The sky was so gray, it was almost blue. It was about to rain. I could feel the humidity building up, not yet ready to pour, but making it uncomfortable to be outside for too long. We were driving from Grand Prairie, Texas to Sanford, North Carolina and we stopped at my uncle’s house in Houston for the night to sleep somewhere besides the crowded van. With my dad, my mom, my dad’s best friend, and five kids, it was impossible to get comfortable. I was glad to be outside and moving around, even though the Houston humidity didn’t exactly offer comfort.
             I was riding my cousin’s bicycle around the cul de sac when I fell off. I don’t remember how exactly, maybe I hit a pebble, maybe it was the curb, but I slammed down hard on my shoulder, skinning my elbow on the way down. I had been wearing my favorite white tank top, spaghetti straps with a hexagonal fabric that was a little bit too short, stopping above my bellybutton, but paired with my shorts with six buttons, nothing was exposed. It was the shirt that my mom hated, that she’d told me multiple times to throw away, but I’d told her that it covered my body just fine. Except my arms, my back, and my legs, now covered in pebbles. 
             My dad’s friend had been outside watching us and came over to help me up. 
             “Let me massage it for you,” he said, pointing at my shoulder. 
             I had been raised to respect my elders, so even though I didn’t really want to, I stood in front of him while he leaned on the van. He started massaging my arm, moving uncomfortably closer to my shoulder. I couldn’t tell if it was pain or not, but I started getting uncomfortable. He finally moved past my shoulder to my neck, my back, and finally, my breasts, if you can call a ten year-old’s chest breasts. Instantly, I froze. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I remained rigid while he told me multiple times to relax.
             “Thank you,” I said when I could finally react enough to walk away. 
             I saw him in the kitchen later. 
             “Don’t tell anyone what happened. I was just helping you out.”
             “Ok, no, I know” I whispered, desperate to get out of the room.
             I was waiting for the bathroom downstairs while the other kids played Nintendo upstairs. 
             He opened the door to the restroom. “Hey, come here.” 
             Not knowing what else to do, I went.
             He closed the door and started kissing my neck, my arms, my mouth. I squirmed, trying to fight it. “Stop fighting,” he urged me. 
             His hands were on my breasts again, undoing the buttons on my shorts, and I squeezed my eyes shut.
             I escaped his hold on me and ran out the door, crying.
             “What happened?” my cousin asked. “Where’d you go?”
             “Long line at the bathroom,” I said. He looked at me, not fully believing me, but wanting to get back to the game, and shrugged.
             I never went to the police about it. I was sixteen when I told my mom what had happened. I thought it was my fault. 
Elizabeth M. Villalta is a writer and educator based in Dallas, TX. She grew up two blocks from the library in Sanford, NC and spends her free time reading, traveling, and taking pictures. She holds an undergraduate degree in social work from North Carolina State University and a graduate degree in education from Southern Methodist University. She's previously been published in The Chachalaca Review and Huizache.
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