The third piece did not wake me up or arrived as a flash back. It was something that I expected and prepared for, once, every year for two years since i was seven. I can’t remember where, why, or how it started. I don’t know if he was the first or the second, but I’m certain that he was NOT the last.
Every year, during the hot, Texas summer, my grandfather would come and visit my mother and us. He would come for exactly a week and then leave. He was a calm man. He was very respectful during our family gatherings. He would socialize. He would smile, tell jokes, tell us stories about his childhood, play with us- everything a grandfather should do, he did. I only liked him when everyone was together. I feared him when it was just me and him…alone.
At first, i thought a kiss on the lips was normal for a grandfather and grandaughter.
“It’s okay. Don’t tell anyone. Just keep kissing me like I told you. It’s okay.” He said, numerous times. So I did. When touching lip to lip turned to him inserting his cigarette infested tongue inside my mouth, I began to question whether this was normal. I couldn’t tell anyone, “Don’t tell anyone.” The words echoed in my mind. Why couldn’t I tell someone? Fear? Guilt? Confusion? How about, all of the above?
Over the years, his actions increase.
One hot summer day, my family decided to have a cookout. We were all outside, my mother on the grill, my siblings playing, and my father drinking a few beers; Corona, the usual. The smoke from the charcoal grill was becoming too much for my lungs, so i sneaked inside the apartment. I was becoming a bit dizzy, so I headed to the bathroom and rinsed my face with cold water. I turned off the light, turned around, and there he was. My body became engulfed with goosebumps as he stared at me from head to toe like a predator observing the prey. I tried to brush it off, so i smiled and tried to make my way around him to leave, but he placed his left arm at the edge of the door, blocking my path. My breathing became silent and deep, “Stop. Go away. Go away.” I kept telling myself to prevent myself from panicking.
“Come on. Give me a kiss.” A knot formed in my throat when i heard him say that. He walked closer to my body and put his hand under my shirt. I held my breath and clutched my hands, forming a fist, “Hit him. Hit him. SCREAM!” My inner self begged me. I let my hands loose and not a single word came out of my mouth. His hands crawled upward, touching my breasts, he grinned. He squeezed.
This is not normal.
I continued to hold my breath. I didn’t want to breath in that old man’s, sweaty, stench. “Kiss me like we practiced.” His face got closer and closer.
“RUN!” I pushed him aside and ran. I listened to my inner voice. I listened.
I ran outside, stood next to the grill and deeply inhaled the charcoal smoke to the point where I was coughing; I wanted something, anything else, except that smell.
Once I inhaled as much as I could, I looked up at the sun; the clouds, my brothers and sister happily playing, unaware. My eyes blurred, “I rather it happen to me than them.” A distant voice whispered inside me.
My mother walked to me and put her arms around my shoulders, “Are you okay?”
I shut my eyes to stop my tears, quickly looked up at her and smiled, “I’m okay Mom!”