“Ghost Stories: HE TOLD ME NOT TO TELL.”

“You’re not that little girl anymore.

You’re the strong woman you are today, and you’re holding her small hand through a great fire.

And this season, you’re going to leave that place together.


The End.”

Tanya Markul

He came to live with us in the mid-1980’s. His entire lifetime consumed by the use and abuse at the hands of his mother and her plethora of boyfriends. His entire life was riddled with bullet holes, shot from the gun of their addictions.

He filled the hole left in my mother’s heart, following the death of her son. She could relate to him and his life of abuse, as she was still suffering the after effects from years of her own.

She combed his hair and kissed his wounds. She gave him all the things he deserved, but so desperately lacked – like food, clothing, and shelter. Love, hugs, and the freedom to simply be a child.

The one thing my mother refused to see, however, was how none of these things could change the damage that had already been done. His mind was already too far gone. I could see it… but I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Would she even believe me if I did?

He told me not to tell… when he tricked the lunch lady into comping him free meals – and then stole the money from her tray when her head was turned.

He told me not to tell… when he stole candy from the corner store, placing a few pieces into my own coat pockets before pushing me out the door, as a way of making me an “accomplice”.

He told me not to tell… when I found him in the alleyway behind our house, with a knife in his hand, pulling the internal organs out of some fleshy mess of what used to be a cat.

He told me not to tell… about the time I walked into the closet to pick out my dress for church and he stepped in behind me, closing the door.

He told me not to tell… about the time he crawled into my bed in the middle of the night, saying he’d had a bad dream and, as I awoke in the morning, his hands were beneath my pajamas.

He told me not to tell… about the time we were exploring the woods and came upon his friend, who was drinking a beer and hunting squirrels.

He told me not to tell… about that one October evening, as we were playing in the clubhouse that our Pap had built for us, when his friend showed up and wanted to “play” too.

He told me not to tell… as I stood there, in that room full of our family, covered in dirt and hay from the floor inside that clubhouse.

He told me not to tell… as my grandmother screamed about how dirty I was and the mess that I was making in her house by coming inside.

He told me not to tell… as I awoke from my nap, on the top bunk of our bunk beds, to find him climbing up on top of me.

He told me not to tell… as I kicked and screamed and fought back against him for the first time in our very young lives.

He told me not to tell… as my body was hurled from that top bunk, my skull crashing against the corner of our desk, on its way down to the floor.

He told me not to tell… as I locked my dizzy and disoriented self inside the bathroom of our Beaver Falls home, screaming at the top of my lungs for my mom to come and save me.

He told me not to tell… and so I never did.

Until now.


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