Life afterward wasn't what I was expecting it to be. I thought life would be simple. I thought I would be safe. I expected my dreams to come true, even if I had not yet figured out what my dreams were. Turns out I was wrong.
For a while things were fine. Mentally I was strong, and I put my past aside so I could be a kid. I pretended to be normal, like my friends. I followed my friends into trouble just to say I wasn't scared. Unfortunately, I told someone about my past that I thought I could trust to keep my secret but they blabbed to their brother and that brother mentioned it to a few friends and before I even knew what was happening; I had boys in my neighborhood cornering me in all kinds of places. They all had decided I was no longer a virgin, and that meant I was open for sex. I don't think any of them wanted to hurt me and most only tried once (I was not a pushover and many boys got a knee in their family jewel box and that was enough to keep them away from me) but there were a few who I tried to stay away from because of how they acted.
I remember there was one boy in particular that I tried to stay away from because he had pinned me in the corner of the church parking lot that was behind our houses and freaked me out. I won't say his name because he is no longer important, but he was more forceful than the other boys had been and he was in the older crowd of kids, the ones in high school, so I didn't really know him well. The first time he cornered me I was playing hide and seek with my friends, I think I was about 11 yrs old. I was hiding behind a building that was in the church parking lot behind the houses on our block. It was a safe place for us kids to play during the week because there was no real car traffic back there. There was a space about 2 feet wide behind the building and a cement wall that separated the area from the neighbor's driveway. It was a good place to hide if you were not scared of spiders or bugs. The wall the building was backed up to was only about four feet high, and most of us kids could jump up on it in order to climb onto the roofs of the carports next door. He was coming down the alley towards me.
I was so busy looking out for my friend that I didn't hear or see him until it was too late. He must have seen me from over the wall because he hopped it and landed behind me in one quick movement. I heard the gravel move behind me and spun around just in time for him to pin me against the building and cover my mouth to muffle my scream. My body froze, and I knew my eyes grew three sizes in that moment. As my dad would say, I am sure I looked like a deer caught in the headlights. I quickly found my senses though and started speaking under his hand.
I was trying to tell him to get off of me, but he kept his hand over my mouth and used his body to keep me in place. Slowly his knee came to my shaking knees, and he spread them apart. It was mid-summer, so I was in long loose-fitted shorts and a tee shirt. I didn't wear short shorts or tank tops as a kid because I felt too vulnerable if I wasn't properly covered.
As his knee rose toward my most private area, he used his other hand to feel at my chest. It was at that moment that my knee came up and contacted his boy parts and he lost his breath and went weak in the knees just long enough for me to push him over and run in the opposite direction like my dad's work partner had taught me. I was so scared I ran past my friend on my way home and didn't stop until I ran through the store door and into my stepdad's waiting arms. As soon as he saw me come running through the door, he knew something was wrong. He picked me up and let me cry in his arms until I had cried all I could. After I had calmed myself down, my dad asked me what happened. I thought for a bit and then told my stepdad that one of the older boys was just picking on me and it had hurt my feelings. At the time I didn't know how my stepdad would react to the truth and I didn't want anyone getting hurt, so I lied. My dad must have told his buddy Timmy what had happened because it wasn't long before Timmy had come looking for me.
I remember I was sitting on the floor in our living room watching cartoons when I heard him come through the store door. The store door was the door that led from our house to the store part of the building my dad owned.
“Hey pumpkin head Donnie said you had some trouble with a boy today, do you want to tell me what happened?” he asked as he sat on the floor next to me.
Timmy was a good man, he was only in his 20s, but he was very much like a brother to me. He watched out for me and my sister like we were his blood relatives and we loved him as such. He knew about my past, and he protected me in a way that most don't. I always felt safe with him around, so when he asked me that simple question, I was honest with him.
“One of the older boys pinned me against the shed in the church parking lot and felt me up, but I kicked him in his nuts and ran as you told me too. I was just scared but I am ok now.” I looked at Timmy wondering how he would react, and he didn't disappoint me when his anger showed itself. He was very predictable when it came to me, and I knew he would get angry and demand to know who the boy was. In my child's mind, I knew telling him who the boy was probably wouldn't be a good idea because he would go and put the fear of God into the boy, but would that be a bad thing.
“Who was it?” he asked while my mind wandered.
“Just a boy, he won't do it again and if he does, I will tell you but I am not giving you his name because I know you and I will not let you go beat up some kid who clearly deserves it but doing so will only get you in trouble and I don't want that.”
I hugged him just to innerate that I was ok and felt his arms wrap tightly around me.
“Well, I am just glad you are ok but if he touches you again promise I get to break his hands?”
He was such a man that even that small remark made me laugh, and I nodded my head in agreement.
That's how life was for me most days. It wasn't always someone hurting me in a sexual way, but I had bullies as a kid and I wasn't always welcomed because a lot of the kids thought I was weird and poor. Most days you could find me following Timmy around or with my dad. Other days I would be with my grandma or someone else in my family. When I did hang out with my friends, I could play all day, but only if they were not being mean or anything. Other days I would spend alone down at the park playing with whoever would play with me or exploring on my own. I had a whole secret world in my mind that no one knew about.
I remember spending hours down at culler lake. It was my go-to place because of the creek that ran next to it. There were bushes and trees, big and overgrown enough for my small body to climb into in order to hide and play. I created a magical world filled with adventure and wonder. I would create maps to hidden treasures I had buried and then hide the maps in places around the neighborhood and parks for other kids to find. I can't even tell you how many toys I had buried in shoe boxes wrapped in plastic to save it from the weather around the city park area of Frederick where we lived. I have no clue if anyone ever found them all, but if not, well, I’m sure one day someone will.
The times I spent down at the park, and the lake were probably my favorite times. It was on one of my adventures that I came across the brother of a friend in school. I had seen him before and knew he was a nice boy. His eyes were the kindest eyes I had ever seen other than my stepdad's eyes. He was sitting under my favorite tree fishing and as I walked by his hook got stuck in the tree's branch. I stopped and watched for a minute as he struggled to get the hook loose. I spent that minute debating on whether to put my shyness away and help him. We were both about 9 years old, but I was always kind of shy when it came to people I knew versus people I didn't know. I swallowed my fear though and asked him if he needed help. That was the moment that changed my life. That was the moment I fell in love with a boy I barely knew, but one I would soon know everything about.