I made sure that I stayed out of my father’s way. I would never allow myself to be alone with him in the house. I would never be alone with him in a room even when the family was home. I kept my distance from him at all times. I knew he was going to hurt me if he got the chance. I was no longer part of the story telling hour. I always made the excuse that I had too much homework. I gave up the family fun time because of my dad. He looked at me differently than he did before. His smile was no longer friendly. He scared me so much. It was sad because, in the past, I really enjoyed the story telling hours and the family games. I missed being a part of it all. But, I would never again, be a part of the family fun time because I was terrified of my dad.
One night, I was sitting on the sofa reading a chapter from my science book. I had a test the next day, so, I was doing some review. I fell asleep while reading. I woke up to find my dad sitting next to me, on the sofa, watching T.V. I panicked. I jumped up, I broke out in a cold sweat; I made it to the chair across the room and dropped down on it.
“Calm down! Did you have a night mare?” my dad asked as he got up. He started walking toward me, I began to hyperventilate. Lucky for me, my mom came into the room.
“I think she had a bad dream,” my dad began “she’s hyperventilating.”
He stood back and watched as my mother took over. She told me to lie down and try to remain calm.
She sat next to me and held my hand until I was breathing better. My dad went to the kitchen and got a glass of water and handed it to my mom. She told me to relax and drink slowly; she helped me to raise my head up and I took a few sips of water.
My mom asked if I had a night mare. I shook my head, yes. She asked if I wanted to talk about, I shook my head, no. There was no night mare to talk about, except the one I woke up to: My dad sitting next to me on the sofa.
My school grades were already suffering, they started falling even lower. I could no longer concentrate on school or home work. I couldn’t focus. I tried not to fall asleep at night because of the recurring, nightmares. The night mares seemed all too real. Sometimes, I could actually feel the pressure of a huge monster climbing on top of me; holding me down, trying to smother me to death, while I struggled to get away.
At the end of the nightmare; I would always free myself from the monster. But, the horrifying nightmares always returned. There was the second, recurring, night mare; my attacker would be chasing me. I ran, I swam, I hid under the bed, I hid in the closet, and I hid behind the tree in my neighbor’s yard, the attacker would always be just a few steps behind me. He had the body of my attacker, but, he had no face. His face was blank. Always, at the end of the nightmare, when he was right there and reached out to grab me, I would look around and he would have the face of my dad. Then, I would wake up. The dreams were non-stop. I tried hard not to fall asleep. I didn’t want to have those dreams. I didn’t want to have that, much too real, hallucination of the monster wrestling with me.
My family must have sensed something was very wrong and was worried about me. One day my mother told me that my dad was taking me in to see the family doctor. I didn’t want to go. I certainly didn’t want my dad to take me. But, I had no choice. I had no say in the matter. I had to see the family doctor and I had to go with my dad, because my appointment just happened to fall on his day off from work and my mother would be working on that day.
The doctor’s office was only four blocks away from the house. We didn’t have a car, so we walked. I walked far ahead of my dad, to and from the doctor’s office. At the doctor’s office, the doctor
told me that my family was really worried about my sudden personality change. They were worried that I fell from a straight “A” student to a “C” and “D” student. They were worried that I wasn’t getting enough sleep and that my eating habits were terrible. The doctor asked if I was having problems at school or at home. I answered no. If I told him that I was afraid of my own dad; the doctor would probably think I was crazy. He knew my family very well and like every one else in our small southern town, he thought my parents were very respectable people.
I was tempted to tell him about the man that attacked me, and the recurring night mares; but, it was just too hard to talk about, and he would tell my parents. I was beginning to believe that I must have done something wrong to make that man attack me
the way he did. He never attacked my sisters or the other women that worked at the hotel; why me? I must have done something wrong. So I kept quiet about the attacker and the nightmares. The doctor convinced my dad that I was going through a phrase; and it had a lot to do with being at the age where a little girl starts changing into womanhood.
So, my mom and my two older sisters bought books for me to read. They started teaching me about the changes that will soon start taking place in my body. They started out by telling me that I would soon be twelve years old and that certain natural changes will take place in my body. My older sister laughed when she said, “Older people call it the birds and the bees talk.”
“I don’t know why because the birds and bees have nothing to do with anything.” my other sister added.
I listened patiently and read their books. I did learn a lot from the talks and the books. However, I didn’t want to hurt their feeling by telling them that
they were four months too late. The day they were preparing me for had already come and gone.
The night mares never lightened up. It was the same recurring night mares. The never-ending night mares, just waiting for me to close my eyes and fall to sleep; so they could take over my dreams. It was almost as if I was being punished for the terrible wrong that was inflicted upon me.
Occasionally, I managed to skip a few nights from the nightmares, but, they always returned, and they lasted for years. I was able to put up a good front during the day. However, night always came along. I could fight off sleep for only so long; sooner or later, I would drift off to sleep and the nigh mares never failed to return.