The first nth time

I couldn't tell you about the first time it happened, not even if I wanted to. I don't remember. But I can tell you about the nth time it did. It was probably the same setting as the first time; mother sending me to buy something for her from one of the many shops that littered our street, him hearing our front door close from whatever planet he was on at that moment, me walking down the staircase that linked our first floor apartment to the outside world. I almost never make it to the end of the stairs before he materializes as if from thin air. In truth, he always got there before I did, nothing special about what he was except I was at the age when everything seemed to have a magical meaning. There is never any form of verbal greeting, I think we both preferred it that way. It lasts for about ninety seconds, less if there was someone coming our way because the staircase was a two-way street. It linked us to the outside world and them to us, and quite often, people exercised their basic human right of freedom of movement and ventured into our world. This time though, this nth time, I was not in the mood to please anyone or be a good girl as they sometimes called me yet I couldn't say no. He wasn't hurting me, not doing anything I hadn't consented to, even if not in words but in thought. Resisting wasn't even a concept that was an option to me. I should be grateful, I thought. People didn't do these things with people they didn't like. Yes, he wasn't doing anything TO me. He was doing it WITH me. He didn't find me repulsive like everyone else seemed to. I should be grateful. And I was. Very much so. So why did I never talk about it with anyone I knew? Why did I feel dirty when he would zip his trousers up, pat my back and exit without a word? Why did I want it all to end as fast as possible when this time it didn't take ninety seconds but one hundred and fifty-six? Why was I even counting? Why did I fear for the day he would tire of rubbing himself against me and try to go further like his friend once did? My nine year old brain had no answers for me. My teachers said I was a genius but they were wrong. A genius would know how to say no and make it sound like law. A genius would have found some way to make it all stop because they are too intelligent not to. I could not do any of those things. My teachers thought they knew me. They knew nothing. And I knew nothing too.

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Tiana Mar

Poet & Aspiring Author

Srebrenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina