I was six years old, from what I can remember, playing hide-and-seek with my cousins and brothers at our grandparents house. it was another one of those days where we had no adult supervision. my father had already moved out for the last time, my mother was at work. as long as we stayed outside, no one else really cared what we were doing and they never bothered to check on us. besides, our uncle was with us. he was the baby of his family, everyone's favorite, the boy who could do no wrong, the star. he was charming and funny, always the center of attention and he always got whatever he wanted. he was eight years older than me.
he could talk us kids into doing anything. jumping off barns, catching crayfish in the irrigation ditch, chasing sheep in the fields, climbing apricot trees, shooting BB guns and slingshots. he was like our big brother. we always looked to him for something to do, and when he wasn't busy with his friends he indulged us. playing hide-and-seek that day was his idea.
I was a quiet kid, very timid and shy. a daddy's girl whose daddy wasn't around anymore. I missed him so much. he had been gone for about a year by that time. and I was just starting to figure out that he probably wouldn't be back.
it was probably summer, I don't remember exactly. I do remember it being hot outside. I remember a slight breeze and the sound of it moving through the leaves. I remember someone counting, I remember my uncle grabbing my hand and telling me that we should hide in the garage. I remember thinking that we weren't allowed in the garage but before I could say anything he was pulling me towards it.
we hid behind the car, an orange VW bug. he was standing behind me, so close that I felt his breath on my neck. it was dark and cool and quiet. he whispered in my ear for me to watch the door and be quiet so no one would find us. then he wrapped his arm across my chest, pulled me in close and put his hand into my shorts. I didn't make a sound and just kept my eyes on that door.
it felt like we were in that garage for hours, although it couldn't have been more than a few minutes. I couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't think, couldn't breathe. finally, whoever was "it" gave up and called, "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free!" and the game was over. as we walked towards the door, he leaned down and said that if I ever told anyone what had just happened, he would kill me. and I believed him.
there were so many opportunities for him to be alone with me and he took advantage of almost every one of them. when my mother would go out at night, he was our babysitter and after the boys were asleep, he would send me to bed, only to follow behind me a few minutes later. he was also in charge of us during the day when she worked and my grandmother was busy. the boys would be sent outside to play and I would stay inside alone with him.
he loved to torture and torment me, physically and mentally. I wasn't allowed to shut the door when I had to use the bathroom, especially when he had friends over. he knew that I was afraid of water and was always threatening to drown me. he liked to stab me with things, a meat hook once, a screwdriver, an ice pick, assorted knives. he would shock me or burn me or hit me whenever he thought that no one was looking. on the rare occasion when I would tell someone about him hitting or cutting me, I was told to quit crying and was sent back outside.
he molested me for years. even after he moved away to California he would always manage to find a way to get me alone whenever he came back to visit. things progressed from him touching me to kissing me, to him forcing me to touch him and eventually to rape. he was also abusing one of my cousins, usually on separate occasions but I do remember him making me watch him with her and then making her watch him with me whenever he could arrange it. she was a year older than me. the two of us have never talked about any of this.
it was easy to pretend that none of it ever happened. easier than admitting that it had. because it was just too horrible to be true and I doubt that anyone would have believed me if I had told and I really was terrified that he would kill me. he had everyone wrapped around his finger. they all thought that he was an angel and I was just another annoying little kid. no one suspected for years and even then, it was never acknowledged to anyone beyond my grandmother asking me if I had seen him one day when she got back from the store and wondering out loud what was going on between him and my cousin.
to this day, I don't think anyone in my family knows about any of this. I know I haven't told anyone about it except my first husband and Brian. he wishes I would tell my mother about it, he wants everyone to know the truth. but I can't do it. even though I know that I should. I don't have the energy to deal with it, with them. Brian also wishes he could find my uncle and beat the shit out of him, which I appreciate but discourage. I'm so glad we will never have an occasion to be in the same room as him. I doubt if I could restrain Brian if they ever did meet. I'm not even sure I would try.