If I put my head down, maybe she won’t see me.
I feel her come near me anyway. Mrs. Roberts leans down and puts her head close to mine. I breathe in deep. She smells good.
Tears go away. Tears go away.
Teacher whispers in my ear, “Cassidy, it’s time to color.”
Let the other kids color on their big white papers.
She moves the hair away from my face.
Oh, that feels good.
Her hands are soft but I shrug away.
“Is there something wrong?” Mrs. Reynolds asks me.
I can’t talk to you. I want to but I can’t.
I lift up my head and wipe the snot from my nose. Teacher takes a tissue from her pocket and wipes away my tears.
While the rest of the class leaves for lunch and recess, Mrs. Roberts sits beside me on one of our first grade chairs. I almost giggle cuz her bottom poofs out from both sides. She puts a sheet of drawing paper on the table in front of me.
She asks me, “Why are you sad?”
I ignore her question and search for a crayon in my plastic box. I pull out a black one and scribble on the page.
Black is for bad girls and I’m bad.
“Why don’t you use another color?”
I pick out another crayon just to make her happy. Blue is my favorite. I draw a picture of me, the way I was a long time ago. Pretty.
“Is that you?”
I nod and then pick up the black crayon again.
I’m scared. Please don’t let him hurt me again.
I color on it so heavy the paper rips.
He hurt me. I hate him.
Mrs. Roberts scoops me into a grandma hug. I feel safe. I know nothing bad will happen to me with her here. She carries me to a chair in the story corner. I feel like a baby but I don’t care. I like her touches.
“You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.”
I want to but I can’t.
She rocks me softly, back and forth, back and forth.
“I’m bad.” I didn’t mean to think out loud.
“Why do you say that?”
I can’t tell you. He’ll hurt me.
“You’re a sweet girl, not bad.”
He told me to pull down my panties.
I wish I could tell Mrs. Roberts but I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone. I bury my face in her big, squishy chest.
Teacher rocks me some more.
He pulled his down, too. It was gross.
“You don’t have to tell me. We’ll just sit here quietly.”
She starts to hum and I burrow into her plump lap and I feel myself falling asleep.
I jump cuz it’s not Teacher’s voice. I open my eyes and see a man instead. I know him from a picture that hangs in my Sunday school class. I’m pretty sure it’s Jesus.
“Yes, it’s me.”
He answers me and I didn’t even talk.
“I love you. You aren’t bad. I made you perfect. Little girls are pure white.”
“He told me I’m a sinner. My heart’s black.”
“No, Child. He sinned. He has the black heart.” Jesus takes my hand and puts it on my chest and says, “Your heart is snow white.” He looks me in the eyes and I know He’s telling me the truth.
“I want you to do something for me. You have to tell Mrs. Roberts what happened. That man won’t hurt you. I won’t let him. Okay?”
I shiver and He put his arms around me. “He said he would tell Mommy that it was my fault.”
“She won’t believe that for one second. Trust me?”
I feel all warm inside, and safe. “Okay, Jesus.”
He kisses me on the cheek. “I’m always with you, Cassi.”
“Cassidy, did you fall asleep?”
I open my eyes and my teacher’s holding me again. “Mrs. Reynolds?”
She hugs me close and says, “Yes?
“I need to tell you something.”
I feel shy so I cover my face. It was easy to talk to Jesus but Mrs. Reynolds is different. What if she thinks I really am bad? But Jesus told me to trust him… so I do.
“He did something bad to me,” I whisper. I don’t know what else to say.
“Is this person a friend?”
I’m not afraid anymore. I sit up straight and look into her eyes. “No, he’s my grandpa.”
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