So here we are in the beautiful neighborhood. A dream come true for my step dad and the whole family. But sometimes beautiful things hide mean people. Not just mean people but mean children.
Little sister was a sweetie. She was trusting, and just wanted to be friends with everyone. I don’t know if she tried to hard and that’s why she didn’t fit in, but how can a four-year old try to hard? She was different and as the years went by you could sense it but never put a finger on what the difference was. Being late with reading and writing is not uncommon for first graders. School never got easier. Being a little slow in studies, and even in social skills. Not being able to read the sarcasm in what another said to her – she just took things at face value. If you told her she was pretty or that you liked her shoes she believed you! If you said it with a sneer she just registered a smile.
Unfortunately she was not shy she was outgoing! unfortunately, is the way I describe it because she just kept putting herself out there in harms way. By not hiding she made herself a target for the bullies. It was not uncommon that she would come after the school bus had already left because she had been chased around the block and had hidden in the bushes. When she came out the bus was gone. She cam home with blood in her hair because she was chased by kidsand they had sticks. They didn’t catch her but they did get a couple of wacks in before she got away. She was punched in the mouth on the school bus and came home with her tooth in her hand. She asked if the tooth fairy would still leave her money even though she didn’t lose it by pulling it out herself.
Oh my sweet little sister. Don’t get me wrong she did get on my brothers and my nerves too but we didn’t hit her and chase her in repayment.
Finally she met a best friend. A little boy a couple years older than she was. He wasn’t popular either but they had each other, and their animals, fish and insects – together. They would be life long friends these two.
She was the funny little girl at home with her invisible friends, and her black poodle that followed her everywhere. She made messes and we picked up after her. A pattern that continued our whole lives together. I am 8 years older, the boys are 6 and 4 years older. That age gap made a space between us that seemed to grow.
Little sisters’ older siblings had lots of activities all the time. We didn’t really notice all the trouble that followed her. Of course when her teeth were punched out and she was hit with sticks we would pay a visit to those kids and make threats of our own – but we were never at the same school, on the bus or at the playground. The teachers and bus drivers just let things happen. I guess it’s harder to keep after the bad kids all the time. It’s easier to say to the victim to try to stay away from them, to wipe a tear away and tell her everything would be ok. Well, through the years rivers of tears would fall from my sisters eyes and her heart would be broken many times over. But she would just keep putting herself out there for better or worse.
As I write I realise she is almost a little superhero. Nothing kept her down and she never gave up. Not yet, time would tell us otherwise. Even the strongest can not fight forever through a lonely life.
There were behaviors I remember that mom would try to take care of. Sister had a big stuffed unicorn, that she would like to ride on the back of. Her riding of the unicorn was a concern for mom. The kids thought she was funny – a little naughty but whatever! Mom ended up taking my sister to a child psychologist! I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I was busy with my activities and friends so I didn’t really pay attention either. There was talk of the pictures she would draw for the doctor – tree’s with big holes in them. Always holes in the trees and other things the doctor would point out. Nothing very serious in my eyes but what did I know?
I knew nothing. Untill one day mom received a letter. The letter from hell. Mom cried and cried. She yelled and threw things and cried some more. No explanation. So being the teenager, that had been the protector of mom and sister since childhood I went looking for that letter.
I found a lot of things over the next few weeks while I looked for that damn letter. I found little baggies, coin bags, roach clips and tin boxes stashed around in different places. Yes, I put two and two together. Mom was smokin when we were at school. It explained some things about her behavior. I called up some of my friends from middle school and gave the stuff away. I hoped mom would confront me but she never did. I continued my search for that letter and continued to grow in popularity from the free gift bags I would hand out to my experimental friends.
Mom must have had the letter with her wherever she went. She probably read it daily, to try to believe what the written word was telling her. She must have gotten tired of the constant rehashing of the horrible news. So, one day she left it at home. Under a stack of other papers in one of her desk drawers I found it.
My hands were shaking and my mouth was dry. I sat down at her desk and removed the letter from the envelope. I didn’t recognise the name or the return address but it was from the state we lived in when my sister was born.
It turns out that the letter didn’t really hold any bad for us news per say. Nothing you could put your finger on anyway. There were a lot of questions, uncomfortable questions though. I read that the my sisters father had re-married after we moved away. He married the woman he had an affair with while married to my mom. They divorced after 6 months though because that woman found nude photos of her two daughters from her previous marriage. The photos were not just of naked kids at the beach, or running around the house like kids do. These were posed, the little girls were posed in different exploitive positions. Nothing natural about the photos. These little girls were the same age as I was when we lived with my sisters father. truly amazing I was spared this experience.
Why? Why was I spared? I will never know.
The letter continued to inform that the mother of the girls filed for divorce but never made any charges against him. Again I wonder why? Shame? Fear? I will never have those answers. Those answers change nothing so I don’t even care if I were to receive an explanation today.
The woman writing the letter was the current third wife. She was young, 17 years old and had just become a mother herself. A mother that was scared and concerned and she had a bad feeling but couldn’t put her finger on why. Her daughter was having rashes, between her thighs. He said it was diaper rash but that he tried to have her air dry as often as possible without a diaper. The problem was, the baby never had those types of rashes when she was with the mother. Yes, only when she was with him. You see they separated soon after the birth because he was having an affair – this meant that he had joint custody. That little baby went between the parents like my sister did. That little baby got funny rashes between her thighs like my sister did.
That was it. I sat there stunned, cold, empty. The emptiness was replaced by anger and hate. Anger, mistrust and hate that I would carry for the rest of my life. Anger that I couldn’t save my sister, that I didn’t know and understand before I read it in a letter. Angry that the letter didn’t just come out and say what I understood. The words danced around and taunted of and unwritten accusation. Abuse. Sexual abuse of MY LITTLE SISTER. I wanted to puke. I wanted to murder him. I wanted revenge. But instead I cried and trusted that mom would fix this. The adult would somehow take care of the situation. Now she almost had evidence to prove what she suspected but feared to be true.
But sometimes, even evidence that comes to late doesn’t help shine the light on the path we should take to right the worng. Maybe she didn’t know what to do. She just cried and covered her eyes and hope the masturbating on the unicorn would stop. The holes in the trees would maybe stop being drawn in every picture. Maybe things would just straighten themselves out!
Life never straightens itself out. We have to take responsibility, action for our reactions. All I have learned is that bad things happen and we have to deal with them or they will deal with us. This was silenced. It was not spoken of. Many tears fell in silence from my mothers and my eyes. The worst part is that my sister cried too. She mourned not because of the memories of the trauma but because of the scars it left behind. Scars that were not explained to her. Feeling of dirtiness and worthlessness she didn’t understand. A sexual awareness that had been awakened and never a support to help her handle the burden and guilt she carried. Of course we didn’t know this had colored her life in the way it did. Soon though, soon we would see that all of this was just the calm before the storm.
Soon the sunshine of her life would show up. She would call him “her sunshine”. How could we know he was just the guard of hells gate in disguise?
Oh sister, you can’t save every stray dog and cat. You can’t nurse every critter back to life. Please stop trying to get the pigs in the pig pen clean, they are getting you all dirty.
Time flies by and little sister is turning eleven.