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Sometimes the Stranger...

Trigger Warning: Allusion to Sexual Assault, Predators

He bought me Kiss cake with the pink icing and an orange orchard. I sat with my legs in long pink jeans pants, wrapped around his neck, head to the cloud and hands holding the top of his head as we walked up the road from the shop. My mother was frantic. She and my uncle looking for me, because I was missing. At 6, I didn’t think of safety or had a clear understanding that family can be monsters too. You may think that they just happen to show love differently. I didn’t know him well. He only visited once in a blue moon. I remembered being 13 and reading my first letter from him, on a yellow page with lines. Every line filled with apologies of missing out on my aging and hopes that we never forgot what he looked like but my brain could barely remember.

I remember Mother’s Day, the set alarm from a Nokia 1112 being replaced by loud banging on the front door. A rush out of bed to stand on the couch to look through the glass on the front door. Men in suits, with mean faces. They came to take him away but he wasn’t here. The next time I see him is years from then. How do you treat a stranger who smiles loudly like you? Who calls your mom, mom? Who speaks politely and says sorry after each word, and bows their head for acceptance?

I’ve learnt how pain and vileness can look. It can look innocent. It can look like a stranger who smiles loudly like you, who calls your mom, mom; who speaks politely and says sorry after each word and bows their head for acceptance.

When you read of their crimes, your stomach will fold into itself, everything will gain a kinda clarity you never knew possible, like why your mother sent out a search party when he took you to a shop or why you never knew him or saw him often. You learn how to shed the guilt of the commonness, the supposed closeness and not let it consume your identity.

In the Caribbean, you will be shocked at the statistics that show how many of us really have some form of relations to those who ignore consent. As we get older we see how we are bonded by trauma, a past of violence and hurt. You learn that forgiveness isn’t necessary to healing nor to existing. You can forgive if you want to but it is not necessary. You learn how to have a chosen family, to design your family tree with sticks and stones that hold you up instead of breaking you.

You learn that sometimes, the stranger can be your brother, your uncle, your father, your grandfather and even a family friend.

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