I hope you got my last letter. Maybe you are having trouble finding me? A little background information might be helpful, in case you don’t have time to look me up.
I will start when I was four years old. This is an important year for me, as you probably know. This was the year that I was molested by two teenage brothers. Now that I think about it, I am not sure why you would allow something like this to happen to me. Surely this was not part of any plan you have for me. In any case, it happened, and not only to me, but to my sister as well.
Although the memories of this fade in and out, the one memory I do have that is so vivid is me screaming and crying, pounding my hands against the metal storm door that locked me inside this house where I was to stay. Through my tears and my screams for my mother, I watched her pull out of the driveway, backing into the street lined with split ranch houses that all looked the same. I can see myself standing there, begging for my mom to save me, feeling so alone and afraid.
My sisters and I were brought to this house often so that my mom could go to work or church or somewhere else besides here. The house, compared to our simple brick house, was huge in my young eyes. The front of the house was a clean, crisp white, with windows that opened sideways, which, at the time, I thought was so amazing. The porch was small, with only about five steps leading up to the door, but it was perfect with a red front door that sat behind the storm door, a little bench you could sit on if you were small like me, and some ceramic pots of flowers and plants that lined the steps as you went up. As you drove into the driveway, there were two big trees that sat to your left that, early in the morning, shaded the house in a way that made you feel fresh and new, with just enough sun shining through its branches and leaves, a breeze moving them slightly, so that it looked like dancing shapes against the white house. Somehow, this made the hot southern morning seem cool and serene.
Inside the house, there were three floors. When you went in the front door, there were stairs that led you up to the main floor or down to the bottom floor. On the main floor, there was a spiral staircase that led up to a room that was once the attic but was changed into a bedroom. This was the daughter’s bedroom. Although I was only allowed to see it once or twice, I recall lots of pillows with flowers on them that had ruffled seams and beads hanging in front of the doorway. It was a mix of 60s flower power meets colonial ornate. This was the place I wanted to stay when I was in this house—a tower that was protected and safe, guarded by the beads and the sister.
The main floor was nondescript, really, with a kitchen that had a table in the middle, a dining room with tall chairs with gold velvet padded seats and a living room that had a two chairs and a sofa, all three with wooden arms and legs and cushions covered in plastic. All of this was centered around a television that sat in its huge encasement of veneer on the floor in front of a giant picture window.
The bottom floor was for the kids. They called it the game room because it had a pool table in the middle of it, but that was about it except for an old scratched up dart board on the wall with no darts and a mutilated Twister box on a shelf. The pool table was covered with red felt. There was a stained glass Coca Cola pendant light hanging above it with a chain covered cord that scalloped away from the light and eventually plugged into an outlet somewhere. The walls were covered in dark wooden paneling and were lined with old plaid covered sofas that were frayed and torn around the arm rests and pilled everywhere else. Sitting there, pulling the little pieces of pilled fabric off the seat cushions was one of my favorite past times when I was in that basement.
As a shy, scared four year old, I thought being placed up on the red felted pool table was one of the games I was supposed to play. After all, my sister was playing the same game, sometimes before me and sometimes after me. As I stared up at the bright bulb of the Coca Cola lamp swaying above my face, the boys pulled down my panties, poked and prodded, and told me to be still or I would get in trouble. I would focus on catching the letters of stained glass as they moved back and forth, feeling triumphant when I could recognize C or an A in the word. I can feel the tears running down my face into my ears as I quietly played the game.
My sister was older, by a few years, so she was much better at their game than me. She was forced to play longer than me, and that is when I was placed on the old sofa to wait and watch.
As you know, God, this went on for years without anyone realizing that my sister and I were playing this game in the basement with two boys who were supposed to be babysitting us. The irony is that were our “god brothers”, sons of my baby sister’s god parents. But I don’t think you knew them.
At some point we stopped going to the beautiful white house to stay while my mom was busy. I am not sure why, but I am sure there was great relief from my sister and me.
When I finally remembered my time at this house, I was a woman. When I finally asked my sister about the nagging memories I had of a pool table with a stained glass lamp swaying back and forth, the memories came back to her and then me, like a tsunami hitting a watchful village who did everything they could to avoid the disaster.
That’s enough for now. I will be back in touch soon.