LittleMe will be referred to as Lm now. She is unable to dig so deep or pour out more from her soggy memoirs alone. To cope with her existance she must remain in her stairwell where one step is cozy, padded with warm blankets and her grandmother’s heart and love still embraces her. ROCK has always been here and is going to walk her road leading up to NOW slowly. She must have quiet, a safe space, love and mostly her story must be told so she can trust herself to move forward. I am ROCK, sound and steady; Lm has leaned on me for decades and you will hear only TRUTH. As a young teenager Lm was beginning to sink into a very dark and sad place. She had so many reasons to do so but noone noticed. She changed from an awkward thirteen year old with an overbite and bowed banana legs to a beautiful girl over one summer. When she returned to middle school she quickly gained much attention and had no idea how to handle it. She knew how to joke and that is what she used as her mask to entertain her friends and get through the dramas that unrolled each day both at school and with her own family. I don’t think she even knew she was in rocky waters and her friendships had been split between groups, the nerds, the jocks and now the “heads”. Heads was the slang term for a wilder gang, they smoked cigarettes and weed and some were rumored to have “gone all the way” in their relationships. Her passions for her roles in the drama club, the school newspaper, track and maintaining honor role status began to waiver. Girls traveled in pairs or clusters and the wall flowers who once were her closest pals began to disperse. From a slumber party with the highest ranking girls in her class in 7th grade to being called a “Fox” and whistled at in the 8th grade was something she did not know how to handle. A boy from Battle Creek, Michigan had moved to her town in Tennessee. He had instant popularity with the “heads” and was also on the football team. He started the beginning of her popularity and although she did not feel good inside, the attention from other students was both positive and yet a disaster. In her heaviest box marked “teens” each year seemed an eternity; a haze of bad things fired off like a war between Lm’s need to be loved and wanted and her desperate attempts to have a supportive family. She wanted to feel anything, something good and escape the hellish thoughts accrueing from her childhood. A hell that is only to be told for what it was, not to place blame on anyone particular. It was just fucking rotten, non stop self abuse and a sheer struggle to survive in a world she knew little about. It was 1978 and girls were called “hot”, “smokin'” and “ripe”. Lm felt no difference inside; she still longed for BaDDaD’s visits and stopped talking to her mother and step-father all together. She also began to run miles a day and eat just enough to keep her mother off her back. Her weak point was Doritos; she would consume an entire bag then do 200 sit-ups on her sky blue carpeted bedroom floor. Her room was so tidy that her friends and family were shocked. This was really Me, ROCK taking control. I kept her from remembering the drunken nights and awful memories with her father so she could get out of bed each morning. She began to don copious amounts of make-up, had Farrah Fawcett “wings” which she sprayed heavy with Aqua Net so they wouldn’t move all day. She could actually lift them up on each side of her scalp as two seperate pieces and they indeed looked like the wings of a bird, stiff yet flightless. Lm was in a church youth group which pleased her mother and being in the southern “Bible belt” this was not uncommon amongst her friends. It is actually here where the mischief began and the church itself is where she would first be hit on by someone other than BaDDaD. She began babysitting a lot and loved children very much. One of her regulars was a couple from church with two little ones and they would stay out late and she often dozed off on their sofa. One night the pair came home and the mother smelled like alcohol as did the father. They paid her and he said he would drive her home as usual. She was nervous because of her experiences with BaDDaD’s drunk driving and almost called her mother but he said, “No, why wake her now?”; the window was cracked slightly and he smoked a cigarette and as they came to her street he drove passed her house and went to the dead end circle. Lm told him he’d missed her drive. He threw the cigarette out the window and then leaned over and put one hand between her legs and the other on her shoulder, pushing himself closer, he leaned in to kiss her. “Stop!” she yelled and he retreated, apologizing saying she was so irresistible as if it were a compliment. His name was Mr. Bradbury, a regular member of the First Christan Church. When she got home he put his finger over her mouth and said, “shhh”. She nodded and ran up the wrought iron side stairwell to her back door, slipping in quietly she peeked out through the curtained window for his car to drive away and sat with her beloved dog Bridget-Marie on the kitchen floor. She felt dirty and sick. Her mother came out of her room and said how late it was and that she’d left some cling peaches for her in the fridge. Lm kissed her mother’s cheek and slowly ate the peaches and then drank the sweet syrup from the bowl. Her dog followed her to brush her teeth and into her room and into bed, curling up beside her as if she knew Lm felt sad. Days passed into weeks and autumn was often very warm in Tennessee. Her new youth group leader lived in an apartment complex not too far from her house and she could have easily walked but her mother insisted on driving her there in the dark. This apartment complex is also where the new boy from Battle Creek, Michigan and his family lived. In school he had talked to her often and she knew he liked her. She had never been liked and pursued as much except by one church boy Jimmy. Once while talking outside of the church one night he reached out and grabbed both of her breasts and smashed his braces into hers with a slobbery unwanted attempt at a kiss. It was grotesque she recalled. He had also on Valentine’s Day had his mother drive to her house with flowers and Lm’s mother had to force her out of her room to the door and smile as she politely received them. Her mother waved at the other mother who sat in her car chatting away to her and Lm reluctantly took the flowers. He was a nice boy. He was a good church boy and her mother liked him. The Battle Creek boy was not a small suburban boy from a church going family. He had sandy unkempt hair, wore cut off jean shorts and no shirt and had shown on the front steps over the summer and asked to see Lm and her mother just said, “where are your clothes?”. He asked Lm if she wanted to go on a bike ride with him. She explained to him that she had plans with a girlfriend for a sleepover and mentioned her church youth group was now being held in the same apartment complex he lived in. It had been moved from the church and would start up again when school started. She invited him. He said he would think about it and to let him know at school when she was going to be down his way. On one warm autumn evening her Mom drove her down after supper and her church pals all gathered around the front entrance to the youth group leader’s apartment. Just as they were to be let in Battle Creek came running up to her and asked her to come see his fish tank and he mentioned his parents weren’t home. Her friends looked at him and she decided to follow him. She asked her friends to not say anything to the others and off she went. The apartment wasn’t bad, it was clean and it had windows overlooking a pool. The glow of the fish tank was a warm goldish hue and she sat cross legged on the sofa. He brought out a tubular shaped object and asked if she had ever used a bong. She said she had not. He asked if she had smoked weed and she lied and said, “of course!”; he explained this was hash and really good stuff and that when he lit the bong the water in the base would make a bubbling sound as she inhaled. He did it first then handed it to Lm. She took in a deep breath and began to cough like she was choking. Battle Creek said that was normal. Within minutes she began to stare into the fish tank and see each fish more closely, in detail, their tiny fins flapping, their unique colors and it was soothing. She then began to worry if it showed on her face that she now had officially become stoned. She looked into the mirror in the entry way and her eyes looked red. She felt heavy and her mouth was dry. Battle Creek said, “you’ve got cotton mouth”. Cotton-mouths were snakes who lived in the the lake in this part of the south. Ick. She began to worry others would notice, especially her mother. Battle Creek assured her that no one would know unless she told them. She looked at the time and realized she must run to the youth group pick-up point and he wanted to follow along. Lm said no way; her mother had already made it clear he was not approved of. At the white pebbled courtyard her church pals asked where she had been and she told them she had gone to see a fish tank. Each week they were to bring a donation to youth group for snacks and she had ten cents in her pocket. Ironically called a dime in America, just like weed was sold, in the school yard, in dime bags. She dropped the silver coin with some president’s head on it down amongst the gravel. She begged her friends to help her find it as she feared she would get into trouble somehow. Lm always had this feeling of being bad, in trouble and not good. As she crawled around on her hands and knees and scowered anxiously for it, her mother drove up. “What are you doing down there?”; Lm nervously told her mother she had lost her dues for youth group. “That’s okay, leave it, just a dime dear.” Stoned for the first time, heavy headed, thirsty and hungry her mother asked questions about who was there and such. Lm answered cautiously all the while fearing her mother would somehow detect she had inhaled from a bong. Up the side stairs they went into the kitchen and there sat a plate of freshly baked peanut butter cookies, her favorite with the criss cross fork mark her mother always imprinted on them. She gave her some milk and she ate and ate and her mother laughed. “I guessed you’d want something since you barely ate at dinner.” Lm usually didn’t eat. She pushed food around on her plate and went running or for long walks after she swallowed anything. This night she went to her room and curled up with her dog and felt new. “I am very, very bad” she thought. Her actions that fall night affirmed her feelings she had carried for years; “I am very terrible after all. Really bad. I am not worth shit”. She fell asleep in her clothes and did not remember her dreams. When she woke for school the next morning she thought about Battle Creek at school. Would he tell? She perfected herself and caught the school bus and when she got off, standing right at bus 31’s spot was Bong boy. He made a squealing sound and his friends watched from the side and he said, “Foxy”. Then he came closer and leaned in and asked her to be his girlfriend. She looked around at all the eyes on her, then back at the sandy haired, brown eyed boy with pimples and said, “yes”. Then he took her hand. The guys looked envious and the smart girls looked bewildered and disapprovingly at her. He was a “head”. He smoked pot. Everyone knew she had crossed a line and she was both happy to be adored by him and confused as she had felt so awkward, alone and sad every minute and now she had her first boyfriend. Why then did she feel so bad? She felt bad because of all that happened from her birth up until then; she was not valued or special. She had a rap sheet that would be miles long if printed out. One bad happening after another and now she could be loved, maybe. This would make it all go away perhaps. Battle Creek opened the school doors for her and she entered feeling completly different than the day before. She felt as if everyone could read her, see her dirtiness and her hash experience in her eyes. New girls who had boyfriend’s began to befriend her and soon they all were couples in training for a very rocky, drama filled year. From there it would escalate so far that she would sink into depths of nothingness where she would no longer care about herself, just be a drowning girl longing for security and someone who would never ever really be there for her. BaDDad. She would fill in her empty heart the holes he’d made with drugs, alcohol and much more. This was the beginning of a broken fairytale. She knew nothing about who she was and became just a needy beggar for love. Her head began to get squirrelly, she didn’t know how to save herself. Lm was on her last good step before she quit eating. Starving for acceptance and afraid of her own life she controlled the one thing she could, her appetite. This was when Lm put me, “ROCK”, forward. I would hide everything for her from then until NOW. I protected her so she could keep on course in her pursuit for belonging, for feeling good and escaping her so very bad, sorrowfully sealed experiences.