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8 February 2006
It was such a long time ago. Maybe I was 13. I hadn't been babysitting for very long and technically I don't know if I was actually babysitting (unsupervised) yet, though his mother let me take R.E. to the park in the afternoons, especially when his sister was a baby and the mother wanted time without a toddler and a baby around. I don't remember if he was old enough to walk all the way to the park or if he was in a stroller. He was old enough to talk, so he probably was walking at that time, and not in a stroller. I simply can't remember.
The boy was Oriental. I can only barely remember him. I remember turning the corner from Union St. to Hyde Street, walking up the slight hill which paralleled the cable car tracks. That was the corner where I waited for the cable car in the morning when I was on my way to school. It only cost 15 cents then and I got a discount for being a student.
The reservoir was about three blocks away. There wasn't a huge playground there. Just the reservoir, and nearby small park with a sandbox. I don't think there were swings.
As I made the turn onto Hyde Street, I saw him for the first time. I recall he was wearing dark clothes and that he had kind of a strange loping/swinging gait. I thought it odd that he seemed to be looking me across the street as R.E. and I made our way slowly up the hill to the Reservoir. Warning bells went off in my head, but I ignored them.
At some point he must have disappeared because I had forgotten about him by the time we reached the Reservoir and began to walk past it down to the little park.
It was a very small park and rarely had any people in it, and this day was no exception. I didn't see any people on my walk to the little park and the park itself was deserted.
I put R.E. in the sandbox and we were filling a bucket with sand when the Oriental boy leaped out of the bushes in front of me and made a grab for my breast.
I picked R.E. up and held him close too my chest, pleading "Please! Just leave me alone!"
But he continued to advance, trying to grab me, while I continued to back away.
I think I screamed "NO!" I must have screamed. I can't imagine why else he turned and ran away. The park was surrounded by apartment buildings and maybe those were the days when someone might have cared about the screams of a frightened girl being attacked by a stranger.
But for whatever reason, he turned and ran.
I was shaking like a leaf and we left the park immediately, me watching over my shoulder the whole time wondering if he would appear again, sticking to the main street so there would be other people around.
Nothing happened, but I think back on my reaction to the whole brief incident and how odd it was.
I impressed on R.E. over and over again the importance of saying nothing to his parents. He agreed (but then he was just a little kid and didn't follow my instructions after all).
I got home and I was terrified to tell my parents. To this day I don't know why. I had done nothing wrong; I could have been raped and managed somenow to escape yet somehow I was filled with guilt about it. I had never seen the boy before. Maybe I felt guilty for continuing on to the park even though I had seen this guy following me. Maybe I was afraid my father would be angry with me for allowing myself to be caught in that situation even after the warning bells had gone off.
But it never occurred to me that anything bad could happen to me, so I saw no reason not to continue on up to the park, and the boy had disappeared before we got to the park.
It was during dinner that night when the phone call from R.E.'s mother came. She asked if something had happened at the park because R.E. kept talking about a "bad man."
And so the story came out and, in all honesty, I don't remember anything beyond the phone call with R.E.'s mother and my fear that my parents would figure out from what I was saying to her what had happened.
I think I minimized it to R.E.'s mother, too, leaving out the part about how terrified I was, about how the guy had grabbed at my breast, about how I had screamed.
I think about that day, from time to time, when I watch shows on television about young rape victims and their sometimes seeming unrealistic reaction to the event.
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Sacramento is the City of Camellias