The first five years of my life seem a succession of bright days running one into the other. Days filled with discoveries laces with Texas heat and the smell of mesquite and cedar from the wooded hills of Central Texas.
My discoveries were simple ones, but breathtaking for a five-year-old. Like learning I could see almost the entire emerald body of Lake Travis by climbing up to the top of the big live oak tree in our yard. Or that a buzzard can circle endlessly in the heat of day before spiraling down to feed on a dead rattlesnake in the road. I remember discovering that if I floated face down in the lake, my dog, Wiggles, would swim out and pull me back because she thought I was drowning. A favoring discovery was that the gladioli bulbs I helped Mama plant bloomed into wonderful white, yellow, and red flowers as tall as me.
One day I made a discovery that changed the rest of my life. I found the door to my older brother’s room closed. Being the curious kid I was, I opened it. Doors were rarely closed in our house, and I wondered what my brother, Bubba, seven years older than me, was doing.
I opened that door to find my older sister, Sissy, (four years older than me) lying across Bubba’s bed with her pants around her ankles. Bubba stood over her, his pants and underwear crumpled at his feet. When I opened the door, Bubba jumped back, nearly tripping over his jeans.
“What y’all doin’?” Even as I asked the question, a little knot began to tighten in my stomach.
Bubba yanked up his jeans, but didn’t button them.
“We’re playing house, Cassie.” His face reddened and he spoke quickly. He glanced over a Sissy, then back to me.
“Okay.” As always, I didn’t like being left out of anything. But I felt that strange knot in my stomach tighten more.
“Sissy, wait outside.” Bubba grabbed Sissy’s arm and pulled her off the bed.
Sissy pulled her panties and pedal pusher up. “Alright, but hurry up. Cassie, you can’t tell nobody, you hear? And if you do, you know what’s gonna happen to you.” She shoved me toward the bed.
I knew. I had been threatened the whole of my five years by Sissy and Bubba. I had seen Bubba chase after Sissy with scissors or rocks often enough to know his capabilities. And with Sissy in cahoots, well, they might just take me up in to the woods and get me lost and leave me there as they so often said they would.
Sissy closed the door behind. Her. I walked over to the bed and looked up at Bubba.
He took me by the waist and heaved m up onto the edge of the bed. Then he pulled at the elastic on my shorts.
“Bubba, no.” All of a sudden I became very afraid.
“Cassie, you wanna play, you got to do what I say. Now, I’m the daddy and you be the mama.”
He pushed me back on the bed. I looked up at the ceiling and stared hard. My stomach tightened more as I felt bubba’s bare chest, sweaty and bony, press on top of me. I squirmed when he pulled at my legs, and he gripped my left ankle tight. It hurt, but not as much as when he pushed himself inside me. It was the strangest feeling I had ever felt. Pain, mixed up with a tingling. I started to cry.
Bubba said, “Shut up, now. Just be quiet.”
He bounced and pushed, breathing hard. I had never heard him make such funny sounds. I kept staring at the ceiling, not daring to look at him. I thought, “If I look at him, something very bad will happen. Like maybe the celing will fall. Or Mama will come in,” thought I knew Mama was a t Tupperware party up the hill at the Spring sisters’ house. She had taken my baby brother, Rory, with her.
I thought I could keep the ceiling up and make everything still and fine just by staring hard and not looking at Bubba.
It hurt h having Bubba push himself inside me, but there was also a strange sensation of pleasure. It almost felt like when I touched myself. I almost felt good. But I knew, even without Bubba’s and Sissy’s threats, this adventure was not one to tell about.
Finally, Bubba gasped and pulled his sweaty body off me. I took my eyes off the ceiling and looked at him just as he tucked his red penis into his underwear and pulled his jeans up.
I started to whimper, then to cry. I didn’t know why I was crying.
“Cassie, quit bawling! Now, you go out and play and shut up!” Bubba opened the door and left. I heard him run across the living room, up the steps into the bathroom. I didn’t know where Sissy had gone. The house was quiet.
I climbed down off the bed and pulled up my own panties and shorts. I wished I had not made this discovery. I went outside and sat on my rocking horse. I was sore between my legs. Rocking on the horse wasn’t such a good idea after all. I got off my horse and sat down beside it and cried. I cried until I looked up at the sky and noticed storm clouds gathering I stood up and walked to Mama’s garden. I stuck sticks in the dirt alongside the gladioli stalks so they wouldn’t get beaten down in case it rained.