She was a pretty little girl, with big, beautiful, piercing blue-green eyes. Even as a baby, her stare could make you wonder if she was seeing deep into your soul, inevitably causing you to look away. She was the fifth of six children, the only girl in a sea of brothers; four were older, the other three years younger. Being the only daughter in a family of male testosterone provided a real sense of safety and security. Surrounded by brute strength, often on display as her brothers wrestled with each other until the weaker of the two gave in, she was oblivious to even remote possibilities of harm ever coming her way.
Her close-knit family regularly attended church, her father held in high esteem by members of the congregation, who often sought him out for advice and help on one problem or another. Even as a young girl, she would often overhear congregation members discussing the virtuous traits of her father, doing his utmost to listen, empathize and help others suffering in some way. All congregation members were referred to as either “Sister” or “Brother”, with regular sermons instilling the deep-seated belief of a “world-wide brotherhood”, where no matter what part of the world you may be, you were assured safety and help by members of the religion.
She was only nine years old. Walking home from school with her six year old brother, they made their usual trek passing the duplex-home of a church member and family friend, who was married and expecting their first child soon. Just having passed the house, she heard a voice calling out to her. She turned and saw him, calling to her from the second floor balcony, inviting her to come in, saying he wanted to show her his brand new stereo system. She thought for a moment, and explained she needed to get her little brother home. She didn’t know what it was about this man, but she’d always felt somewhat uncomfortable around him. He insisted she bring her little brother too, saying it would only take a minute and then she and her brother could go home.
The moment she and her brother reached the landing at the top of the stairs to the second floor apartment, his big strong hand had grasped her arm and quickly pulled her over to where the stereo sat. He said he wanted her to hear his favorite song, which was already positioned on the record player. He placed the record needle at the necessary position, the song beginning to play a melody that seemed somewhat familiar to her.
“You know that it would be untrue You know that I would be a liar If I was to say to you Girl, we couldn’t get much higher
Come on baby, light my fire”
He asked if she wanted to wrestle, but before her response of “No” was sounded aloud, she found herself flat on her back on a hardwood floor, him straddling her young body. His hands firmly gripping her hips until his full weight easily held her still.
“The time to hesitate is through No time to wallow in the mire Try now we can only lose And our love become a funeral pyre Come on baby, light my fire”
She told him to get off of her, pushing at his chest, telling him she had to go home. He reached for the buttons on the front of her blouse, whispering to her “You know you want it”. She pushed harder at his chest, trying to kick with her feet, looking to see where her little brother was. She heard the sound of her blouse tearing, and screamed for her little brother to help get the man off of her, but he just stood there staring, motionless.
“Come on baby, light my fire Come on baby, light my fire” “You know you want it”
“Get off of me!” she cried, still kicking and pushing his chest, trying unsuccessfully to knock him off balance. “Get off of me! I’m going to tell my Dad!”
She will never know what caused him to stop, but he suddenly released her from his grip and stood up. She got up off the floor as fast as she could, holding onto her torn blouse as she ran down the stairs with her little brother following closely. They continued to run the remaining couple of city blocks, nearly getting hit by a passing car, until they were home. Ah, Home Sweet Home.
She was the first to run into the house, still holding her torn blouse, immediately finding her father in his home-office, just off the living room. Breathless, she began telling her father what had just happened. Interrupting her mid-sentence, her father asked her why her shirt was torn. “Mike did it!” She continued to explain what had happened, as she saw her father’s face turn red with rage. She didn’t immediately realize the rage was directed at her, rather than the person responsible. Her father’s angry words resounding in her ears: “How could you lie about him like that!?” “How could you make up a story like that to get him into trouble?” “You know the truth is that you were horsing around outside and tore your blouse, but you want to blame it on someone else!” “I don’t want to hear about this ever again!” Her mouth fell open with shock, unable to speak any further. She saw her little brother watching from a distant corner, staring at her but saying nothing.
Her father continued to yell at her, telling her how disappointed he was in her that she would lie about how her blouse became torn. He yelled for her to go to her room and stay there. As she began climbing the stairs, her father kicked her hard, causing her to sail three stairs higher than where she started. Crying, I ran up the rest of the stairs as fast as I could, ran into my room slamming the door behind me.
Go To Part Two