Welcome to 'Fine Lines', the Friday feature in which we give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wizened look at the children's and YA books we loved in our youth. This week, writer / reviewer / blogger Lizzie Skurnick reads 'Flowers In The Attic', the 1979 story of a brother and sister who keep it all in the family.Truly, when I was very young, way back in the 'fifties, I believed all of life would be like one long and perfect summer day. After all, it did start out that way.
Our father was perfect. He stood six feed two, weighed 180 pounds, and his hair was thick and flaxen blond, and waved just enough to be perfect; his eyes were cerulean blue and sparkled with laughter...
His booming greeting rang out as soon as he put down his suitcase and briefcase. "Come greet me with kisses if you love me!"
Somewhere near the front door, my brother and I would be hiding, and after he'd called out his greeting, we'd dash out from behind a chair or the sofa to crash into his wide open arms, which seized us up at once and held us close, and he warmed our lips with his kisses. ....Love was a word lavished about in our home. "Do you love me? — For I most certainly love you; did you miss me? — Are you glad I'm home? — Did you think about me when I was gone? Every night? Did you toss and turn and wish I were behind you, holding you close? For if you didn't, Corrine, I might want to die."
On Fridays, Momma spent half the day in the beauty parlour having her hair shampooed and set and her fingernails polished, and then she'sd come home to take a long bath in perfumed-oil water. I'd perch in her dressing-room, and watch her emerge in a filmy negligee. She's sit at her dressing-table to meticulously apply make-up. And I, so eager to learn, drank in everything she did to turn herself from just a pretty woman into a creature so ravishingly beautiful she didn't look real. The most amazing part of this was our father thought she DIDN'T wear makeup! He believed she was naturally a striking beauty.
Her nose was an eagle's beak, her shoulders were wide, and her mouth was like a thin, crooked knife slash. Her dress, a grey taffeta, had a diamond brooch at the throat on a high, severe neckline. Nothing about her appeared soft or yielding; even her bosom looked like twin hills of concrete.
"They're only children," Momma flared back with unusual fire. 'Mother, you haven't changed one bit, have you? You still have a nasty, suspicious mind! Christopher and Cathy are innocent!" "Innocent?" she snapped back, her mean look so sharp it could cut and draw blood. "That is exactly what your father and I always presumed about you and your half-uncle!"
Now the twins ran to me with their small cuts and bruises, and the splinters garnered from the rotten wood in the attic. I carefully plucked them out with tweezers. Chris would apply the antiseptic, and the adhesive plaster they both loved. An injured small figner was enough to demand cuddly-baby thing, and lullabies sung as I tucked them into bed, and kissed their faces, and tickled where laughter had to be freed. Their thin little arms wrapped tightly around my neck. I was loved, very loved, and needed.
I was coming alive, feeling things I hadn't felt before. Strange achings, longings. Wanting something, and not knowing what is was that woke m eup at night, pulsating, throbbing, excited, and knowing a man was there with me, doing something I wanted him to complete, and he never did...he never did....
We were not always modest in the bedroom, nor were we always fully dressed....none of us cared very much who saw what. We should have cared. We should have been careful. .... "It would help if you weren't so near, so unavailable."
He yelled out something like, "You're mine, Cathy! Mine! You'll always be mine! No matter who comes into your future, you'll always belong to me! I'll make you mine...tonight....now! I had the strong dancer's legs, he had the biceps and greater weight...and he had much more determination than I to use something hot, swollen and demanding, so much that it stole reasoning and sanity from him. And I loved him. I wanted what he wanted — if he wanted it that much, right or wrong. Somehow we wound up on that old mattress — that filthy, smelly stained mattress that must have known lovers long before this night. And that is where he took me, and forced in that swollen, rigid male sex part of him that had to be satisfied. It drove into my tight and resisting flesh which tore and bled.
Chris, soap opera people are like us — they seldom go outdoors. And when they do, we only hear about it, never see it. They loll about in living-rooms, bedrooms, sit in the kitches and sip coffee or stand up and drink Martinis — but never, never go outside before our eyes. And whenever something good happens, whenever they think they're finally going to be happy, some catastrophe comes along to dash their hopes.
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