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?