Before I get to my life-altering moment, thank you for all your contributions on the last post. Some of you have AMAZING moments, it’s interesting to see what has really affected us all.
And on the topic of life-altering moments, my friend gave birth and said goodbye to her little boy who she named Kotaro, the kanji for his name is tiger and I can only imagine it’s because he put up such a fight to live. I’m heartbroken for my friend and tried to offer her my condolences the best I could. She refused the pain relief they offered her (epidurals are rare in Japan) because she wanted to remember every moment of what it was like to give birth and be a mother...Life-altering indeed.
My life-altering moment was only life-altering after the fact, years later, when I realised how things could have gone had the moment actually turned into what it was heading to. At the time, I knew it wasn’t normal, it was scary, really scary, but I never knew how close I came to what would have turned my life upside-down causing a chain-reaction of guilt and remorse for not only me. Most people are affected by what happened, but luckily I was affected by what didn’t happen.
I was 10 years old at the time, not a young 10, but 10 all the same. A kid. A child. I didn’t think it at the time but I now look at a 10 year old and see that I was still a little girl. Despite being a little girl, I desperately wanted to be a teenager, having a 15 year old sister will do that, she got so many more perks than I did: make-up, boys, late nights… I wanted it all, so I tried so hard to ignore the urges to still play with dolls and instead followed suit and plastered my walls with New Kids on the Block posters and put beads in my hair. My sister wasn’t particularly fond of my efforts but she tolerated me all the same, some times more than others.
The day in question, my sister was going to the movies with her girlfriends, and I decided I HAD to go too. She didn’t want to take me but her girlfriends thought I was cute, like a little adoring puppy, and along with my mum, who no doubt wanted a kid-free house for the afternoon, (don’t blame her now I have kids!) encouraged her to take me along. So my sister decided if I was to tag along then she would be my stylist and put me in a skirt way shorter than I would usually wear and did my make-up so I didn’t look so incredibly dorky. I felt so grown-up and beamed with pride as we all made our way through the shopping mall to the movie theatre. When we got there my sister informed me that they were going to see a movie that was rated 15+ so I had to lie about my age.
Now this is when I started getting nervous, I’ve probably mentioned before that I was an extremely nervous kid and I hated breaking or even bending rules like this. I’m totally the opposite now, I’m not sure how I grew out of it, but I did! So my sister made me recite my fake date of birth a few times and then shoved me up to the counter. The ticket lady didn’t ask my date of birth but she looked down on us over her glasses and said “You know this movie is 15+ ladies don’t you?” I must have looked incredibly guilty, but luckily my sister grabbed the tickets and we were on our way into the theatre. Just how mental I was as a kid now starts to really come out, I got so paranoid that the ushers were going to come in during the movie and remove me by the scruff of the neck, I got more and more nervous imagining what was going to happen and started to feel sick. How fucked up is that?! We’d been through the hard part but I still couldn’t shake the fear of getting in trouble and left the theatre about 10 minutes into the movie. I tried to whisper furiously to my sister that I was going outside but she was so angry at me for being a pain that she ignored me.
I walked out feeling better being out of the jaws of trouble, but then had an hour and a half to kill by myself in town. A few years later and it would have been a nice relaxing break at a coffee shop, but remember I was 10, I had no money, no phone, nothing to do, nowhere to go. So I sat on the steps of the movie theatre for a while, until a man came and talked to me. It wasn’t that unusual for a man to talk to me, I lived in a smallish city and people are pretty friendly, but something about this guy gave me the creeps. I can see him in my head now, he was an ethnic looking (am I allowed to say that!?) guy who seemed really old to me at the time but now I think about it he was probably in his late 30’s or early 40’s. He was fat, and wore lots of chunky gold jewelry. His horrible fake-looking gold watch pushed in to the roll of fat cushioning his wrist, it looked like a fat Italian sausage. He had an accent too, but I can’t really remember his voice. He talked to me for long enough that I started to feel uncomfortable, there was nothing to talk about and he started telling me I was so pretty, why was I alone? Like a 10 year old does, I told him the truth that my sister was inside the movie theatre.
The details are sketchy, it was 18 years ago, but I remember that some kind of warning bell went off in my head, he was getting more and more pushy, and said that we could go to his car and wait for my sister somewhere warm. How could I have known it at the time, that this sick cunt was trying to lure me away to do fuck knows what. I sometimes dream that I’ll see him again, which would be highly likely if I lived in my hometown, but I still have the image of him as he was burned in my brain, I almost definitely wouldn’t recognise him.
After I kept refusing to go with him, he touched my leg with the back of his hand, the way you stroke a pet that you’re not quite sure is friendly, we were still on the theatre steps in plain sight so I still felt safe, but not safe enough. Not quite enough in danger to scream either, I wasn’t really brought up to be hysterical, not a good thing as it turned out. My instincts were taking over though; I had the sense to tell him I had to go home and stood up to go. I remember he grabbed my hand and said “Nooo, not go yet, we still talking!” But I was getting really scared and pulled my hand away and started walking. I didn’t want to look behind me as I went, if he was following me I would have panicked, so I said a prayer in my head as I walked briskly up the hill, ‘Please Jesus, let him go away. Please Jesus, let him just go away…’ I went into the nearest department store, David Jones, and hovered in the perfume section, but I felt so awkward, a 10 year old doesn’t browse the fucking perfume aisle. I was still so scared, and my heart stopped as I saw the fat guy in the lobby of the department store looking around for me. He’d followed me, and now I was fucked.
My face must have been bright red, I think I was whimpering slightly too, but I still didn’t have the sense to tell someone. I often wonder why, I think I thought about it but I was too embarrassed, like they would laugh at me or something, which of course they wouldn’t have. I was still thinking about what to do when his eyes met mine and he started walking towards me, my legs just wouldn’t move, somehow I felt that if I ran away it would make it real that he was chasing me and even more scary. He came over and put his arm around my waist. “Heyyy, where you go, silly girl!?” I just had no idea what to say to him, I wriggled out of his hold and said my mother was meeting me here, I just called her from a payphone. Finally! A bit of sense on my part. But I shouldn’t have needed sense, I was fucking 10 years old. I felt it was my fault, I’d wanted to go to the movies, I’d worn a short skirt, I was tall and looked older, so he wasn’t bad, it was me. I saw very clearly how victims of abuse blame themselves, hell, I wasn’t even a victim and I’d made a whole heap of excuses for this sicko blaming myself.
I can’t remember what happened after that, I think he got scared and left, I know I stayed in that busy perfume department for a long time, there was something comforting about all the women around me. I finally cautiously made my way back to the theatre where my sister was waiting for me, angry because she didn’t know where I had been. I told her what happened, probably in a really calm, innocent voice and she had the years of experience to know that it had been a dicey situation. She instantly hugged me and said sorry, followed quickly by, “DON’T tell mum!!”
And I didn’t, but I often think of that day. What would have happened if I’d gotten in his car? Would I have been so messed up from that experience that I couldn’t function? Would he have actually done anything? How am I going to protect my kids from people like this?? I hate to think about this guy, he had to have done it before, or since then. Scary…