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Now That I'm Older
by Pamela Corbett

I think the secret to a good story is to speak the truth
Whether hurts or not reveal the truth. So here is my truth-
My fun, trusted older brother, now a respected lawyer, 
Molested me when I was little girl.
I still see him at family functions -- but no one knows what he did.
My doting, smiling, and jovial grandfather’s big, bear hugs
Included touching my budding breasts, kissing me in ways I knew was wrong.
When I got the courage to tell, my grandmother didn’t believe me. 
So I could get into the cool, all-boy, treehouse
I twirled around, lowered my pants, and showed my bare vagina
To all the neighborhood boys. 
I did not care! They were not keeping me out of that treehouse!
Back home, when dad wasn’t telling silly jokes, he turned mean fast,
Drunk, waking me in the middle of the night, 
Mommy screaming,“He’s killing me! Help ... help!”
Why would daddy hurt her? At ten I’m frozen with fear, I can’t move. 

Daddy claims Mom had sex with the builder of our house,
A man called Whiter, a name that still gives me chills.
Mommy claims he loves his secretary more than her, How could he?
Dad questions if he’s the real father of your older sister,
Who is lighter skinned than you and your brothers.
Chairs break, dishes get thrown and smashed on shiny linoleum,
Yet the next morning- they act like nothing happened at all.

What is the truth? What is a ten year old to think?
How do you ask about something you’re not supposed to know?
So you begin to pretend too -- you’ve a regular family, it’s okay, nothing’s wrong.
You hide the truth. You’re getting good at pretending. 
At twelve, you try pot, become a big pothead, and smoke every day in HS.
On weekends you drink. You black out. Your friends thinks it’s funny.
At sixteen, you sneak in bars and get shit-faced. You see why Dad drank... It’s fun.
Still no boyfriend. You feel fat. You feel ugly.
One time a guy in a bar pays you some attention.  You’re both drunk. 
You go outside to smoke pot, sounds great. He starts to kiss you.
He wants more, he wants sex -- but you say no. No! He won’t stop. 
He keeps touching and pulling at your clothes.
He gets rough. You cry. You beg him to stop. He twists your arm.
He’s stronger. You push him away. You kick. You cry.
He comes back, he ignores you. He holds your hands hard above your head.
He forces your knees apart. You can’t breath. He pulls down his jeans. 
Oh God! No! He takes it out. You realize can’t stop it.
You are pinned down. You smell liquor. He grunts. He growls.
It hurts. He’s tearing into you. How it hurts. It’s excruciating on every level.
This thing is in you! You feel warm blood on your thighs.
You are being ripped open. Ruptured. 
It’s rape! He says you asked for it.
I asked to be raped.
Two more men force themselves on you. They think you are acting.
You are in shock. Now you lie there, lifeless, staring, as if dead. 
You don’t know what to do. This is what dead feels like. 
It is your first time. 
You tell no one. You cry. If you pretend it didn’t happen, it means it didn’t.
You will forget. No one will know. You tell no one.
You slowly mechanically clean up. You find your friends. They’re all drunk.

The next morning you wake slowly, praying it was a bad dream,But the pain and bloody sheets do not lie. 
Still no one knows. 
You want to forget.You’re good at pretending, but it’s hard.
The following year you slash your wrists. A visit to a psych ward ensues.
At seventeen, AA comes next. It’s hard to get sober at seventeen. 
Dad gets sober and it’s like night and day. Still-
It never fully goes away- not really. Now you drink to chase the demons.
It is always lurking in the back of your mind. 
It is the reason you wake up screaming at 3am.
It is the reason you are a depressed, suicidal, drunk. 
You are damaged goods.
Years later, it’s still there, this feeling underneath that no one sees,
You’re broken. You don’t enjoy sex. Sometimes you do, but often you can’t.
Again you suffer night terrors due to new antidepressants.
You remember things. You begin writing. You start psychotherapy.
I tell him. He gives of himself. He opens up to me. A real and unique bond develops.
He’s not your typical therapist. He reveals his brokenness.
He speaks his truth. You learn. You want more out of your life.
A part of you wants to believe it was a bad dream. It was not, and still-
I think the secret to a good story is to speak the truth. 

Pamela Corbett is a teacher who lives in Bedford, NY. She enjoys the writing poetry and prose. She loves to read, sun bath, and bike along the horse farms in Bedford, the reservoirs of NY, as well as around Fire Island, where there are no cars, and she is inspired by the grace of nature. Her work has previously appeared in in Haiku Journal and Boston Literary Magazine.