My past is right behind me
I can feel its breath on my neck
I can’t run forever
my legs are tired
I’m out of breath.
So afraid of what would happen should I stop and face it
I keep running, keep running
hoping time will erase it.
Chuck had driven an oversize red truck for as long as I had been alive, and when I walked up to the coffee shop, his red work truck was the first thing I noticed. Then my attention shifted to that of the a crowd of men sitting at the tables in front of the coffee shop, bundled in coats with cigarettes resting in between their fingers and a conversation humming amidst them. And then I saw Chuck.
I wanted to make sure.
I went inside and ordered my coffee, “Is that the man, out there that drives the red truck? Is that who you were talking about?”
The barista nodded.
“I’ll take care of it.” I said. And then I took my coffee outside in the frosty chill of the December morning and contemplated what I would say, and the strange series of events that had led me there.
Chuck was an incident I had tried to leave in the past. But the story of Eglon and what had happened in Eglon is one that has been with me, tucked away in the back of my mind, an awareness I can’t ignore that has been documented and followed me through even the empty pages of my journals and the pages that I had been blacked out. I’ve been a volcano. I’ve spurt little bits to this person, and vented a little to this confidant, but I have since exploded. I’m exploding…
The first time Chuck began to take an interest in me I wasn’t but a few years into this life experience and my elementary school journal’s year of silence documented my confusion….in an absence of words. My writer sleeps when I get overwhelmed.
The second time Chuck entered into my story, it was in my junior high journal. I remember writing the words on paper and then promptly ripping them out for fear someone someday would read it. I had been afraid of getting into trouble for getting him into trouble… when I had gone to the adults in my life for help at 8, I was told that Chuck was a close family friend and that it was very important I never talk about it with anyone because he would get into trouble…I don’t think we’re born knowing how to handle some shocks. It’s hard to believe sometimes that our neighbor or someone we ventured to call a friend was really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I remember what I had written down before I ripped the pages out, before I blacked them out…I had written down that I had learned about other Chuck victims…there were several. I wrote down, “I’m not the only one”… but then I ripped it out.
The first time I journal-ed about Chuck without ripping the pages out, or blacking out the words with pen, I was twenty years old. I was on a journey with the M/V Anastasis, far away from home, processing life on the bow of a hospital ship as it cut through the Atlantic Ocean bound for Tenerife, Canary Islands. Perhaps it was that I was on an adventure that I felt brave enough, for the first time, to write on it….and not delete.
From my journal 10/98 –
Why am I so haunted by so many different things? I wish I knew how to feel, and then I could just feel it, but I don’t know what to feel. I sure have a warped sense of father figures, though, don’t I? Between dad and grandpa…and what about Chuck? Chuck was a father figure…
How do I feel about Chuck? I don’t even know all there is to know or remember all there is to remember-but I don’t think I could forget even if I wanted to – that look on his face as he would walk down the hallway- that’s when I knew something would be coming- so I’d walk down into the kitchen or into the living room- but it wasn’t like there was anywhere I could go. That’s not the way a grown man should be looking at a little girl!!!
When I look at him now…I don’t really feel anything – it reminds me of how I used to escape – even though I was trapped on his lap, if I just looked out the window long enough…if I just focused on something else and focused on it enough, it would be like you were somewhere else….
I sat patiently, warming my hands on my coffee, unsure of what I was going to say, or how I was going to say it to him…I sat there until I saw him stand to leave. I watched him say his goodbyes and walk toward his truck. right as he was about to walk past me I stood up and blocked his path. I blocked his path much in the way he had blocked mine when I was a little girl…
“Chuck! How the hell are ya?” I said. I stuck my hand out and shook his.
His face had dropped and he stuttered out my name in shock. “E-e-emma….” He said. He looked like he had seen a ghost….he did, I suppose.
To be continued.