Krys-Darcelle Dumas, Contributor
The room at the back of the house was empty, except for the lines overhead on which, most days, clothes were hung, slung limply across from red-bricked unpainted wall to red-bricked unpainted wall. The floor was a gray concrete that looked as if it had once been polished. There were no doors or windows in the jagged spaces in the wall meant for them. I looked over to the back of the room and saw the sheets of ply still leaning against the wall. I ducked down behind one of them, giggling softly to myself. They will never find me, I was thinking. Then I heard giggling behind the wall and ducked lower. My cousin was 'It' and I did not want to lose. I always lost.
Heavy footsteps approached; I knew they were not my friends'. Then Mr. Jones was looking down at me smiling.
I raised my finger to my lips pleadingly. He smiled, nodded and motioned for me to follow him. 'I know a better hiding place for you,' he said softly.
He led me through the house. The work table, as I always called it, was filled with nuts and bolts and tools and cut lengths of board. The round saw was getting rusty. There was sawdust swept into a corner under the table. There was no other furniture in the room, and the concrete floor had a polished look. We turned into a part of the house where I had never been before, and where there was a strong scent of Mr. Jones. Here there were doors and windows fitted in. Mr. Jones opened a door and led me inside.
'You can hide here, they will never find you.'
I smiled up at him, grateful for his help, though feeling for some reason a vague unease. He climbed onto the bed - it was too low to the ground - and I walked around the room, looking at everything but him.
'Why don't you come and sit next to me and talk.'
I went and sat on the far corner of the bed, my unease growing stronger. He turned in such a way that his head was closer to mine.
'How is school?'
'How old are you now?'
'Wow, five! You getting to be a big girl, aren't you?'
He rested a hand on my thigh and began stroking it. I knew it was a bad touch but I didn't have the courage to do what I knew I should. I heard him swallow; then he stopped looking in my face. I looked at the floor. There was a rug on the floor, speckled with dust - a rug, and that old-man, Mr. Jones smell.
His hand moved up under my skirt.
'Are you scared?'
I have never understood why I lied. But I did.
Mr Jones was playing with something with his other hand, but I did not look at it. I was scared. Suddenly, moving quickly, he pushed me down onto the bed. I started crying, 'I want to go home!'
'It's OK. I'll give you something nice.'
'I want to go home!'
He was on top of me and suddenly it hurt. I think I cried out, though I couldn't hear myself.
Under the window some children ran past laughing loudly. 'Precious!' my cousin, shouted, 'Precious, you can come out now!'
I don't remember screaming. Maybe I did not. Mainly I remember him on top of me, and smelling that old-man smell.
'Look what you did.' Mr. Jones sounded angry. He stood up, pointing at the red-stained sheets. 'Just go home and behave yourself or I will tell your Daddy you dirtied my sheets.'
I tried to get up off the bed and fell.
I stopped talking; I couldn't remember anything else.
The woman sitting in front of me looked as if she had been watching a documentary. She scribbled something on her writing pad; I'm not sure what. Then she looked up at me with eyes that were large but dead. I suppose that look of hers took years of practice. Behind her, her plant had started going brown.
'Go on, Ms. Johnson.'
'That's all I remember.'
'Does it hurt to talk about it?'
'I'm sorry, Ms. Henessy, but I need to go.'
I got up out of the chair and moved towards the door.
'The hour isn't up yet, Ms. Johnson.'
'That's OK, I have to go. I'm late.'
I walked to my car, not paying attention to anything around me. I got in and sat in it for a moment fighting back the tears. Then I put on my Enya CD and drove home to you.
- Krys-Darcelle Dumas