The Hole in the Wall

by Gregory Kuehn

He watches me through a tiny hole in the bedroom wall, a hole that I’m certain he put there on purpose; my so-called father. He says that he doesn’t, that I’m just being ridiculous and paranoid and a stupid little girl, but I know the truth. Sometimes I can feel his eyes groping my budding breasts or sliding below my hipbone down towards the pubic hairs that have only just begun to grow; his accosting, relentless eyes. And I can hear him behind the wall – the muffled grunts and moans and the disgusting skin friction and it makes me hate myself and want to vomit. 

I don’t know how the hole got there or even when exactly. It was one of those things that could have gone unnoticed forever, but once discovered, could never be overlooked again. I tried to cover it up. First, with a poster of Jacob from Twilight, sweaty and shirtless, which my father called “smut” as he tore it from the wall. Then, I tried things like sticking a post-it note over it, stuffing a sock into its opening, moving my dresser in front of it. But each time he would uncover the hole and tell me how tacky it looked to have a sock/dresser/post-it note, or whatever else there. “Forget about that damn hole,” he would say. “Just leave it alone.” And my hole-covering efforts ceased. But forgetting about it would have been impossible. That God-forsaken hole was always there, always – exposed and empty just like me. 

It started not long after Mom died. He began drinking a little more and a little more. He tried to hide it from me, but I could always smell the alcohol on his breath. Then he started to tell me how I was maturing into a beautiful young woman and he bought me things like skirts and strappy shoes and smaller panties than I had been used to wearing. “You’ll look nice in these,” he would say, and I would cower behind an awkward smile and thank him and then pray to God to bring my mother back. 

I thought about doing all my dressing and undressing behind the closet door or in the corner of the room away from the hole. I even considered taking showers in the girl’s locker room at school. But I was afraid of what might happen if I did, of what he might do if he couldn’t watch anymore. I didn’t want to know what he was capable of. I still don’t. He is my father. 

So now, as drops of water make their way down my body from behind the safety of a baby blue bath towel, I know he’s there, watching through the tiny hole in my bedroom wall. I slip off the towel and it falls to the floor revealing everything. I step into a pair of tiny black panties, one of the pairs he bought me, and I can hear him moan and then finish behind the wall. Then his footfalls fade down the hallway and I hear the distant shut of a door and I know that it’s over. 

Still, in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think that one day the hole in the wall might not be enough, and he will burst through my bedroom door and then into me, and I will cry out and beg for him to stop, and after a while, he will. But the sun will still rise in the east, and crows will still line telephone wires in summer, and the tiny hole in my bedroom wall will still be there, exposed and empty.

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Greg Kuehn served eight years in the United States Marine Corps and is currently a senior English education major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Upon completion of his degree he plans to pursue a career as a high school English teacher, a soccer coach, and a writer.
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