CW: child discipline
I sit on the edge of a bed and let my feet dangle from under my dress. On the floor below me, three girls I have only met once before are playing Barbie and Ken. Their long hair and dresses remind me of me.
I hear Dad talking in an adjacent room. His voice echoes across the house, “We love the church. We are so glad we met you. Our kids don’t have many friends.”
I look away, but once I notice they haven’t heard him, I crack my knuckles and show a smile. The oldest two girls glance over at me and whisper to themselves. My sister and brother aren’t with me, so I am outnumbered three to one. They think I’m boring.
“Ken’s weird,” I admit, biting the edge of my lip.
“Ken’s not weird,” the oldest and biggest of the girls says. “How old are you, anyway?”
“Six… and a halllffff,” I smile.
“I’m seven,” she says, puffing out her chest and sitting up straight.
I remember Mom said they’re home-schooled, so I shouldn’t ask them about class or anything like that. I jump off the bed, do a big twirl, and watch my skirt float back beside my legs.
“Why do you think Ken is weird?” the middle girl asks.
“Cuz boys are different. Like my little bro,” I announce casually. “He’s got a little friend. Down there.”
I point both index fingers at my crotch and give a cheeky grin.
They snicker like little school girls, and I laugh with them.
“What’s his name?” the oldest asks.
“Jon!” they cry in unison.
“-athan. It’s Jonathan. You can’t call him Jon. Mom hates that name,” I stammer.
Mom pokes her head in the door. Her expressionless face shows none of her concern, but her posture is rigid.
“What’s going on?” Mom asks. The trio chuckle as Jonathan peaks through the door beside Mom.
“Nothing. I was talking about Jonathan’s little friend and -”
Mom is part superhero. She passes the room faster than I can finish my sentence. She snatches my arm and digs her fingernails into my skin as she pulls me away. My grin fades, and I follow her, my legs barely keeping up with the speed.
She takes me into the bathroom and spanks me hard until I’m sore. Tears stream down my face. Is Jonathan’s little friend supposed to be a secret?
“We’re going home,” Mom tells Dad.
We load up in the car, and I try to sit on my less sore buttock. There’s silence the whole ride home, but I keep wanting to ask what I did wrong.
I never find out. I get the belt and sent to bed, and I never mention his little friend again.