Thursday, November 14, 2013

There's a Penis On My Backpack

There’s a penis on my backpack. A real one. I need to go to school but there’s this large, black penis lazily resting on my backpack and really don’t know what to do. I am 12, kneeled down in front of this penis like I'm examining a strange leaf or perhaps a weird mushroom. I hesitantly reach for my pink backpack underneath, grimace, pull back and shake my head. “Ugh,” I think to myself as I stare at the 22 year old naked male attached to the penis, “This guy ruins EVERYTHING.”

Charles had already ruined the evening before, at dinner. We had been throwing insults back and forth around the table and it all ended with Charles triumphantly announcing that he had taken a shit and wiped his ass with one of my favorite shirts, but he would never tell me which one. I tried to leave the table to storm off to my room but Charles said it was bad manners to leave before everyone else, so I had to stay.

But after all that had transpired that night, everyone was still fully dressed when I had gone to bed. I didn’t really know what had happened to leave me in my current predicament but the beer cans at the base of the couch were a good clue.  “Who does this??” I thought to myself as I looked at this unconscious, naked man. I started to walk back towards my mom’s room. “Mom.” I said flatly, with as much judgement as I could put into my young voice, “Charles is naked on the couch on my backpack.” But my mom was sound asleep, and the snoring from her sleep apnea drowned out my voice. I thought of shaking her awake and dragging her out to see for herself the person she had let into our lives, but I knew deep down that I wouldn’t enjoy how sad she’d be.

I walked back into the livingroom, quietly picked up the phone, and walked into the kitchen to call Darnesha.
“Darnesha," I whispered.

“What,” she said groggily. It was still a little too early to be heading out.

“Charles is asleep naked on the couch – on my backpack.”

“I’ll be right over.”
 She hung up the phone.

Within 5 minutes my neighbor and best friend was at my door, barely able to contain her excitement at our new adventure. Her eyes slid over to the right and she spied the naked Charles, “oooh….look at that.” She rushed in unzipped her backpack and pulled out a camera.

“What are you doing? You’ll wake him up!” I whispered frantically.

Darnesha was far more savvy than me. She wore eyeliner and new how to gel her hair in a way that looked both pretty and dangerous. She knew what she was doing. “No, he’s passed out, look” and she calmly poked him hard in the thigh. He twitched his leg a little and stayed fast asleep. She got about a foot away from his penis, intently snapping pictures with her little 35mm camera. Then she backed up to get some full body shots. She laughed a little and shook her head.


I laughed a little and then started to cry a bit. “Darnesha, I hate him so much. He makes me want to run away.” I was choking on my words. He ruined everything, my mom, my dinner, my clothes – my whole childhood. And here I was, just trying to go to school, the one place where I was safe and somewhat happy, and he was ruining that too.

Darnesha said quickly, “hey, it’s ok, look.” And she quickly yanked the backpack out from under him and handed it to me. He snorted in his sleep and turned to his side.

I didn’t even want to touch my bag. I took it gingerly by the shoulder straps. My brother came out of his room dressed for school. “Hey, what’s going on?” he asked.

“Shh!!” I said, “Go - go to the bus now.” I didn’t want him to see this. He quickly ran out the door, confused.

I set my jaw in anger. Kids shouldn’t be seeing this, I thought. I looked down at Charles again, sleeping so peacefully.

I unzipped my backpack and pulled out my Washington State History textbook. I aimed for his good eye and threw it as hard as I could. It hit its mark with a hard thud and then bounced onto the floor.

“WHAT THE FUCK!” He jolted up, disoriented. He reached for his eye and I rushed over and grabbed the textbook off the floor and with one quick swing hit him again. The contact of the corner of the textbook with his eyebrow reverberated through my arm.

“Fuck!” He yelled and started to get up.

“Run!” I said quickly.

“Loser,” Darnesha said again as we ran out the door.

We didn’t stop running until we reached the bus stop at the top of the apartment complex. I looked around, he hadn’t followed us.

“Man, that was so awesome! Damn!” Darnesha laughed. She was wide-eyed, amazed.

I laughed at myself, still in a bit of shock. “It was, wasn’t it?” I laughed some more. Then I smiled the biggest smile I’d had all year. I replayed the vision of Charles clutching his eye, naked and hurting and stupid. “God, what a loser, “ I said, and I got on the bus.


  1. in this case, charles was not in charge-- you were. ;)

  2. I found your post from Jezebel. Love this! As I was reading this, I was hoping that this is a fiction, a short story because no child should have gone through this experience in real life. It's likely though this was based on some childhood experience? If so, then kudos to our heroine. Talk about taking back one's own agency. Kudos and best wishes.

    1. Yes, it is a true story, but I bear no real scars from this dark time. Thanks for reading :)

  3. Read this on jezebel as well. Kudos to your brilliant storytelling skills! I loved how you depicted this coming out of age bundle of feelings with a familiar mix of sorrow, deceitfulness, injustice, desperation but yet also empowerment... Much thanks!

  4. read this on jezebel too. love it. looking forward to read more from you. ~from Malaysia

  5. Hahaha Come-up'ins. I request more stories,

  6. I read this on the Jezebel site. While reading the story, I was moved by so many emotions: anger, sadness, confusion and yes a little bit of JOY too. The joy and elation came at the end when she calls her best friend who seems to provide her with a little bit more courage to throw the huge and heavy book (and we all know how big and hard history books can be)! I wondered what would happen to the protagonist when she returned home from school, would Charles be there waiting or would he, once again, defile her clothes while she's away at school?! Oh the wonders of short stories! Thanks for sharing your talents and the story.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I read it too and having grown up in a similar environment, I was afraid for you coming home at the end of the day. I used to stay at a friend's for a couple of days and refuse to come home until I was guaranteed safety, however fleeting. I'm impressed that you can tell the story now and that you have obviously turned into an amazing woman. Fantastic!