Eight – by Mary Gustafson


We were in it together.


Me. And him.

You were Eight!

I wasn’t supposed to cross the dam my parents told me.

He was at least twenty years older than you!

I should not have been there in the first place.

You were the victim.

I should have run.

You didn’t know.

I could have fought.

You were EIGHT.


After the woods, I follow orders, muddy little kid feet in stirrups. Thick rubber fingers prod metal spreads.

A ceiling blob is a kitten. I decide: exposure is death.

I cut my cheeks with razor blades burn diary pages in my parent’s powder blue bathroom kiss big boys the French way in fourth grade diet, screw myself small, and lock the manhole cover. Never let insides out again!

My privates shimmy down round playground poles.

I liked some of it.

That’s normal.

I want that feeling back I kiss bigger and bigger boys. When I am ten, I feel old.

I was eight.




Mary Gustafson is the author of My Wish, The Story of a Man who brought Happiness to America, a writing coach, copywriter and blogger. She describes herself as an author with a long childhood, which has been transformed into productive fodder with therapy, mindful practices and time.  You can find Mary at maryswriting.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.