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Authors: Jessica Gadziala

Dissent

Dissent

___________________________

Jessica
Gadziala

©
Jessica Gadziala 2015

Dedication:

For
Nikki “Navareus”- because she believed in this book even
more than I did.

Prologue

I
lost my virginity when I was twenty-five to a hooker my sister hired
because she felt bad for me. I hadn't known who she was or what she
did for a living until a year later when I got a birthday card in the
mail from my sister, Fiona.

Happy
Birthday, Isaiah-

I
hope your day is full of strippers, booze, and bad decisions. If it's
not- you're doing it wrong.

Also,
remember “Mary”? Well, her real name is Candy and she's
less of a... teacher and more of a... prostitute. I knew that with
all that fucked up shit our father put into your head, that there was
no way a woman would come within five feet of you until you got a
little more exposure to the real world.

I
hope enough time has passed that this is funny.

If
not... whoops.

Love
you,

Fee

I'd
like to say I wasn't pissed, but I was. Even though it was exactly
the kind of thing Fee would do. Fee, who spent her time after
escaping our shack in the woods making a living as a phone sex
operator. And I had been pestering the shit out of her for months
about women, dating, sex... all the normal things most guys get to
know from actual experience with actual women.

I
was never given that opportunity.

But
the reality was- when I was trying to figure out the whole life
thing, I always flashed back to the time spent with Mary as an
example of one thing I had done right. One experience that had gone
over well. One connection with another human being that hadn't felt
forced and awkward.

When
it turned out that had been a lie that had been sought and paid for
by my sister who seemed so much better at acclimating to life
after... well... after everything, I had felt the preciously small
piece of solid ground I stood on crumbling beneath my feet.

And
I didn't exactly handle it well...

One

“So
how have you been this week?” she asked, crossing her legs and
settling her notebook on her thigh.

I
hated her office. Everything was neutral: tan walls, dark woods,
plush green plants, nondescript clothbound hardcover books on the
shelves. Comforting. Safe. A place you can let yourself be who you
truly are. That's what I was supposed to be doing there. Every
Tuesday. From three until three forty-five in the afternoon. I paid
this woman close to three-hundred dollars an hour to ask me questions
and try to get to the root of why I am the way I am.

Two
years and she still hadn't even scratched the surface. But I promised
my sister when she moved away that I would seek out someone to talk
to.

“Busy,”
I said, shrugging.

“Busy
with social engagements?” she asked, sounding eager, but the
tension around her eyes suggested that she knew the truth.

“Work.”

“Have
you gone out at all since the last time you were here?”

“Yes,”
I said, glancing at the clock.

“Where
did you go?”

“To
a bar,” I said, looking back at her.

“Did
you meet anyone?”

“Yep,”
I nodded, sitting up and leaning my elbows on my knees. “Look,
Dr. Todd,” I said, smiling slightly, “it's the same story
every week. I go out to a bar or club or art exhibit. I find a woman.
I take her home. I find new and inventive ways to fuck her brains
out. I make her leave before morning. Do we really need to go over it
every week? What are you hoping to hear?”

“I'm
hoping to hear that you are taking this therapy seriously. I am
hoping you will follow my advice...”

“To
stop having one night stands,” I cut her off.

“To
stop keeping people, especially women, at such a distance.” She
uncrossed her legs, leaning forward like me. “I want you to
start telling me why...”

“Fine,”
I said, sighing. I held up my hand, palm out at her. There in the
center from the bottom of my ring finger to my wrist was an old, but
raised and pink, scar of a cross. “This,” I said, looking
at her, “is what happened to me when I started puberty and my
father thought I was succumbing to the sins of the flesh.” I
curled my hand back up, putting it on the couch next to me. Her face
looked suitably distressed at the new information. She liked the bits
and pieces. She enjoyed learning of them slowly and trying to stitch
the damage together and figure out how I came to be how I am. “He
wasn't wrong,” I said, smiling devilishly at her.

“Wrong
about what?”

“About
my grabbing my cock whenever I got a moment alone,” I said,
trying to hold back a smile at her flinch.

Dr.
Todd is an attractive woman in her early forties with the body of
someone half her age, brown hair, and dark eyes. She wears business
casual clothes that are snug around the hips and short of either
skirt or bodice. But never too much. Never crossing the line.

I
had been pushed toward her after a few years with my first shrink, a
older gentleman
with
tailored suits, silver glasses, and a full gray beard. I had opened
up to him more easily. He had known all the dark, twisted stories of
my life in a matter of weeks, but had ultimately suggested what I
really needed was to talk to a female therapist.

Because
apparently I had trust issues with the opposite sex.

No
fucking shit.

Two
years and Dr. Todd was still being forced to grasp at the tiny shreds
I threw at her, trying to make a whole picture out of them. I
actually felt bad about it. But I couldn't change either.

“Well,
that is perfectly normal for a boy in puberty,” she said,
writing in her notepad while still keeping eye contact. “I am
assuming your father was a very religious man.”

No,
he just had a thing for crosses. And carving up little boys. “Of
course.”

“Have
you ever confronted your father about how unfitting a punishment it
is to cut into your skin for your supposed crime?”

“No.”

“It's
never too late to...”

“He's
dead,” I said flatly, surprised with how easily those words
came. It had taken years to not cringe, wince, shrink away from that.
Even after I finally understood the truth of what my childhood had
been like. Even after finally getting away. There had been that mark
he left somewhere on my soul and it burned whenever I thought of him
being dead. Meanwhile Fee had visited him on his deathbed and pretty
much wished him to die a slow and painful death for what he did to
her.

That's
exactly what he did too. Well, the painful part. Not the slow one.

“I
see,” she said, taking a deep breath. “Why are you
telling me this?”

“What
do you mean why?” I asked, shaking my head. “Isn't that
what we are here for? So I can tell you about my fucked up
childhood?”

“Well,
Isaiah,” she said, smiling in a very sarcastic way, “that
would be the case. Except up until right now... you've barely even
hinted at your childhood. So I am just curious as to what is so
different about this week.”

“I
don't know. Work has kept me busy. I just moved out of...”

“Wait,”
she said, holding up a hand, a pen stuck between her fingers. “You
never told me you were going to move.”

I
felt myself shrugging. It hadn't exactly been something I planned on.
I had just... needed the hell out of that old house, filled with
ghosts of my family. I needed a change. “I didn't know I would
be when I was here last week.”

“You
moved in under six days?”

“I
paid cash. I don't have a lot of things,” I said, thinking of
dozen or so boxes of books, a box of CDs, and then a few of clothing.
That was all I really felt the need to bring with me.

“Where
did you move?”

“I
bought a penthouse in the city. It's private. So far. I have a
neighbor but we each have our own elevators so the only chance I have
of seeing her is on the shared balcony or the hall.”

“It's
a woman? Your neighbor?”

“From
what I hear,” I said. From what I understood, she wasn't around
a lot. Must be some socialite or businesswoman. I had no clue. Not
that it mattered. I kept to myself.

“Well,”
she said, in a tone I found instantly distrustful.

“Well
what?” I asked, raising a brow.

“Well,”
she smiled, “I think we have an assignment for you.”

Oh,
great. An assignment. “Oh, wonderful.” I took a breath,
trying to psych myself into it. If I didn't put in the work, this
whole process was an epic waste of time and money. “Alright,
what is it?”

She
smiled, tucking her notebook away. “I want you to meet your
neighbor.”

“That's
it?” No way was it going to be that easy.

“Not
exactly. Let's consider her your test subject. I want you to meet
her, maybe invite her over for coffee. Something innocent. You are
not, under and circumstances, to form any kind of romantic
relationship with this woman. No one night stands. No nothing. I want
you to get comfortable with the idea of a platonic relationship with
a woman.”

“I
have relationships with plenty of women at my...”

“How
many of the women at work have you slept with?”

I
chuckled, low and amused. “Got me there.”

“Exactly.
So I don't care if the woman next door is a supermodel- keep your
hands off.”

“That's
it?”

She
smiled then, wide and amused, making her eyes crinkle up at the
corners. “I think that is going to be difficult enough, don't
you?”

I
snorted, standing up and nodding. “You have a point.”

I
stood in front of my bathroom mirror, swiping at the condensation.
Mirrors were still weird for me. The only time until I was
twenty-five that I could catch sight of myself was on the surface of
a lake in the woods back at home. We weren't allowed to foster
vanity.

The
man staring back at me was a lot different from the one who first
emerged from that shack and made my way to the city. I still kept my
blonde hair short, but it was neat now, no longer being sheared off
my head with the edge of a pocket knife. My skin had lost a lot of
the darkness and ruddiness from countless hours in the sun hunting,
fishing, or whatever other task needed to be carried out. My green
eyes had slight crows feet that crinkled when I smiled. Which,
admittedly, was a rarity. I had facial hair that was something more
than a five o'clock shadow, but still less than a full blown beard.

I
stepped back from the mirror, looking at the body that I had kept in
shape all my life from all of the punishing hard work of living
without any kind of luxuries. I had always been thin and muscled. I
could never get into the idea of gyms. Even though I had vowed to
leave my past in the past, I had stuck to keeping myself in shape
with labor. I chopped wood. I felled trees. I mowed the lawn or
helped the landscapers plant and weed. I took up kayaking and
surfing.

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