Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Rainbow & Gilbert (Ch. 16)

After all of Fred's tearful apologies my mother always forgave him... and so did I.  After he locked me in the house for three days with my psychotic mother and no water, I went back to school like nothing had happened.  I felt so relieved to be at the one safe place I had.  I loved school.  It didn't matter that I didn't have any friends.  What mattered to me there were the adults.  They showed me that there was another way to live besides the way Fred and my mother did.  The difference between them was so obvious to me, but I didn't know that the difference between my classmates and me was just as obvious.  A couple mornings after I started back at school I was called into the principal's office.  He said there was a lady there who wanted to ask me some questions and was there to help me in case I needed it.  I knew exactly what was happening because Fred use to threaten my mother with calling Child Services himself all the time.  I put on my best face and put on a show my mother would have been proud of.

The lady introduced herself as Mrs. Ashton.  She was in a skirt suit and looked just like Mrs. Honey from Matilda.  I shook her hand like Fred taught me and told her it was nice to meet her.  "So, have you eaten breakfast yet?" she asked.  I answered her with over the top enthusiasm, "yes, I did!!!  I had pancakes and eggs and a glass of milk with a banana."  I rubbed my tummy for effect.  She looked at me skeptically and I think at that moment she knew I wasn't going to confide in her.  She went on to tell me that she could help me if I let her... but all I could think about was, who is going to help my mom?  I finished the rest of our conversation with a big fat smile on my face... see I'm happy!  Then she dismissed me and I walked back to class.  I didn't want to be taken away from my mother... who would protect her then?

Both Fred and my mother picked me up from school that day and I didn't say anything about the social worker.  As we were driving down the road my mom pointed out the window to Fred's left and said, "Oh my God!  Fred look!  It's a rainbow... look look look!"  I scrambled in the back seat to get a view, "where? where? I wanna see!  where?"  Then she kissed Fred and said "Oh sorry baby!  See, it's right there."  I still couldn't see it, but didn't ask again because she said, "How sad am I!  I see a rainbow and think of showing you first before my own kid!  See how much I love you!"

Those words have stuck with me my entire life.  That single memory hurts me more than any of the times I went hungry, or was scared or was molested.  She was my world... and I wasn't hers.  This memory lives in my heart.  I carry it around with me and sometimes it's so heavy that I can physically feel it there.  It feels like I swallowed something too large and it's stuck in my windpipe.  I can't breathe and the only relief I have is to cry.

It wasn't long after that before I was sent to the backyard again, only this time my mother packed up all of our stuff and we left.   We went to a place called The Power's Mansion.  It was the biggest house I had ever seen!  It was white with three stories.  The basement was a game room and had an indoor pool.  There was also a slide going from the first floor down to the basement... A house with a slide inside!  I was impressed.  There were dozens of bedrooms and it seemed like the kitchen was as big as Fred's whole house.  It was beautifully furnished with all leather couches and cherry wood tabletops.  I had never seen anything so luxurious.  We lived there for three months... with no electricity.   John Powers was a man that had come into some money quickly and quickly became a drug addict and quickly lost his money.  So he had his mansion and a pile of unpaid bills and sat around waiting for the repo man.   He had dirty blond hair with lots of grey in it, a pot belly and hairy hands.  He pretty much ignored me for the most part, so only his house stands out in my memory. 

Gilbert stands out in my memory though.  Gilbert had short curly black hair and a mustache.  He was thin and tall and liked to wear baggy blue jeans.  He was always around The Power's Mansion when the sun went down and it got dark.  He liked to give me back rubs and have me sit in his lap.  My mother would comment on this approvingly, "awww!  You are so good with kids Gilbert."  I had a sick feeling in my stomach when he touched me.  I felt this feeling before.  I avoided Gilbert as much as I could, knowing what would most likely happen if he got me alone.

One night I was having a sleep over with my friend Raven.  Raven's mother and my mother put us to bed and we could hear them in the next room partying with Gilbert and John and a few other people.  We whispered and giggled and talked for a while and then the door opened. We thought it was our moms and flung ourselves down and closed our eyes to pretend we were asleep.  It wasn't our moms.  It was Gilbert.  I stopped breathing.  

He came to my side of the bed and put his arm under my stomach.  Then he flipped me over and pulled my pants down... I still pretended to be asleep.  I wanted to be asleep so bad; I wanted to be anywhere, but there.  I kept my eyes closed and tried to turn over, but he flipped me back again.  He started touching me and I moaned hoping that maybe he would think I was waking up and stop.  He didn't.  I tried to roll over again... and again he flipped me back.  He used one hand to touch me and one was down his pants.  I started whining and whimpering something pitiful and pathetic sounding, but inside my head I was screaming!  I pulled the blanket over me and when I did, it came off Raven.  Then Raven pulled the blanket back... and he stopped. 

When he left I called out to Raven.  "Raven, are you awake?... Raven, Please be awake.  I need help..... Raven....."  But she didn't answer me.  I heard Raven's mom in the next room ask him what he was doing... she said, "What are you fucked up?  You're sweating and your cigarette is in your mouth the wrong way."  I couldn't hear what he said back, but I listened closely for signs that he might be leaving.  When I finally heard him go I laid there for a couple minutes decided whether to get up and tell or not.  I don't know where I got the courage, but I got up and went into the living room crying.  I went up to my mom and told her, "Gilbert put his hands in my panties."  Raven's mother didn't hesitate, she ran in the bedroom as fast as she could screaming... "NOOOOO, God please NO!"  I heard her in there with Raven, asking her over and over if he touched her. 

My mom looked at me in disbelief for a few seconds and then snapped to.  She grabbed me by the shoulders roughly and asked me, "What did you say...Tell me!  What did you say?!"  I mumbled what happened again and started to cry uncontrollably.  I felt ashamed.  She put her hands over her mouth and stepped back away from me appalled.  She was shaking her head no over and over and started pulling at her hair.  Then she let out a wounded cry and fell to the ground.  John went and tried to console her while I stood alone in the kitchen crying and trying to console myself.  Raven's mom ran out the door to confront Gilbert.

The police were never called on Gilbert, and I"m not sure what happened to him, but I never saw him again.  Later that night my mother came to me and gathered me in her arms.  She told me over and over that she was sorry.  Her grief over shadowed mine.  She laid down with me face to face and put her hands on either side of my head and kissed every inch of my face.  Every time a tear fell from her eyes I wiped it away.  "Everything is going to be OK mom... Don't worry." I comforted her.

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