Then Marcella jumped into it. “Zoe, are you really sure?”
“I’mverysure! What the hell is this? What are you two trying to insinuate?”
Marcella replied, “Zoe, to be honest, I was thinking the same thing before Leonard even brought it up. Why do you think you were so obsessed with sex at such a young age?”
“Hell if I know!”
Jason sensed I was about to go off the deep end. “Zoe, calm down, Boo. It’s all good, and everything’s going to be fine.” I clenched my teeth and listened to my husband.
Dr. Graham took the conversation back over. “Zoe, have you ever considered being hypnotized?”
That’s when I broke out in hysterical laughter. I stopped when I realized no one else found it funny. “No, never thought about it and would never do something so silly. There’s no point to it, becausenothing happened!”
My mother started squirming in her seat and then raised her hand as if she needed permission to speak. “Momma, you don’t have to raise your hand. What is it?”
Everyone’s attention turned toward her. “Are youdoctors saying that everything my baby has done might be attributed to something horrible from her childhood?”
I didn’t even let them answer. “Momma, that’s what they’re saying, but it’s all bull. You and I both know nothing ever happened to me as a child that could even halfway be considered sexually traumatic.”
Marcella got up, went over to my mother, and sat on the wooden armrest of her chair. “Well, is Zoe right? Was her childhood free of such incidents?”
My mother stared at me and whispered, “Not exactly.” Then her tears began to flow.
Never in my life had I cursed my mother, but there’s a first time for everything. “What the fuck are you talking about, Momma?”
She just kept crying, and Marcella was rubbing her back, so I turned toward Jason. “What the fuck is she talking about, Jason?”
He looked as dumbfounded as I did. “I have no idea, Boo!”
I wanted somebody,anybody,to make sense out of what I just heard. Confusion turned to terror as all kinds of shit starting running through my mind. Was I molested by my father as a baby? Another relative? “What the fuck is going on here?” I asked.
Dr. Graham swung into action, realizing he was about to lose control of the situation before anything could be resolved. He came over to the opposite side of the bed from where Jason was lying and patted me on my shoulder.“Calm down, Zoe. Just calm down, take a few deep breaths, and relax. It’s all going to be all right.”
I took my free hand and knocked his hand off my shoulder. “No, it’s not going to be all right, because I don’t know what the hell is going on! This shit isn’t making any sense! How the hell could something have happened to me, and I don’t even fuckin’ remember it?”
“Zoe, maybe if you let me hypnotize you, we can all find out the answers.”
I turned back to Jason, who looked more lost than I was. “Jason, I’m scared.” He released my hand, put his arm around me, and held me tight.
Marcella was bent over my mother’s chair, whispering in her ear, and I didn’t appreciate the hush-hush going on over there at all. Enough of the secrets and lies! “Momma?”
Silence befell the room, and I could hear Marcella whisper the words, “Tell her.”
“Yes, Momma, tell me!” Half of me wanted to know, and the other half wanted to crawl up in a hole somewhere with a pair of earplugs so I wouldn’t find out a damn thing. Whatever it was had my mother crying, and it was obvious I wasn’t going to like it.
She got up from her chair and came over to the bed. I reached out for her hand. She sat down on the edge of the bed so her hips were touching mine.
“Zoe, something did happen when you were younger. I don’t know all of the details because you never really told me. Not me or your daddy. All I know is it happened.”
She rubbed my hand rapidly like a mother trying to warm her toddler up outside in the dead cold of winter. “All what details, Momma? I’m so lost! So completely lost!”
“I know you are, darling. Something happened, and somehow you managed to bury it deep inside you. It was the reason we really moved to Atlanta from Dallas in the first place.”
“Momma, you aren’t making any sense.” I kept looking-from her to Jason and back, wishing someone would throw me a
life jacket because I was sinking fast.
“You remember how we moved in the middle of the year and you were a transfer student and all of that?”
“Yes, of course I remember. Daddy got a job in Atlanta, and we had to move right away.”
“Actually, your father accepted the job because weneededto move right away. Weneededto get out of Dallas.” She broke out into wails, but I couldn’t cry. I was petrified.
“What happened to me in Dallas, Momma?” I sat up further on the bed, let go of her hand, and started shaking her. Not because I was angry with her, but because I wanted her to tell me the freakin’ truth. “Momma, look at me. What happened to me in Dallas?”
Jason and the two doctors weren’t saying a word. Then again, I guess there wasn’t anything for them to say. They were just as confused as I was. “Zoe, baby, I don’t know exactly what happened, but—”
“Yes?” I let go of her shoulders and clasped her hand. I started rubbing her hand like she was the toddler. “Go on, Momma!”
“One day, about a month into your fifth-grade year, you came running in the house crying, and your clothes were torn.” My eyes bulged out of my head, and Jason put his arms around my waist to try to brace me for whatever was about to come. “You were late coming home from school, and I was worried. I called your father at work, but he told me to calm down. He figured sinceyou walked home from school everyday, you probably just stopped over a friend’s house for a little while, lost track of time, and forgot to call.”
I didn’t remember any of the things she was talking about, and that made me ten times more scared than I was before. “What happened to me on my way home from school, Momma?”
She grabbed both of my cheeks in her frail hands and pulled my face all the way up to hers until our noses were touching. Her tears were rolling down both of our cheeks, not just her own. “I don’t know, baby! You would never tell me. You would never tell your daddy or anyone else. All I know is I felt so bad that I didn’t call the police or try to look for you, even if you were only an hour late. I should’ve realized you wouldn’t go someplace and not call. I should’ve realized something was wrong, and I’ve lived with this guilt ever since.”
I threw my arms around her, almost yanking the IV needle clear out of my arm to do it. “It’s not your fault, Momma. It’s not your fault!”
Jason gathered both of us in his arms. “It’s going to be okay.”
My tears started flowing, and I wasn’t sure they would ever stop. Never had I been so utterly confused. I thought the whole situation with Quinton, Tyson, and Diamond was fucked up. Now, I come to find out something happened to me when I was just a child that was the underlying cause of it all. “I had to have told you something. What did I say?”
She started shaking her head, and Marcella came over with a tissue for her to blow her nose out. Once she completed the task and wiped some of the tears from her face, she replied to my question. “Zoe, the only thing you ever said to us was, ‘Why did they hurt me?’ ”
“Why did who hurt me?”
“I DON’T KNOW!”She was screaming, and Dr. Ferguson bumrushed into the room to make sure everything was under control. Dr. Graham politely showed him to the door and assured him things were fine. He reluctantly departed.
“You came home crying with your clothes ripped, and I called your father back immediately, telling him to get off work and come home. You kept saying, ‘Why did they hurt me?’ over and over again, but you wouldn’t say anything else. It was like you were in a trance or something. My immediate thought was that you’d been raped, but you wouldn’t even let me touch you down there. Every time I tried, you pushed my hands away violently, so we took you to the emergency room. They had to strap you down to examine you. You put up one hell of a fight, kicking and screaming and—”
“And? Was I raped?” I clamped my eyes shut and waited for her to reply, hoping the answer would be one I could live with. Jason was crying too by that point, but they were silent tears. No noise was coming out with them.
“According to the doctors, you werenotraped. They did say you were bruised down there and red. No penetration though. They were very definite about that point.”
Dr. Graham jumped in and asked, “So Zoe was the victim of some type of sexual trauma other than rape?”