Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Starting at the beginning

This is an excerpt of what will be the first chapter of my book. There is something you have to understand in my telling of the story. First, litigation is pending, so I must be careful with what I share. If this excerpt seems to lack detail, well, that's because I had to remove them.  Second, until this case is transferred to circuit court, Mr. X is protected by juvenile law. Mr X turns 54 this year.

My first encounter with the devil occurred shortly after we moved in. The X's were extremely friendly to my family. Mom X brought over food, complete with homemade chocolate chip cookies, on the day we moved in. Dad X and his son, Mr. X, helped us unload the truck. Before long my parents considered Dad X and Mom X good friends.
Mr. X was the youngest X son.  He was about the same age as my sister, also finishing his sophomore year of high school. 
One day, not long after we unpacked, Mom X and Mr. X came over. My mom and Mom X went into the house, and Mr. X started a conversation with me outside. Through the course of this conversation he asked for a tour of my property. I showed him the climbing maple and my swing-set. I showed him the barn and my playhouse. We walked to the far back of our place, over the third hill, and all the way to the pond.
 Even though I had been born in the city, I was familiar with ponds, and this wasn't much of a pond, but more like an over-flowing mud puddle. It was brown-green. Huge cat-tails grew around most of it. On some days you could smell the algae all the way to the barn. My parents rattled off the reasons why this water hole wouldn't last, something about it not having a proper base dug and failure of the previous owners to line it with gravel. I had no idea what they were talking about. I only knew that the pond was not a place I wanted to be.
Just the same, here we are. Mr. X asked me if I ever went swimming and I said “Sure, all the time, at the lake. But my parents make me wear a life jacket.” He asked me if I wanted to go swimming with him in the pond. The only thing I could think was how disgusting I thought the pond was. There was no way I was going to put any part of my body in that water, even at the age of 6.
“Eww, swim in a pond?”
“My brother and I swim in my pond all the time,” he said.
I giggled. “You do? But you have cows. How do you swim with the cows?”
“Oh they don’t mind. They don’t get in the pond while we are there anyway. But you don’t have any cows to worry about. So what do you think, wanna swim?”
      “I don’t have a swim suit.”
       “That’s ok. I don’t either.  My brother and I just take off our clothes. That’s what we can do.”
      I looked at him trying to figure this out. That just sounded weird to me. “No thanks, I don’t want to swim. I better get back to the house. I’m not supposed to be back here anyway,” and I turned back and started up the hill.
          Later that afternoon, I was eating a snack while mom was working on dinner. I told her what happened at the pond.
      “He said what?” my mom asked, putting a significant emphasis on the word ‘what’ while setting the knife down and looking at me. “What did you say?”                                                                Mom was visibly upset, but I could not understand why. “I said no. I don’t want to,” and continued to drink my Kool-Aid.
      “Well that’s good,” she replied as she went back to cutting the vegetables. And just like that the conversation ended.  But there was something in her voice that made me think I had just done something wrong.

It is obvious to me now that my mother had a gut feeling about this incident, and more incidents to follow. And yet, for years, she was blind to what was really going on; she blamed me for acting out instead.

Sadly, I never quite got over the feeling that I had done something wrong.Early on in my life I learned that something about what was happening to me unsettled the adults around me. My mother would get an uncomfortable look on her face and her voice would become tense when I tried to talk about something Mr. X had done with/to me. Even as an adult I struggle with that feeling, the feeling that I had just done something wrong. I notice that same look now, that same tone in many voices, as I share my experiences with adults around me.

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