Incarcerated Letters – Letter One: Flashbacks

June 1, 2017

11:00 AM

  I was sexually abused for the first time when I was six. The same man everyone considered a hero was the same man who took away my childhood. The abuse lasted up until the age of sixteen. I still remember those last few assaults. It didn’t matter how many times it happened. The next was always worse than the last.

  On December 25, 2014, I tried to take the life of my abuser. Two weeks later I was charged with attempted murder. I didn’t know if I would get away with it and honestly when I began to plan it all out, I didn’t care. All I wanted was to be free. Being in prison, well it’s the most freedom I have had since 2004.

  I gripped the knife tightly as I heard him approach. I knew it was him because he’d worn the same cologne since he’d started coming around. As I waited impatiently for him to enter the kitchen, my hands were shaking. Was I really going to do this? Yes. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I had a younger sister to look after and if Aaron was sick enough to hurt me, I had no doubt in my mind he’d go after his own child. Aaron entered the kitchen, pulled out a chair, and sat down at the table.

  “What’d you cook baby girl?”

  My grip on the knife was so tight I could feel my pulse. I ignored him. 

  “You hear me girl?” He was drunk. Something he’d resorted to shortly after we moved with him. With my back facing him I continued to ignore his heartless tone and he eventually got fed up. “When I talk to you, you respond!” He lunged toward me grabbing at my arm. I quickly spun around, sticking the knife in his stomach. As his eyes widened, he grabbed his stomach and stumbled. Pushing him down, I continued to stab him. His abdomen, chest, and arms. I stabbed his penis through his jeans. His blood poured out of the holes quickly. It sickened me how exciting it was to watch him suffer. The adrenaline rush is what encouraged me to stab him over 50 times. Once I was certain he was dead, I quickly took a bird bath; changed my clothes, and put my escape plan in motion. I had time to clean the bathroom, put my bloody clothes in a trash bag, and grab the bag I had packed the night before. The goal was to get on the bus and ride. Where I was going was still a mystery but I had to get out of that house. Because I had little knowledge of how to get away with murder, the scene was messy. Not only did I leave the murder weapon but my prints were all over it…

June 1, 2017

2:00 PM

  My name is Sunitha Drew and I’m nineteen. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. It had always been just me and my mama, that was until she met Aaron and he knocked her up. My first impression of Aaron was that he treated Mama well and that he was going to be my new daddy. Hell, I was five when he started coming around, and while I don’t remember every detail of our first encounter I do remember the big brown bear he had waiting for me in his arms. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. 

  Mama went into our tiny apartment kitchen and I ran down the hall to my bedroom to play with my new bear.

  “I’m glad you like the bear. Hopefully, you grow to like me just as much,” Aaron’s voice startled me.

  “Keep buying me presents, I will,” I laughed innocently without giving much thought to his comment or my response. At just five years of age, I was outspoken. In just a few short months I grew to love Aaron so when Mama announced we would be moving out of our apartment and into his townhome, I was filled with joy. I didn’t know what Aaron did for a living but everywhere we went people knew him. They respected him. They loved him.

  When the day to move came, I was excited and anxious. I could tell Mama was too because she would take her time walking in and out of every room in the apartment almost as if she was saying goodbye. Before Aaron, it was school and home for both Mama and me. This apartment was all I knew. Mama worked as a 3rd-grade teacher. Teaching was her passion but sometimes I wished education wasn’t so important to her. Mama stayed on my ass about my grades and would always assure me that education was my ticket t freedom. To a better life.

  “Do your homework first! No tv until it’s completed!” I can hear her now. 

  Living in D.C. you drive past townhomes pretty much wherever you go but the ones on Aaron’s block stood out. We pulled into the driveway and I jumped out of the car and ran to Aaron who was waiting in the garage. He hugged me and then walked over to Mama. I stood there, admiring the two of them, convinced that this is what Black love looks like. While Mama, Aaron, and a few of Aaron’s friends took boxes into the house I decided to explore the neighborhood. It was beautiful. Perfect compared to the run-down apartment complex we lived in. Each house was painted a unique and vibrant color. The sun was beaming down from the clear blue sky and I swear, life just seemed so much brighter. There were kids everywhere! I was sure that I would finally have friends. 

  When I arrived back at the house my stomach was doing flips and I was ready to help Mama cook up some dinner. To my surprise dinner was done and ready to be served. I checked in with Mama, she was in their bedroom unpacking. “Did you see your room?” she questioned. I shook my head no. 

  “There are like six or seven closed doors, I wasn’t sure which one was mine.” I smiled. She paused from what she was doing to show me around the house. It felt like we were walking down a never-ending hallway until finally, we reached a door at the opposite end of their bedroom. She twisted the knob and we walked into what felt like Disneyland. I screamed, “I love it! Thank you, Mama!” The entire room was covered with Minnie and Mickey mouse décor. They were without a doubt my favorite Disney characters.

  “It was all Aaron,” She admitted. I finally knew how it felt to have a father. 

  That night after we ate dinner she helped me bathe and braided my kinky hair into two jumbo braids. In the morning, she would take it down and brush my hair up in a bun. She always threatened to put a relaxer in my hair and while I would have loved to have more manageable hair all I could picture were the white girls in my class with their thin, stringy, lifeless hair. I wasn’t aware of the drastic difference in our hair textures so I assumed mine would imitate theirs. 

  The months flew by and all was well. My mother and father were in love and I was spoiled. What more could a girl want? 

  “Hey, baby. Come sit and talk with us,” Mama said as she stood in my doorway with her arms crossed. I followed her into the living room and plopped down on the leather chair across from the loveseat. Mama gave me the “that’s my good furniture stare” and I apologized softly. That’s when I noticed the small bump that had formed where her once flat stomach was. 

  I widened my eyes, 

  “I’m going to be a big sister!” I screamed. They both started cracking up while trying to calm me down. “How long have you two been hiding this from me? Is it a boy or a girl? When do I meet it?” I demanded answers.

  Aaron raised up his hand and I sat down so that they could speak.

  “Your mother and I found out a month ago and we’re going tomorrow to find out the gender. The doctor will also be able to tell us how far along your mother is. He or she may then possibly be able to inform us of a due date,” Aaron answered.

  “So basically they can tell you how old it is before it’s born?” I didn’t fully understand the pregnancy process.

  He chuckled at my confused expression, “Yes, they perform what is called an ultrasound where they look inside your mom’s tummy.”

  “They cut her open!” I yelled in horror.

  That’s when Mama chimed in, “How about you come with us so that you can see for yourself?”

  I thought for a second, was she actually going to let me miss school to witness her being sliced open? I guess she read my mind because she interrupted, confirming that the appointment was scheduled for 4:00 P.M. and school lets out at 3:00 P.M.

  The next morning, I wore the biggest smile all day at school, and anytime someone asked the reason I proudly announced my status as a big sister. Aaron and Mama arrived to pick me up at 2:55 P.M., but momma made us sit and wait the extra five minutes to leave the classroom. As I said before, there were no games played when it came to school. I fell asleep during the ride to the doctor. I recall waking up laying on a couch, covered with Aaron’s jacket. I was blinded by the bright lights for a few seconds before my surroundings came into view. Mama was laying on the bed and the doctor was rubbing the gel on her stomach. “What’s that do?” I startled everyone. The couch was hard as a brick, as I stood up my back felt stiff but I managed to walk across the room to join them. “Woah.. is that the baby?” I questioned. 

  “Yes, it is baby!” Mama exclaimed as her face lit up.

  I was amazed at what I was witnessing, I had never seen this in person. 

  “Is it a boy or girl?” I asked.

  “Well let’s see,” the doctor said as she rolled her magic wand back and forth. I counted to sixty in my head five times before she spoke. “The baby is being a bit stubborn this afternoon, I can’t determine whether you’re having a girl or a boy,” she said. I saw the disappointment on Mama’s face and I felt the same. Noticing the shift of energy, the doctor reassured us the baby was developing well and that it’s common to not always be able to tell the gender. To lift Mama’s mood Aaron took us to one of her favorite restaurants, O’Charley’s. As soon as they set the basket of rolls on the table Mama lost control. I wasn’t sure if she was indulging in her usual emotional eating or if it was the pregnancy hormones. Growing up I always knew Mama was stressed when she began to overeat. I started to say something but Aaron shook his head, silencing me. He and I stared down at our menus pretending to be searching for dinner. 

  Seven rolls later Mama broke the silence, “Well on the bright side the baby is healthy and that’s all that matters right now,” she smiled. It took her eating a basket full of rolls to decide that. Aaron and I both withheld our laughs and nodded in agreement. The waitress came back over to take our orders, I hadn’t paid her much attention at first but then I noticed some tension between her and Aaron. She was young, in her late teens, early 20’s at most. Mama was too busy going over the menu one last time, making sure she selected everything she wanted, so she didn’t notice. I was certain that Aaron loved my mama and that my young mind was playing tricks on me. He would never hurt her.

  “Drew? Let’s go!”

  I was so caught up in writing I didn’t realize a guard was calling me until she tapped me on my shoulder. “You have a visitor,” she said. I raised a brow. Since I had been locked up I had yet to have a visitor. I spent my first few weeks in isolation on suicide watch and since then I’ve pretty much stayed to myself. I closed my notebook and placed my pencil on top then stuck it under my pillow. She unlocked the cell and opened it. “I-I’m required to place these cuffs on you,” she stuttered. I had never seen her around here before so I assumed she was new. Why work in a prison if you’re a scary bitch I thought to myself. As we walked I pondered who would be on the other side of the glass. I prayed it was Mama but I stopped expecting a visit or letter from her a year ago. Even though I felt like she played a major role in all my childhood suffering, I still loved her. 

  I sat down, and staring back at me through the dust-covered glass, was an unfamiliar face. I picked up the phone, “Who are you, and why are you here?” I could tell she was caught off guard by my rudeness. I guess she expected me to greet her with a warm and welcoming smile.

  “M…my name is Coretta Jenkins, I’ve heard and read about your story more times than I can count. I know that nobody beli…”

  I cut her off, “Look lady, I’m not speaking with any of you journalists or reporters who pretend to care about what happened or what I went through just to get a check.” I slammed the phone down and told the guard I was ready to go back to my cell. I was heated and spent 10 minutes pacing back and forth after the guard locked me back in. 

  Picking up my notebook, I began to vent. 

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