I have loved twice in this life, loved and lost greatly. The first, not a romance, but a friendship. His hands were smaller than mine, and brown, due to his skin pigments, but I remember them as dirty. He stood three inches short than me, thirty years older than my lanky twelve year old body, full of prepubescent bumps that didn't belong. He was the only person to say my name right, because of his accent, rolling on his tongue instead of spitting it out into the world. He was best friend. I would leave the house early to walk to school so I could linger a little longer in his driveway, and listen to him tell me I was beautiful. "Cute." he called me. And I would smile and blush, so innocent, so stupid.
When I write, I never say what really happened. I forget about nouns and adjectives. I use verbs, simple and concise, nothing to frown about. No explaining needed. I say I was raped because people accept that word as an answer. It is a period, ending all discussion. My memory has fogged the sharp blade of painful details - I am thankful of that - but all it means I can think about it now, and not cry. I will never ever be able to forget.
I remember the sun was shining in September. I remember him standing there, smiling, pointing one dirty finger at his cheek, his signal for me to kiss him. I had to bend my knees to reach, and he slid his arms around me, and it was all okay, all normal, like any other day.
But then his hands were on my hips, my stomach, my ribs, my chest, grabbing, stealing, while I clung to him not knowing what was happening but knowing it was wrong, so so wrong. I wanted to say "No, stop, don't." but my lips remained shut, and I said nothing. Nothing. I did not fight. I swallowed and nodded my head. When he released me, I stood there and my insides bleed. I did not cave to the sprinting escape my body craved. I walked. I walked away numb. And it seems the rest is history, but my story doesn't end there. Every day for the next year, I passed by his house, trembling, stomach so knotted in fear I couldn't eat breakfast. I was terrified of him, but not near as terrified as I was to change my route because that would mean something actually happened. In my head I could believe I dreamed it. I told no one. Unfortunately, the past does not evaporate when left in the desert of denial. I couldn't play hide and seek with memories.
Two years later, I fell in love again, with a boy three years older than me, with hands bigger than mine, and arms stronger. He told me he loved me on terms of if and then. If I would do what he craved, he would love me like I so desperately desired. I let him do the exact same thing, without saying "No, stop, don't." When it comes to placing blame it falls on me, and I hated him for it because I know that if I would have spoke up he would have stopped. These are my ghosts, haunting the shadows of my mind. Now every time a boy touches me, I have to explain why I shake, why I cry, why I can't enjoy something normal people label as "ecstasy". I was tortured for by words, words welling up inside me, words my lips could not mouth, so simple, so impossible, so out of reach, because I was not strong enough to fight off hands, both smaller and larger than mine, when all it took was words. Because I can go over and over it in my head, counting on my fingers all the times I practiced saying "No, stop, don't" but it doesn't matter. It will never erase my silence.
Years later, words are all I have left.
I write this not to show how I broke, not to receive pity or hate, but in the hopes that you will read it and always always remember to speak. Your voice is the most precious thing you have, and no one can take it away. No one, except you.