I just want the voices to. . . stop. It’s easy to believe that any state other the one I’m in would be better.
Two days later—I want the voices back, the silence is unsettling. It doesn’t sit right in my stomach. There is only room for one kind of empty in there. It has been three days since the white man had his way with me. I was on my way to River Ewaso Ng’iro when it happened.
The unforgiving sun was raging and the minute pieces of sand etched into my skin only contributed to the pain. Maybe if I could lay as still as possible the grains of sand wouldn’t move and lodge themselves into new patches of flesh. But every shove and heave created new scars. As if in rebellion, the tears that had welled up refused to flow down my cheeks and stayed in my eyes creating a stinging sensation.
I focused on trying to control what I couldn’t. But, I couldn’t drown out the sound of his moans and groans with my racing thoughts. So I tried to look out into the horizon and as if to mock me all I could see was the sleeve of his camouflage jacket in the corner of my eye. The thick trunk of the baobab tree was nothing but a blur. Eventually, I found that if I just lay there, made no effort to move it would be significantly yet slightly less painful.
Then it all stopped and I had the slightest glimmer of hope that maybe it had all been a terrible dream and I was just about to wake up.
R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r. He pulled his zipper closed. Clink. Clink. Clink. A few coins fell to the ground. I must have lain there for hours because my older sister found me on the ground thighs still spread apart and pulled me up to my feet.
“Mama will be furious. Let’s go home. She’s been waiting for that water for hours. Make sure you clean up before she sees you. We don’t need another disgrace in this family.”
But I can’t bear to deal with deciphering the meaning behind the words. Everyone says them: to me, at me and behind my back. So I’ll get comfortable in the silence, hope it will be better—it has to be.
Maybe I’ll find that silence isn’t empty but full of answers.