I take up smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and deciding to become a writer rather naturally followed suit. I am still nine years old, going on thirty. Books and words. My measure of peace. As a writer, I understand one must know all the rules before one can break the rules, and one must know why. Why. Why doesn't anyone see? Why doesn't someone stop it? Anybody. Somebody?
We move again. My mother fights to keep me in the same school though we are "out of district." She wins; it is not my mother's fault I am lost. I space a lot. I am not present, even when I am. On the way to and from school, I walk in front of a lot of moving cars. Perhaps I really have died, and gone to hell, and someone just forgot to tell me. Just another cruel joke.
Grade Four. Friday morning, school assembly. "Our Father, who art in Heaven". Where art thou, Our Mother, in those fine words? For another teenaged boy has taught me it takes two to go forth and multiply, a male and a female, to "do it right." I was ten years old. And it hurt. I cannot forgive his trespasses. Ten would rather steal and lie and break the golden rule like my hymen and die, than have anyone including God know she knows how to do it right.
Grade Five: was horrible. Just joking. Nothing happened. I skipped it right to Grade Six. The school wishes to accelerate me, again, into Grade Eight. My mother, instinctively, and wisely, refuses. I am already at least two years younger than most of my classmates, and older than most will ever be. At age eleven, I am incested, again, this time by-two cousins. My grades at school improve, though I tend to daydream a lot.
I am tired. I sleep too much. The nightmares began long ago. I sleep too little. The nightmares never stop. I wake up in Grade Eight. Geometry: childhood, and a childhood of sexual abuse, are transverse lines on different planes, i.e., at no point do the lines ever intersect. And the shortest distance between two points is NOT a straight line--if one can avoid the bully by taking the longest way 'round, and the punishment for coming late to class.
I wake up in "Health" Education. Definition of a bully: the boy who hurts you "because he really likes you." I was very "well liked." Sexual abuse and incest are not discussed in Health Education; it's only the 1970s. The lecture on reproduction and menstruation, however, is co-ed. How controversial. My menstrual cycle begins; I fall out of my desk at school once, twice, even three times a month. Even my body is betrayal. I go to sleep in Grade Eight Math: I am Boolean Theory. And, I already know that freedom of choice is inversely proportional to gender. (I applied, with two other girls, to the elementary Industrial Arts Program. We were refused by the principal: "You girls will distract the boys, and it's against policy." I concede; it is against school policy to be a girl. I am having too many panic attacks in the halls and at home to take on another fight anyway.)
I move on to the halls of high school. Grade Nine: was horrible; really. My teachers all call me "precocious." I wonder why. My boyfriend is the twenty-three year old guy who stops me on the way to and from school for sex-on-demand. My eldest brother has introduced me to marijuana, and thinks it's wonderful that I'm so sexually active, and suggests, as he strokes my hair, that I move on soon to the wonders of the birth control pill. My promiscuous period begins. I skip a lot of classes. I pass Grade Nine with flying colours.
I am not tired. I am hungry. I sleep all the time; I refuse to eat. I am sent home from school occasionally because I "look anaemic." The term "anorexia nervosa" has apparently not been discovered yet. I am fifteen, and I am in Grade Eleven. I am different. In every way, I am different. (Did everybody but me wait until they were seven before they started school?) I am suddenly sixteen.
I go to school, I go to work, I go home, I go to work, I go on dates, I go to school. I like the schoolwork itself, but I am afraid of the place and the people; I like the work itself, and I especially like the paycheques, but I am afraid of the people and the place; I date, but I only date men ten or twenty years older than myself; I like to be at home, as little as possible. I do my algebra homework sitting alone in the hallway at school. In class, the boy sitting directly across from me is constantly demanding my notebook with my answers.