My father wakes me at 7am in a panic.
Are you okay???
He can barely produce the sounds that make these words.
I’m wiping sleep and left over dreams from my face.
My cat goes sprinting down the hall.
I leap from the sleeping bag and pile of stuffed animals on my trundle bed,
adjust my curiously provocative set of Winnie the Pooh pajamas.
I tell him I don’t understand.
He continues to ask the same questions.
Disjointed sentences that fall like anchors
from a frightened mouth.
Something about his car.
Something about shaving cream.
What happened to me.
Did someone hurt me.
Am I okay?
The evening before, the boy up the street had rang the door bell.
He’d stood in the doorframe,
and managed to slip some words from between his lips.
I was wondering,
Would you wanna,
Would you wanna go out with me?
I like you.
I told him there was someone else.
Someone I’d been spending the lunch period with.
Holding hands, eating ramen noodles from the cafeteria line.
I’d been claimed.
The someone else’s friends,
They’d gotten the scoop.
An afternoon during P.E.
They’d lifted my tiny frame.
Thrown me into a wide open
silver trash can.
Some girls yelled some profanities in Spanish.
Fended them off.
Another boy hollered,
As I ran past him on the track.
Another whispered as he passed me in the hall.
I’d let the someone else kiss me.
Or hadn’t moved out of the way
when his lips came toward me
Mouth full of slimy braces.
I told the boy at my door I couldn’t.
I was nothing if not loyal.
I was taken.
The boy sauntered back up the street.
His fists clenched and swinging around his hips
in fits and starts.
That night. A band of boys.
They gather outside my bedroom
Facing the street.
They paint the words,
I f*cked your daughter
across the windshield
of my father’s car
in shaving cream.
Toilet paper wars had been at play for months.
Saturday mornings met with a pile of TP on the bedroom floor.
Thrown there by an exasperated parent.
And a troop of sleepy-eyed girls
instructed to clean the mess.
This time eggs had cracked
against the stucco of our home.
This time a message.
Spelled out and drying in the sun.
I f*cked your daughter.
Or a warning
that will loom
in the space between my fingers.
Between my sheets.
Between my legs.
Over my shoulder as I walk the street
As I pull on my docs with the steel toe
on school mornings
against dress code
like the straps on my dress
The boy up the street
has not yet grown a single hair on his chin.
He lives with a single parent.
I just keep wondering who he got the shave cream from.
How I’d managed to sleep through the laughter
outside my window.
This is where I’ll learn to say no
at the risk
of public humiliation,
the loss of a “friend”,
for the rest
of my life.
Damned if I do.
Damned if I don’t.
Are you still my own?