Through Any Given Door

2.37 Let. Me. Go.


April 1958 • Hawaii ~ I remember that Saturday afternoon. I don’t know where Mom and Claudia were, probably off to the commissary for groceries or cigarettes, so Bobby and I were alone in their apartment. He was propped up with pillows at the head of the bed. I sat on the bottom corner, shuffling cards, hoping he’d be up for a few games. He was. I beat him three times at go-fish and he beat me once at war. Then he said he was tired and wanted to take a nap and would I like to crawl in and snuggle. I said sure.

He brushed my hair from my face. We cuddled. He slid his hands down my arm. But when his hands slipped around my waist and I felt the elastic stretch as he pulled at my shorts, I tried swimming backwards off the mattress as he slid my pants down. He held on to me, his breath rolling over my hair.

“Please, Bobby no. Let go. I’m not tired.” He was whispering but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. “Let me go, please. I have to pee—bad, Bobby, really bad. Please. Please. Let. Me. Go.”

“Jes be still a minute,” he said. “‘Kay girl, ’kay? Jes for a minute.” And that’s about all it took.

He let me go. I cleaned myself up on the toilet, scared that there was white stuff coming out between my legs as I peed. Clammy and confused, I stood up and slid my underpants and blue shorts back on while Bobby washed his hands at the sink.

“Ya’ll er fine, ya’ll ain’t hurt,” he said quietly and added, “Ain’t no need tell ‘bout this. Be our secret, alrite?”

Cathy, Easter Sunday

I slipped out of the bathroom and tiptoed outside while he was still in there. Frozen midway on the metal staircase that bridged the yard to the apartment, my world shrunk to one step, the red sun in the sky slowly sinking, neighbor kids with a puppy below, Bobby in the apartment above. I waited, suspended in bewilderment and worry. I was grateful for his attention, but something happened in there; something divided me, something I didn’t understand done by someone I loved.

With my head whirling, my stomach chewing, and my feet cemented to that step, I was unable to move in either direction. I tucked all my uncertainty and sadness into my stomach. All my feelings about my mother, about Hawaii, about Bobby. I slipped all my fear of pain and being sick into it, my homesickness for Betty and Carleen, my wanting to be with Daddy, along with my confusion about everything. I didn’t know where else to put it.

Cathy, Easter, April 1958

I waited for Claudia and my mother to come; wishing, wishing I was anywhere but here. By the time they showed up, the sinking ball of fire had slid into the ocean and it was nearly dark.

It was not so much what happened with Bobby that dented me—it’s that he’d been my only real friend. I no longer got too close to him after that, no longer went in their upstairs #5 apartment with the Murphy bed when he was in there alone in his white Hanes undershirt and jockeys. I still liked him; I just didn’t get near him. I didn’t get near other men after that either, especially ones that talked slow and quiet to you, in a sing-songy Mr. Rogers-kind-of-voice.

to be continued…

© 2018. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Susan Price says

    I can’t even imagine the feelings …. and the sense of being alone and things being changed some how. Betrayal and not feeling safe. At such a young age. Awful. And only 35 years later you told your sister. Yet somehow you have grown to be a successful mother, business woman… I am in awe.

    • I told all my siblings, and my sons, at the same time. I was going to an acupuncturist who told me I still had all those feelings locked in my body and it was causing health issues. He gave me some ways to work with it, and one of them was to tell my family.

      • Susie Price says

        Sound like a very good acupuncturist. Didn’t think they got into psychological issues or may be because my experience is with those in China and Japan.

  2. Juliette says

    No no no…

  3. Very tragic. I feel for this little girl. Did your sister ever find out? I hope you received the love, care & support you needed.

  4. Barbara Jacobsen says

    Heartbreakingly, beautifully expressed, helping us to feel and almost experience what happened to you that day. What “divided” you.