When I was a kid I think I used to have dreams but I can’t remember them. I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything. I never knew myself, I do remember that. But I thought I was going to be so much more than I am now.

I used to be so smart and I had so much potential. And now I’m nothing.

Sometimes I think about the abuse I went through. It’s really confusing and upsetting. But I’m not ready to look at those memories just yet. Not my own yet.

One time when I was around six a washing machine repair man came to the house. Our washing machines were in a little room of their own in the house, not hidden away, but they had their own section. I always liked when repair men or builders came to the house because I was always curious about how things worked.

The repair man began taking the face of the washing machine apart. None of the adults were there because I guess it was boring to them. But not to me. I wanted to see it. And so I stood in the door way of the room. I remember he was white and he had a bald head. He had a dark shirt and jeans, a belt around his waist.

I didn’t enter the room because I was shy. But I was so interested in the inner workings of the washing machine. I don’t know how long he worked but he was very patient about my presence. He would look over every once in a while and smile at me. Point to something he was doing and explain it. I don’t remember anything he said. I didn’t understand it in the first place. I would inch closer, just a little, enough to catch a glimpse of the wires.

I could hear my family in the kitchen, preparing a meal.

Then he smiled and told me to come over so he could show me what he was doing. I was still feeling really shy but I went further into the room because he’d taken the key pad off and I could see a bunch of wires and I really wanted to know how they made the lights go. When I got a couple feet away he smiled at me really big and asked if I wanted to help. I didn’t say yes, but I nodded.

The door to the room was wide open, we were only a few feet away from the kitchen.

Then I saw that he had something in his hand. He was crouching in front of the washing machine, the profile of his body to the door. The thing in his hand was white and fleshy and I’d never seen anything like it before. I hadn’t see a penis before. But I knew it was coming from inside his pants, from in between his legs. He was half hard. “Wanna touch it?” he asked.

And I had already been abused for several years at that point. Just not by a man. But although I didn’t know what penis was, I understood the look in his eyes really well. And I knew that smile. By that point I understood good and well what lust looked like. I looked at his penis trying to figure out what in the hell it was. But I knew whatever it was, it wasn’t a good thing. I shook my head no. He kept smiling and playing with himself.

Then there was someone at the door and he put himself away before they saw. And they asked, “Is everything OK in here?”

He said, “Yeah. She just wanted to see what I was doing.”

And whoever it was that came to check laughed at that and left the room. I took the opportunity to leave the room before he could do anything else. Not long after he said he couldn’t fix the machine and that he would have to come back some other day.

I didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t scared of him. Maybe it was that I had been abused for years by then. In my mind what he did was the mildest thing he could’ve done. I was so used to be shutting up by then that I just ignored him.

But then he came back and on that day he brought his daughter. She was older than me. I don’t know by how much because it’s hard to tell ages when you’re a kid. Looking back I’d say she was 8-10. But she had Down Syndrome. I remember she was really rough will all my toys, and she was the first kid I ever met who couldn’t talk.

And I remember the entire time I was around her I had this giant pit in my stomach. Not because she was loud or because she ripped the head off one of my dolls. I was scared because I kept thinking, she can’t talk. Her Dad’s probably hurting her and she can’t talk. And I was six. And I was so goddamned stressed about this girl.

At some point she started whining and crying. And her Dad came out of the room where the machine was and asked what was going on. She just kept making this groaning sound. My relatives were sitting on the couch next to us. He looked at the adults and smiled and said, “Don’t worry, she just has to go to the bathroom.” He put his arms around her and pulled her up. Pulled her pants up a little because they were sliding a little. I could tell she was wearing pull ups of some kind.

God all I can remember is feeling a fire inside me. I wanted to scream. I wanted to bite his hands I wanted to get her away from him so bad. I felt like if I let them go into the bathroom all on their own I would die. But I didn’t say anything and they left and he closed the door. And I started counting the seconds till them got back.

I was so scared. I know he was hurting her I just know it. And she came back and she didn’t make a peep and she kept playing with my toys. And I thought maybe I should say something. But I didn’t know how to explain that I thought he was hurting her. How could I explain that?

When he finished fixing the machine and they had to leave I felt like crying. She didn’t wanna leave and he wrapped his arms around her stomach and pulled her up off the ground and carried her to the car kicking and screaming.  The whole time he had this look on his face like he was so embarrassed because of her. Like she was acting crazy. He closed the door to his work van and left her in there for a few seconds to say bye to the adults and talk about the machine.

I kept looking and looking at that car. I wanted to run over and open the door and let her run back into the house. But I was six. So I sat on the rug and I looked and I was really quiet. And when he was done talking he turned to me and gave me a smile and a wink. He told whoever he was talking to I was really cute, that I would be really smart when I grew up. They said thanks.

I wanted to rip that mans head off. I think about that little girl all the time. I don’t know what I was supposed to say. But it doesn’t matter because I didn’t say anything. I will feel so guilty about that for the rest of my entire life. It twists my stomach into knots. I think that if he hurt after he left that house it was my fault.

I hope he never hurt her. I hope he couldn’t do that to his own daughter. But she couldn’t talk. She couldn’t talk. Who could she ever tell? Maybe that was her one chance and I kept my mouth shut. I hope she’s OK. I don’t know what to do with that memory.

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