Out-grown Raggedy Ann
I am a white girl.
Freckled with blond hair
And green eyes
I live in a yellow- white world
In the sunshine state
Everything is either bleached by the sun
Or from the chlorine pools
My plump white skin crisping
Under the skies’ fluffy white clouds
I see pictures in the clouds,
Faraway worlds of possibilities
I lay under them for hours
Imagining what the real world is like
Under my feet,
Is asphalt, cement and stalactites of grass
Pointed and determined
To stand alone and not blend with each other,
I learn physics early
Balancing my weight
On the full lawn
To ease the puncturing pain,
I am light, I am smiling,
I am loving the movement of people
That whirl around me
I am figuring it out slowly.
I am working hard to navigate with delight
I have found a sense of belonging
When I am alone. I rehearse for the walls
I watch my expressions in the mirror
I feel even more when I look into my own eyes,
Green speckled with brown, mustard yellow,
It carries the colors of my previous lives in an agate of peace.
I am the sum of the parts
As I play the role of a girl left handed,
Right brained, hearing rhythm
In everything as though I can find the heartbeat
In every thing, even the walls bounce back a pulse
That reminds me that there is energy flowing
And the water in my body conducts it like a rod.
I am dancing. I am allowing the rhythm of
Everything else to flow through me
I am swimming in water
Trying not to drown
I had outgrown Raggedy Ann- her blood red unkempt yarn hair, her scarecrow mouth and dark eyes. I had outgrown the patchwork quilting print that littered my room with a far-a-way childhood. My bedwetting useless sister had her side of the room. Filthy pigpen smells and debris covered the cold floor. I had taped a border- line with masking tape across the middle of our room and pushed her stuff a good six inches from the boundary line. It was a crooked line, her debris; but the tape was a perfect flesh colored band-aid beige ¾ of an inch thick. It went a foot up the wall to be clear. And it ran perfectly between the double wide closet so that she got one and I got the other. Mirror images of the room except for the debris. The dirty underwear, stuffed filthy animals, the scattered parts of games, the bits of wrappers from the 7-eleven candy counter and the wads of chewed gum lined the top of her headboard. Some gum saved for later, some never to be touched again collected dust.
The tape in my mind was just as concrete as the Berlin Wall. Where my mother told me I was nearly shot dead from soldiers too consumed with guarding to notice I was only three and had just let go of my mother’s hand wanting to chase a butterfly. My side was West Berlin- hers was East Berlin a dark place hosting lemmings with a grey dark cloud hovering over that side of the room – I had the side with the door and could come and go freely. She could either jump over the border (about 8 feet to the door) or she needed to climb out the window.
We “share” this room. Other than that we have nothing in common. She is way over there, as far as I can send her. I am over here. I am on my own side, creating as much space as possible. I have begun to realize that I am alone until I am alone and then I can feel something envelope me like a cloak, it is comforting and a cocoon, a place to replenish and breath until I am in the midst of others again. I can hear their voices when I’m alone. They are faint and make no sense until I realize they are part of the world I’m in now. I accept them to be.
I can still smell, taste and see the day but the sound is gone and I can remember the precise moment when I left my body, it’s soft lily white flesh, freckled like my mother’s skin, my blond hair, always tangling up and cut short growing to shoulder length so I could be like all the pretty girls. My tree-climbing days shifting back to doll play. My mouth dries, my heart impossible, bursting. I remember my doll; her blank stare recalls the events completely. My nine and half year old self stripped naked and suffocating under the weight of him. I can see the other one in the doorway at first smiling until the reality sunk in and he was horrified. His face told me how I should feel. I mirrored him in my heart. His face collapses and his hands are the last to leave the doorway. I never see him again. He can’t face me and I only hear of his death later, years later, young and I think about what he carried with him from that day. I forgave him. But I know he never forgave himself. The doer carries the grief of knowing they made a choice and acted. The victim can let it go as something that happened to them. Happenstance is a gift. Where did he go? Where am I? I don’t remember much after that moment, but I remember everything in detail before the moment of impact and then….bam, I’m gone. I remember brushing my fingertips across the chain link fences on my way home in the afternoon, the smooth metal hot from the day comes in waves as my fingers hit the fence and fall away with the opening to then hit the metal again, like a card in a spoke of a bicycle, eventually you don’t feel the void anymore just the impact. Here I remember the void and can’t feel the impact. I was singing to myself and kicking stones. My magical thinking was always active… “If I can kick this rock all the way home without it landing in the grass, then I will do well on my science test tomorrow” I remember walking into the dark cave like cool entryway from the glaring sun. The cool foyer a relief as I took off my girl scout uniform sash that was so new and full of promise with just my troop number on it. Troop #237. I pretended to strip it off with flare, swinging it above my head before letting it fly… then I look right, as I hear the stumbling in the hallway heading toward me. They were going to get me they said. I ran and tried to get away but there was two of them and one of me and they cornered me in the kitchen on our kitchen bench. I saw a way out between the two of them. On the table for a minute, I try and jump down to escape but they grab me. I’m kicking and screaming, I’m bucking and wiggling out as best I can and I feel my clothes coming off, my dress pulled up over my arms. “No, no, no, stop” I cry. My wrists hurt from the grip my feet have lost their shoes, socks and I feel my underwear coming off and the cold floor and cooler air is hitting parts of me and I’m shocked now. I can’t even feel anything anymore. I’m not sure what this is all about. The laughter, the sounds of groaning while I push and pull my way loose but fail over and over, I’m out of breath. “What are you doing? Why are you doing this?” I have no idea but I’m feeling embarrassed, I’m naked and these boys are grabbing me, dragging me down the hall, I can’t hear anymore. My voice is gone. I can only see. I can see my body isn’t mine anymore. I don’t have control; I’ve lost control. I’m tired. I’m confused, I’m scared, I’m not sure why I’m going to my room naked and embarrassed and I have never felt like this before. I have never felt like this before. “What is going on?” Now I’m on my back in my bed, on my raggedy Ann sheets, on my bed, on the bed where I sleep and there is a weight on me and breath on my face. The lights are out and the room is a putrid pink, once carnation now sickening with it’s Raggedy Ann and Andy doll curtains hanging dead in the widows and the yellow -white sun long gone to the day. The darkness is folding in on me. I don’t feel anything anymore. Just feel like I can’t breath anymore. He’s laughing that other boy. He’s laughing until his smile goes to a blank stare then he is just taking it all in. The reality. He sees me drift away under the weight. He sees a part of me disappear and he feels my pain too. He feels my death. My soul has left my body and is drifting above. I am not there anymore. I am not feeling anything anymore. I am just there under the boy who says he is my family. The boy who says he is my brother; the boy who came to live with us when he turned 10; the boy who is my father’s son. My mother isn’t here to save me.
I don’t remember anything after that. I don’t remember getting up or getting dressed or picking up my clothes in the kitchen or if I bled or if I was truly penetrated. I didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t feel anything but the weight. I don’t remember pretending nothing happened and yet no one ever seemed to notice something had changed. I don’t remember being quiet at dinner waiting to see if anyone noticed how hurt I was, how I had lost myself, how I had been taken from myself in my own space. I don’t remember recalling the events or going over them in my mind like I can do now, over and over as though it were a dream or a movie with a character. Sometimes I see myself in the scene and sometimes I see from my eyes. I can see the little girl on the table trying to jump away from being caught. I can see her under the weight. And I can see her view. I can see everything. It is a dream now a moment that can be woven into a story. A true story as true as I can make it now from the 48-year-old woman, remembering 38 and half years ago. The day was hot, sunny, dry and clear. The smells of laundry detergent fading from my bed sheets and my no more tangle tears Johnson and Johnson baby smells of talc from my own hair spread across the pillow like lost feathers creating a head dress crowning me in the moment of awakening that is more about a deep sleep. I can smell salty mildew sweat, the earthy damp musty smell of darkness that you can smell when you open an unused cloth-lined suitcase from the basement and the crystal clear blue lined pools of bleach that hangs on the top of the water and can burn your nose when you do a back flip under water and let the water tip into your nostrils because you don’t blow out like a whale. I can also smell my sisters ammonia dry pee soaked bed sheets drifting on my side of the room. I can see most of it. Especially the hollow dead-black-eyed hollow Raggedy Ann with her tangled red hair, limp and lifeless but witnessing it all with her blank stare.
Eventually, I moved my bed as far from the door as I could get, swapping places with my sister. I preferred to be in the corner so that I could keep my eyes on just two directions, my back protected. I didn’t have to spin to be safe; I could sit quietly and watch.