I Stopped Talking
Note: This was a writing assignment for a class I took and I got a lot of great feedback so wanted to share it. The instructions were to write something through the eyes of a child, so I wrote from a memory I have of sexual assault from my childhood.
It’s my first day of second grade in a new school and I don’t know what your name is. I’m nervous and scared as I walk through the dirty playground, hoping nobody notices me. I don’t see your face as you run toward me because I’ve grown comfortable looking at the ground. You grab me hard in the place policemen had me point to on a doll last week in a room that made me feel little; then you laugh and you run away. I can’t move. I hear a whole group of kids my age laughing over by the swing set and as you rejoin them I try to blink away tears and I’m mostly successful, but I look down at my purple pants as they darken right where you touched me. I want to disappear. I want to die. I wish you knew why I had to change to this school in the middle of the year, because maybe then you would be kinder, but you don’t know. How could you? We’ve never met.
I don’t tell any teacher what you did. I don’t tell my mom. I’ll whisper it under the covers using words I don’t understand into the ear of my yellow stuffed dog named Fred. He knows every secret I’ve ever cried into him. I know I should tell, because boys shouldn’t touch girls there, but I don’t. I don’t because I stopped talking when I was 6. It’s not because I got mad or because I’m stubborn. I don’t talk because I’m scared of everything, but especially my secrets.
My mom took me to a doctor to find out why I don’t talk. I like him. He lets me play all by myself in a room with lots of books, toys, and mirrors that go all the way to the ceiling. He has white hair like Santa Claus and he doesn’t try to make me talk about bad things. His name is Mr. Wilson. He told my mom that I’m real smart, even though I don’t talk. He said I’ll start talking again some day, but that I can still go to school. He wrote a letter to give to my teacher. He told my mom a funny name for the problem I have. He said it meant that I got a little bit broken, but that I can fix myself. He also told my mom that I might start acting bad, because lots of other kids sometimes act bad after they get broken. I don’t want to be bad, though. I just want to be alone. I want to read and learn and play like other kids, but I want to do it alone.
I don’t know what to do when you tell the whole class that my name is Wendy Peter Pants, so I stare down at my desk, pressing my pencil into the palm of my hand until I bleed, but I don’t cry or look at you. Our teacher starts trying to take me to the bathroom more than the other kids, but she doesn’t know that I’m too scared to go in there. I sit quiet at my desk and shake my head. I just want everybody to ignore me. I want to forget. I don’t want to be broken anymore.
I’m only here because we had to run away. My mom, my sisters, and me. We ran away from an angry house by the ocean where a monster lived. We got on a train and we went really really far to get here where my Grandma and Grandpa live, and where my mom says there are better doctors to help us. I read lots of books and we had our own beds on the train – Mom said that was because of some really nice strangers. She was really happy when we left, but now she cries all the time and she’s getting real skinny. She drinks a lot of weird colourful drinks that burn my nose when I smell them, but she’s always tired and they make her sleep so they must be medicine.
We live in a big house with other families who also have broken moms and broken kids. There is a lady who lives down the hall all by herself who tried to take my baby sister out of her crib. She said she used to have a baby just like my sister in her tummy, but something bad happened and the baby fell asleep. Sometimes I can’t sleep because she cries all night.
I stopped talking because I told a secret that I wasn’t supposed to tell and it hurt my mom. We keep having to run away again and again and it’s all my fault. My mom keeps crying since I told her and the policemen what happened. I told her after we ran away on the train because I thought we would be safe. I stay up all night to make sure my mommy and my sisters are safe from what I did. Monsters are real, you know. They hurt you bad and make you keep secrets that make you sick. They grab you in the same place you grabbed me and if you tell anybody about it, they tell you they’ll hurt you worse. We ran away from our monster, but it keeps finding us and hurting us and I know it’s because I told those secrets. If I don’t talk for long enough, maybe the monster will forget us and stop hurting us. Maybe then I can try to fix the parts of me that are broken..