Ages 4-14.

I was the sad little girl with the raggedy clothes and the grubby face.
At some point the majority of it all became a blur.
The parts I do remember are the good times that I clung to and the bad times that I could not escape.
At times we would have upwards of twenty people living in the same place.
Most of them were men. all were family.
I was no stranger to ill-treatment of any kind.
I couldn’t play as a normal child played.
I stayed within plain sight of as many people as possible for fear of finding myself in a position with someone who had less appropriate ideas for a girl as young as I.
Hide and seek was out of the question because they always lurked behind the house.
Or in an empty room.
The dark became my enemy as I never had enough time to get away when I couldn’t see them coming.
Even when I took precaution though, I sometimes found myself alone with someone who had no intention of treating me as a small child .
It was always strange to me that with as many people as we had living in one place no one was ever around when I needed them.
I still have nightmares of their faces.
Nightmares of ripped clothes and whispered threats.
head bashed into the ground, the crunch of leaves deafening in my ears.
A grown mans hand across my baby face, my fingers clawing it away trying to take a breath.
Desperate fear, heart beating like that of a small animal caught in the cruel clutches of its predator.
hands on young flesh, cheap beer and hot breath on my neck..
The sound of a zipper cutting through the night air.
No kind of soap can wash that kind of filth away.
Every day, over and over again.
I had too many people to run from and not enough to run to.