I’ll never be a victim
How do I begin? I’m the oldest of three siblings. A girl. Tall for my age. 12½. Gawky. Athletic. Timid and shy. And, I’ve just started the change.
There, I’ve gotten it all out.
I’m writing this in my laptop’s journal so that the secret does not bust out of me. I don’t want to blurt it out. I’m a sinner and a criminal.
My uncle was a funny weird man. Before he died just recently. I mention that because he is a key to my coming of age. A young widower he always came to dinner from time to time. Always brought donuts. I loved those. For my plays, he brought flowers. For my events, like confirmation, he brought chocolate. For our vacations and occasions, he always gave me spending money. He was a nice old man who seemed to understand me and made me feel powerful. And smart. And really listened to me prattle on. Not grabby, like other relatives. He always let me come to him. I relaxed around him. From time to time, he’d bring me and my brothers strange gifts. Puzzles, crafts, and toys that all had challenges. Most of the time, we didn’t do them, but he never made any comment. He wanted us to learn “stuff”. With no apparent emphasis on anything in particular. Just “stuff”. He’d say: “Never know what stuff might come in handy.”
I remembered one thing that came in very handy. But more about that later.
He’d debate with my Dad about all sorts of political topics. They never saw eye to eye much. My Dad was a quiet liberal easy going guy. My Uncle a crazy hard line guy. They most disagreed about guns. At first, it was scary. We’re taught a school that only criminals have guns. And, our friends, the police, would keep us safe. I was shocked to hear that my Uncle had guns. And, that he believed that he had a right to keep them. And, he would use them if need be. He hadn’t had to kill another human being. But he always ended that sentence with “… yet!” I remember he often cowed my Dad into silence when he delivered a now familiar quote: “Victim disarmament is the view that it is somehow better to see a woman raped in an alley and strangled with her own pantyhose, than see her with a gun in her hand.” I was becoming a woman and I knew a little about sex. It was supposed to be beautiful when the time came. I went to the internet to read about rape. I understood my uncle’s revulsion with that criminal act. Somehow I felt safe when he was around. I remember how he talked about his guns as if they were people or virtues. He called them: “Vengence”, “Justice”, and his favorite “Peacekeeper”. He said had them in his house ready to defend as needed. Once time he confided that Peacekeeper’s safety was getting to hard for him to operate. And, that he’d solved that problem like his Great Aunt did before the War with rubber bands. He had rubber banded the grip safety so all he’d have to do was point and pull. My Mom and Dad were shocked and asked if that was dangerous. He laughed and said: “Nah! As long as when at my desk, I don’t bang it with my knee.”
I don’t know why that stuck with me.
Fast forward. He died about a month ago. And, there’s a bunch of legal reasons why his house has to be left alone until everyone can clean it out. But, that being said, it’s just sitting there. Mom goes and collects the mail. Waiting for the papers to arrive. She’s sad about it, and not looking forward to the job.
This spring I started to, as my Mom puts it, bloom. I can see the physical changes. Everyone is treating me “different”. And, I get happy and sad for no reason. It’s all part of “blooming” as Mom said.
But there has been a bad side to this.
At my school, boys and girls go to class together. You have all sorts of different types: nerds, jocks, punks, emos, and some you can’t label. There’s a group of boys that are just gross. And, they pick on certain girls. Up to now, I’d been invisible to them. But as I started to “bloom”, they began to target me.
I didn’t know what to do.
At first, it was just talk. Dirty talk. About how they’d “help” me along. Then, they’d touch me. In the hall, brushing me. Then, they’d grab my butt. I’d come home and cry. Lately, they’d been sending me messages on my phone and putting porn in my locker through the slots. Always telling me how good they’d make me feel. And, soon. One of the leaders seemed to have me staked out. In his mind’s eye. Today, in school, he walked up to me and grabbed my breasts with both hands and squeezed. Hard. I slapped him. He laughed and said: “Today, after the bus drops us off, I’m gonna drag you behind a bush and do you. You ready?” I was in a panic. What could I do. Sitting in class, I remembered my uncle’s desk and what he said about victims. “No one in their right mind should want to be down range of a crazed woman with a gun. Women can kill when they are threatened. Like a Momma Bear with her cubs or woman about to be raped. I trust them to know when to fire. A criminal should be killed.” I did have a right to defend myself.
My uncle told me so!
My tormentor was on my bus home. The bus ride home was hell. He was in the back with his friends laughing and smirking. I was resolute. I sat by the driver. Uncle’s house was a few stops before mine. When the bus stopped, just as the last kid exited, I sprang off. Without looking back, I walked to Uncle’s house. My tormentor got off at the next stop about ½ block away and was running after me yelling something. I walked up the driveway, opened the garage door, entered, and locked it behind me. Uncle never did get that garage light fixed; it was always on. Picked my way through the maze of stuff to the door that led to his den. Locked the door behind me. Push aside his chair and scooted under the desk pulling the chair back in. There on the underside of the desk it was. “Peacekeeper”! I slid it out very gently. Like a sleeping snake. It was a gun just like on TV. It was heavy. But felt cold to the touch. I used two hands like they do on TV and just held it out in front of me. My uncle’s words echoed TV’s message: “Finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.” And waited.
It wouldn’t be long. I heard the banging on the garage door. Then window break. “Where are you, you tease. You’re only making this harded and me madder. It’s gonna really hurt and I’m going to enjoy you.” I heard noises. Some far. Eventually getting louder. “I can smell you.” The door to the den opened, and the tormentor was in the room. I was frozen in fear. Could he really smell me? Like dog or a wolf. “There you are? Come to daddy.” And the chair was pulled out. And, he reaching for me.
Finger to the trigger.
Explosion. Light flash. The brightest light I’d ever seen. The loudest noise I’d ever heard.
My uncle’s words to Dad echoed. “Pull the trigger until the gun locks open. Then use it as a club.” So I pulled. It wanted to shoot the ceiling, but I dragged it down to the floor. Five, Seven, Nine? Eventually the thing did lock open. The smell was terrible. I’d never smelled anything so gross. The charcoal grill, burnt meat, and a disgusting bowel movement all in one. Maybe I wet myself?
But my tormentor was nowhere in sight. I couldn’t see much. Blind! I felt around and there was a purse there. Open, with stuff in it, I could feel bullets and metal. So I put the gun in the purse.
Now a long time ago, Uncle had a dog. And, under his desk, was a doggie door. It was a big dog. Uncle was lazy and hated to get up to let the dog out. After the dog died he put a latch on the door to “keep the critters out”. I felt for the latch and let myself out.
I walked home. Wondering what to do next?
My uncle’s voice gave me that answer too. To my Dad, he’d often say: “Shoot, shovel, and shut up.” So that’s what I did. Before going in the house, I went to my school project garden behind our garage and planted the purse. Our dog came out began licking my face. And, making a noise I’d never heard. Like it was telling me “I’m glad your home safe.” I was safe! And, a woman. Maybe not all the way. But I knew I was a powerful woman.
Went in the house, Mom asked: “How was school?” “OK.” “You’re late.” “I got off a few blocks early. Felt like walking. I was stiff from sitting all day.” “OK, but do your home work, practice tonight.” “OK”.
Today, I want to school; unafraid of the bully. Secure that, when I have sex, it will be with the boy whom I choose. But the school was all a buzz, with the report of a missing child. Our friends, the Police, were asking each class if anyone saw him. Me, and bunch of others, dutifully reported he was on the bus. Others said that he got off before his usual stop. No one reported what a pig he was. I was following Uncle’s last bit of advice: “Silence”. Today in library, I listened to a YouTube video: “Never talk to the police”. So, when I’m questioned, as I’m sure I will be, I’m just going to be a young girl too terrified of them to speak. Works on TV. Figure when the court papers, that my Mom is waiting for, come everyone will find out what happened to the “poor lost child”. The predator pig! Wonder if they’ll figure out what happened? Wonder if they will figure out that I’m the murderer? Wonder if I’ll go to jail?
Once thing is for sure, Uncle was right. Thanks, Uncle! School was OK today and I’ve learned some of that “stuff” you were trying to teach me. I’ve decided. I’m never going to be a victim.
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