Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

It seemed to happen overnight for me.

One moment, I am practically invisible, just the way I liked it.

Being able to quietly and unobtrusively go about my business by day or night. Walking out in the world with my thoughts on things other than the chaotic house I resided in.

Suddenly, it all changed.

Outside, dirty faced boys say things to me I don’t even understand, using words that sound like a bad thing.

Inside, greasy, slippery grins from men who I have been instructed to call “Uncle” .

Uncles that have known my parents for years.  Friends.  Boyfriends of my Mother’s friends.

Uncles that always made me nervous; giving me that tickling feeling against my stomach and ribcage.

Being pushed towards them for the bedtime ritual.

“Go ahead. Give everyone a kiss and hug goodnight.”

Slithering accidental brushes of fingers, hands, arms, upon me.

Breath that reeks of tobacco and whiskey and hair that stinks of Brylcreem.

Big rough calloused hands patting your flannel covered bottom, just a little stray dragging of the nails or fingertips, on the sly. Hugs so tight I can’t breathe, while they measure, deduce, calculate the changes, the growth spurt.

Doing as I’m told and then vomiting as quietly as I can in the bathroom and wiping the wet sleeve of my kitten-patterned pyjamas all over my lips and chin and neck and cheeks with a sliver of soap.

Trying to scrub away the smell so that I can sleep that night.

Dreams of the day I am so big that I don’t have to let people I am scared of touch me.

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