Please note: All characters in this story are fictitious, any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The author does not necessarily condone or endorse any of the activities detailed in this story, some of which are dangerous or illegal.
Please keep in mind the difference between fantasy and reality.

Old Scars
Written by Janus
Copyright 2013

Beth was hosting a sleepover. Her guests were her two best friends since kindergarten: Rachel and Rebecca . Their sleeping bags had been hauled into Beth’s room but were ignored since they preferred to hyperactively bounce on the bed while they enjoyed licorice and popcorn. A steady rain fell outside, the droplets thrumming against the darkened windowpane, but this went unnoticed. They had begun playing Truth or Dare, as twelve year old girls tended to do at every sleepover.

The first several rounds had been uneventful as the friends asked about each other’s crushes or dared someone to stuff their mouth full of popcorn. Now the questions were getting more pointed and the dares becoming more audacious. “Hmmm,” Rachel said as she chewed on some licorice. “I’ve got one for you Beth. What do you think of when you see your little brother naked?”

“What?” Beth said incredulously as her friends exploded in laughter. At eight years old, her brother James was a full four years younger than she was.

“Tell us,” Rachel giggled. “We know you’ve seen him naked before.”

“That’s gross,” Beth retorted, leaning over to punch her friend in the arm. “I’m not answering that.”

“Okay, okay.” Rachel couldn’t stop laughing as she feebly dodged the blows. “All right, I dare you to take off your bracelet and show us your birthmark.”

Beth scowled. “Oh Beth,” Rachel rolled her eyes. “We’re your friends. We know you wear that bracelet to hide your birthmark. You don’t have to be embarrassed around us.”

“Yeah, come on,” Rebecca urged. “I’ve never even seen you take it off. I mean, you even wear it when we go swimming at the beach. Why are you so embarrassed about your birthmark anyway?”

“I told you… I… don’t like my birthmark,” she answered haltingly. Beth ran a hesitant finger against the polished silver of the bracelet on her left hand. It fit her wrist perfectly, thanks to a hinge that allowed the bracelet to open and close. Each year, Beth used her birthday money to buy herself a new bracelet, thereby ensuring a good fit as she outgrew her old ones. Several times the width of wristwatch band, Beth had over the years become accustomed to the heft of it, as well as the look. Teachers at school even occasionally referred to her as “The Bracelet Girl.”

“Either you have to show us your birthmark,” Rachel said, “or you have to answer what you think of when you see your brother naked.”

“We’re not going to make fun of you or anything,” Rebecca promised.

The ultimatum was issued. Sighing, Beth reluctantly unclasped the silver bangle. Her wrist felt funny and exposed without it. Even her own mom rarely saw Beth without the bracelet. Despite Rebecca’s assurance, she could feel both her friends looking at her wrist. It made her feel self-conscious. “Oh, stop staring,” she snapped at them.

“Sorry Beth,” Rebecca apologized.

“Does it hurt?” asked Rachel, reaching out to feel the web of criss-crossed marks on her wrist? “It looks really pink.”

“It does,” Rebecca confirmed. She pointed at an area of Beth’s wrist with u-shaped colorations. “These almost look like bruises.”

“They’re not bruises, okay?” Beth spoke with such force that her friends were taken aback. Annoyed, she quickly put the silver bracelet back on her wrist, which was difficult because her fingers were shaking. Being the subject of such intense scrutiny made her feel like a lab rat in a maze. There was an awkward silence as the three friends tried to navigate past the faux pas.

“Forget about it,” Beth said gruffly. “Does anyone want any more root beer?”

“Sure,” Rachel said, holding out her glass.

“Thanks,” Rebecca said as Beth refilled their cups.

“Is it my turn now?” Beth asked. Her friends nodded. Beth thought for a minute before choosing her victim. “Truth or Dare, Rebecca?” she asked.


“I dare you to go run outside in the rain,” Beth said. “Naked.” She helped herself to a handful of popcorn.

“No way, my hair will get all wet,” Rebecca said. “I’ll do Truth instead.”

“Ha!” Rachel mocked her. “Baby!” Rebecca slapped her on the forearm with a licorice, causing Rachel to howl in protest.

“Shhh, you guys,” Beth admonished them, not for the first time. “My mom is going to get mad if we keep making too much noise.”


“Sorry, Beth.”

“So you want Truth,” Beth mused, thinking for a minute. “Have you ever…” She trailed off, unable to think of a good question.

“Oh, I know!” Rachel said helpfully. She sprang forward to whisper something in Beth’s ear.

“No, I don’t want to ask that!” Beth declared.

“Ask it, ask it!” urged Rachel, sitting back down on the bed.

“Um, Rebecca, is it true that you, uh, saw something poking out in Mr. Bowen’s jeans on Thursday?” Mr. Bowen was their gym teacher at school. Beth couldn’t even ask the question without blushing. But her embarrassment was nothing compared to the look of mortification on Rebecca’s face.

“You jerk!” she said, kicking Rachel. “Who told you about that?”

But Rachel just made a zipping motion across her lips. “You have to tell the truth,” Rachel reminded her.

“Yes,” Rebecca said, not looking at them.

“I knew it!” Rachel crowed. “It’s my turn. Truth or Dare, Rebecca?”

“Um, Dare,” Rebecca said.

“I dare you to give Beth’s little brother a kiss,” Rachel said, giggling.

“Shut up,” Rebecca said, punching Rachel in the arm. There was a brief melee as Rachel whipped her with a piece of licorice.

“So you want Truth instead?” Rachel asked. Rebecca nodded. “Did you get a little tingly when Mr. Bowen was showing you the right way to swing a softball bat in gym class?”

“God, shut up!” Rebecca threw a handful of popcorn at Rachel, who had once again dissolved into giggles.

Beth laughed nervously, knowing it would be strange of her to remain conspicuously silent. Her hand reached for the silver pendant that dangled from her necklace and began fidgeting with it. “Hey, don’t throw popcorn,” she said, changing the subject. “You’re going to make a mess on my sheets.”

“Yeah, don’t throw popcorn,” Rachel told Rebecca. “Plus, you still haven’t answered my question.”

Rebecca pouted for a moment. “Maybe a little,” she admitted, staring at her hands.

“Ooh, Rebecca and Mr. Bowen!” laughed Rachel. “Are you going to have his baby? Smoochy smoochy!” She puckered her lips to make kissing noises. Rebecca retaliated by smacking her in the face with a pillow. Unprepared for this attack, Rachel was caught off-balance and rolled backwards off the bed, landing on the sleeping bags in surprise. Rebecca began laughing hysterically at her plight. Beth didn’t say anything.

There was a knock on the door. “Girls?” It was Beth’s mom. “Can you keep it down in there? Beth, your brother is trying to sleep.”

“Sorry, mom,” Beth answered, glaring at her friends. Rachel sheepishly climbed back onto the bed.

“It’s almost 10:30, girls,” her mom continued. “You should be going to bed soon.”

“We will,” Beth promised. She waited for her mom to leave. “I told you guys!” she hissed. “We should get ready for bed.” She began changing into her pajamas. The other girls followed suit.

“Hey, how come you’re always wearing that silver necklace?” Rachel asked. She had noticed Beth taking it off and carefully setting it on the dresser.

“I just like it, that’s all,” Beth shrugged. Rachel was looking at her with questioning eyes so she knew her answer was insufficient. Rebecca came to the rescue by changing the subject.

“This isn’t fair,” Rebecca said. “We have to go to bed and it was my turn.”

“Why don’t you do it now?” Beth pointed out.

“Truth or Dare, Rachel?” Rebecca asked.

“Truth,” Rachel shrugged.

“Do you ever…” Rebecca hesitated for a second. “Do you ever play with yourself? I mean, down there?”

Now it was Rachel’s turn to blush. “God, you are such a slut! Have you always had such a dirty mind?”

“Whatever, you’re the one asking about boners all the time,” Rebecca said defiantly. “Answer the question.”

“I don’t want to,” answered Rachel.

“You have to! It’s the rules!” Rebecca said with exasperation. “Beth, don’t you think she should have to answer?”

“Um, I don’t know,” Beth said. She fumbled with her sleeping bag, her fingers fidgeting with silky material of the outer lining.

Realizing that she wasn’t receiving any support, Rebecca pointed accusingly at Rachel. “You have to answer! I answered your question.”

Rachel pretended to inspect the zipper of her sleeping bag. “Sometimes,” she admitted quietly. Rebecca smirked, enjoying her vengeance. Beth was busy installing herself in her sleeping bag.

“Your turn, Beth,” Rebecca reminded.

“It’s getting late,” Beth shook her head. “We should go to bed soon.”

“But the game was just getting good!” protested Rebecca. “Come on!”

“Um, all right,” she conceded. “Truth or Dare, Rachel?”

“Truth,” Rachel said. She stuck her tongue out at Rebecca. “I don’t mind doing Truth with Beth. She’s not a jerk like you.”

Rebecca ignored her. “Wait, Beth! I know what you should ask!” She got up to whisper in Beth’s ear.

“No!” she said, forcing a laugh. “I don’t want to ask that!”

Rebecca scrambled back into her sleeping bag. “Do it!” she urged. “Come on! Please?”

Beth reluctantly cleared her throat. “Rachel, when was the last time you… um,” she paused, too embarrassed to continue. Rebecca nodded encouragingly, holding her hands over her mouth so as not to laugh. “When was the last time you, uh, played with yourself?” Even though the question wasn’t for her, the mere act of asking it made Beth blush again.

Rachel opened her mouth in shock and stared at Rebecca. “I hate you so much!” she declared. Rebecca was too busy laughing to take offense. “I’m done playing Truth or Dare. Game over.”

“Chicken,” Rebecca teased. “You don’t have a problem asking other people embarrassing questions but you can’t answer them yourself.” Beth laid down in her sleeping bag, hoping to stay out of her friends’ quarrel. Rachel was fuming so hard that she could practically see steam coming out of her ears.

“Fine,” she sighed. “I did it last night, okay?” Not letting it sink in, she continued, “Truth or Dare, Rebecca?”


“See, here’s the thing,” Rachel began. “I’m betting Rebecca already likes to play with herself. That’s why she’s so curious if other people do it.” Rebecca opened her mouth to protest, but Rachel stopped her. “So I’m not going to ask if IF she does it. I’m daring her to show us HOW she did it the last time she did it.”

“What do you mean how?” asked Rebecca.

“I dare you to show us how you did it,” Rachel smirked. “And if you don’t want to, I have some pretty good Truth questions to ask you too. So what’s it going to be?”

Rebecca groaned. “I am never playing Truth or Dare with you again.”

“Too late now. Right, Beth?” She grinned at Beth, who had remained silent during this entire exchange.

“All right, I did it with, um, a pillow,” Rebecca said very softly, her face turning beet red. “Good enough?”

“No, you have to show us,” Rachel insisted. “That was the dare.”

Without saying a word, Rebecca positioned her pillow atop her sleeping bag, rotating it until a corner jutted up. She straddled it, bashfully moving her hips in a back and forth motion in demonstration before quickly slipping back into her sleeping bag. The sight inexplicably made Beth feel embarrassed.

The three girls remained solemnly silent. No one was laughing anymore, though Rebecca’s cheeks were a flaming shade of apple red. Through clenched teeth, she asked, “How do you do it, Rachel?”

Rachel cleared her throat. “I just use my fingers,” she admitted. The game was now forgotten. Beth realized with a sinking feeling that now it was just confiding among friends. Which was terrible, because the next question to be asked…

“Do you do it too, Beth?” Rebecca asked.

“Um, do what?” replied Beth, even though she knew quite well what her friend was asking.

“Do you touch yourself?”

Beth hesitated. She shook her head.

“Really?” Rachel asked. “You don’t? Ever?”

“Nope,” Beth said. Her voice caught in her throat.

“Oh, come on,” Rebecca interjected. “Everyone does it. Do you mean you’ve never done it? Not even once?”

“I swear, you guys,” Beth pleaded. “I’ve never done that.”

“I noticed you have those fancy electric toothbrush in the bathroom,” Rachel said. “Have you ever… you know?”

Beth was confused. “What do you mean?”

“You know,” prodded Rachel. “Have you ever put it anywhere besides your mouth?”

“Huh?” Beth’s confusion was only multiplied when Rachel and Rebecca burst into giggles. “My mom bought them last month. But I don’t like using it though. It feels funny in my mouth.”

“Can you keep a secret?” Rebecca whispered. “I already told Rachel this… You know Leah? My older sister? I think she’s using her electric toothbrush to… you know…”

But Beth still had no idea what they were talking about. Seeing her confusion, Rachel piped up. “She puts the toothbrush between her legs,” she whispered, her eyes glittering with laughter. “And then she turns it on. You know. It gives her that good feeling. It makes her all tingly.”

“Oh,” Beth said. She didn’t know if she was more embarrassed by the tale or by her own ignorance. “Ha…”

“I wonder what it’s like,” Rebecca mused. “I think Leah does it all the time because she keeps the toothbrush in her room instead of the bathroom. Sometimes I can hear it buzzing even though her door is closed.”

“You guys want to try it?” Rachel asked mischievously.

“What, the toothbrush thing?” clarified Rebecca.

“Yes, dummy. Beth, go get it. It’ll be easy to sneak into bedroom.”

“Oh, I don’t know you guys,” Beth demurred. “It’s getting really late. Shouldn’t we go to bed?”

“Come on,” pleaded Rachel. “This is our big chance to try it! Aren’t you curious about what it feels like?”

“Yeah, come on, Beth,” Rebecca joined in. “I bet you’ll like it.”

“Not tonight. I don’t really want to, you guys,” Beth appealed.

“You’re not afraid, are you?” Rebecca asked.

“Of course not!”

“You are!” Rebecca said, scrutinizing Beth’s embarrassed face.

“Hey, wait…” Rachel spoke up. “Beth, did you mom get those toothbrushes for everyone in the house? I mean, are there three of them?”

“Yeah,” Beth said, not seeing where her friend was going with this question.

“Let’s all do it at the same time!” Rachel said excitedly. “It won’t be as scary that way.”

“I don’t know,” Beth said.

“Don’t be scared,” Rachel reassured her. “We’ll be doing it at the same time. It won’t hurt or anything, we promise. Would we do it too if it hurt?”

“What if my mom catches us?” Beth asked doubtfully.

“We could turn the lights off,” proposed Rebecca, warming to the idea. “And we could each be in our sleeping bags. She’ll never know.”

“I’m going to get the toothbrushes,” declared Rachel. “You guys wait here.”

“Rachel! Wait…” But she was out the door before Beth could say anything else. Moments later, she returned with her hands full. She distributed the toothbrushes to her friends.

Beth reluctantly took hers. The cylinder of plastic felt cool in her hands. She was outnumbered. If Rebecca had been more unenthusiastic, Beth might have had a fighting chance of talking Rachel out of it. But since both her friends wanted to do it, she had no choice but to go along.

“Um, are you sure this is clean?” Beth said. “I mean, isn’t it kind of gross to be putting a toothbrush, um, between our legs?”

“We’ll do it over our underwear,” said Rachel. She was already sliding into her sleeping bag, as was Rebecca. Once everyone was settled into, Beth turned off the lamp, plunging the room into darkness. She was grateful for that. At least her friends couldn’t see her face anymore.

“Um, okay,” she heard Rachel whisper in the darkness. “Are you guys, um, ready?”

“Yes,” Rebecca whispered.

“Sure,” Beth answered.

“Let’s turn it on at the same time,” Rachel whispered. “Ready? One. Two. Three.”

The whining hum of the electric toothbrushes filled the room. Beth was merely holding the toothbrush at her midsection, not even touching it to her body. There was no way she was doing this with her friends. Luckily, there was no way for them to know.

“It tickles too much!” Rebecca complained, keeping her voice low.

“Me too,” said Rachel. “How about you, Beth?”

“Um, yeah. It tickles for me too,” Beth lied.

“Maybe we should try doing it through the sleeping bags,” suggested Rachel.

“Good idea!” Rebecca whispered.

Beth listened as her friends moved the toothbrushes to the outside of their sleeping bags. She did the same but didn’t bother to press it against her. Once again, Beth gave a silent thanks to the darkened room. Her face felt so flushed and hot that she could have fried an egg on it.

“That’s a little better,” Rachel noted.

“Yeah, I think so too,” said Rebecca.

“A lot better,” Beth chimed in before anyone could prompt her. The room was silent for several minutes, except for the sound of the humming toothbrushes. Beth wondered how long they were going to do this.

“Rachel?” It was Rebecca, whispering in the darkness. “Is it starting to feel kind of… you know?”

“Uh huh,” Rachel answered. “How about you?”

There was a short silence. “Yes,” Rebecca said. “What about you, Beth?”

“Yeah, it’s starting to feel… um…” She groped for words. “Tingly?” It was a wild guess and she hoped with all her heart that she was right. She was relieved to hear her friends murmur in assent.

“Me too!” Rebecca and Rachel said in unison. The room went quiet again. Suddenly, Beth was amazed to hear someone breathing heavily. It was Rebecca. Beth could do nothing but lay in surprise as she heard her friend gasping. A slick zip-zip-zip sound joined the hum of the toothbrushes. Beth was confused about the source of the strange sound until she realized it was Rebecca squirming in her sleeping bag. Her arms were making funny noises as they scraped against the synthetic fabric.

“Oh… Oh, me too!” Rachel whispered. She began making the same breathy noises. Since she lay closer, Beth could easily see her writhing in the dim room. It went on for several seconds.

Beth suddenly heard a difference in the low whine of the toothbrushes. She realized that her toothbrush was the only one still turned on. Her friends had turned theirs off. Beth realized they were waiting for her now. Deeply mortified, Beth did her best to imitate her friends.

“Oh,” she gasped, rubbing her arms against her sleeping bag. She felt indescribably silly. Yet she continued the performance, hoping they wouldn’t detect her subterfuge. “Oh,” she repeated once more, before finally turning off her toothbrush. The room was completely silent now.

“I’ve never had one feel that nice,” Rebecca finally whispered.

“Me neither,” said Rachel. “I think I know why your sister keeps this in her room.”

Rebecca sighed. “Yeah. I should ask my mom to buy me one of these.”

“Did you have one too, Beth?” Rachel asked.

Beth was temporarily confused because she thought Rachel was referring to the electric toothbrushes. Of course she had one. It took a moment to realize her friend was nor referring to a material object, but to the event that had just happened. “Um, I did,” Beth confirmed.

“Was that the first time you had one?”

“Uh, yeah,” she answered. “It was great.” She paused. “Hey, I’m going to go put these back before my mom notices, all right?” She shook herself out of her sleeping bag and collected the electric toothbrushes. No one protested in the least, thankfully. Creeping on her tiptoes, Beth snuck into the bathroom and returned the toothbrushes to their proper place near the sink. By the time she settled into her sleeping bag again, she was surprised to hear Rebecca snoring lightly.

“Did Rebecca already fall asleep?” she whispered to Rachel. But there was only silence. Both friends had apparently drifted off. Beth couldn’t remember a sleepover ever having such an early bedtime. They usually stayed up very late into the wee hours of the morning. Fiddling in the darkness, her fingers felt the silver bracelet around her wrist. Beth quietly unclasped it and set it under her bed where it wouldn’t be disturbed.

Not being particularly tired, Beth had plenty of time to consider the events that had transpired. Truth or Dare. The electric toothbrushes. The deep and even breathing from her friends only served to remind her how lucky they were to have fallen asleep while she tossed and turned. It took several hours before she joined her friends in slumber.

She awoke with a start. The world outside her window was bright but overcast. Beth was confused to find herself waking up on the floor until she remembered the sleepover. The two sleeping bags next to hers were empty though. She was apparently the last one to wake up.

Beth stumbled to her feet. As she stretched, she realized she was somewhat sore from having slept on the hard floor. The twelve year old girl took a moment to brush her hair before putting on her silver pendant necklace. Her bracelet was missing from the dresser though. Remembering where she had left it, Beth searched under the bed until her fingers closed on the familiar metallic chill of the bracelet. Snapping on the bracelet, she went to search for her friends.

She found them in the kitchen. Rachel and Rebecca were already having breakfast. Her mom was pouring them orange juice. Her brother James was at the table as well, although he was clearly trying to distance himself from the girls at the table.

“Well, good morning there!” her mom said. “You’re not the early bird today. Luckily for you there’s plenty to go around though.” She handed Beth a bowl and the box of cereal.

They discussed the upcoming day’s plans over breakfast. The rain had continued all night and didn’t show any sign of letting up. “Hey, I know,” Rachel said. “Do you guys want to come over to my house? My mom said we could play in the basement.”

“That sounds fun,” Rebecca said, slurping up the multicolored milk from her bowl of Froot Loops. “Sure!”

“Oh, I can’t.” Beth frowned. Her finger began fiddling with the silver heart pendant on her neck.

“Why not?” Rachel asked. “It’s Saturday.”

“I know,” Beth said. “I… I have this family thing going on this afternoon.”

“Ugh,” answered Rachel. “Relatives?”

“Yes,” nodded Beth. She was relieved to not have to explain herself further. “Just a little get together with some relatives.”

The phone rang. It was Rachel’s mom, letting everyone know that she would come by in 20 minutes. The girls hurriedly finished their breakfast before heading for Beth’s room to gather their things. Rachel and Rebecca chattered sociably about the upcoming day but Beth remained silent as she rolled up her sleeping bag. She was hoping neither of her friends would bring up what happened last night. To her relief, the event seemed forgotten.

Rachel’s mom was waiting in the driveway by the time they were ready. “Bye Beth!” the two girls called as they ran for the car. The heavy rain had thankfully turned to a drizzle, although there seemed to be a light fog settling in.

“Bye!” Beth shouted. She saw Rachel’s mom waving goodbye as she slowly backed the minivan out of the drive. The red tail lights glowed like two eyes in the mist. Beth watched them until they disappeared down the block. A palpable feeling of disappointment from being excluded washed over her.

“Did you have a good time with your friends?” her mom asked, interrupting her from her reverie. She was carrying a load of clean laundry in a basket.

Beth closed the door. “Yeah, we had fun,” she said.

“Thanks for being so quiet last night,” her mom said. “I remember the old days when you three had a sleepover. I would have to check on you at 3 am to make sure you were asleep.”

“We were really tired,” Beth said. It was sort of true, after all. “So we fell asleep fast.”

“You remember what today is, don’t you?” her mom asked, changing the subject.

“I do,” Beth said, touching her silver pendant.

“We have to be at the church at noon,” her mother said. “So we’ll leave around quarter to. Think you can be ready by then?”

“Of course,” Beth said. “That’s almost an hour away.”

“All right, I just wanted to make sure,” her mom said. They stood looking at each other for a moment. Her mother opened her mouth to say something, but then changed her mind.

“I’ll go shower and stuff,” said Beth, excusing herself. Returning to her bedroom, Beth removed her necklace and bracelet before grabbing her bathrobe and heading for the shower. Fifteen minutes later, she emerged from the bathroom, the clouds of billowing steam from her hot shower puffing in a trail behind her. Back in her bedroom, she plugged in the hairdryer.

As was often the case, Beth found that the monotonous task of drying her hair caused her mind to wander. Last night’s Truth or Dare game returned to her mind. Even thinking about it now made her swell with a flurry of emotion. Beth realized she was blushing again. Rebecca’s words sounded in her mind.

“Everyone does it. Do you mean you’ve never done it?”

Beth turned off the roaring hairdryer. Her blond hair was still damp but she set down the hairdryer anyway. She found she couldn’t even look herself in the mirror. It was asking too much to make eye contact with herself.

“Should I?” Beth thought. She stared at her toes a moment before her wavering decision solidified into action. Locking her bedroom door and drawing the shades, Beth climbed onto her bed and grabbed a pillow. She positioned it until a corner was jutting straight up. Feeling foolish, Beth mounted it, letting the corner poke right between her legs under her bathrobe.

A flush of embarrassment flooded her body, making Beth bow her head so that her hair hid her face. Her heart was beating fast. She looked at the door to make sure it was still locked. Relying on her memory of Rebecca’s demonstration, the twelve year old girl began slowly, almost imperceptibly, moving her hips.

She felt silly. Gritting her teeth, Beth continued the movement. It felt unnatural. She was reminded of her first school dance when all the other girls triumphantly burst into well-practiced dance moves learned from MTV, much to the delight of the clapping boys. Maladroitly standing on the edge of dance floor, Beth had to make do with bobbing her head and tapping her feet.

Rachel and Rebecca had tried to teach her some dance moves, but Beth never caught on. She always felt indescribably stupid, shaking her butt and waving her arms. It was the same way she felt now as she was riding the pillow. Still, she kept on moving her hips, letting the pillow’s corner rake back and forth against the light fuzz of her crease.


“How is it supposed to feel?” Beth wondered. Rebecca had said ‘it feels good.’ But Beth didn’t feel much of anything except the pillow rubbing against her. Disappointed, she sat down on the bed and returned the pillow to its normal place. Through the bedroom wall, she heard a loud thump that told her mom had just turned on the water in the master bedroom bath.

Willing herself to take advantage of the privacy, Beth stood up. Suddenly nervous again, Beth quickly headed for the bathroom where she had just showered. A thin layer of condensation still covered every surface. The young girl grabbed the electric toothbrush and returned to her room.

Sitting down on the bed, she undid her bathrobe and spread her legs. The high-pitched whine of the toothbrush filled the room. Tentatively, Beth brought the vibrating toothbrush close. The moment it made contact with her skin, though, Beth flinched. It was ticklish! She tried again. Once more, the powerful vibrations were too much.

Remembering what her friends did last night, Beth wrapped the toothbrush in a blanket. The humming sound became more muffled. She pressed the whole package between her legs. It still tickled, but the vibrations were not nearly as powerful this time. Holding it pressed into her crotch, Beth waited.

And waited. She might as well have been holding the vibrating toothbrush against her knee. This didn’t feel good. As a matter of fact, it didn’t feel like anything. Annoyed, Beth unwrapped the toothbrush from the blanket and switched it off.

“Maybe something is broken in me,” Beth thought. She began drying her hair once more. “Maybe I’m just not like other girls.” Unlike before, Beth was staring at her forearm as the blow dryer made her hair flutter like a flag in a breeze. The marks on her bare wrist were indeed ugly. An unlikely rainbow of pink, purple, and white mottled her skin in jagged marks that resembled a thick dotted line.

She silenced the buzzing hair dryer. Unable to bear the sight of it, Beth quickly clasped her silver bracelet around her wrist. The cold metal felt reassuring against her skin but her face had become red again. It wasn’t from the heat of the hair dryer, however. It was from the realization of what she was about to do.

Beth tied her robe shut and let herself out of her room. She could still hear the water flowing from her mother’s shower. And her brother? She peeked into his room but it was empty. Beth finally located him when she heard the sounds of a TV in the basement.

She would have all the privacy she needed for the next several minutes. Slipping into a pair of flip-flops, Beth opened the door to the backyard. A burst of heavy, damp air greeted her. The drizzle had finally ceased, leaving a glistening sheen on the world. Each step on the wet grass caused a shower of droplets to sprinkle on her feet.

Beth navigated her way across the green suburban wilderness, stealing into the vegetable garden her mother kept in the corner of the yard. It had been a good summer for growing. The tomato plants, dotted with clusters of small red fruit, were nearly as tall as she was. A row of compact plants were weighted down with numerous and lovely bell peppers. But the young girl ignored them, making her way instead to an overgrown zucchini plant in the back of the garden. Her eyes scanned the plant a moment before choosing a long, green specimen with smooth skin. Hiding the zucchini in the sleeve of her bathrobe, she dashed back into the house.

The house was exactly as she left it. James was still watching TV in the basement when she crept by the stairs. Once ensconced in the safety of her bedroom, she laid the zucchini on her bed. She was grateful to hear the hum of the water pipes behind the wall. Her mom was still showering. Beth locked the door anyway.

She slipped out of her bathrobe, letting it fall to the floor. The twelve year old paused for a moment to look at herself in the mirror. She was naked aside from her silver bracelet, which shone on her wrist with a dull gleam. Aside from just the barest patch of dark hair spiraling out at the juncture of her legs, she still looked like a little girl. Frowning, Beth turned to see her profile in the mirror. Her chest was still largely flat, although her nipples were jutting out ever-so-slightly if she looked hard enough.

Beth laid down on her bed. Taking a deep breath, she unclasped her bracelet and set it aside. Then she picked up the zucchini plucked from the garden. It felt cool in her palm. Using both hands, she tested its firmness and found it satisfactory. One end was distinctly thinner than the other. Using this end as a grip, the young girl calmly spread her legs. The zucchini felt silky smooth against her skin as she guided it into position.

Without hesitating, Beth pushed. Hard.

“Ahhh!” she cried. The bulbous zucchini’s intrusion was so harsh that it made her back arch. Her legs trembled, instinctively wanting to close. Instead, the twelve year old girl gave another shove, burying the zucchini even deeper.

“Guuhh,” she winced, biting the wrist of her left hand. Tears of pain welled up in her eyes, but Beth blinked them back. Staring blankly at the ceiling, she roughly pulled the zucchini out before plunging it back in.

A low sound caught from her throat. It was a desire to scream but she held it down. Her thighs were trembling, her knees threatening to clamp shut but she willed them open. Closing her eyes tight, Beth began moving the zucchini inside her body. Each exit made her wince. Each entry made her gasp. Yet she did not hesitate. Her hand moved in reluctant motions at first before settling into a rhythm.

“Ah… ah… ah…” Beth swallowed hard. It felt like there was a blazing fire between her legs. Very slowly, however, her body adjusted to the sheer size of the zucchini. The pain subsided, if only slightly. At the same time, however, she could sense a smoother glide in the zucchini’s motion, as if something were facilitating its path into her body. In response, Beth began moving it in sharp thrusts. Deep thrusts. Her body could only adjust so much; the razor-like pain flared into her consciousness again.

It took all her willpower not to close her legs. Beth’s teeth bit into her wrist again. “No…” Beth said, softly at first, before repeating it again. “No. Don’t. Please. It hurts. Please stop. I don’t like it.” Her hand was now swiftly urging the zucchini as it stabbed between her legs. Like a weapon. “Stop. You’re hurting me, daddy. No…”

Beth’s eyes opened wide. “Please stop, daddy! It hurts! Oh, it hurts!” She felt her teeth break the skin. The pain momentarily distracted her from the stinging burn between her legs. A single tear rolled down her cheek as Beth began convulsing on the bed. Her breathing was completely ragged now. “It hurts! Stop… stop it, daddy! It hurts so bad!” The twelve year old girl’s legs were trembling violently, but not from hurt. Not anymore. Her hips bucking and jerking, Beth felt the fire between her legs race past the point of pain and into the realm of pleasure.

“Daddy…” she breathed. It was all interconnected: the ripping pain inside her, the boiling pleasure between her legs, the sharp sting of her wrist under her teeth. Her hand had lost its rhythm on the zucchini, though it was still plunging in and out of her at broken intervals. Finally spent, Beth, yanked it out one last time. The extraction always made her shudder as her delicate tissue objected one last time. Beth stared at the blunt object, green and glistening, in her hand. An empty sensation, physically and emotionally, graced her now. It was a strange paradox: this thing hurt her, this thing wasn’t meant to be there. But this thing was missed all the same.

Her cheeks wet with tears, Beth curled up into a ball as any lingering pleasure was instantly overwritten by great waves of shame. Her body shook as she struggled for breath. Sobs for the raw pain between her legs. Sobs for the fresh wounds of her broken heart. She hated herself. She hated doing this. So why could she never stop?

She could have continued like that for hours had it not been for the knock on her bedroom door.

“Beth?” her mom called. “Are you almost ready, sweetheart? It’s almost time to go. I have your dress here.”

Leaping into action, Beth shoved the zucchini under her covers. Pulling on her robe, she hastily wiped away the tears from her face. “Um, okay,” she stammered, her voice croaking. Willing her fingers to work, she snapped on the silver bracelet, concealing the injury on her wrist. There was a thin trickle of blood among the pink bite marks but she could clean it later. Beth quickly blew her nose before answering the door.

Her mother, holding a black dress on a hanger, was smiling when she opened the door, but it vanished once she saw Beth’s face. “Sweetheart? Are you all right?” Her mom quickly set the dress down on the bed and took Beth in her arms. “You’ve been crying.”

“I know,” Beth answered, staring at the black dress her mom laid on the bed. Her mom hugged her tight. When she stepped back, Beth saw some tears in her eyes as well.

“I miss daddy too,” her mom whispered.

“Is it… is it ever going to get better?” asked Beth.

Her mom wiped her face with her hands. “I don’t know. I’m sorry, Beth. Maybe having this memorial service is a bad idea. But I just thought… it’s been five years since he died and I just thought it would be nice to… remember him.”

“I know, mom.” Fresh tears welled up in Beth’s eyes and rolled freely down her cheeks.

“Do you think of him too?” her mom asked, her chin trembling.

“Every day,” nodded Beth. Her mom hugged her tight again. Beth could feel her mom tremble in her arms.

“I wish he was still here too, sweetie.” Her mother’s voice sounded muffled and distant. “I wish he didn’t have to go. I wish we were still a happy family. The four of us. Together.” They held each other tight for a long moment. Her mom picked up the silver pendant on her dresser.

“Need help putting this on?” she asked. Beth nodded. She held her hair out of the way while her mom slipped the silver chain around her neck. The silver heart felt cold against her chest.

“There you go,” her mom said. Still standing behind Beth, she reached for the silver pendant. Holding it so they could both see it, her mom opened the heart to reveal a tiny photo of her dad. “You like wearing this, don’t you?”

“It… It was his last birthday present for me,” Beth whispered, her voice shaking. “My seventh birthday.”

Her mom gave her another long hug. “I need to get dressed,” she said finally. Nodding at the black dress on the bed, she added, “And you do too. Will you be all right? Can you be a brave girl? For daddy?”

Beth nodded. Her mom wiped the tears from her face again and exited the room. Beth picked up the black dress, shaking it free from the hanger. “I can be a brave girl for daddy,” she repeated.

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