I was 17. Nobody knew.

I had told a friend from school... sort of. We sat on the floor in "my" room, talking about various things. She said, "I was molested by my uncle."

I said, "I was molested, too."

We talked about something else.

I sat on the porch of our small apartment, one of my favorite places in the world. It was my refuge, my thinking place, especially when the warm summer nights rolled in. Cocooned by the thick, humid air, I would stare at the lights across the canal, stare at the stars, stare into the darkness... Oftentimes I would light candles along with my cigarettes. Their small flickers never did help me make any sense of my disjointed self, but they soothed and calmed me.

It was where C and I spent countless summer nights, talking until dawn so that we could sleep the day away and do it all over again.

It was where I filled out my application for Youth Rush 2006-- my ticket out of my tense circumstances.

It was where I practiced my part for a choir piece- the only class I cared about enough to attend.

It was where my mom and I were sitting, smoking cigarettes during an interlude in the evening round of life buzzing away behind the sliding glass door. We laughed and joked, swapped stories and small talk... all so inconsequential. She stubbed out the last shreds of smoldering tobacco, rose, and moved towards the door.

Suddenly, out of the blackness of the sky above, I knew- I had to tell her.

What? Why? Where did this come from? Why does it even matter? It was so long ago... who cares? Just leave well enough alone.

I wasn't so much concerned with her response as I was with the reason for this sudden, irresistible urge to vomit out my deepest, darkest secret.

"Mom, wait... I, uh... I need to tell you something. Something big."

My hands shook. I lit another cigarette, despite the fact that I'd finished my last one mere moments before.

"Mom... um... well... what I need to tell you is that, uh... well... G... he, uh... he molested me. When I was a kid."

Those few words... and my life would not be the same.

"He WHAT?!"

Anger. Not directed at me, but at him. Instantaneously. She leapt to my defense like a lioness protecting her cubs.


I had tried to tell her once, while it was still happening. I had to be all of 10. We were in the car, coming home from... grocery shopping? It was just me and Mom, a rare occasion. She pulled smoothly into our parking space, and as we sat for those few moments before climbing out of our rickety little car, I knew... I needed to tell her.

Tell her what? How do I say this? What do I call it? Rape? No. I know rape. I've seen it on tv. He didn't rape me, but it's close, so... what do I say to make her understand? "G tried to rape me." Not quite right, but she'll pay attention, and then I can explain. Okay, now. Say it.

I looked up from inspecting my knees as she eased off of the driver's seat and out the squeaking door.

Oh. Too late. Oh well.

I never thought about telling her again. Until, that is, we sat on the porch together.


Most of that conversation is a blur. I remember her anger. I remember some sort of soothing comfort from her, and I think that I probably cried a little. I at least teared up, I'm reasonably sure about that.

I remember her insistence that we "call someone", and her disappearing and reappearing, phone and phone book in hand.

I remember learning that we had to go somewhere the next morning, so I could file a report. That meant talking about it. I began to regret my decision.

I remember chain-smoking. Fiercely. I finished my pack that night, bought some more the next morning, and finished that, too.

I remember the agonizing questions that daylight brought. "What happened? Where did it happen? Where did he touch you?"

Please. I learned "good touch, bad touch" in grade school, a fat lot of good it did me.

I remember the struggle to give voice to the memories that had lain in malignant dormancy so many, many years. I remember my shame, as though I had somehow done these things to myself. I remember my absolute inability to coherently share my story with the male(!) officer... so he gave me some paper. Then I was able to choke it out. (I guess writing has always been my method of preference for sharing.)

There were things I had forgotten, but quite a bit I hadn't. That went to show that my mind hadn't done it's job right-- I had been trying to forget everything. It didn't work.

And I remember that, through it all, she was there. She was right there. She loved me anyway.

She believed me.

It's the most precious gift I've ever received.

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