Then one night he came into my room real late. His stumbling around and knocking things over woke me up and then there he was just staring at me. I thought I saw tears in his eyes. He asked me if I was awake and then sat down on the edge of the bed turned half away from me. He started talking about when he was a boy. He was slurring his words so bad I had trouble making out what he was saying.
It was something to do with an uncle that came to live with them when he was very young. I could see his shoulder was shaking and I thought I heard him sob. Him sitting there in his plaid work shirt and dirty overalls, I began to feel kind of sorry for him. He said this uncle used to do things to him when his parents weren’t home and then he said as how he couldn’t ever tell anyone because his uncle would have killed his parents and nobody would have believed him anyway. He told me more than anyone would ever want to know.
It made me sick to here these things but I just lay there and didn’t say anything. Next I knew he had turned to face me and he was staring deep into my eyes. He told me in a low voice that I was the woman of the house and that it was only right that I do my duty. I had a bad feeling that I knew what he was talking about and then his hand shot out and cupped my left breast.
I fought him as hard as I could but in the end he had his way with me. When he was gone I cried myself to sleep. Before I did I prayed that he would never come to me in the night again. After the second time I didn’t pray anymore.
As the months wore on I found myself stealing away to momma’s grave as often as I could. I would go there with one of her books and sit on the grass and read to her. Sometimes I would talk to her about father, ask her what I should do. I wanted so much to just run away, but with my age and no money to call my own I knew I wouldn’t get far. They would bring me back to him and he would beat me.
It was on one of my visits to her grave that I found an answer. I arrived around dawn, father often slept until near noon, and as I approached I saw something growing next to her grave. I had never given much thought to religion, Father wouldn’t hear of it and momma never wanted to talk about it but at that moment it was as though a light was shining down from heaven and the Lord was showing me the way.
When it was time to go I gathered up the gift that had been given to me and I told momma it was all going to be all right. I believe to this day she rests more peacefully than she ever had before.
You see I had read all of momma’s books through and though and I knew that the mushrooms I had seen by her grave were Amanita virosa. Some people know them as Destroying Angel. That made it seem so right. When I got home I set to work making a stew for fathers dinner. I cut up the vegetables and put them in the pot and I added the mushrooms. I was pleased when he told me how good dinner was that night. It was to be his last. It took him three days to die.
So that’s how I came to be the busiest moonshiner in southern Oregon. Time passes slowly for me. I keep to myself for the most part though I’m on good terms with the town folk when I go to market. I regret nothing. I hold my head high. I am a survivor.