“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.”
– Oscar Wilde
“You’re a sinner, Janet…a dirty, dirty sinner,” Janet’s grandmother glared across the Thanksgiving table and judged her blatantly and out loud, in front of everyone. She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks, the tears welling at the corners of her heavily made-up eyes. Breathing slowly, she tried to hold them back; she didn’t want to give her family the satisfaction of watching the mascara run down her face.
Under the table, Jesse placed his hand on her thigh and squeezed it in silent support. She supposed it was also tinged with the question of whether she wanted him to jump in on her behalf. Covering his hand in hers, she squeezed it back and laced her fingers between his. She wanted to handle this on her own.
“Grandma…” Janet inhaled before continuing, “I love you…” she looked around at the wide-eyed, silent, expectant faces of her family, “I love you all, but I’m happy with my life the way it is.”
“But honey, you can’t possibly like taking your clothes off for strangers…” her mother interjected, her expression a mix of confusion and concern.
“We can loan you money…how much do you need?” Her father cleared his throat and straightened up in his chair, clearly trying to retain some sense of dignity as his daughter stripped it away.
“I don’t need your money, dad. And yes, actually mom, I do enjoy my job…and I’m good at it…”
Her grandfather slammed his hand down on the table, disrupting his table setting enough to cause the silverware to clang against his plate and his water to spill over onto the lace tablecloth, “This is absolute bullshit! Strippin’ ain’t a job…it’s a goddamn crime. I ‘spose you’re whorein’ too? This a damned embarrassment to the family!” His eyes had lost their color to his growing pupils, and his jaw was so tight Janet could see the tendons in his neck.
She glanced at her younger sister, who simply sat across from her in silence, eyes darting from one loud, emotional family member to another. She shrunk down in her seat, looking at Janet with sympathy, but she wasn’t willing to stand up for her, for fear of bringing the backlash upon herself.
Janet was alone in this.
“I’m sorry you all feel this way. I’m sorry it’s come to this…I’m sorry you found out the way you did, and I’m sorry you feel I’ve shamed the family. But, I’m not sorry for loving what I do. I’m not ashamed. Jesse, let’s go.” Janet scooted her chair back and stood up, placing her napkin on the table next to her unfinished dinner. She reached down and took her wine glass in her hand, raising it to her lips. Leaning her head back, she let the liquid heat her throat, gulping the entire glass.
“Here’s to you,” Janet raised her empty glass in a bitter toast, and then let the glass drop. It shattered against her plate and a bowl of mashed potatoes, little shards tinkling across the table. Her mother and grandmother both gasped. Her grandfather let loose with, “What the hell?” And her father simply lowered his head into his hand and sighed loudly. Her sister just continued to sit in stunned silence, her eyes wide like a frightened deer caught in the headlights.
Janet looked down at Jesse, her eyes pleading with him to take her away. He stood, silently wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
When they made it to the car, Jesse opened the door for her and guided her head as she lowered into her seat. He looked up at the house and saw Janet’s father looking out the living room window, and he shook his head. He couldn’t understand why family’s did this to one another…why they couldn’t just accept each other’s choices. It was why he hadn’t spoken to his in over five years. Ever since he started dancing at the club.
He had to admit though…something about being called a sinner made him flaunt it a little harder on the raised stage. He hoped it would be the same for Janet.
Later that night, as he held her thighs in his hands and she rode our her hurt and fury on his cock, he whispered, “You’re a sinner, Janet…a dirty, dirty sinner…” and she smiled through her tears.
“I know…and I wouldn’t have it any other way…”
This week, Wicked Wednesday prompted us to go to the social media platform of our choice and take the first post we saw as inspiration for a piece of writing. While it wasn’t the first thing I say, the Oscar Wilde quote at the top of this post was the first thing that interested me, so I went with it.