I know I said Sherita was an ugly girl and that remains true. I am not saying I was all that and a bag of chips because I was not. I was just a short, thin-framed girl but I did have something that Sherita would never have — long, thick, naturally-beautiful, dark brown hair, flawless caramel-brown skin and a gorgeous smile. Yeah, yeah, she had thighs, legs and a big butt, but that is all she had going for her and I believe she already knew that. Sherita’s and my birthday came around, both were in April. Hers on April 21st and mine on the 24th but she was a year older than I.
Esther decided to take me to the doctor to get my ears pierced for my eighth birthday. I was excited that I was going to be able to wear earrings. Big Momma had purchased a cute white dress for me to wear on my special day but before I could go get my ears pierced and wear my birthday outfit, I had to get my hair washed and pressed. The only thing I did not care for was getting my hair hot combed and because my hair was long and thick it seemed like it took forever. My hair had to be done this way on a weekly basis because I had “grade N” hair, that is, nappy.
After my hair was done and gorgeous, we went to the clinic to get my ears pierced. The nurse put silver studs into both of my ears and I must say the earrings enhanced my appearance. You could not tell me anything at this point. After being blessed with my new earrings, Esther took Sherita, Pauline and me out to dinner and a movie for our birthday.
Things were not always bad around the house, but you can bet your last dollar if trouble happened, Sherita’s name was all over it. One of those bad days sure came into that house unexpectedly, a day I can never forget and I know Sherita can never forget it either.
We were on our way home from school on a warm day, when Sherita and I came across a stranger. Our school was only a block away from the house and there was a vacant lot that many of us would use as a shortcut as we went home. We were walking down the hill of this empty lot, with Sherita ahead of me, when a young man approached Sherita. She stopped and they began talking to one another.
I was looking at this young man, who I definitely knew was not near our age, but something was familiar about him. He started walking and Sherita began walking behind him as if she was following him. I started speed walking to catch up with her and asked if she knew him. She said as clear as day, “Yes, just come on” and I assumed everything was okay. But everything was far from okay.
The next thing I knew, Sherita and I were in a dark garage with this young man. He put a knife up to Sherita’s throat and told me to sit down and cover my eyes. I put my hands over my face but peeked through my fingers as he sexually assaulted Sherita. He made her take off her pants and underwear and unbutton her blouse then made her lay on that dirty ground where he assaulted her. I remember him kissing her and rubbing his hands all over her body. I could see Sherita was scared because he still had that knife at her throat. He would look over at me to see if my eyes were still covered.
I could not believe what was happening and hoped that I was not next to be touched, or worse he would kill us both. The worst report a neighborhood could hear on the nightly news was that two young girls were sexually assaulted and found dead in a garage directly across the street from their house.
After the stranger finished, he told Sherita to get dressed and for us to wait in the garage for twenty minutes after he left and that we’d better not tell anyone what he had just done. We did as we were told and came out of the garage with both of us looking to make sure he was gone as we ran across the street to the house. Sherita was crying as she told her family the horrible thing that just happened to her on our way home from school. They asked us who it was, where it happened, what happened, and so forth.
The police were called to the scene and everybody was still in shock about the news they just heard as the police questioned us about the man’s description. I can still recall how he looked as if it was yesterday.
Remember when I said I did not know him, but he looked familiar? He was about 5’7”, medium built, light-skinned complexion with red freckles and a reddish-color afro. He was just red! I know there are little sayings like all black people look alike or everybody has a twin. Whatever the case may be, he looked just like the uninvited young man who was in our apartment when my family moved into Stateway Gardens.
Hey, let’s look at this — Big Momma’s house was on 58th and LaSalle and Stateway Gardens was on 39th and State. It is not far because State Street is only two streets away from LaSalle Street. Therefore, there is a possibility that this could be the same person.
Just when I thought things could not get any worse than they already were, guess what — they did. Guess who was in the kitchen being interrogated by the family about what happened to Sherita? Can you believe they were now blaming this rape on an eight year old? They asked me, “Where were you? Why didn’t you get any help? How did you let this happen?” Excuse me? I was in tears because I could not understand why they were blaming all of this on me. Hello, I might not have been sexually assaulted but I was a victim too! And it could have been worse – we were both still alive! I can understand their anger and frustration but blaming it on the foster child was not the answer.
What hurt me most was when Sherita told her family that she did tell me to go and get help. They asked me if what she said was true, and I said the true answer was no, she did not. I kept telling them exactly what happened but they did not seem to be listening to a word I was saying. I looked at them and wondered why they were not asking Sherita who this person was that she was openly talking to, as if she knew him. What did he tell her that would cause her to follow him in the first place? I mean, he didn’t have anything in his hand that was a threat to her, so why? She was the one that was older and should have known better. Oh, believe me I was cursing them out real well in my mind. It was not my fault y’all did not teach her not to talk to strangers. Ms. Brown taught her baby girl! You can bet that man would not have gotten two words out of me, much less a damn look. But all I could do was sit there crying; wishing all of this would go away.
A couple days later, we went down to the police station to try to identify the young man. They gave Sherita and me some books that were filled with mug shots of different male individuals but unfortunately he was not in any of the books.
Eventually things died down and we moved to a courtyard apartment unit on 69th and Cornell. I cannot recall what apartment floor we resided on but I know I was now attending another school for my third grade year. This school was Parkside Elementary at 6938 South East End Avenue. I don’t remember the teacher’s name or what he or she looked like because I didn’t stay long enough to keep memory of it but for some strange reason I remember the school’s name and where we lived.
Passed Around By Man But Not Passed Over By God Chontate Brown Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved.