Sometimes I’m afraid that my worst memory has been hidden deep in the recesses of my mind. That I blacked it out, and it will reappear at some inopportune time.
Although when, really, would be an opportune time for something like that?
I remember a lot of what happened during that time. I remember being 13 and learning that my 26-year-old cousin would be coming to live with us for a little while. I don’t remember being told why.
Him and his dark blue pickup truck.
I remember going on little trips with him in his dark blue pickup truck.
I remember he put a penny on the railroad track and, when we returned a few hours later, we hunted in the weeds for the flattened coin.
I remember him taking me to ice cream. I was a shy, awkward preteen. He was my older cousin, acting like the big brother I always thought my old brother should have been.
I remember him asking me about masturbation. I felt he had inappropriate questions, so I avoided answers. I started to crawl into a shell when he was around.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night to find him sitting, cross-legged, on the floor. He told me I was beautiful when I slept.
I remember him crawling into my bed with me, asking to just lie with me for a little while. I asked him to leave and he did.
I remember finding little love notes around the house. I remember his words, telling me how he only respected his mother, his father, his brother and sister. Telling me how he loved me.
I remember showing my mother the notes. She made him leave the house. He was not allowed back in our home.
I remember the family all knowing, but nobody really ever talking to me about it. Except twice.
I remember my cousin, a year older than me, telling me he’d done similar things to her when he stayed with her family.
I remember my other cousin, several years younger than me, coming to me years later to tell me that he had actually molested her. I remember being angry that she forgave him.
I remember telling my best friend what had been happening. She traced swastikas in the dust on his dark blue pickup truck.
I remember taking a trip to Arizona to visit my aunt – my favorite person in the world. I remember him knocking on her door, needing a place to stay. She was worried he had followed me, but he was family, so she gave him a mattress and he slept in the backyard, next to the pool. He was not allowed in the house. I didn’t sleep for several nights.
Every time there is a family get-together planned, I panic. Will he be there? If there is any chance he will be there, I will not go. I will not let him meet my child. I will not let him lay eyes on me or my son. I want nothing to do with him. Luckily, he hasn’t attended any of them. He joined the Army. He is married now. She is pregnant.
I hate him. I hate everything about him.
But mostly, I hate the unknown.
I have a terrible memory. I’ve openly admitted this. And that terrible memory, frightens me more than anything else.
Did anything happen those nights he snuck in my room to watch me sleep? Could something have happened that I felt was so horrible, I blacked them out?
I don’t think so.
But, then again, I might never know.
This was written in response to the RemembeRED prompt from Write On Edge. The prompt was:
We all have them. Memories that we wish we could forget…things that we wish we could banish from our minds. Imagine that writing down your worst memory will free you of it. What is it? Why does it haunt you? What could you have done differently? Write it down and let it go. Let’s keep it to 600 words or less.
Instead of a memory I wish I could forget, it’s a memory I do not even trust. But here it is. My attempt to let it go. Fifteen years later. It is time.