Three Hundred and Forty Seven
I was born in West Virginia.
That’s a weird way of starting this piece, but I am not sure how else to. I don’t remember it, but I know that I was. My birth certificate says so. It is one of those facts that you learn as a kid that you just trust, like how much you weighed at birth, what kind of a kid you were, random shit like that. But all of my earliest memories took place in the bustling city of Atlanta, Georgia.
I never knew my dad, but my mom was my world. She took care of me. Or at least she tried to. She worked at a strip club full of Old White Men who wanted to cheat on their wives, and while she was a work I would stay at my uncle’s house. He was a plumber. He liked to play games with me. I thought that they were normal. How is a five-year-old supposed to know that it’s not normal for their uncle to stick his penis inside them?
You think after all these years I would forget what it felt like. But I will never forget the pain of my skin tearing. The blood that poured out. The faces he made. Where he touched me.
I think I started to clue into what was happening when my baby brother was born—I remember that my uncle looked at him in a different way than he looked at me. One day, I was at the Free Clinic with my mom when I told one of the doctors that my private area hurt. She asked my mom if she could look. My mom said yes. The doctor lifted up my dress and her faced turned about 100 shades of white. She saw what he had done to me.
My mother did too. She grabbed me and drove me home. She left me in the car and ran into the house. But before going in, she opened the trunk and took out a black case. The next thing I heard was three gunshots. Boom. Boom. Boom.
I opened the car door and ran in after my mom. There I saw my uncle on the floor, bleeding out.
It wasn’t until I was in the courtroom with my mom that I learned what that number meant. Three hundred and forty seven. The number of times he had raped me.
My mother ended up going to jail for my uncle’s death. My little brother was sent to live with his dad in California and I was adopted by the nicest family in the world.
Today is the ten-year anniversary of my adoption. My birth mother gets out of jail in a month, my little brother doesn’t know who I am, and I can’t go to the bathroom without feeling what my uncle did to me.
I don’t really know how to end this. I guess by saying that I am okay. I think I am finally okay.