Author: Willow Watcher
Willow Rosenberg stood in beside the cash register in the Sunnydale Mini-Mart. She had struck up a small conversation with the owner Anya Jenkins about the information given in the local news report.
"Yeah," Willow started, "They need to catch that sick son of a bitch and lock him up for good. Killing all of those women and I bet he gets off with the insanity plea."
"Well Willow, you know how the system works." Anya said putting emphasis on the last words. "I mean, there are people out here who can do their job." Anya gave Willow a wink.
"Oh, I know all about the shi..." Willow suddenly stopped and noticed a young woman enter the store.
She was a plain girl with her long blonde hair put back in barrettes. She wore a beige colored dress with small embroidered flowers on the collar which was buttoned high on her neck.
Anya looked at the girl with empathy. "Can I help you sweetie?" She said with a kind smile.
The girl smiled, shook her head and quickly dropped her eyes to the floor. She walked around the store and found what she was looking for. She walked to the register and placed a magazine on the counter. "M-may I have a p-p-pack of Marlboro Lights in a b-b-box?" The girl asked in a nervous tone.
Anya raised her eyebrows, looked at Willow then looked back at the girl. "Well Hun, I need to see some I.D. first."
The girl lowered her head, "I d-d-don't have any."
"I'm sorry doll, I can't sell..." Anya was cut off when Willow held up her hand.
"Ahn, sell her the cigarettes. You let me buy 'em all the time."
Anya gave her a disapproving stare. She reached behind her and grabbed the pack. She laid them on the counter in front of the girl. "I suppose I can. Just don't let anyone find out. O.K."
The girl smiled at Anya and nodded her head.
Anya rang up the total for the magazine and the cigarettes. "That'll be six thirty-seven."
The girl reached into her brown pocket book and retrieved the money and handed it over. No expression on her face. "T-t-hank you." The shy girl said looking over at Willow and then at Anya. She turned around to walk out the door when Willow stopped her.
"Hey! People 'round here like to get to know one another. My name is Willow Rosenberg, hi, but people call me Will, but some people call me Red. I really don't like that nickname but they seem to say the name over and over again. Red this and Red that. Oh! The lady over there is Anya Jenkins." Anya waved and gave the girl a smile. Willow cocked her head to look at the girl who was standing, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
The shy girl looked up at Willow, "M-my name is Tara Maclay."
Willow smiled, "It's nice to meet you Tara. You live close to here?"
Tara looked behind her out the window nervously, ignoring Willow's question.
"You alright Tara?" Willow asked with confusion.
"Um...y-yeah...I...I have to g-go. T-t-thanks for the cigarettes." Tara said with a crooked smile but with anxiety in her voice and walked out the door. She shoved the magazine and cigarettes in her purse.
Willow was about to follow Tara out the door until she saw a brown station wagon pull up in front of Tara, who quickly got in, closed the door and looked out the window at Willow.
Willow watched as the car drove away.
Willow walked back to Anya and leaned on the counter. "Alright Ahn, what's the scoop?"
Anya looked at Willow with a wrinkled brow, "What are you talking about? Scoop on what Will?"
"Oh please!" Willow rolled her eyes. "Three forms of communication," Willow held up three fingers and pointed out each one, "telephone, telegraph and..."
Anya interrupted, "Yeah I know smart ass, tell me. Ha Ha Ha. Soooo funny. What makes you think that I know anything about her?" Anya put her hands on her hips.
Willow giggled, "You know everything that goes on around here woman. Now spill it!"
Anya sighed and sat down on the stool that was behind the counter. "The only thing that I know is that she and her father moved here about a month ago from some small town in Oregon. He is a preacher and they live on Bernan Street. She'll be a senior at Sunnydale High School. Is that enough to satisfy your fancy." Anya raised her eyebrow and gave Willow a smug look.
"Hmm..." Willow looked out the window. "I thought it was her. She's kinda cute, don'tcha think. I like her eyes." Willow stared out the window longer than intended.
"Willow Lee Rosenberg! Don't you be gettin' any ideas! You better get your mind in your head instead of your libido." Anya said in her annoyed tone.
Willow smiled looking back at Anya, "I don't have ideas Ahn, I have a mission." Willow gave Anya a wink, straightened up and walked out the door. She gave Anya a wave over her shoulder and said goodbye.
Anya picked up a book from behind the counter. "Whatever you do girl, you best be careful." She whispered looking at the door. She shook her head and buried her nose in her book.
Tara followed her father into the house. She turned towards the stair case.
"Where are you going girl?" Her father said in a harsh tone.
Tara looked at her father. The tall, thin man was nothing much to look at. "I-I w-was just going up to my r-room, sir. I'm tired s-so I wanted to lie d-down." Tara said in a small voice. She hated when she stuttered, but it was worse when she talked to her father.
James Maclay looked at Tara and said with annoyance in his voice, "Well don't stay up there all afternoon. You got supper to make and then I have to leave town tonight."
Tara looked at him with a hopeful look, "A-are you g-going to be gone all n-night, again?"
"That isn't any of you damn business girl! You just worry about making me something to eat." James said with demeaning tone in his deep voice.
"Y-yes sir." Tara said lowering her head to the floor. "M-may I g-go upstairs n-n-now?"
James gave her a wave and walked farther in the house.
Tara ascended the staircase, rolling her eyes and throwing up her middle finger.
Tara walked into her room and plopped down on her bed. She reached in her purse and pulled out the magazine. She looked at the cover and saw the two women holding one another with passion in their eyes and their lips so close to complete a kiss. She opened the cover to the first page. One article caught her eye. A survey titled "Are You Certain Of Your Sexuality". Tara turned to the page where the five questioned survey was. She retrieved a pen out of her nightstand drawer and began answering the questions.
Question 1: Do you fantasize about a relationship with someone of the same sex? Yes/No/Sometimes
Tara circled the latter.
Question 2: Have you met someone of the same sex whom you might be interested in? Yes/No/Maybe.
Once again, Tara circled the last answer.
Question 3: If you have met someone of the same sex will you follow your instinct and pursue your fantasies? Yes/No/If they are interested
Tara circled Yes numerous times.
Tara had met someone today that she did find interesting. She thought of the woman in her head. <Willow Rosenberg seemed so cute and she was nice. Nice to me!> She remembered what Willow looked like. <That beautiful flowing fire red hair that hung around her soft shoulders. Those gorgeous green eyes. Those adorable blue jeans that hugged her hips, that tight chamois that was cut up to show her cute little belly and oh god, it left nothing to the imagination on the firmness of her pert breast. Damn she was hot!>
A smile came upon her as she licked her lips and bit on the lower one. Then she creased her brows and frowned. <Someone hot like her wouldn't be interested in me. Look at me, little miss 'plain Jane'. I bet she thought I was a freak dressed like this. Like a damn nun.> Tara criticized herself. She was so lost in thought that she didn't hear the knock on the door.
Her father peeked his head in and saw Tara lying on the bed, staring off.
"Hey! Are you deaf or something? I was practically beating the door down." James said while walking into the room. Tara jumped and quickly shoved the magazine under her pillow.
"Umm...s-s-sorry d-dad. I d-didn't hear you."
"What do you have there girl? Trying to hide something important." James chuckled, "There's nothing in your life important, except me. Now let's see what you have to hide"
Tara got off the bed and stood in front of her father, "N-nothing s-sir. J-just a magazine that I w-was reading. You know, j-just doing a little r-research in b-b-biology before school begins. Thought I-I would get a head s-start." Tara was sweating and feeling the rush of being caught go to her head. Her heart was pounding so hard that she could practically hear it. "Alright honey. I thought I would come up here and ask you if you wanted to start cooking dinner. I'm kind of hungry."
Tara knew something was wrong by the way he was talking. <Shit, I'm caught! This is NOT like him to be nice, especially to me. When does he ever ask me to do anything for him? Fuck, fuck, fuck!!! O.K. old man. Just get it over with and give me the beating of my life and call me a whore, a little deviate and tell me I sicken you rather than play this head game of yours.>
"S-sure dad. I'll umm...b-be down in a m-minute." Tara said nervously. She wiped away a beam of sweat off the side of her head.
James put his arm around her shoulder, "Well, we'll just go down together." He said as he walked her out of the room.
Tara started dinner. She fixed what she would call a small basic meal compared to what she usually would fix.
She set the table and placed pork chops, macaroni and cheese, corn and salad on the table.
She called for her father, who was upstairs.
James came down and walked into the dining room. He sat down in the chair beside of Tara.
"Bow your head to pray."
Tara lowered her head and folded her hands.
"God, we thank you for this food. Thank you for all the blessings that you have bestowed upon us. I ask you to forgive my daughter for straying away from your word. As you say in your word that homosexuals are to be damned. Please guide..." <Oh shit, here it comes.>
"my hands to guide my daughter to the road of redemption. Amen." James ended the prayer and looked over at Tara.
Tara kept her eyes closed, moving her mouth to act like she was praying. In fact, she was praying for her own benefit. She knew what was going to happen.
"Well Tara, what do you have to say for yourself?" James asked.
Tara looked up at her father. The cruelty in his eyes made her shake.
"W-what dad? I don't know w-what you mean." Tara wanted to sound innocent even though she knew it was useless. James reached into his back pocket and pulled out a rolled up magazine. He held it in his hands while he looked at it.
"God told me to look under your pillow. This is what I found, girl. What do you have to say for yourself? And don't give me some damn pitiful excuse about school research. If this filth is what they are teaching in school, you aren't ever going again. Are you sick in the head girl?" He opened up the magazine to the survey. "You have fantasies about other girls and you met one today, huh?" He rolled up the magazine and hit Tara upside the head. "You think some girl is going to be interested in you? You think anyone is going to be interested in you." Again he hit Tara with the magazine. "Maybe you are sick in the head. I think I should beat it out of you."
He stood up and repeatedly hit Tara in the head, like a dog that had messed in the floor. Tara tried to protect herself by placing her arms around her head, but it was no use. Anywhere her head was visible, he would hit. He grabbed her right arm and twisted it, so he could hit a more exposed area. He was mumbling out to God to guide his hand to release the demons in his daughter. Tara screamed from the hits to her head and the rough pulling on her arm.
Finally, he stopped.
James sat down and began putting food on his plate. Tara looked at him shaking and with tears in her eyes. She held her head where most of the impact had been laid. She rubbed her arm and could tell that there was definitely going to be bruising.
"This looks good, girl. Now come on and eat up. God has provided this food for us."
Tara stood up, "I'm n-not hungry. I'm g-g-going to my r-r-room."
James stood up and shoved Tara down in the chair. He bent down in front of her, reached back and grabbed her hair.
"You listen to me. You are going to eat supper with me or do I have to force you to eat like I did before?"
Tara shook her head. She remembered how her father forced fed her. He shoved food in her mouth despite her protest. He finally stopped when he noticed blood coming out of Tara's mouth. He had pushed food in her mouth so hard, the fork stabbed her tongue. Tara couldn't talk clearly for days.
Tara ate slowly. With every move of her mouth, her head was screaming with pain. She tried to chew faster, but that didn't help either. She would just have to deal with the pain regardless.
James wiped his mouth with the napkin. He got up from his chair and leaned over Tara.
She jumped back not knowing what to expect.
James placed his hand behind her head, leaned forward and placed a kiss on Tara's forehead.
"That was great baby girl. I have to go and pack some clothes and other things for my trip."
He walked out of the room. Tara started to cry. Her arm was red. Her head was pounding but the pain in her heart was the worst of all. James walked back in the room and looked at Tara. He reached down and grabbed the magazine. Tara flinched when he tapped her on the forehead.
"I'll just take this with me. Wouldn't want you getting any ideas now would we, girl." It was more of a statement than a question. He laughed as he walked out of the room.
Tara couldn't talk. Her throat was hurting from her muffled cries. She just sat there and shook her head even after her father left the room.
Willow entered her apartment. She threw her keys and mail on the coffee table and sat down on the couch. Reaching for the remote to the television, she pushed the button on her laptop sitting back waiting for it to complete its boot up. Turning the television on, she flipped through the channels not intending for a certain destination. Her slight frustration got the best of her. Letting out a long sigh, she turned the television off, placing the remote beside of her. She sat back on the couch and ran her hands through her hair. <How am I going to approach this one? Why do I get myself stuck in these situations? I really hate to put her through all of this. She is so beautiful. I can look at her all day and not get tired. Damn it! Anya is right and I hate that she is right, but she is. I can't get involved that way. Need to have a clear head. I can't go around falling for the first beautiful blue eyed goddess that I could just...Damn it Rosenberg...stop it!>
Willow's concentration was stopped when she heard music from her laptop, indicating it had finished its starting process. She clicked on her search browser and typed in the address. The page filled the screen. She typed in a user name and password.
Searching endlessly she came across something.
"There you are."
Willow scanned the page. She grabbed a notepad and pen located on the end table. She began writing down information that she had found.
She was interrupted when the telephone rang.
"Hello. Oh hey Giles. What's up?"
She continued to look at her computer.
"Yeah, I met her today."
She picked a piece of lint that had gathered on her jeans.
"Oh I can handle it. Did you get everything set up? I don't need any problems more than usual."
Willow hesitated while the person on the other line talked.
"Alright. Thanks Giles. I will. Bye." She hung up the phone and sighed.
Willow got off the couch. "Damn, I need a beer!"
She got off the couch and walked to the kitchen.
Tara put the dishtowel on the counter. She walked out of the kitchen and headed up to her room. When she reached her door, her father called out to her.
"Tara, I'm heading out." He held black briefcase in his hands. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. "Here's five dollars. That should do you for lunch tomorrow and something to eat in the afternoon."
Tara took the money in her hand and stood there looking at it. She looked up at her father with no expression on her face.
"I should be back sometime late tonight. Don't wait up for me."
<Like I was going to.> Tara thought.
James reached over to put his lips on Tara's forehead. She pulled back and backed up against her door.
James stood upright and laughed. "Well, alright then."
As he walked down the stairs, Tara walked into her room.
She lay down on her bed and began to cry. She held her hands over her eyes so tight that no light could reach her eyelids. <Why? What have I done so wrong? Mommy can you hear me? Please help me.>
Tara continued to cry. Her exasperation over took her body and she was asleep in a matter of minutes.
Tara was standing atop of the stairs. She could hear the shouting coming from the living room. Walking down the steps slowly, she could see around the corner to where her mother and father stood. Tara couldn't hear all of what they were saying clearly. Like the words were muffled. Her mother came flying out of the room with her father in pursuit. He grabbed the woman by her hair and was fighting to pull her back in the room. Tara's mother looked at her with desperation in her eyes. She mouthed the words 'Run baby, run!' Instead of retreating up the stairs, Tara ran towards her distressed mother and tried to pull her out of her father's grasp. Tara saw a bright blinding flash when her father struck her, knocking her down. He threw Tara's mother on the floor, kicking her in the stomach to insure she wouldn't move from that spot. Tara, still lying on her back, crawled on her hands backwards towards the staircase. Turning around, she was able to get on her feet and started her ascend. She reached the top stair and turned around. Her father was running right behind her taking every other step. He swung his hand over his shoulder. All became slow motion. It was as if time stood still until the impact hit her sending a sharp pain across her eyes.
An annoying noise was heard. The same off tone repeated. Louder and louder.
Tara looked up at her alarm clock. She squinted her eyes at the red bold numbers reading 6:45. Clicking over the button, she sat up in her bed, wiping the sleep from her eyes and the sweat from her face. She turned on the light on her nightstand. Tara stood up and noticed she had the same clothes on from the night before. Walking towards her dresser, her head pounded with every step she took. She pulled a clean bra, panties and socks from her drawer. She shifted over to her closet and retrieved a white blouse and blue dress slacks. Reaching down to pick her shoes, a rush of pain hit her. She sat down on the floor to compose herself. Picking up her shoes, she crawled on the floor, grabbing the door knob to pull herself up. After shaking her head, she walked out the door, down the stairs and headed towards the bathroom.
Taking off her dress, she flinched from the pain on her back. She looked over her shoulder in the mirror and saw the bruises slowly fading. The ones she received a week ago from the result of burning the cornbread she had fixed for dinner one night.
She stepped into the shower and let the hot water flow from her head down her bruised and battered body.
The bruises on her arms were slightly noticeable. She could cover them up easily with the long sleeved blouse she had picked out.
She took her time to let the water relieve the pain.
Today was a new day and she was determined to make it as good as possible.