Mostly I’d lie there. Pretending to be asleep. But sometimes, I opened my eyes. I’d focus on the ceiling tiles. I’d trace the cracks with my eyes as I made choo-choo train sounds in my mind. Thought about being on a locomotive headed for anywhere but there.
But mostly, I’d lie there pretending to be asleep.
He knew I was awake. He felt every muscle in my body tighten. Felt me wince. He heard my occasional whimper. It never stopped him from proceeding.
I never fought back. Never defended myself. I never called out for help. I kept my mouth shut. Never told a soul.
Why would I?
I enjoyed the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches we made in the convection oven. I liked sleeping over at his place. Loved listening to his Beatles albums over and over again. Looked forward to getting Burger King French Toast sticks with him before school.
Besides, he was more than the man who touched me in the middle of the night – He was my math teacher. My father figure. The guy who took me to church. The only adult male who paid any sort of attention to me. So my lips were sealed.
To my eleven-year-old mind, it felt like a fair trade.
To my thirty-nine-year-old mind, it feels too complicated to reduce to a simple hashtag.