(Based on true events* – Trigger Warning for possible distress)
Susan is about to leave her daughter’s bedroom after bringing in a load of clean laundry when Chrissie speaks. Her voice trembles.
“Mom, can I tell you something important?”
Susan turns. Chrissie has been quieter than usual. She resisted going to basketball practice and tried to stay home from school. “Sure, Chrissie. You know you can tell me anything.”
“Coach Kevin hurt me.”
Susan frowns in confusion. “Hurt you how?”
“He cornered me in the locker room and he pushed me onto the ground and he tried to get my clothes off and I told him no but he didn’t listen and when I tried to scream he put his hand over my mouth and nose and I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was going to die.” The words tumble out and Chrissie begins to sob.
Her mother remains standing as if rooted to the floor. “When?”
“Last week?!” Susan crosses her arms over her chest. “How come you didn’t say something right away?”
“I was scared. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to think about it. I…I didn’t want it to be true.”
“Did you call the police?”
“Did you tell the principal?”
“Did you tell anyone?”
“I told my friend, Hannah, yesterday.” Chrissie’s voice shakes. “She told me to tell you.”
“You didn’t even tell your best friend right away?!” Susan raises an eyebrow.
“Well,” Susan shakes her head, “so maybe it didn’t happen.”
Chrissie wraps her blanket tightly around herself. “It did happen! I’m telling you it did!”
“Coach Kevin is a nice man. Are you sure it was him?”
“Mom! I know him. His face was two inches from mine. Of course I’m sure it was him!”
“I don’t know. I’ve seen Coach Kevin many times and he never tried to do this to me. I never heard anyone say anything like this about him. Also, he goes to church.” Susan pulls her phone out of her pocket. She swipes her finger over the small screen. “Kevin? Susan. Got a minute?” She walks out of the room and returns a couple of minutes later. “Well, Chrissie, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I just talked to Coach Kevin and he says he didn’t do anything of the sort. Are you trying to destroy him? It is nasty to make things up this way.”
Chrissie sobs. “I’m not making it up, Mom. It really happened. It is why I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want … to see him and he does the carpool …”
Susan eyes linger on her daughter. “Well, maybe something happened, but I don’t believe it was him.”
“It was him! I’m telling you it was him.”
Susan narrows her eyes. “How can you be sure it was him?”
“I am a 100% sure. I saw him like I’m seeing you.”
“Hmm. I think you’re wrong.”
Chrissie pulls the covers over her head. The blankets shake.
“No need for hysterics. As you can see, I am believing you that something happened. I just don’t think it was him. Actually, I think you should apologize to Coach Kevin for saying he did this to you. He says he didn’t do it and I believe him.”
Chrissie freezes. She turns slowly toward her mother. “Apologize to him?! Mom, he’s lying!”
“I don’t know. You have proof it was him?”
Chrissie starts to shake her head but then sits up. She looks up at her mother. “Maybe. There are cameras in the hallway by the locker rooms. Can we ask the school to get the cameras from outside the locker room? They’ll show him going into the girls’ locker room when I was there by myself. They’ll show me leaving in tears and him leaving after me.”
Chrissie’s mother rolls her eyes. “That’s not necessary. He said he didn’t do it. That’s all I need to know.”
Chrissie stares incredulously before turning away from her mother and facing the wall.
Susan shrugs. “Well, that settles it. I’ll tell Kevin you are sorry. He’s up for promotion, you know. Head coach. There’s a party at his place on Sunday. We’ll stop by. You should write a card. The one silver lining that can come out of this is that if someone assaults you, you now know you can come and tell me about it.”
§ § §
*a link to a ‘one silver lining‘ statement that ‘inspired’ this piece.