I met a man who said he could help. An angel. I almost thought I could see his wings. I was in trouble. I had lost everything to an American economy that crumbled around me. I was terrified, wandering. I wanted to be someplace different. Anywhere. I felt his feathers flutter around me and I believed him.
He said the magic words, "I have a place on the Mississippi Bayous. You really have to see it."
Tears sprang to my eyes. Did he say that? Could this be happening? After all the grief, the loss, the rebuilding, the falling apart, would I finally get to the water to find that piece of myself I lost at seven years old?
I simply said, trying not to cry, "I have dreamed of seeing the Bayous since I was a child."
He showed me pictures of his home in Mississippi. I touched them longingly.
"Mississippi. Pack a bag. Let's go."
I went. I was so desperate to be free from years of pain and struggle, I got into his car and we drove. And drove. And drove. Past bright beaches, miles and miles of unspoiled surf. I cried to myself. I put my head out the window and kissed the sun.
We drove up to his house. It was on stilts because of the floods. I had been there before a thousand times in my heart. I got out of the car and walked right out to the edge of the creation.
I was in heaven. I couldn't believe it. I was standing at the water of the Mississipi Bayous. I made it. I clapped my hands toward the skies. Oh magnificent you, whose name I do not know!
The man brought me a chair. He was kind, charming even. Helpful. We sat outside and I let the sight of the bayous pour itself into my soul.
He pulled his wings down; they fell into a heap at my feet.
"Were you abused growing up?" The man asked casually.
I made a mistake and the devil rose up.
I said, "Some stuff went on."
He had been an Army psychologist. I didn't realize I had opened the door to a room for him to dismantle me in. The warm air was still. I changed the subject.
"I can't believe I'm here. Thank you. Thank you so much for this."
"So," he was inside the room. "What position did your abuser have you in? How did he hold you? Did he make you strip?"
With those words he delivered a nearly fatal blow to my psyche. My hands were shaking and I struggled to form words. His face changed, became contorted.
"I don't talk about that." I forced the words out.
He asked another round of questions meant to systematically wear me down. Graphic and horrible. I sat silent. Looking out over the Bayous, looking for a piece of me.
"Time for dinner!" his voice boomed. He stood up.
"Elks Club! There's a dance."
I went. In a silent childhood speechless daze, I went.
It was Halloween. People wore magical costumes. Mardi Gras costumes. They were so warm, jolly. They talked to me. I was the shy child in the wonderland of another culture. A woman in a fairy costume sat next to me and asked if I wanted to dance. I said yes. I watched her whirl around, her gossamer wings seemed real. She laughed and held my hands.
The man came onto the dance floor and said we had to go. I left with him We drove to his house. He yelled at me. He told me I was disgusting. He told me I liked being assaulted as a child. And now I was a pervert for dancing with a woman. He loomed over me, judge and jury. The demons of my life danced around his head.
"We're leaving tonight!" He bellowed.
I ran out to the water. In the dark, I kneeled at the edge of creation. I threw my tears at the delta. I reached my hand into the mud and wiped it on my jeans. I found that missing piece of me in the dirt, the terror, the silent room of a child who had been given over. It would get darker after that, but not for long.
The bayous returned that piece of me, had held it close, and set me free.
by Robin Sneed, From The American Daughter