My baby cousin fell asleep while watching 101 Dalmatians. I would sleep too but I already caught a glimpse of the large layered chocolate cake with rainbow sprinkles all over. It was prominently placed on the small round kitchen table on top of a long colorful plastic tablecloth with tropical flowers. It was December 31st.
SHE led me into the bedroom and ordered that I stay put and watch TV. They wanted me out of their way while they laughed, gossip and drank until the ball fell. I knew the cake wouldn’t be cut until the ball fell, so I was fighting sleep. All I could think about was how big my slice would be and the bliss I would experience as the icing melted on my tongue. I wanted that cake. The credits were moving up the screen and baby cousin was still sound asleep. I didn’t hear the bedroom door behind me open. He asked,
“Why are you hid away?”
“I have to stay here until the ball drops.” I said.
He asks what I had been watching. I tell him. He asks if I could come with him to the kitchen.
“I have to stay put.” I said.
He said he needed help cutting the cake. I told him that the cake wouldn’t be cut until the ball drops. Grabbing my hand, he said,
“Come, you will help me cut the cake.”
The rest of the grown ups were drunk and talking loud in the living room next to the kitchen. He sat me on his lap in front of the cake. My mouth watered.
“I will cut the cake only if you give me a kiss.”
He turned his head and points to his cheek. I reluctantly move to kiss him when he turns his face and meets my lips. He kisses me with his mouth open. His hand moved under the table and finds my thighs. He continues up to my underwear. He moves my panties aside and violates me with his fingers. My wide tear-filled eyes are still fixed on the chocolate cake. I am in pain but cannot scream because his tongue is in my mouth. His other hand squeezes my arm threateningly. Out of the corner of my eye I see HER turn the corner.
“Get you hands off her!” SHE screams as she grabs me. SHE is hysterical. I am thrusted into the corner. They all rush into the kitchen. He says,
“I just kissed her on the cheek!”
SHE screams, “I saw your tongue in her mouth!”
Amidst the yelling and HER screaming, HE says, “You didn’t see anything, you’re f***ing drunk!”
“I saw him with his tongue in her mouth!” SHE says.
SHE is crying. HE says to everyone, “Look, the ball is dropping!”
Everyone rushes back into the living room and counts back as the ball falls. Defeated, she grabs our coats and empty Tupperware. It is 1984 and I am 5 years old. This experience is my single most indelible childhood memory.
As a teenager, I am unable to walk to the store without being grabbed, pinched or groped by my male peers.
I continue to be sexually violated by my older cousin, and high school boyfriends.
I am raped by the man I would be engaged to.
I still like chocolate cake.
It takes a long time to love me.
SHE was a caseworker supervisor and worked for Child Protective Services.
Mom often left her job worried about her clients.
I wondered if she worried about me.