There was this boy at school…Kenny Woodruff…who liked her. Trouble was, she didn’t like him. Not even a little bit.
He was nice enough to play with when they were younger, and he lived in one of the big, older houses in the neighbourhood with a second story and old, big trees that were very cool for climbing. His front yard had a really big old pepper tree with a swing and a platform that could be accessed by climbing up slats of wood that had been nailed to the trunk and bigger branches like ladder rungs. You could sit up there alone like a princess in a tower and read or just daydream, hidden away from those mere mortals who congregated below to argue over whose turn it was to play on the swing.
The trouble was, he really liked her. In that kind of boy-girl way that really wasn’t hugely interesting to her. She actually liked his younger brother, Kevin, better. She and Kevin were the same age and Kenny was two years older, even though he was in her grade. He had been held back a year in elementary school and she had skipped a grade. He should be in the ninth grade, she should be in the seventh…they were both in the eighth, although they really didn’t have any classes together…they hadn’t since starting junior high. They’d been in the same fifth and sixth grade classrooms, but in junior high she was in the advanced classes and Kenny was not. But she saw him every day on the school bus and he took it upon himself to walk her to and from the bus every day, despite her attempts to discourage him. It was a blessing when Kevin got to junior high because now he joined them, despite Kenny’s attempts to discourage him. She was, it seemed, the object of Kenny’s romantic dreams, her own feelings notwithstanding.
This was one of those rare times when it was very useful to have a famously difficult mother. She could easily ditch Kenny at the front gate simply by saying that her mother would kill her if she let a boy in. It took him several months to wonder how her mother would know and when he suspiciously asked, she just shrugged. “The neighbours spy for my mother,” she said, nodding in the direction of the house directly across the street…the first house on the block to have a true plate glass picture window, and home of the most notorious gossip on the block, Carolyn Reede. “My mother plays pinochle with Mrs. Reede,” she told him. “And you know Mrs. Reede knows everything that goes on in the neighbourhood.” He had left with a closed, sullen face, but at least he left.
Kenny had grown a considerable amount in the past couple of years, and he was a taller, thicker, beefier version of his brother, Kevin. Nearly platinum blond and extremely fair skinned, when something bothered Kenny it was easy to tell…one merely looked for his face to suffuse with blood and turn beet red. He seemed a bit excitable to her…a bit like Brother, who was annoyingly fidgety and simply could not keep his hands off of anything that attracted his interest, no matter who it belonged to…and she found this unnerving at times. Kenny was not the cheerful, affable boy his brother was, and sometimes his hulking intensity scared her.
She was beginning to notice that some boys were cuter than others, even allowing that she might find it nice to actually kiss one or two of them. There was Nick Phillips, who liked to work out on the bars during lunch break…he was very cute and could do some amazing things on the bars…and he was very nice, too. But her friend Bernadette had her eye on him, was flirting with him, so she kept her interest to herself. But Kenny Woodruff? Kenny was hulking where Nick was muscular, Kenny was blunt and bumbling where Nick was respectful and well-mannered, and Kenny was, while not actually stupid, lacking in the kind of intelligence that would advance him either academically or socially. And his single-minded pursuit of her was more than just a little scary.
But she still went over to his house. She liked sitting on the platform up in the tree, above the rest of the world, remote, unseen, untouchable. Up on the platform, hidden in the long, feathery limbs of the pepper tree, she felt safe from the rest of the world. It was the closest thing she had to a sanctuary.
They weren’t supposed to go out after school, but she and Brother had come to an unspoken agreement…once their chores were done and Mommy had called and checked up on them, they would go out to play…and they would not tattle on each other. She had no idea where Brother went and presumed he had no idea where he might find her. But ten to fifteen minutes before Mommy was expected, they would each scramble home and take up their posts in their respective bedrooms, doing something suitably innocuous like reading or homework. Mommy did not allow them to watch TV, play outside, or have friends over to the house when she was not there. Theirs was a daily ritual.
On a warm spring afternoon she heard the creaking of the slats nailed to the tree trunk, an effective announcement of an impending visitor. Expecting Kevin, who like to read as well, she was disappointed to see Kenny’s blond crew cut appear. Without waiting to be invited…it was his tree, after all…he heaved himself up onto the platform and sat, cross legged, entirely too close to her. She wriggled away.
“Don’t you like me?” he said to her without preamble. “You’re always trying to avoid me.”
She didn’t know how to deal with this, and he was sitting too close again. She wriggled further away. “I don’t know what you mean, Kenny,” she temporized. “I like you fine.”
“Do you like me like a boyfriend?” he asked bluntly, moving closer again.
“Ummm…” she hesitated a moment, then shook her head. “No, Kenny, I’m sorry. I like you fine as a friend, but not like a boyfriend.”
She began to grow alarmed as she saw his face begin to colour. “But you like Kevin, don’t you?” he said, his voice tense, ugly. “Don’t you? You like my little brother but not me!”
She shook her head, edging toward the side of the platform where the slats were nailed. “He’s just my friend, Kenny. Like you…just my friend.”
He was beside her again, so close she could smell the soap his mother used to wash his shirt. She made a swift move for the edge of the platform but he blocked her and grabbed her with one hand behind her neck and other gripping her head. Then, horrifyingly, he pressed his mouth to hers. She struggled, beating against him and trying to twist away, oblivious that she was on a platform in a tree, fifteen feet above the ground. His lips were disgustingly slack, sloppy and wet, and he nearly sucked the breath from her before he thrust his repulsive tongue nearly down her throat. Flailing and gagging, she could not dislodge his superior weight and, desperate for air and freedom, she did the only thing that came to mind. She bit down on his tongue with as much force as she could muster.
He bellowed and thrust her away and before he could recover and renew his grasp, she scrambled down the slat ladder and sprinted home, dashing in the door and slamming it behind her. Panting for breath, she went to the bathroom to clean up…if Mommy saw her sweating and winded, there would be ten kinds of hell to pay. A few minutes later she heard Brother come home and, checking the mirror to make sure she looked as if nothing had happened, she left the bathroom, headed for her room.
It wasn’t Brother who had come in the door. Kenny Woodruff, his face glowing red with rage, was in the hallway outside her bedroom, advancing on her.
“You have to go, Kenny,” she said desperately. “My mother will be home any time and you can’t be here.”
Kenny said nothing but continued to slowly advance upon her, like a cat stalking a mouse. She remembered how strong he was when he had hold of her up on the platform, and her heart began to hammer as she edged toward the exit from the hallway that led to the living room…if she could get there, she could make the front door and run to one of the neighbours for help.
“You’ve got to leave,” she said again and looked quickly into Brother’s bedroom to try to distract him as she darted the other direction for the living room.
She almost made it. But he grabbed her by her long ponytail and dragged her to him. “Look what you did to me!” he roared at her, the veins in his eye gone red with his rage. “Look what you’ve done!”
Confused, terrified, she struggled to get free, but he had her ensnared by her long hair and with one had he was forcing her head down, to look at the floor. “Look what you did to me, you goddamned little tease!” His other hand had opened his trousers and in the brief moment before she squeezed her eyes shut, she saw only a mass of engorged, terrifyingly red flesh protruding from the open fly.
“Look at it!” he raged, shaking her head back and forth by her hair. “Look what you did! And now you have to take care of it!”
Attempting to control her feeble struggles had caused Kenny to move them into the living room, but now he started dragging her towards her bedroom. Keeping her eyes tightly squeezed shut, she tried to go limp, make a dead weight of herself, and alternately dig her heels into the cheap thin carpet. She was able only to slow his progress and he inexorably moved towards the bedroom, alternately cursing her and blaming her for his condition.
Then suddenly she was free. “Take your hands off my sister!” she heard and her eyes flew open in surprise. Brother! Her brother had a stick of some kind and he was whacking Kenny over the head and across the back and shouting at him to leave their house and never come back. She began to cry in relief. “Don’t ever touch her again!” she heard him roar to Kenny’s retreating back. “Don’t even talk to her!”
“Oh, thank you!” she sobbed, trying to hug Brother for his rescue, but he pushed her away.
“Go wash your face and comb your hair,” he said, taking the stick and heading towards his bedroom. “Mommy will be home pretty soon and I don’t want her asking a lot of questions that will make us both have to stay home in the afternoon.” He closed his bedroom door.
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.