My parents didn't return home until the day after my rape. I only come out of my hiding place on the floor between the wall and my twin bed to use the bathroom. I sleep a lot.
"Charlotte, we're home," my mom calls out.
I give Mom and Dad the biggest hugs.
"We missed you too, sweetpea," Dad says.
Everything seems normal. I follow them around. I'm so glad they're home.
"So how was your time here? Did you do anything? Maybe a surprise birthday party?" Mom asks.
"Yes, Erin. I want a lock on my door."
"A lock?" says Dad.
"What for?" says Mom.
"I want it!" I yell. I stomp my foot and run to my room crying. I go to my hiding place.
"Charlotte? Are you okay?" Mom says. "Where is she?"
I need a lock. Why can't they understand? Something very bad happened. I'm scared. Why can't I remember what the rapist looked like? I know he raped me but now I can't recall his appearance. What is wrong with me?
"I can't find Charlotte," Mom says.
"Did you check the bathroom?" Dad says.
"Yes. I don't know where she is."
"What's this thing about a lock for her bedroom?"
"I don't know. Maybe she just got scared being alone," Mom suggests.
"Do you have a better idea?"
My parents walk away.
I need a lock on my door. I need that more than anything.
I climb out from behind my bed and head toward my door.
"There you are," Mom says about to pass by in the hallway.
"Lock." I point at the door.
"I don't understand."
"I WANT A LOCK ON MY DOOR!" I scream at full voice.
Dad comes running. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know," Mom says. She looks frightened.
"Did something happen?" Dad says to me.
I collapse to the ground. Mom sits down and cradles me as I sob.
"Can you tell us?" Dad says softly.
"Lock," I mutter.
"Go get a lock for her door, Charles," Mom says. "I'll let you know what she says."
"Okay. Alright." Dad goes.
"Tell mama what happened." She strokes my head.
"Daddy's getting a lock."
It feels good in Mom's arms.
"Has she said anything?" Dad asks.
"Lock," I say.
"Daddy's putting it in right now."
Why won't this pain go away?
"Yes, Daddy's working on it. Did something happen while we were gone?"
"Was she ... um..." Dad says, " ... touched?"
Mom asks, "Did someone come into your room?"
"Can you tell me?"
I slowly nod.
"Was it a man?"
"NO!" I break out of Mom's arms and I dive into my hiding place.
"Oh god," Mom says.
"No wonder she's so desperate for a lock," Dad says.
Footsteps approach the bed.
"I's safe, Charlotte," Dad says. "I've put a lock on your door. No one's going to harm you now."
"I'll call the hospital," Mom says.
I come out slowly. Dad shows me the lock. He goes outside my room and I lock it. He can't get in. That's good.
"Let me back in, Charlotte."
I'm alone. I'm safe.
"I'm your Dad. It's okay."
"What's going on?" Mom says.
"I'm locked out."
"Charlotte?" Mom says.
My parents are safe. I open the door.
I go to the hospital and a nurse checks my private parts. She asks questions but I don't want to talk. I want to go back to my room that has a lock on the door.
The police come to my bedroom and they look at things.
"It's alright Charlotte," Mom says. "We'll put brand new sheets and blankets on your bed. The police will look at them. You don't want them as a reminder of what happened."
"What happened?" I ask.
I go to counseling and after a couple of months I have a breakthrough and I accept that I was raped. I sob and sob and sob but it's good to get the emotions out.
I can't remember what the man looked like.
I return to college when the spring semester starts.
I do well in school. I'm pretty much back to my normal self
At home I always lock my bedroom door when I go to sleep.
I'm at Brianne's house for her birthday party. I haven't been here since last year's party. She's a good friend since middle school.
I use the bathroom. Before coming back I look at the family pictures on the wall.
Oh my god!
"Where are you going?" Erin asks.
"I got to go. I got to get out of here.". I'm panicked. I grab my purse.
"I ... I can't stay. Sorry."
Erin looks perplexed. I can't explain. Not right now.
I get in my car and I just sit there. I'm shaking.
The man in the photos, Breanne's dad, is my rapist. His name is Joe.
I cry on my bed behind a locked door.
I wake up feeling better and with so many thoughts.
I can see only one way I can exorcise the control that that man has over me by what he did to me. I must control him. I must return in more than equal measure his debasement.
My phone rings. It's Erin.
"I was just wondering how you're doing after leaving the party early."
Erin is a good friend.
"I had a flashback," I say. "I know who my rapist is."
"Yes, I do."
"So you're going to the police?"
"I want revenge."
"Revenge? Like how?"
"I don't know yet."
"You really should go to the police."
"They can't do anything now. I need to do this for my healing."
"Sure, I understand now. You know I and Breanne and Kaitlin will help you any way you need."
"Leave Breanne out. I don't trust her."
"Why? She'll do anything for you, Charlotte. We all would."
"I know. Breanne can help punish him when the time comes. Just don't say anything to her right now and ask Kaitlin not to say anything."
"Ok, Charlotte. So anything I can do now?"
"Help me figure out how to capture and tie up a man.'
There is much more than that to figure out.
Erin thought it is best to also leave Kaitlin out for now since she has trouble keeping secrets. She and Breanne will be brought in when it is near time to act.
The first problem is a place. Erin's dad often goes on business trips and now that Erin is an adult, her mom sometimes accompanies him. They have a basement that we csn arrange for our use.
The second problem is how to get him there. Erin wrote a letter in multi-color crayon. It said "I know what you did to Charlotte" then instructing him to go the address on the paper. I mail it to him.
We contact Breanne and Kaitlin. I tell them I know who my rapist is and that Erin is helping and we'd like them to help. As friends do, they are eager to help.
I wait outside with Erin near her front door. There are bushes that hide us from someone walking up to the door and we wear masks that hide our faces. Breanne and Kaitlin wait in the basement.
"Charlotte!" Erin hisses.
He's coming. My rapist is here.
He heads to the front door and as planned Erin sneaks up behind him. She places the fake gun in the small of his back.
Erin says, "Don't you dare turn around rapist. Step inside. Go slow."
He enters and Erin tells him when to stop. The fake gun never leaves his back.
It's my turn. I step in front of him holding handcuffs.
"Remember me, Joe?" I ask knowing damn well he does. I jangle the cuffs. "Put your hands out or she shoots you right here and now. Joe cooperates and I encircle his wrists with the bracelets.
"Are you giving me to the police? It's your word versus mine."
"No, we're not." I pull down the black ski mask over his head. "Open your mouth wide."
"What are you planning to do?"