He handed it to me first, as if it belonged on my shoulders,
The secret, his plan to rape my four-year-old body, for six months
Until I mustered the courage to tell someone and make it stop.
First, the porn he hung in the outhouse, where he set me up to find it.
The unraveling, when I reeled from the stench of shit, the glossy pages
Seared into my mind. His blame, immediate, calculated, pressing
Me down in the dirt, “You’re a pervert. You like it. Aren’t you
Ashamed?” He used the evidence of my body responding to prove
His point. My fault. My blame. My shame. My guilt. Not his.
Every time he raped me, he would review the secret terms:
Don’t tell anyone, or your life will be over. You will go to jail.
Everyone will hate you and think you’re disgusting. Keep it
Secret. Carry the silence for the rest of your life. So I did,
At least at first. I dragged his bag of horrors everywhere I went.
No one could tell what I carried. I kept quiet about it, screaming
Inside my head, these bones, this skin he couldn’t stop raping.
A smell, a touch, a bump would bring flashes of him to the surface.
The overwhelm emotions drowning me in their choppy sea.
When I tried to sleep, nightmares plagued me, shaking in the darkness,
Silence like a smothering blanket, the choke in my throat, tears
Pricking the corners of my eyes, the chase, him hunting me, relentless,
Exhausting. Even sleep offered no relief. Numb and a hollowed
Shell of myself, moving through the wordless world, surrounded
By people, but no one here can help me deal with this secret, this burden.
It took me years, so many days, decades to decode, and unlock
Every puzzle piece, to discover a mirror to myself, the me
Before I took his secret like it belonged in my back pocket.
Staring in the surface, I doubt it’s even me anymore. He died.
He no longer exists, the me who never accepted what has always been his.
His fault. His blame. His shame. His guilt. Not mine.
(excerpt from UNPACKING THE PAST, book 2 of THE PACKING HOUSE duology)