Sharon Jackson is the most wholesome pedophile you’ll ever meet. Around 9am she wakes up everyday and feigns joy at the sun. During her morning bible read, she sculpts methodical wounds into her tinder forearm as the inclinations grow during the pronounced pauses between scripture. She has breakfast some time around 10:30am to 11am depending on the degree of brutality with which she ravages her arm during the inclinations. She always dresses her wounds before eating because she considers eating a sacred practice — much like praying. Cooking is also a fleeting reprieve for Sharon. At approximately noon, when the evils of her mind begin to debauch, she commences her workout routine. Thigh to chest, thigh to chest. Step down, step up. Step up, step down. “Okay, ladies. All that energy you got bottled up – anxiety, naughty thoughts, anger – let’s work it out! Up. Down. Okay, ladies.” Shortly after Sharon’s work out, or rather after she’s had a rejuvenating glass of chocolate milk, she takes a scalding hot shower. Sharon’s scalding hot showers are not of the romantic, lifetime movie variety. The scalding hot water sprouts out of the faucet and swelters against her deep brown skin. She is only able to enjoy the welts and the scabs momentarily before she is forced to lay down on the cold floor of the bathroom, faint from the fervid heat rising to the ceiling. Her impulses tend to begin again, as she lays on the cold, bathroom tile. Her faintness, self-loathing and yearning converge on her frail mind, creating a state of bedlam. Around 2pm, after all of the violence she’s inflicted upon her worthy body, she partakes in her last sacred desire — eating. She usually has a heavy, borderline gluttonous lunch. She begins with a starch, a buttery white rice or a creamy pasta. Next, a hefty red meat or a heaping of seafood with a ration of roughage that hardly passes as garnish. Finally, a mid day cup of coffee spiked with Kahlua, Bulleit, or Baileys.
After her shower, meal and coffee, Sharon attempts an ill timed nap. She never reaches the second stage of REM. She rolls restlessly in the bare thread count sheets, swinging in and out of sanctity and blasphemy. Around 5pm, the darkness creeps over her alabaster walls and the petty sunlight uses plants to reflect the demons in Sharon’s thoughts. As she sits perfectly upright in her metal chair at her wooden kitchen table, the unused extension resting on her dead knee, she writes narratives for the shadow children. The shadow of the aloe plant on the window sill in the living area is little Christian, age 8. He stands boldly, his arms raised to the sky smiling. The shadow of the peace lily on the coffee table is Aaron, age 11. He moves stealthily against the wall, as if he is trying to surprise her. The shadow of the dracaena is a bit more menacing, Esteban age 13. He occupies a fourth of the wall with his knowledge and instincts for what is right and what is wrong.
Today at about 6pm Sharon opens her Mac Book timidly, hoping to forget her habitual interactions with Christian, Aaron and Esteban. She bypasses her usual trajectory of Facebook profiles, health group website slideshows and stock photo albums for the online forums.
“How are you coping today?”
“I feel lonely.
“I feel okay. Less than human, but okay.”
“Why am I like this?”
“I just want to live a normal life.”
“I am not physically attracted to my boyfriend anymore. I don’t know what to do.”
She laments at the eerily familiar sentiments. Reading these testimonies are no longer comforting. The depression and excitement of her disease have congealed into a boring and consistent self-loathing. She moves as though her life is merely a lease — death more imminent and certain than re-signing. She visits the forums not for the broken souls searching for sympathy, but rather the unapologetic molesters. Their comments are at the bottom of the page usually, with a couple of startlingly red, downward facing thumbs. They are from profiles with no avatar and a nonsensical username. But no one ever reports them. Everyone knows the whole forum — all of its threads — is criminal and perverse. Even if the “normals” never act — or claim they don’t — they are just as disgusting as the unapologetic molesters. The unapologetic ones comment angrily and assuredly — charlatans in sexuality, societal patterns and the perverse.
“This is a valid sexuality. No matter what the masses say.”
“They want to make you feel guilty, like you’re wrong — don’t let them. You are normal.”
“Everyone else does what feels good to them. Homosexuality was once considered perverse.”
Sharon cringes as she remembers that defiant and disgusting period — the time her sister began to bring her adopted son, Carl, around — during which she attempted to justify her desires and contemplate acting on them. Sharon unlocks the doors of her massive armoire — surveying the unmarked manila envelope, magazine cut outs and written letters hiding an embroidered box beneath them. She picks the box up, regretfully catching a glance at the innocent faces of the barely clothed children in the magazine tear outs. She reaches for the manila envelope, but freezes. Her sister’s face that foggy spring day as she snatched her son out of her arms was the terminus of any desire to live she had left. Her sister had thrust the contents of the manila envelope in Sharon’s face and vowed that Sharon would never see her nephew again. Sharon had pleaded with her sister; confessed that she had never touched him, only watched. The contents of the manila envelope were as far it went. That had to make it all okay, somehow.
Sharon walks to the window sill. Christian, Aaron, Esteban and even Carl are gone now. They were never there, in her apartment or in her life. They have always been dark, repulsive objects of desire resigned to her fantasies. The nuances of their delicate skin, pre-pubescent fuzz, and gracefully uncoordinated limbs are the bane of her otherwise normal existence. She hated that — the fact that she was “normal” in every other facet of life. She was mild mannered, had an average IQ and was as motivated as any non-white woman could be in America in the beginning. She could manage her money, she had moderately symmetrical features and no noticeable disabilities or body odors. And yet, she was not normal. Her uncles and the deacons at the church could look at young Sarah, Eve and Lily — but she couldn’t look at Christian, Aaron, Esteban nor Carl. No, she was not normal at all.
The blood on the window pane went unnoticed for merely a week. An abnormally short amount of time for your average uncovered pedophile. She had blown her brains out in front of the window overlooking the empty park directly across the street from her apartment building. The loud thud her body had made against the hardwood floor went unnoticed by her elderly downstairs neighbor who’d learned to ignore the similar sound of Sharon’s body hitting the cold bathroom tile every day. As for the blast, the neighborhood was prone to a shooting here and there and all of it’s inhabitants knew keeping quiet was the most appropriate response.
Her blood splatter made no discernible difference in the shadow of the aloe plant as the sun descended upon the alabaster walls, day in and day out that week. The shadow children danced around Sharon’s cold body, taunting her with their young and supple bodies, even in death.
The only thing Sharon saw when she looked out on the empty park that day was Carl playing on the swing set and looking at her the way he used to. The way he used to look at her before he knew that she was a freak and that those afternoons at her house — the park, the side of the tub after a warm bath, her bed — had not been fun, they had been wrong.
The welts and cuts on her frail body prompted sympathy and accusations of depression and anxiety during the investigator’s initial survey of the apartment. The sympathy began to boil and then evaporated into a cloud of anxious hatred as the investigators pried the massive armoire doors open and found the manila envelope, the magazine pages and the letters.
Sharon, who prided herself on being a wholesome, self-loathing pedophile — the most tolerable pedophile anyone could ever meet — killed herself. And in the end they treated her as if she’d been proud of what she was.