I Am No More

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I am three years old.
My mother grips my hand tight as we walk past a group of men on the street.
They holler, my mother walks faster.
I walk faster too.
I don’t know why.

I am five years old.
A boy pushes me off the top of the slide at the playground.
I cry, and a teacher walks over.
“He likes you,” she says. “That’s why he pushed you.”
“He hurt me.” I say.
The teacher walks away.

I am nine years old.
A boy kisses me. I don’t like it.
Twenty minutes later, I tell the teacher.
“I can’t do anything now,” she tells me. “Why didn’t you say anything when it happened?”
I didn’t know if I could tell her when it happened.
I didn’t know if kissing someone was bad,
Like hitting was.
“I can’t do anything for you now. You waited too long.” The teacher says.
I go back to my seat.
The boy smiles at me from across the room.
For the first time that year, I want to go home.

I am twelve years old.
A forty year old man with a wife and children stops me in the hallway of my school.
He is my principal.
“You can’t wear that shirt.” He tells me.
“Why?” I ask.
“You’re shoulders are showing. They make boys uncomfortable.”
He forces me to put on a sweatshirt.
Then he pats my shoulder and leaves.
I am uncomfortable.
I’m beginning to understand why.


I am fifteen years old.
A group of guys driving past me walking on the street yell at me.
They tell me I have a nice body.
They tell me how much they love dark skinned girls.
I yell back at them to leave me alone.
They yell at me to learn to take a compliment.
I continue walking down the street.
I no longer feel safe doing so.

I am seventeen years old.
My boyfriend and I are fighting about my choice of friends.
He punches me in the face.
My nose starts bleeding.
I run out of his house.
At the doctor’s, the nurse tells me he must really love me.
Because that’s how boys show love. Because that’s romantic. Because boys will be boys.
My boyfriend calls me in the doctor’s office and apologizes.
But he tells me I should have been less sensitive.

I am nineteen years old.
In a college dorm hallway, a senior corners me.
He covers my mouth and tells me if I scream, he will kill me.
I close my eyes, and cry.
He murders my heart.
The next day I wake up in his bed.
My clothes are ripped. I have a black eye. Bruises on my neck.
I steal his clothes, and go to report what he did.
The man at the counter asks me why I didn’t scream when it was happening.
I tell him.
He asks me why I couldn’t just close my legs.
That senior graduates that year. He becomes a successful businessman.
He never gets punished for what he did.

I am twenty one years old.
That night, when I was nineteen, still haunts my nightmares.
I am walking home from a bar alone.
A man walks past me. He whistles.
I start walking faster. My hands shake as I grip my key tightly in my hand.
A shadow appears out of the corner of my eye.
A hand grabs me.
I scream as loud as I can.

I never become twenty two years old.
That night, when that hand grabs me, I scream as long and loud as I can.
The hand is attached to a man, who has a knife.
They find my body the next day.
My dress is ripped.

I never become twenty two years old.
My friends cry at my funeral.
My parents become divorced.
My brother, left alone without me, kills himself.

I never become twenty two years old.
Because after that night,
I am no more.






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