My Uncle told me I was prettier than a red rose.
My dark eyes would sparkle at his sight and my lips would smile. His heavy hands would grab my tiny ones and take me to colorful parks. We would blink when we saw the ground, and I would laugh when I was thrown high to see the clouds. He would make me sit on his lap before fixing my dress and I’d tell him about all the strong thoughts that occupied my delicate mind.
“Aren’t you my pretty red rose?” He would whisper, and I would nod in agreement.
The laughs and whispers were followed by a night that debilitated my existence.
I still remember vividly, the footsteps that approached me. Never before had they been so silent, yet so threatening. I let out a smile while my fingers engaged themselves in arranging my toys to be played with later until he pushed them away and silenced my lips.
“Aren’t you my pretty red rose?” He whispered into my ear. That night, I didn’t nod and instead vaguely stared back assuming the time ahead.
“This is going to be our little secret.” He explained while he sat on my embroidered sheets. “Your mom and dad don’t want to know anything. You know that, don’t you?” As his words vocalized, his eyes turned crystal yet unpredictable.
He ordered me to close my eyes, and in bewilderment I obeyed.
The sincere darkness never terrified me, nor did the cold ever cause my teeth to clench. I never feared my uncle before, I never feared family before, but that moment I feared it all.
I didn’t cry when he left, I just sat up on my bed and looked back at my stuffed toys with shame.
Years and years of guilt, constantly thinking it was my fault, hours and hours of therapy, daily intake of pills, and once again, my parents concluded, “Stay away from strangers!”
But my Uncle wasn’t a stranger, or was he?
The gold would gloss, the flowers would still bloom, I watched everyone laugh, some fake, some real, and some kind. I was ignorant about my surroundings and stared blankly not knowing what else to do with my body that was once was all mine. I stared blankly at the blue pills I was forcing myself to take. I stared blankly at the sky that looked gloomy, and the clouds that cried with me. The little girl that once awaited the rain was now afraid of it.
My Uncle told me I was prettier than a red rose, and he took utter pleasure in fading it away.
- – Rimsha Qazi