I remember the memory, as though it were yesterday.
I know that it is forever seared in my consciousness.
I awoke to a darkened room, and immediately knew that something was wrong.
“Where is Mommy,” I asked the man that stood in front of me, the latest step father in a long line of men that would come and go throughout my lifetime.
“Go back to sleep,” he answered.
“I’m thirsty I lied,” knowing instinctively that Mommy was gone, and would not be returning.
I needed to see for myself, to confirm the worst of my fears.
My little feet padded behind the large man that I had to strain my neck to look up at.
What happened next was also something that would be etched in my psyche for the rest of my life.
The large man reached over and turned the light on, and I watched horrified as the roaches scattered.
They had been so numerous that the oven that was supposed to have the appearance of white, had the appearance of roaches, and the color could not be seen.
I am still to this day horrified of roaches, for me they signify the brutality of abandonment.
“You stay in this room until you learn how to tie those shoe laces,” the large terrifying man stood screaming down at me.
As soon as the coast was clear my best friend showed up, my hero and my sister who proceeded my birth by five years.
“When is Mommy coming back” I whined, with wide innocent eyes?
“Mommy isn’t coming back, but I’m here and I will never leave you.”
Rhonda yelled out to the man that had mandated my order to tie my shoes, “She did it, and we are going outside now.”
She grabbed my hand and we scurried out the door together, giving him no time to mandate another order.
The bright Puerto Rican sun caressed my young face, I loved it here.
It was a great place to grow up, other than the fact that the roaches never got killed off because of the climate.
Once again I was free to roam and play on the naval base that housed my family and me.
I looked at my hero Rhonda, no matter what, she was always there when I needed help.
She had taken the role of my Mother on, as many older siblings do in the case of dysfunctional homes.
From the earliest memories of my childhood, I can remember having to step over my Mother’s drunken body, to get to the TV.
Meals were not cooked, but a refrigerator was kept on the screened in porch, and when we got hungry we went there to retrieve food.
My days were spent running the streets of Puerto Rico from sun up, till sun down.
Nothing but the grace of God kept me safe as I wandered, and roamed them.
This day Rhonda and I had made our way to the rodeo.
The man of Puerto Rican descent had placed Rhonda and another child on the horse, and he finished up by placing me on the horse’s lower neck.
I listened in embarrassment as the men in cowboy hats with brown skin laughed when the horse lowered his neck, and I slid down the front, landing on my bottom.
It’s ok chicitita we will get you back up there.
He once again placed my small frame back on the horse and stated, “Now this is for you and your sister, I only have one candy bar, so one of you gets the candy, and the other this money.”
Rhonda ran behind me yelling, “One of those is mine!”
“No, they are both mine” I stated, as I ate the candy bar as fast as my mouth would permit.
Later that day as I laid down for a nap, I placed the coins in my mouth unaware of what would befall me.
The woman stood on a stool and violently shook me, to dislodge the money that was quickly cutting off my air supply.
That is the first memory that I have of the woman that was soon to become the most pertinent part of my life.
Her name was Thelma, and she was the woman that had adopted my birth Mother, and now she was here to rescue Rhonda and me from the pedophile that had been molesting my sister.
Yes, this latest man that my Mother had subjected us to, had been violating my sister, and the mark that was left on her psyche was one that she would carry with her until her early death at the age of 21…
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