Sunday, January 31, 2010


I cuddled in my grandmother's arms and imagined the conversation/interaction between my mother and step-father as she confronted him. I knew I had shattered everyone's lives. My grandmother whispered as she held me, almost speaking to herself, but explaining at the same time, "I could hide behind that door and shoot him when he comes through it, but then you'd lose me too while I spent the rest of my life in prison... do you understand"? I knew if I said just do it, she would. I nodded. I understood. She loved me enough that she was willing to do it and loved me enough not to.

Life became even more awkward between my mother and me. She wanted me to testify against him. She said I had to protect other little girls by doing this. I only wanted to please her. I didn't know what a courtroom or a judge was. We only watched rated G programming as the Church mandated. No crime shows or anything that could corrupt. (Which is a little ironic). I knew that even though she said the right things, there was an emptiness in her eyes. Her heart was full of blame and conflict. I overheard her tell a friend that I was a seductive child. I became frozen inside knowing that people knew I had "been" with my "father" and that I seduced him. My body still lived in fear even though he was gone. I knew he wouldn't be back. The fear was not of him. I didn't know where I stood. I didn't know who knew or how I was being perceived. Over and over I told my story. The police, a lawyer, a social worker, a therapist, a doctor.I was taken to the courthouse and sat in a hall and waited with my mother. I was taken into the room that was nothing as I had imagined and saw him at the table. On the stand I could not look up. I shook all over. I couldn't speak. He could see and hear me and would know everything I had to say. I could feel his eyes on me. There were a thousand eyes on me. Someone had mercy. I identified who he was and was told I could go into a room with my mom. Later the man in a suit came to get me and explained that I could tell the story without him being in the room. There would be the "jury" and a camera. Finally I told my story in a room with a long table with 12 people sitting at the table. A man asked very personal questions which I answered. I only looked up once at the people sitting at the table. An old man with a ball cap. A white haired woman with red lipstick and pearls. Her lips were wrinkly and her lipstick ran in little lines like rivers of red around her lips. I didn't look at each person. Just the people closest to my seat. I looked down the rest of my time in the room and talked about the intimate details of the last five years. I am nine years old. I have to say the word penis in front of a LOT of people and a camera. God was probably going to smite me for saying penis.

It was the first conviction of child sexual abuse in PoDunk County. A county where the good ol' boy system was well in place and every one was related to everyone else in some way. After court my grandma took me to the Five and Dime across from the court house. We bought some candies and then went to the only place in the town you could get a hamburger, Jim's Bar and Grill. My hamburger and fries sat untouched. I refused food often during my childhood and hunger evaded me especially today. My stomach churned and my head hurt. I asked Grandma what was happening. Everything was so hush hush. She finally said we're waiting for a "verdict" It only took a few hours. Sentencing would be another day. My mother said I was a "brave" girl. I felt sick and shaky. I knew I wasn't brave. I was obedient.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pregnant Third Grader

I was in the third grade when we began sex ed. I had the sweetest teacher in third grade, Ms. Gail. She had a way of making all of her students feel very special and smart. She never picked her nose like my second grade teacher who was the principal's wife. The principal, Mr. Gilley, and his wife were as old as the hills and smelled of moth balls. But Ms. Gail was the kind of teacher that you wished she were your mom. She read stories and gave smiley faces back on your worksheets. Anyway, as I said, we had our first - boys go to the gym and girls stay here - sex education class in the third grade. During recess as my mind was racing from what I'd learned about getting pregnant and, of course, I convinced myself I must be pregnant. I didn't feel particularly close to any of the other kids, but did confide in June and Heather that I thought maybe my step-dad made me pregnant. We all just sat there in shock. I thought that was the end of it and imagined what my mom would say when I had a baby.

The next day, Heather said that she had told her mom and that if I didn't tell someone, her mom was going to tell. I was scared, but relieved. I was so ready for it all to be over. I agreed and asked Ms. Gail if I could stay in at recess and talk to her. I don't remember her response, only that I felt nervous to open a can of worms that could never be closed. I know that she asked if I had told my mother and I said no. She worked very hard to give me the courage to tell my mother or grandmother and I would have to tell that day or she would have to tell someone herself.

As I rode the bus home I tried to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen. My stomach and head hurt and nausea washed over me. I tried to imagine what would happen. My mother was sitting in Grandma's kitchen. I wouldn't have had the courage to tell her any other way. "How was school"? My sister had already run off to play and the question sounded so routine and normal. I stood there and shook as words spilled quickly from my mouth. I could almost see them spilling from my mouth in typed form like a waterfall. I wouldn't take a breath until I'd said it all. "We had sex ed and I told Heather that he does stuff to me and I thought I was going to have a baby and her mom said I have to tell so Ms. Gail said I'm not pregnant, but said that I have to tell you that he does stuff to me" all in one long run on sentence. No one said who... no one said anything. They knew who "he" was. Four eyes looked on me in shock and we all were very still while time slowed and the clock ticked. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

I watched their faces which was my well-honed gift. I could read anyone's face and almost always knew what was coming. I watched as agony was overtaken by an explosion of silent fury swept my grandmother's face. A quick sweep of my mother's face told me that this was already about HER. Her face quickly changed again as she realized she had to "say the right things".

She started off telling me that I was safe and no one would ever be touching me again. She came over and tried to hug my stiff body. I looked over her shoulder into my grandmother's eyes and tears began to fill my heart... not for myself, but for what I saw. I was more afraid of what Asshole would do when he learned I'd told. I'd seen his violence and knew his well-hidden secrets better than anyone. I'd seen my mother's temper, but knew he could hurt her and he could hurt all of us. What had I done? Would he kill us one at a time? Would I be watching my family die today?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


The farm was thirty acres. The mailbox was at the main road and the Auntie was building a concrete block house on the left hand side of the gravel drive between the main road and Grandma's house which was on the right hand side just past some woods and then a cornfield. You could not see anyone else's house through the thickets and trees, but a path through the woods was created from the well-house to the Auntie's house.

Mom and the Auntie had made up since the refrigerator incident. It was early spring and I could climb the trees on the path and read books from the library. I could climb fairly high and be very quiet. I watched as my sister and cousin played on the path. The house had concrete floors and running water. There was no hot water though and they also heated by a wood-burning stove. There was only three ways to make my mother like me, be sick, be smart, and clean.

I hated math(as most social workers do) and had begun long division in school. One day I asked my cousin if he would do my math because I hated it, but I knew better than to leave it undone or to get a bad grade. He agreed if I would do something for him. I said sure and we went into the woods together. I would kiss his dong and he would do my math. I shook as I knelt down and quickly weighed the pros and cons of what I was going to do. What would God say? I thought about how small his was compared to the asshole and thought about how badly I didn't want to do my math homework. What did it matter? I did it for the asshole, why couldn't I do it to get my math done? I began and did it for a few minutes and changed my mind. God was going to smite me. What if my Grandma found out?

Grandma didn't like the other kids the way she liked me. I saw her lock my cousin in the closet the week before because he was getting on her nerves. The closet was in her room and went into the attic. The boards were made of barn wood and it was dark and dusty inside. I knew he had to be scared in the closet, but I made no attempts to let him out or talk to him about it. I'd been through a lot of things, but had never been locked in the closet. I didn't want to go in the closet either. I told him I'd do my own math and pretended to be insulted that he was bartering what he knew I could do.

I had become a fairly mean to the other children over the past several months and would throw walnuts at my cousin as he walked by. I hoped I could crack his head. He could climb trees, but not as well as me and could never catch me. His chores were harder than mine and his mother's bark was even worse than my own mother's bark. Even though I was a quiet child, I had hate growing in my heart. I hated whoever was easiest to hate. Some days it was my sister, and some days it was my cousin. But mostly I hated myself.

A new game

We hauled water from the well in five gallon buckets. I pulled two empty five gallon buckets to the electric well pump and filled them with water. My red wagon had seen better days, but was my daily companion. As I filled the buckets and walked slowly back the mobile home tucked about two acres from grandmas house I wondered if the fire would be hot enough to heat the water for baths. You couldn't see Grandma's house from the trailer, but the well was in her front yard so getting water meant going to see her.

I didn't dilly-dally because I knew I was to go and come straight back. I took the time to smell the red roses growing just to the right of the well-house. Grandma came out the screen door and waved with her knowing smile. My small frame began slowly tugging the wagon over the gravel road to the trailer. It was easier where the gravel stopped and the dirt path started. I made my way slowly so I wouldn't slosh water out. That was the only bath water available and I didn't want to make two trips. The avocado green bathtub was small so 10 gallons of hot water plus a little bit of cold water would cover my legs.

I told my sister to get in the tub and undressed. Being naked meant being vulnerable in our house. Tomorrow night I would ask grandma if we could take a bath there. I'd ask in secret and she would casually suggest it over dinner. We had dinner every weekend at Grandmas. The next night I cuddled with Grandma while my mother went to the grocery. I whispered and asked if we could get our bath at her house. We never used bubble bath in the tub because I kept a lot of "infections" and bubble bath was the "cause". My sister and I could fill the tub up to our chests at her house and I was happy to submerge myself in the deep warm water. We got into the tub while the adults had their after dinner talk and the dishes were done. My sister was being loud and I didn't want anyone to come in. I stuck my finger in her face and hissed for her to shut up. She continued to splash water and be loud and I again became very angry and shoved my finger in her face. SHUT UP dammmmi... before I could finish she grabbed my finger between her teeth. She bit like a snapping turtle and wasn't going to let go. I screamed out in pain and she still hung on.

I started to push her head backwards and was trying to pull my finger out as the door slammed open with my mother red faced and angry. I looked at her crying in agony and watched in fear as she jerked my sister out of the tub. Blood filled the water as my sister got her bare naked wet butt spanked. I'd never seen my sister punished and a mixture of guilt and pleasure crept in. I smirked in the tub behind my tears and when I saw my mother looking down at me, turned that smirk into a grimace to cover my tracks. A quick towel dry and band-aid and we recieved our orders to get our pajama's on. We were going home.

Once we were home we climbed into our bunkbeds. She on the bottom and I was on the top. She pressed her feet into the bottom of my mattress and I hung my head over to look at her. "You should have shut up huh"?... Her eyes were filled with anger as she stubbornly said, "You should have kept your finger out of my face, huh?" That night would mark the beginning of a new game. I laid on the top bunk and hatched my plan. I would make her know how much she needed me and how she would miss me. She would pay. I couldn't control anything else in my life, but I could definitely control her.

Over the next year, every time I would call my step-father to me when I saw him approaching her, I would call her out to the yard to play. Every single time I was molested on her behalf, I would wait until she brushed up against me or hit me and then would fall over and hold my breath until she thought I was dead. Until real tears fell from her eyes. I was always at her beck and call because if she got upset... the grownups blamed me. If I carried her on my back from the bus to Grandma's house so she didn't have to walk, I'd later wait for the perfect moment and then would pretend I'd died until she was scared. If she ripped a necklace off my neck, I'd again pretend she killed me. I tortured her for almost a year with the game giggling at how gullible she was to fall for it time and time again.