At five, she had more freedom than most, even for the times and place. She ran errands to the store four blocks away. She roamed the apartment complex, hanging out with older kids. She was out all day, coming and going as she pleased. Curiosity about the world around her directed her activities.
The basement in her building fascinated her. Long hallways leading off in both directions the length of the building had gated cubicles for each apartment. She could see into each storage area and she imagined the kind of people that the stored items belonged to. It was quiet, dim and private. A hidden space in which to be alone. It was always deserted, it was always her secret place, except today.
He was much older than the usual kids that played with her. He had dark hair and spoke quietly.
“You like it down here, don’t you?” he whispered. “Lots of secret things. Lots of private things.”
He took her hand and guided her further along the hallway.
“This is my space.”
He showed her his bicycle.
“I don’t ride anymore.” He stroked her hair, caressed her face.
She stood there quietly. Mute with curiosity, fascination and fear as he pulled her shorts and panties down and moved his mouth towards her pubic area. He held her back with one hand to steady her as he spread her legs with the other hand. She remained frozen by the feelings her body produced. He glanced up at her face to see her expression and grinned. She thought this couldn’t be right and she was proved right when she heard her mother call down the stairwell.
“I know you're down there. I know you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Get out of that basement.”
And her brain screamed, Mommy, come save me!
But Mommy didn’t.
Daddy, please come home!
But Daddy stayed away.
And he was pulling up her pants and whispering to her again, his voice penetrating the roar of the hurricane in her brain.
“My mom’s not home right now. Let’s go up to my apartment.”
He opened the door and drew her into the livingroom. The couch was center stage. She moved like a ghost, floating above herself, watching with detachment. He laid her on the couch after removing her clothes, his face at her crotch again.
“I can tell you are enjoying this. Wouldn’t you like to give me the same pleasure?”
He stepped back, pulling his penis from his pants. She turned her face away and buried it in the seat back of the couch.
The chimes on the coo-koo clock sounded.
“My mom will be home soon. It’s time for you to go.”
She learned how to keep secrets. She learned how to hide. She learned about shame and guilt. She forgot herself.