In the fifteenth year, she developed a stammer. It happened all at once, at the front door.
One of his high school buddies, the one with no chin, tried to kiss her. But it wasn’t just a kiss. Chinless had hated her since that weekend at the cottage years ago, the one when he’d drunk for three days and nights straight and slapped his eleven month old daughter twenty feet into a wall.
He hated her because he’d done the slapping in front of her, the new wife, the city girl. The outsider.
She’d nearly fainted.
For a decade and a half, he and another buddy had been constantly on her, on the attack, tearing her to pieces after the second beer every Saturday night because she knew. Because they could.
Because her husband let them, liked it, even.
That day, he decided to kiss her, whether she liked it or not.
She pulled back. He locked his hands on her arms, possessing, insisting. Forcing.
She struggled free. Wiping her mouth, she escaped to the kitchen.
He followed, dogging her, backing her into the counter to block another escape, making conversation too loud, so loud that everyone else stopped talking, his face an inch from hers.
She began to shake.
The rest of the evening, and whenever she got frightened from then on, she stammered.