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My first really clear memory of my past life is my first day of kindergarten. We'd walkedfrom home to school in a heavy rain and even though we had an umbrella, we were soaked when

we got there. It was dark in the hallway as my mother and I walked to the office to find outwhich class I was in. The hallway was teeming with children and their parents. It waswonderful. There was noise and excitement all around me, and everyone seemed happy. It wascontagious. I felt happy, an emotion that was quite foreign to me.My kindergarten teacher was Miss Ryan, a kindly looking, gray-haired, old lady with asweet smile. I don't really know if she was old, but to a five-year old, all teachers looked old,especially if they had gray hair. She was waiting at the entrance to the classroom and introducedherself. She stooped down to look me in the eye, said hello, and asked me my name. When Iwhispered Mary, she hugged me and said, "Welcome Mary." I felt joy. This was going to be agood place, a safe place. This was a place where people hugged you. I didn't even say goodbyeto my mother as I eagerly walked into the classroom. It was filled with toys. I had very few toysat home so this was heaven. I especially loved the dolls and the corner with the toy kitchen. Myfavorite game was playing mother and pretending that the dolls were my children. I cooed atthem and hugged them. I cooked them delicious meals. I did what my mother never did. Throughmy play, I was the mother I wanted Eileen to be.

At the start, I loved school. I would have been glad to go to school seven days a week,24 hours a day. I was well behaved and eager to learn. The school was multi-racial. I recallblack kids, Italian kids, Irish kids, Greek kids...all kinds of kids. By the second day, I kneweveryone's names. I played with everyone. I had never really had any playmates since I just hungaround with the kids from my neighborhood, but we didn't really play. I liked everyone and Iwanted everyone to like me.

First grade was my favorite grade because I had Miss Dawson. I thought she was themost beautiful woman in the world. I would just stare at her face, admiring the shape of her noseand her big eyes and her pretty pink lips. She wore her blonde hair in a different style everyweek. At home, I tried, with no success, to create the same hairstyles with my unmanageable redcurls. She, too, was kind and affectionate to me. But most importantly, she introduced me toreading. I can still remember that first day of school when she gave me a card with "M-a-r-y"written in perfect letters. That was me! Those four letters stood for me. I wrote my name overand over again. I loved printing, and I prided myself on having the best handwriting in the class.My letters were exactly like the models I copied from. I got 100 on all my spelling and math tests. I absorbed reading. I remember just knowing all the words in the books and in myenvironment. Miss Dawson didn't actually have to teach me to read. As I walked to school, Iread the names of the streets and the stores that we passed. When I walked down the hall atschool, I could read the teachers' names on each of the doors. I could read the words "boys" and"girls" and "office". No combination of letters was a puzzle to me anymore. At home, I reviewedthe words and math facts we studied in school. I shut the door to my room and played schoolendlessly. I was Miss Dawson and my favorite student was a girl named Mary. For a few years,actual school and fantasy school were my saving grace from a drab, loveless life.I still played with all the kids in class, but I noticed some of them didn't want to play withme now. It could have been because I was dirty and smelly. I wore old clothes which weren'twashed often and I took a bath once a week, at most. I think even in that school made up of poorkids, there was a sense that I was different. And I became more aware of what a normal familyshould be like. I saw mothers hug and kiss their kids and talk kindly to them when they droppedthem off or picked them up. I don't recall one day after that first day of kindergarten when mymother went into my school. She walked me up to the front door of the building, but neverventured in. I suppose there were parent-teacher interviews, but I'm sure she never went to one. Ithink she was afraid to enter the school because the teachers might find out what she was andwhat she was doing to my life.

Second grade started like kindergarten and first grade. I continued to learn and do well.But Miss Stevens, my second grade teacher, was different from Miss Ryan and Miss Dawson.She was stricter and didn't smile much. I don't recall if she was like that with all the kids, or justme. I got the impression that she didn't like me as much as the other kids. I tried my hardest ateverything so she would like me.

My first bad experience in school came that year when a girl, I think her name wasLoretta, told me not to sit next to her because I was stinky. She held her nose as she said that Ismelled like poop and garbage. Then she said that her mother told her not to play with mebecause my mother was a bad lady. The people in the neighborhood knew about my mother andthey passed that information on to their kids. I was no longer just Mary, the second grader. NowI was Mary, the second grader and the daughter of a drunken whore.

The second bad experience that year was horrible, just horrible. My heart aches justthinking about it. It was the start of the end of my love of school. It happened when I waswaiting in line to go to gym. A boy named Danny, who was standing behind me, put his handunder my skirt and touched my backside. I was paralyzed. I didn't know what to do. Hewhispered in my ear that he was going to put his dick in my hole and then in my mouth. I didn'tknow what he was talking about, but I knew it was bad. I had never heard the word dick before,but I guessed what it meant. The only time I'd ever seen a penis was when some of the boys Ihung out with after school peed in the alley. I didn't say anything to the teacher or of course, tomy mother. She wouldn't have done anything about it anyway. By me not doing anything, Igave Danny permission to do more. A few weeks later he and another boy, I can't remember hisname, got me in the cloak room. You probably don't know what a cloak room is, but in oldschools it was a room where the kids hung their coats. We didn't have cloaks, but the oldfashioned word was still used. In winter, it was always stuffed with coats, hats, scarves, andgaloshes since the weather outside was frigid and everyone walked to school. There were noschool buses and mothers didn't have cars to drive their kids.

I was in the cloak room getting my coat to go out on the playground when Danny andthis other boy pushed me against the coats, pulled up my skirt, and pulled down my underpants.It all happened so fast, I couldn't stop them. Then they stuck a pencil in my privates. I yelledwith pain. When the teacher came running, she saw me with my underpants around my anklesand a pencil hanging from my privates. All the other kids came running to see what happened.They looked at me with disgust, and then some of them started giggling. Before I could sayanything, Danny said that I had put a pencil up myself and then I told them that I wanted to putthe pencil up their assholes. Miss Stevens believed them! She actually believed that I would dosuch a thing, especially in the cloakroom. Here I was this well-behaved, hard working student,and these boys were the troublemakers in the class, but she believed them. She looked at me withrage. How could I have done something so evil in her classroom? How could I have dirtied hercloakroom? I can still picture her face, or I imagine I can see her face. It was bright red withblotches all over. I thought she was going to beat me. I remember her screaming at me to pull upmy underpants. She called me a bad girl, a witch, a devil, and then she dragged me by the armdown to the office. She was pulling so hard that I thought she was going to pop my arm out of the socket. I sat on a bench in the outer office while she spoke to the principal. I was too stunnedto cry. I was paralyzed. I just stared into space for I don't know how long.After a while, one of the kids from my class brought my coat to the office. The schoolsecretary took me outside where my mother was waiting for me. I don't know if the principaldidn't want her to come into the school to get me, or if she didn't want to go into the school. Shedidn't ask what happened. She didn't talk to me. She didn't even look at me. She just walkedhome quickly, with me trailing behind. When we got home, I tried to tell her what happened, butshe told me to shut up. I went to my room and stared at the ceiling, too stunned and pained toeven cry. Then I looked at my arm. There were bruises from where Miss Stevens held me whileshe dragged me down the hall. For several days, those bruises were vivid reminders of mymortification.

I didn't go to school for the next two weeks. I assume I was expelled. I had nothing to doall day at home. I couldn't play school anymore because school was no longer a happy place.Now it was a place of shame and humiliation. This was my first experience as a helpless victim,but it certainly wasn't the last.

While I was home from school, I realized that I had to protect myself when I went back.But how could I do that? We had lots of sharp knives, but I couldn't take one of them to school.As I was thinking about this, I used a safety pin to close up my blouse where a button had fallenoff. I looked at that safety pin and realized this would be my weapon. I stuck the point into myfinger until it bled. I stared at the blood oozing from my finger and I knew I wasn't going to be avictim again. At the ripe old age of seven, I realized I had to defend myself. There was no oneelse in the world to do this for me. It was me against the world. I found the biggest safety pin inthe house and I pinned it on the inside of the bottom of my skirt. I knew that if anyone tried tohurt me again or lie about me, I would hurt them first. I'd stick the pin in the person's eye ashard as I could. Safety pins became my weapon of choice. They don't seem dangerous unlessyou think of the terrible places you can stick them - eyes, nose, ears, neck. And even a relativelysmall one can do damage if you shove it hard enough. But the best ones are the big ones. Icollected a stash of big safety pins and hid them in my dresser drawer. As I practiced stickingthem in my pillow, I'd see Danny's face as I aimed at his eye. I used all the force in my skinnylittle arm to penetrate the pillow as I vented my feelings of revenge.

A few months later on a sunny spring day when the class was out on the playground, Iwas going down the slide. How I loved that slide. I could go down it for hours. When I got tothe bottom, Danny was waiting for me. Danny, my tormentor. I tried to stay away from himwhenever possible, but I was trapped. He caught me in the crotch and said he was going to sticka knife up my hole. That was it. I had to fight back. The next time I came down, I had my pinout. When he caught me, I stuck the pin hard in his check. Blood gushed out and he screamed hishead off. When Miss Stevens came over, he told her what I had done. I tried to tell her why, butshe wouldn't let me talk. Again, she dragged me off to the office, but this time I met Mr.Shields, the principal. Miss Stevens gave Danny's version of the story. When I tried to tell whatreally happened, Mr. Shields said "Shut up." He glared at me and ordered me to pull up my skirt.He took out a paddle and as I bent over, he spanked me. He counted out ten hard spanks. Witheach hit, I cried louder and louder. My face was soaked in tears and snot dripped from my nose.Every time he hit me, some pee leaked down my leg. When he was finished, he had this look ofsatisfaction on his face for having given out a just punishment.

He said, "I hated to do that, but it's for your own good so you'll learn to behave myselfand not turn into a bad person." I knew who he was referring to when he said a bad person eventhough he never came out and said a bad person like your mother. He gave me some rags andtold me to clean the pee on the floor, and then he said something I'll never forget. "You peed onmy floor. I should make you lick it up with your tongue." How cruel, how disgusting. I stillremember the look of pure hate on his face. Why did he hate me? I was an innocent seven yearold child, but he didn't know that. He thought I was an evil child on the road to becoming likemy mother. I wasn't evil, but I was on the road to becoming like my mother.My mother neglected me, but she never spanked me. This was my first spanking and itwas in school, the place I thought was safe, but it wasn't. Now it was a place of pain as well ashumiliation. As Miss Stevens walked me back to class, I used my dress to wipe my face, but Istill must have looked horrible. It was hard to walk because of the burning pain on my backsideand the wetness from the pee on my underpants. When I walked into the classroom, I saw thatthe kids knew what happened from looking at my red, swollen, tear-stained face and the trails ofpee going down my leg. I don't know how I made it through the rest of the day. That was theend of me having any playmates at school. I was now officially the bad kid in class - the kid who did dirty things and violent things. I was to be feared, especially because I had a new, biggersafety pin to replace the one that Miss Stevens took away from me. It was hidden on the bottomof my skirt waiting to attack the next kid who came after me.

When I got home, I couldn't tell my mother what happened because she was too drunk tounderstand. I was filled with conflicting emotions - shame, anger that I was not believed, andhatred for Mr. Shields, Danny, and Miss Stevens. I could do nothing but fantasize how I wouldget back at them. Next time I would stick a pin in Danny's eye and I would stick a pin in MissStevens's boob, and I would stick a pin in Mr. Shields's dick. I would get back at these peoplethe only way I could - with violence. I sat and simmered as my fantasies grew more and moreviolent. The pin was elevated to a sharp knife and then a sword.

After that, my school work declined. I stopped trying to do well and just sulked. It'sfunny but the one time I did well on a test, I was accused of cheating. We had a spelling test ofwords that were easy for me so I was able to spell them all correctly. They all had long vowelsand silent e's at the ends. Words like lake and cake and take. I always liked words with thatspelling pattern. Miss Stevens corrected the tests at her desk while we worked on our math. Shecalled me up to her desk and asked how I was able to get the spelling of all the words right. I toldher I just knew them. She asked if I had copied them from Earl, the boy who sat next to me.Earl? He was dumber than a post and couldn't spell his name, and yet she assumed that I copiedfrom him. She put a zero on my paper and told me never to cheat again. Well, that was myincentive never to do anything right in school again, in fact never to do anything at all. It'sinteresting that once you're given a label, there's nothing you can do to get rid of it. I wasbranded just like a cow. My brand said dumb troublemaker. I could never erase it. It waspermanently embedded on my forehead.

I didn't try to play with the other kids. It didn't matter. Nobody wanted to play with me,except the boys who just wanted to taunt me. They would look at my crotch and wiggle theirfingers. I would glare at them and point to my cheek showing them what I would do to them witha safety pin. After all these years, I still ask myself how those seven and eight year old boysknew about sex. But more importantly, where did they learn such cruelty? They knew I was theperfect scapegoat and they took advantage of me knowing that no one would believe me. But noone ever tried to touch my privates again. They knew I still had a pin. It was my protection.

Unfortunately, it couldn't protect me from the men who touched my privates a few years later.Nothing could protect me from them.

In third and fourth grade I became truant. No one cared. I found it harder and harder to goto school and see kids smiling and having fun. I was a loner and I did minimal or no work. I'msure that's when I got type cast as having low intelligence. The school people looked at me as aperfect example of a mentally retarded person who was culturally deprived and would not begood at reading or academic learning. I wonder if I hadn't stopped doing well in school butcontinued to work as hard as I did when I first started, if they would have called me mentallyretarded. They would probably have found ways to accuse me of cheating again. Their mindswere made up. Mary Reilly was a dumb, bad kid and nothing would change their minds aboutthat. To make matters worse, they failed me. I had to repeat fourth grade because I didn't do thework so that was all the more reason to call me mentally retarded. There was not one person inthat school who tried to understand me or the situation I was living in. This place that at first Ithought would offer me safety and success now only offered me shame and failure. Where wereMiss Ryan and Miss Dawson? Couldn't they tell the school what I had been like when I was intheir classes?

I stopped going to school in my second year of fourth grade or what should have beenfifth grade. No one did anything about it. The school people didn't care. They were glad to berid of me. That was when my mother started training me for another job - prostitution. For thisjob I didn't need to be able to read, write, or do math. I just needed to spread my legs and putmyself in a trance so I wouldn't be aware of what was being done to me.Now all this time when I was in school, my mother was home collecting welfare anddrinking and hooking. As long as I can remember, she had men up to the apartment while I wasin school. When I was home from school because I didn't want to go or I was sick, she'd pay aneighbor to watch me. She needed the apartment free of a kid who would put a damper on herbusiness. But by fourth grade, I was allowed to stay in the apartment as long as I stayed in mybedroom with the door shut. I would hear these disgusting noises coming from her bedroom.Once I thought there was no one in the apartment so I went out to get something to eat. The doorto her room was open and I saw her doing things that I didn't know people did. When she sawme looking, she yelled at me to get back in my room. The man asked if I would like to party with them. She hit him and said that I was only 10. He said that sounded good to him. That was whenthe idea was planted in my mother's mind. That was when she planned to pimp for me. I'm sorryEleanor, but I'm having difficulty talking about this. I hadn't thought about that part of my lifefor a long time so it's really bothering me now. I'll come back to this in a while when I cancontrol my emotions. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn't tell you what happened, but if I don't, thehorrible events will be forgotten, and they shouldn't be. The world should know what somechildren have to go through to survive.

I have to find Charlie and have him hold me. I need him to comfort me and protect mefrom the ghosts of my past.