After Dinner Conversation

Volume 4, Issue 9, September 2023

Mystee Van Dan
Pages 79-107

Sienna’s Monster

How is a child, growing up, effected by being part of a cycle of abuse? How do you end the cycle? How do you explain to your abuser the effect their words have on you, when they believe their actions are better than their father before them? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Sienna is living with a “Monster,” in this case, her father. He does not hit her, but he does yell, and rant, and breaks things. Sienna grows up always on edge that the “monster” will lash out at her. Over time, she builds up equally toxic defense mechanisms. She learns to yell back and to be as hate-filled as her father. This all changes when she goes to college and meets her roommate Clara. Clara does not lash out. She does not accuse. She does not go into conversations prepared for battle. She listens, she is empathetic. She does not “keep score” in their friendship. Sienna assumes Clara has an alternative motive, and continues to be skeptical. Eventually, Sienna comes to see Clara for what she is, a decent human being. Armed with her new knowledge, Sienna heads home for Thanksgiving and confronts her father. Her father credits himself with “breaking the cycle” and being a good father by not physically abusing Sierra that way his father was to him. Sienna is frustrated, and resolves to never speak to him again. Over the Christmas holiday, Sienna decides to visit Clara’s family. Sienna’s mother asks if she, and only she, can come visit. Sienna reluctantly agrees. Her mother arrives, father in tow. The story ends with Sienna in jail, having killed her father.