"Sit in my hand." I'm ten. I can't see him, but I hear him breathing in the dark. It's after dinner playtime. We're outside, hidden by trees and shrubbery. He calls it hide-and-seek, but only my little sister seeks us as we hide and she can't find us, as grandfather picks me up and rubs his hands between my legs. I only feel a vague stirring at the edge of my consciousness. I don't know what it is, but I like it. It gives me pleasure that I can't identify. It's not like eating candy, but it's just as bad, because I had to lie to grandmother when she asked, "What do you do out there?" "Where?" I answered. Then I said, "Oh, play hide-and-seek." She looked hard at me, then she said, "That was the last time. I'm stopping that game." So it ended and I forgot. Ten years passed, thirtyfive, when I began to reconstruct the past. When I asked myself why I was attracted to men who disgusted me I traveled back through time to the dark and heavy breathing part of my life I thought was gone, but it had only sunk from view into the quicksand of my mind. It was pulling me down and there I found grandfather waiting, his hand outstretched to lift me up, naked and wet where he rubbed me. "I'll do anything for you," he whispered, "but let you go." And I cried, "Yes," then "No." "I don't understand how you can do this to me. I'm only ten years old," and he said, "That's old enough to know."
From Dread by Ai. Copyright © 2003 by Ai. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.