• Your calm, feminine voice penetrates everything I know of comfort, sending me cowering angrily, retreating further into myself. From glossy pink lips your words drive down on my head like torrential rain; I'm not allowed shelter. I'm expected to accept it. You are older. You are dominant. And I am only a child.

    The office is dark; you were too lazy to change the bulb. Incandescent light from the next room streams in through windows. You're sitting, like you always are, and I'm standing where I've been summoned, at the corner of your horrifically messy desk. My head is above yours, but your solid black shadow towers from a sky I can't see. I stand in your oppressive presence: a force like a steel net which drags down my righteous rebellion. You're angry at me again, so it's my fault. I bow my head and wait for you to speak, bracing myself against the disgust that will come with the sound of your voice.

    "Are you going to tell me what you did?"

    No. This is not about what I did. This is about your power. Whatever I did isn't half as important as your right to punish me for it. Right now, you've been placed in the throne of a teacher, but this authority is a binding vine, rooted deeply in my life, reaching far and down into my mind. We didn't know you were playing a role. You had a place, and I thought you understood that. You never cared for anyone more than yourself, did you? You were always living in your own world of delusion, where you knew everything and could always manipulate it. But you're not my mother. You're not my father. Why do I have to accept your punishment? Why am I not allowed to ask that question? I won't find the answers until you finally leave my life.

    Right now, however, I am trapped, and you're demanding an answer. I stare at the desk or the ground, too much of a coward to even challenge your mocking eyes.

    "What?" I ask, my voice meek and lowly, a disgusting and pitiful sound. I hate it. I'm afraid to change it, and I hate that even more.

    "You know what I mean." That look. That infuriating, accusatory stare, backed by all that false conviction. Your power is undeserved. My teeth grind. A feeling seethes in my chest, constricting me like a searing rope made of self-loathing. Defend yourself. I can't. Why? Because.

    I think I might hear a drop of venom in my voice as I answer, "No I don't."

    We repeat the process, and I feel parts of me wither every time I submit to you. These are lies. I keep up the ruse, enduring and waiting, but no—you're going to make me say it. You're going to force me to tell you that I was wrong. It will destroy me. If I would say it, I want it to be bold. Yes, I did it, and I would do it again. Yes. I enjoyed it. I did this thing that made you so angry, and you have no power to accuse me of it—because I admit it, I am proud of it, and I defy you with it.

    I never say that to you. Instead, I hear my cowardly, pathetic voice admit to the crime…and I apologize.

    But as your cruel eyes look down on me as if you know it all, my secret fires grow and burn in ways you could never hope to understand. Don't talk to me like you know. Don't tell me what I am. You have never had a right to be my tyrant.

    I never once said that to you. If I thought I could stand the sight of your face, I might now wish for the chance to do so.