Iowa Writes

RITA
My sister Rose


     Early in my life I encountered things I should not have had to. When I was 13, I wasn't allowed to go to parties unless I was with my wonderful responsible sister, Rosemary. This wasn't working because she was a slut and I wasn't "putting out." I was waiting for the right guy. One time we were at the YMCA in North Omaha— this was a Friday night thing to do, everyone got dressed up and either caught the city bus for a quarter or got a ride from friends. It cost a quarter to get into the dance. The night wound down after boys and girls danced and flirted with their sweethearts. There were wallflowers who were too shy to leave their safety zone but we all had a good time. Teenagers were milling around saying their good byes and stealing those last unsupervised kisses that would keep your heart aching until you were together again. I was planning on riding home with some of my girlfriends form Council Bluffs. "Heavy D" and Maxi were going to take us home. These were good friends who I knew I could trust.

     Early in my life I encountered things I should not have had to. When I was 13, I wasn't allowed to go to parties unless I was with my wonderful responsible sister, Rosemary. This wasn't working because she was a slut and I wasn't "putting out." I was waiting for the right guy. One time we were at the YMCA in North Omaha— this was a Friday night thing to do, everyone got dressed up and either caught the city bus for a quarter or got a ride from friends. It cost a quarter to get into the dance. The night wound down after boys and girls danced and flirted with their sweethearts. There were wallflowers who were too shy to leave their safety zone but we all had a good time. Teenagers were milling around saying their good byes and stealing those last unsupervised kisses that would keep your heart aching until you were together again. I was planning on riding home with some of my girlfriends form Council Bluffs. "Heavy D" and Maxi were going to take us home. These were good friends who I knew I could trust.
     Enter Sister Rose. She wanted to ride with Leonard Franklin. I did not like him or his friends; they were much older. Rose said I had to go with her. Instead of taking me home, they drove us to Hummel Park on the North Side of Omaha near the old Mormon bridge. This was a densely wooded area where the road into the park spiraled up and leveled off as you made your way up the hill. There were snakes, raccoons and other feral animals. There were rumors of cougars and even bodies in the spring when the snow melted. Some of these cases have never been solved. This is the plight I found myself in. I did not realize it but as we drove two cars followed us. I thought I would have to sit through a make-out session between Rose and Leonard. Instead of going through all the wonderful things that happened that night, like the feeling of being held during a slow dance or the flirting that went on with a guy that didn't really impress me, or dancing with my favorite fast-dance partner, Eli Jackson, or finally being accepted by a group of girls from North Omaha. No I had to sit and actually talk to a bunch of old guys. If only that that was what happened.
     Leonard drove up into the pitch-black park. You could hear the noises from the crickets and the animals in the woods. I lost track of where we were because the road spiraled and branched off in different directions. I finally noticed we were being followed when he pulled off the road. Car doors began to slam and I heard men's voices. I wondered if we were going to be beat up or even murdered. Leonard and the other guys got out of their cars, I told Rose, I wanted to get out of here, even if I had to walk home in the dark.
     Her response? "Shut up" I was angry and I was scared. I knew that whatever was happening was going to be bad and there was no one to help me. I wish I had had enough anger to make me run or enough to fight, but I wasn't strong enough.
     I don't know who all these "men" were. My hands were held by someone and my feet were held by someone else. Though I managed to kick free a few times, this just got me a slap to the face and to the head. My clothes were ripped and torn and then I was raped by the scum of the earth. I screamed and fought as well as I could, but eventually all I could do was lay there and cry as these trash bastards spilled their filthy seed into my body one after another. At last it was over. I cowered on the floor of the car. I remember Rose sitting on the front seat next to Leonard as if nothing had happened. I don't remember hearing her voice at all during this entire ordeal. Did this only happen to me? Was she a willing participant? Did she set me up? We were let out of the car a few blocks from home. I remember trying to hold my skirt together and feeling the fluids that were still wet starting to dry and stiffen the fabric. I don't remember what was said that night, but I was smuggled into the house. I couldn't tell my parents what had happened. I don't remember if Rose threatened me or what but I knew I could never tell. From that day forward I hated Rose.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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RITA

Rita was a prisoner at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women when she wrote this piece, which was read during a public performance in Shambaugh Auditorium
by the Women in Exile Project.

The Women in Exile Project is a collaboration between the women at the Iowa correctional Institute for Women, volunteers from the Women's Resource and Action Center, the Women's Archive at the University of Iowa Libraries and the Art Education Department at the University of Iowa. The project has worked with a select group of women at ICIW to publish a series of memoirs and images. The memoirs will become a part of the Women's Archive and the images part of a permanent collection located at the Women's Resource and Action Center.

UI Change Project Blog

This page was first displayed
on March 04, 2011

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