The Third Bastard

A young mother of two children finds temporary solace with a friend of her father's.

An excerpt:

She gazed at the coffee table and took a long sip of the sherry. "Funny how things happen," she said. "I was so curious about sex, I guess all kids are, but I mean I was really curious, I really wanted to know what it was all about.I mean, I knew about it in theory, but that just wasn't enough for me. To really know about something, you have to experience it, I guess that's the way I thought. Well, that's the way I think even now.

"It wasn't that I wanted sex in a horny kind of way, you know? I just wanted to really know about it. So I was on the beach with this guy one night and he started doing things to me, and then I just lay on my back and let him screw me. Just like that. And then it was all over and I still felt like I really didn't know about it. But I got pregnant. Can you imagine that? I wasn't even sixteen yet, and it was the very first time, and I got pregnant. I never even thought about the possibility. Some experience."

She took another sip. Her gaze hadn't wavered from the coffee table. "So my parents sent me to this place in the western part of the state. They told people I was going to boarding school, but I don't think anybody was fooled. And they wanted me to give the baby up for adoption, but I couldn't do that. I just couldn't. After going through all that, I guess I had to have something to show for it. So that was Linda. She's a doll."

"How old is she?"

"She's five. And I'm twenty-one, can you imagine? And Sammy is almost three. I really love them, but sometimes-I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I've been a mother all my life. Like I never had a chance just to be young, you know what I mean?"

And now at last she looked at him. She had a wide mouth that always seemed as if it were about to smile. "I think I do," he said.

She nodded. "I think you do, too. I think you're that kind of guy. I think you understand things. And people. I like that. That's why I'm talking to you like this, I never talk about this crap to anybody. Not even my husband the bastard, I never told him all this. I only married him because I thought I needed a husband because I had a kid. I thought he'd be strong and I thought he'd help me, but he was weak. He was no help at all. He was a drunk, and I guess I could've put up with that, but when he got drunk he'd start hitting me. He'd call me names and he'd hit me, not just slap me, hit me with his fists.

"And you know something? I never fought back. I never even tried to protect myself. I'd just stand there and let him hit me until he decided to stop. I guess I wanted to be punished. But then, after a couple of years, I decided I didn't want to be punished anymore, so I walked out with the kids. And then after a while I decided to come back here. So here I am."

"And here I am, too."

"Yes. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you came over. At first, when you called, I wasn't too sure, but now I'm glad. You're a good guy. I like you."

"I like you, too."

"Thanks. I need someone to like me. If someone likes me, maybe I can learn to like myself." Her face was calm, but tears rolled silently down her cheeks.

"In fact," he said, "I think I'm right on the brink of falling in love with you and it wouldn't take much to push me over."

She gazed at him for a moment and then laughed. He had never heard her laugh before. The sound was as bright and as clear as a silver spoon against a crystal glass. He put his arms around her firm, slender shoulders and marveled at the feeling of the muscles in her slender back, and she thrust herself hard against him and he kissed her cool mouth.

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