Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)
TITLE: How Many First Times Are There?
By Tracy Nunes
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The first time I crawled or ate real food.
The first time I sat on my own or stood all by myself.
How many first times are there?
The first time I fell and Mother kissed the hurt or went with Brother to the market.
The first time I swam in the river or helped Father glean rice in the field.
How many first times are there?
The first time I heard Mother cry quietly in the corner of the room we all shared.
The first time I heard Mother angry at Father and knew that I might not always be safe here with my family.
The day came when I looked back and remembered all the first times with a pain in my chest that caught my breath. I will look back on that day and see all of those first times as the last times.
Mother told me he was coming and she said I was not to cry. Though I didn’t know where I was going, or what would happen to me...I did know why. Mother had a new baby coming. Father said it’s the only way and that I should be proud of the sacrifice I’m making for my family.
I saw the unshed tears in his eyes but he was a proud man…they would not fall.
How many first times are there? There is only one first time for everything.
He arrived just after we eat our small breakfast and appeared kind at first. He paid Father and said that he would wait outside. Brother wouldn’t look at me. Mother grabbed me and squeezed so hard I thought I would break and then ran to her mat and buried her head in her arms. Father looked at me a long time, seeming torn. I didn’t understand, but I loved Father. I would do as he said.
I went out the door and he was waiting. He smiled and said he had a special day planned for me. He reached out his hand and I looked at it. The sounds of the streets around me went silent as I stood there shaking and looking at his outstretched palm.
Slowly, I reached out and took it and my small hand was swallowed in his large damp one. He smiled again and we began to walk away. I stopped and looked back at our little house. It was the first time I walked away from it without Mother, Father or Brother. I feared it was the last time I would see it.
The man tugged on my hand and pulled me forward. He took me to have sweet treats in the market and he bought me a pretty dress.
“I am your Father now,” he said. But, in my heart I knew it couldn't be true.
We walked the long way down from the village until we got to a larger one where I didn’t know anyone. There were many streets and even cars. People were everywhere and I was scared.
I remembered the first and only time I came to this city with Father. I felt safe then. I did not feel safe now.
He stopped at a small inn and said that we would stay there tonight before we left for an even bigger city. He bought food and more sweet treats. He said I should be grateful that he is willing to take me. I’m not that pretty.
How many first times are there? Only one first time for everything.
The first time to fall in love, get married and have a family.
the first time to see your dreams die and wish you could die with them.
That night was the first of a thousand deaths repeated daily. So often that I can hardly know the past from the future. Every day felt like the first death and just breathing became my daily task.
After a long time I was used up and men no longer wanted me and I was cast out into the street. That is where they found me. They reached out their hand to me in the dust and I took it. She gave me food and bathed my wounds. He protected me. They loved me.
How many first times are there? This was a first time. I won’t look back.
Author’s note: Child sex trafficking has grown to monstrous proportions. Find out about how you can help at: http://www.samaritanspurse.com.au/story/how-your-support-is-freeing-victims-of-sex-trafficking/
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