She stood in the small washing space. A tiny room, seemingly slapped together using rusted corrugated tin sheets attached to wooden posts. She trembled in the cold dry air of the Namibian winter. A ripped up tarp for a ceiling provided a view of the early morning sky, still starry as the sun was slow to rise that morning. The cold bucket of water beside her rippled in unison with her trembling body. They way the water reflected the night sky, it looked as if the bucket gave way to an infinite depth and darkness. She wished she could slide into the bucket and slowly sink into its depth, deeper and deeper in to the darkness, until her senses were no more, and she was one with nothingness. To be both nothing and everything at the same time.
This used to be her favorite place. She loved washing her skin in the last moments of the darkness. She liked the way the cold cloth felt on her skin. Washing the dirt from her body made her feel worthy of receiving the first rays of morning sun. But shame doesn’t wash off with an old rag and cold water. She brought her hands up to her forming breasts, she pushed them as flat as she could, please go away she said to herself repeatedly. She cried softly after she released them, and they bounced back to their shape. So proudly, as if they didn’t feel the same shame she did. She didn’t ask to be a girl. She would become a boy if she could to make it go away.
Her adopted mother told her this would happen. That despite her bloodline she would not be spared by the demon that plagued their family. It came again. Late in the night once her siblings were sleeping. She hated its smell. It reminded her of oshikundu that sat out too long. Sour.Fermented. Its touch was familiar. Strong callused type hands. She hated who it reminded her of. The strong farm hands of her guardian that only ever touched her affectionately and playfully. How can someone so good and something so evil have the same hands? Surely good and evil can’t exist on the same plane, within the same space, within the same being. Of course not. Besides, the touch was still different somehow, and her guardian only ever smelled of the soil. She hated the demon for not having different hands. She hated herself for false thoughts towards the man who saved her.
Fear gripped her tightly. It held her still so the demon didn’t have to. Her sisters never woke up. She felt their consciousness sometimes, but their fear was palpable and kept them in their place. She didn’t make a sound. She rarely did. The only thing there for her during the visits was her pain. And that was strictly for her. She would not share it with the demon.
In the washroom, before she even began to bathe, she heard the rustling of her younger sisters emerging from their room. Her alone time was over. The sun was peaking through the trees. It was time to work. She dumped the bucket of water on her entire body. A rush of cold pulsed through her like electricity. Her heart beat faster and her eyes widened. She rushed back to her room, wrapped her worn out shitenge around her waist, and put on one of her two black tank tops. Her mother would be awake soon, and the fire needed to be started and water boiled to make the morning porridge.
****And so this adventure begins. Day two of NaNo. I’m about 2500 words behind schedule. Thanks for reading.