Sunday 27 April 2014

Elderly Woman Raped in Her Own Home

     She was an elderly woman living alone in her home in a small village. Her name was-- I will call her-- Mary. I hadn't met her then. I imagine her as a cheerful but quiet sort with blue eyes that sparkled in the sun as she bounced a grandchild on her knee or waved to a neighbor. 

     The mother had blue eyes. The son and the younger daughter had blue eyes. The mother's ex-husband living in another state had blue eyes. The middle child-- my"little sister" in the program at that time-- had brown eyes. 

     I imagine her asleep. It was the middle of the night. An intruder broke in. I don't know how. I will say through the back door. The back door had three small windows. He broke the bottom pane and felt around for the lock.

     "I don't want to be his daughter," she told me. "I hate him. He is disgusting." I didn't know what to say to her. I didn't know enough to ask her those sorts of questions that one is supposed to ask children or to take her to someone who did. I was not able to keep her safe. I didn't know how.

     Carefully, he closed the back door and secured it shut. He didn't want any interruptions. He stepped into the kitchen, avoiding the shattered glass.

     The local program went on a witch hunt. I'd been in that program for eighteen years and I'd been clean for sixteen of those eighteen years. I'd had two "little sisters" before her without incident. One had aged out of the program. The other had moved away. 

     No lights came on, no dog barked, no alarm system sounded. Good. Silently he crept through the small kitchen to the hallway. 

     Unexpectedly, I received an application in the mail and a request to fill it out. Seems the office had "lost" my original one. The application asked if I was asexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. I was unmarried. I wrote in "celibate." I returned the application to the office in person. "We lost your references too," the woman in charge told me. "Please obtain three new references for us." 

     The stairs were there, to his right.

     I was disgusted. "I've been a volunteer with this program for eighteen years. If you don't know who I am by now, that is your problem," I told her. "I did not lose the references. I will not be getting you three new ones." My days in that program were numbered. 

     The house was quiet. He crept to the bottom of the stairway.

     The newest literature generated by the local program stated that if a "big sister" or a "big brother" was homosexual, the parent of the "little sister or little brother" had to sign a form releasing the program of all liability. As a single woman, I was no longer to be trusted with a child. I had suddenly became a liability after eighteen years in. Women my age were "supposed to be" married to men. Women like me who weren't partnered with men were suspected of a virulent form of lesbianism-- according to the collective imagination of the local program board-- which automatically preyed upon little girls from single parent households.

     The third stair creaked. He froze.

     John-- that is what I will call him-- found me outside. I had just returned from walking my dogs. I knew him from recovery and also as my ex-little-sister's ex-step father. 

     He had around six years clean. We were friends, so I thought. I invited him in. He could not sit still. He paced. "I don't know what to do," John said. "I'm clean for six years. This isn't getting any better."
     His long-term ex-girlfriend did not want him back. Ever.

     The intruder marked nine more stairs. Almost reverently, he nudged open the bedroom door.

     Buried in the blankets was his target. She was frail with papery skin and age spots. A head of thinning gray curls framed her face. She was an angel. He wanted to consume her.
     Savagely, he tore off the blankets and took her.

      The elderly woman in the nursing home was terrified of us. "She was raped in her home last week," a nurse told me in hushed whispers. Wordlessly, the elderly woman screamed herself hoarse, no matter how gentle we were with her. 

     He was tried and convicted. He was sentenced. I forget how many years. "Did you hear about John?" friends in recovery asked each other, startled out of their apathy. I could not talk about it.

     Nothing eased her pain. 

     "It's a letter from John," my neighbor said. "I don't know if you want it or not." I took it, retreated into the safety of my home, read the letter. 

     She shook and screamed until we were finished.

     If only I'd been able to ask you for help that night, John had written. I tore the letter up and threw it into garbage.

     She died still frightened of everyone.


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