When I was a little girl, mommy told me a story. One I never forgot. Now that I have two daughters of my own. I think it’s time I tell them.
She didn’t spare us the details. She never held back her darkest regrets. Her vulnerability became a relentless courage. One I could use, study even and grow towards a new story.
In the beginning, as young girls don’t know, I didn’t understand rape culture. I blamed it on ghosts. Mommy’s paranoia when it came to men. I said, “what’s the likelihood of it ever happening to me?”
Then one day, I was fifteen years old cooking chicken at my grandma’s house. The phone rang, I always played silly pranks for those who called the house.
I said, “Hello city morgue, you kill-em we chill-em!” But it was my grandma on the other end. she immediately replied. “Oh that’s what we do, now is it?”
I was startled and busted, “oh I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”
“She fussed, just make sure dinner is ready and don’t burn my chicken. ” “Stop playing on my phone!” “Yes ma’am, okay.”
Afterward, I hung up. My brother and his friends walked in. One of which followed me into the kitchen. I didn’t think anything of it. Typically they smelled food and wanted to chow-down.
I told them the foods’ not ready. My grandma doesn’t want y’ all in the house when she gets off work. Of course, they didn’t listen. Nor did I see Nick take a knife and put it in his jacket. By this time, my brother and the rest of his friends are outside on the porch. Nick stayed behind to talk to me.
I said, “listen I’m sorry, I’m not interested.” He kept pushing the conversation. Meanwhile, I got grandma’s chicken just right. Every piece was cooked crisp and golden brown. I turned off the stove and tried to move past Nick.
I remember him pulling the knife on me. The sheer white curtains blowing by the air condition. I was lucky, blessed even. He pushed me down on the couch. I stared him down in the eyes. Nick heard the door open, my brother walked by in.
He jumped up as nothing happened. It could have been the worst moment of my life. After that, I believed my mother’s paranoia was no small ghostly-creature starring back at her on the other side of the room.
Before the age of fifteen, my mother tried to warn my sister and me. I wasn’t paying too much attention then. She expressed a moment that changed her life. Her brother-in-law was drunk. Mommy was sleeping in the other room when he raped her.
Eventually, the law caught up with him. My mother’s brother in law raped a 16-year-old girl and was given life in by the Mississippi courts.
Having said all this, I pray, God may my girls’ innocence remain intact. May they never experience this kind of trouble. May they always have the relentless courage to face any fear. May we stare them down in the face. May we all have the courage to tell our stories regardless of what society says.