The Lamb Misused
by Lesley C. Weston
Last summer Aunt Margo came for the weekend. She brought my cousin Angel with her. Angel looked like a porcelain doll, all pretty and pink, with blue staring eyes and big blonde ringlets all over her head, the kind you can put your finger inside.The next Monday, Aunt Margo drove off in her car and she hasn't come back.
I wonder why Aunt Margo named her kid Angel. I think maybe she never wanted her and hoped Angel would die. Then everyone would feel sorry for losing her baby.
But Angel didn't die and now Aunt Margo is stuck with her. Except she isn't really; it's almost a year since she dumped Angel here.
Mama said Angel was sick when she was born, so Aunt Margo never learned how to love her. Mama said, "it's so sad and you should be extra nice to Angel." She said that's why she brushes Angel's hair every morning, even though I have to do my own braids. Mama said Angel needs extra attention and she doesn't have time to do both of us.
Since Angel is so little compared to me, even though she's only eight days younger, Mama said she would sleep on the bottom bunk. That was my bed. Now my bed is on top. When Angel is sleeping I toss bits of paper down, imagining Angel is lost in a blizzard like the Little Match Girl.
The neighbor kids say Angel is a retard.
The boy next door threw rocks at Angel.
When the rocks hit her, Angel didn't cry, but tears ran down her pretty pink cheeks and her lips looked like mashed strawberries where her teeth bite into them.
Angel's bleeding lips made my stomach flip-flop.
The little girl who lives two houses down tickled Angel then pinched while Angel was still laughing, switched between tickles and pinches real fast.
Angel couldn't stop laughing. After a few minutes, Angel wet her pants and made the most beautiful sound; her laughter reached up to the sky then fell back to where it began before soaring up again.
Angel's laugh made me happy and scared, like when the kids tossed lighted cherry bombs at the ducks in the lake and the ducks ate them. Sometimes the ducks exploded, and sometimes they didn't.
The baby-sitter put nettles in Angel's hand and squeezed her fingers around them until Angel's hand bled.
A bubble trembled on Angel's mouth but she never made a sound. I wanted to pop the bubble and hear if a scream was inside.
The big boy across the street knocked Angel down and stuffed acorns in her underwear.
Angel sat on them all day, never telling. She rocked back and forth with her panties full of hard little balls. Watching her made me feel funny between my legs. And that made me want to hurt Angel, too.
So far, I haven't.
I hope Aunt Margo comes and takes Angel away.
Lesley C. Weston lives and writes in New York City. Her stories have or will soon appear in Smokelong Quarterly, GUD Magazine, The Green Muse, UR Paranormal, Duck & Herring Co. Field Guide, Ars Medica, The Pisgah Review and Per Contra.