I thought it started at the same time as my acne, but my sister says it was much earlier than that. There was a cream, a clear gel, ‘Retin A’ that Dad applied each night religiously to every spot I had on my face, my back and even my chest.
‘Apply with cotton wool’ was written clearly across the tube because it could strip paint off any wall, but he only used cotton wool on my back. When done, his strong hands would grip my shoulders guiding me round towards him. I'd stare at the floor searching for faces in the wood, avoiding looking at his pile of clothes folded neatly at my feet. Then I’d be kneeling, my navy knickers the only cover I’d be allowed until he was ready.
I’d screw my eyes tight and visualise Mum, not blind nor deaf, sitting downstairs on the sofa watching Coronation Street and drinking weak Nescafe as he stripped my skin barer than any wall. My only witness, a voiceless tube of Retin A.