I never said “no.”
In fact, I said “I love you.”
He said “No, you don’t.”
He also said he was going to kill me.
I don’t know if I believed him.
Then he took me into a clearing in the woods.
He said “This is where I was supposed to bury you.”
I remember thinking about my mom right then
and I remember a story she told me of a near death
in this exact same park,
but that was like the Zodiac killer or a military procedure,
or some other fantastic story.
I mix up her stories sometimes.
That night, he grabbed a paddle, and beat me
’till I was bruised from my waist down.
We smoked by candlelight.
I felt dirty and everything smelled moldy wet.
I didn’t understand most of what he said.
Clipped conversations, easily I got lost in.
I didn’t know if it was he, or entirely in my head.
And one night, I realized, something was wrong,
but instead of leaving, I burned my arm.
To remember, as if I knew I wouldn’t.
I remember feeling like, if I left I would be lost.
I remember thinking that out of all the bad things that could have, I
wasn’t the worst …
Nine days without sleep.
Nine days without much of anything to eat.
After nine days, I realized I could leave.
This man was crazy.
This man was safety.
This man was forty,
but he fell asleep, and I walked away
into the unknown.
Out to breakfast.
Shadows chased me. I was embarrassed.
I quickly forgot, like the bruises, they faded.
He left a note, to try to find me,
just like my mom at the same time who,
was looking for me.
Who always said, if you run away,
just call me, to let me know you’re safe.
But I didn’t call for over nine days.
See, the weed made everything very soft.
Sitting on the hill, at first sight he was a kid I thought
skateboard in hand, baseball cap on.
I thought he’s kind of like me. So, we wandered off,
but the meth I tried for the first time was intense
and it so easily didn’t wear off.
I thought I was so big and hard
that’s why I came to this city,
to prove everyone else was wrong.
I knew the risks
and I felt I could put up with it,
but I was still, a fourteen-year-old kid.
He was never like me.
He was old and he was grubby.
I think he was schizo, and he was mean.
Well a month or two passed, and something triggers me,
The panic attacks, anxiety, starts,
I don’t want to be alone, but don’t touch me
I can add to the story to make it fantastic like my mom.
I’ve held onto this part for really long.
I lied when I told people about what went on.
I’ve thrown around words like kidnapped and
“held hostage …”
These people beat him up.
A woman who had been around for a long time
walked me to the beach.
Talked to me about things.
When I told her my story, she told me that this
had happened before.
That same man had hurt and raped another little girl.
I don’t know when I started making things up
but she could relate, because that girl was her.
So, then what if what happened to me would have
happened anyways? Whether I wanted it or
not, what does that mean?
I know that the loaded words I have used to tell
my story don’t feel right.
They don’t help me sleep at night
and none of what I say now, is lies.
And nothing changes to the panic attacks, the fear
nightmares or flashbacks that lived with me for years.
Well, I still think I am big and bad. I think
I can handle anything.
I feel like I’m being sensitive or close-minded.
Maybe it would have been worse if I resisted.
I have evidence he is still a violent man even today.
I’ll kill myself wondering if what he did wasn’t right
and where the boundaries lay.
See, he turned me out. That’s the kind of relationship
that never goes away.
I torture myself with these horrible relationships
People who literally want to kill me.
But I go back, I don’t know what for.
Maybe because to be with someone keeps me
from the unknown.
I know what is going to happen here, and I could
have ended up with something worse, so I
stick it out.
Even when it’s really bad.
The only kind of safety I have ever known.
Faith, 26, is serving the remainder of her sentence in the San Francisco County Jail for “doing things she was not supposed to do.” She is due to be released in early 2019.
The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth, was founded by David Inocencio in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.