“Pretending to Sleep” By Lisa Reily

He pulled the swing back until I was facing the ground, almost horizontal. Then he let go and I flew into the sky, my new white shoes and socks surrounded by clouds.

“Higher!” I shouted as he pulled the swing back, released me, caught me again. It felt good to have him at my command.

But something felt different this time.

As he pulled the swing back, I felt his hand beneath me. Not completely, but he was holding the swing in a different way. I glided into the blue, but my mind was on him.

He pulled me back again, and I waited for the hand to appear. It was there.

I swung up high, flew off the swing, and landed hard on the lawn. My summer dress was untouched, but my white shoes were scuffed with green.

I didn’t tell anyone.


I was tagged and waiting, legs astride for someone to swim under them. We were playing Stuck in the Mud in our backyard pool. He swam under me.

I waited for him to pass through, but he paused. Looked up at me—at my swimmers. It felt like a long time, but maybe it wasn’t. He stared through his goggles. Then he swam away.

I told Mum. That I thought he was looking. She said he was just being silly.


One night, he crept into my room. I knew it wasn’t right—what he was doing. But I got scared to tell anyone.

He tried another time. He leaned quietly over my bed and began to pull down the covers. At first, I pretended I was sleeping. Then I pretended I was having a nightmare. I kicked and kicked my legs and sheets as hard as I could.

I felt my legs hit him hard in the face, but he didn’t cry out. I hit him real hard. Then watched him leave in the dark. He never came back after that.


I remember the day I told my mother. I was a woman by then, and she was getting old. Mum was sorry about everything. She wanted to do something about it. But I just felt relieved that I had finally told her. Nobody else knows about what happened. Only you.


Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, River Teeth Journal (Beautiful Things), and Magma. Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveler and her writing is often inspired by her journey. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com

One thought on ““Pretending to Sleep” By Lisa Reily

  1. Pingback: ‘Pretending to Sleep’ by Lisa Reily | lisa reily

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