Is There Anybody Out There VII?
The first time I was raped...
The first time I was raped, or I guess I should say molested? I wasn't penetrated really and a woman was the rapist. I was so young I don't even know how old I was, but I do remember my mother dressed me that morning. I must have been very little if I wasn't even dressing myself yet. Being dressed by my mother that morning is actually one of the sweetest memories I have of my life with her. It was early in the morning, still dark. It was cold and snowing very heavily. She woke me gently and tenderly. She kissed me I think. My mother had my clothes laid out on the bed. I had been bathed the night before and my hair was in a thick, long and still damp braid. My hair smelled like Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo and my mother had blue eye shadow on and smelled like lily of the valley. I was lying back on the bed being ministered to by my mother's warm hands unable to imagine that I would later be touched by very cold hands. She put me in an undershirt and panties, warm tights and a denim jumper. She zipped up my snow boots. After brushing my teeth she bundled me for the weather. I felt cared for, she was kind and quiet and she smiled at me. It was a peaceful morning. Then she walked me next door to the babysitter.
The babysitter was our neighbor and my mother's friend. I can close my eyes now and remember exactly what she looked like. She was dark skinned and short and sort of round. She had small pointy breasts. I don't think she wore a bra. She had short, black hair and wore black framed round glasses and a silver ring on her toe. A fragrance that I now know to be patchouli and stale cigarette smoke clung to her always. I even remember the car she drove, a navy VW Bug with a hard top. I remember it because when I was in the back seat it was so tight that I felt like I couldn't breathe. I don't remember her name. My mother didn't work, but she got a sitter for me every now and then to do whatever parents do that little kids don't know about. On this particular day, my mother talked with her as she took off my coat and hat. She stayed for tea and a cigarette. I watched Zoom and Sesame Street while they talked. When My mother was getting ready to leave my babysitter knelt down in front of me to say she had planned some fun for us. My mother left.
The fun thing, was that we would make Jello. She let me pour the powder into a bowl. Cherry smelling dust went up my nose and made me cough. She laughed. So did I. She explained that it would be some time before we could eat the Jello, it needed to set in the fridge. That was disappointing. Who has the patience for that? while I waited she talked on the phone and smoked cigarettes. I checked to see if the jello was hardening many,many times. What kind of fun was this? We made warm red water, what can you do with that? I had brought a doll so I played quietly, waiting for my mother to come get me back. I was listening to the wailing snowstorm outside when my babysitter said, "Shay we should check the Jello." I had forgotten all about it. We opened the fridge together, she touched the top. Her finger sunk in but the red stuff jiggled a little.
"It's not really quite there yet, but it's good enough I can't wait any longer." "Want to try?" she asked me.
She got us two spoons and we tried to taste it. It was too drippy and it fell off our spoons before we could get it into our mouths. It fell onto us and onto the floor. We laughed and giggled at the silliness. She told me she had an idea. She didn't want us to make a mess.
"You're mother will kill me if you get red stains all over your clothes." She said, "Come here and sit down, take off your pretty dress"
I took it off and sat on the kitchen floor. She tried to feed it to me, but it fell on my white undershirt. She laughed but I didn't. She told me to take my shirt off too. I did it. She tried to put it in my mouth with her fingers, but I made my lips tight. The red mess fell on my chest. She looked at me and smiled. She licked it off my chest and laughed. But I didn't laugh. She was breathing in my face and she smelled like my mother's ashtrays. I felt sick to my stomach. She told me to lie down. My back was cold, my spine bones dug into the linoleum floor. She put the Jello all over me. She pulled off my tights and my panties. I was lying very still with my eyes closed. I could hear her breathing. I could hear the wind blowing. My chest was so tight, my heart was beating, my blood rushing in my ears mashed up with the sound of the wind moaning and screaming. she laughed and whispered like we were playing a secret game while she did it to me. She didn't hurt me. I numbed myself, listened to my heartbeat, the storm, the television in the background, I remember hearing the word Nixon. Children's television programming was over now. I tried not to remember the sounds and words she made. I tried to fall asleep. I thought about my tea set at home. I wondered where my mother was.
She finished and I lay still. I opened my eyes, just enough to peak through my lashes. The thing I first saw as she stood over me was hair between her legs. She had taken her pants off too. I knew it wasn't because she was worried about red stains on her jeans. She didn't seem to notice or care that her face was stained red. Her mouth looked like a clown's mouth, the red was all around her lips. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and did not move. When I heard her walk away I closed my legs and put my arms around my narrow, little girl's chest. My legs were shaking. I couldn't make them stop shaking no matter how hard I concentrated. I heard water running. When she asked, "Why are you lying there like that?" I tightened my small fists.
"I've run you a warm bath honey." Her voice was smooth like honey.
She lit a cigarette, grabbed me by the elbow and picked me up from the floor. The bath was hot, too hot. I was glad it was, the sticky red spots on my skin began to disappear as my skin became red from the slightly scalding water. She smoked her cigarette and looked at me for a minute. She left the room and left me alone. I took the bar of soap, lathered and washed and rinsed myself as best I could until she came back with my clothes. I did not feel clean. Her soap was strong and smelled bad. It dried and chapped my skin raw. I was still sticky from sitting in the bathtub of red, horrible sugar.
She returned with my clothes and held out a towel. She wrapped me in it and dried my raw body. She slid my panties up my hot legs.
"See now your clothes are still clean and your mother won't get mad about us playing together.", "In fact she won't even know." She said this to me while she wiped at the red stain on my undershirt. Being dressed again was so very different and faraway from being dressed by my mother that morning. That dark, peaceful moment with my mom seemed like it had only been a dream. When the babysitter pulled the t-shirt over my head, I looked down and saw the small pink stain on my chest. I worried that my mother would know that I had 'played'. Once I was dressed she sat me at the table, she stacked some records on the stereo and played them loud. I could hear her singing in the kitchen. I stared out the window and the falling snow looked blurry, my eyes were wet. She brought me cocoa and a cookie. She sat with me and lit her cigarette. The smoke blew into my face. I coughed. She laughed. I didn't. I'm not sure if I laughed again for some time. She asked me if I liked The Beatles. I nodded. She got up and lay down on the couch. She fell asleep despite the loud music I could hear her snoring. She sounded like my dad when he napped on the couch. I wondered where my father was on this snowy day. Why wasn't he home shoveling the driveway for us? Why wasn't I helping him with my small shovel? Why weren't we laughing and making a snowman together? Where was my mother?