WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO THE TRIFECTA WRITING CHALLENGE (www.trifectawritingchallenge.com), Week 50.
Prompt: YEAR…a calendar year specified usually by a number (died in the year 1900)
She was six when it happened, if it happened. Whether it was the overactive imagination of a first grader, a dark dream, or an actual brush with evil, she may never know, but will never forget.
It was 1951, the year her family relocated to the third floor of the three family house on West End Avenue, just outside the inner city. She was a resilient little girl, and would adjust to the new neighborhood, so her parents had no reason to be concerned. Besides, her younger sister and infant baby brother needed Mom’s attention.
With a good head on her shoulders, she was, by all accounts, mature beyond her years. She rode the #31 bus alone, to Sacred Heart School. Often unaccompanied, she commuted into Manhattan for voice lessons. She sought, received (and in a real sense, she needed) the adulation and approval of adults. Their perception of her defined her own self portrait. She was confident in her competence and could take care of herself. She was a smart girl!
The engaging young man lived on the second floor (the landlord’s son) and reminded her of Joe DiMaggio, her favorite. His tall, dark handsomeness disarmed her. She liked him. So on that afternoon, as she swooped up his newspaper from the front walk and bounded up the stairs to his door, she was unguarded; ambushed by the blindness of her innocence.
When the door swung open, she didn’t understand, but instantly and instinctively froze with fear. She offered the rolled-up newspaper, her gaze fixated on his glaring eyes, blocking out everything else. Feigning ignorance of his open robe and refusing to look at the shockingly blatant nakedness beneath, she turned and raced up the stairs.
Later, alone in the safety and solitude of her room, her mother’s words reverberated inside her head. She hears them still:“For a smart girl, you can be very stupid.”
She told no one.