in front of a bullet for me—not that I’d let her—and four brothers that would do the same. My house hadn’t been a horror show. When I was eight my biggest concern was getting the last damn fried pie. Or who was going to clean the toilets that week.

When I passed the exit sign I took a deep breath. This was not what Scarlet needed. My crying and agonizing over a hell she’d already lived through did nothing to help her. I wasn’t sure there was anything that could heal what she’d endured. I knew she wasn’t the only child on the planet to suffer in that way, but she was mine . . . fuck. She was. Scarlet was mine.

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