As we left the Art Department Rena once again slipped her arm in my arm, a lost sign of love and resept that you don’t see these days. I was her escort, but, she was leading me to a destination unknown. There was not a soul in sight. We were in perfect balance and harmony.
“Where are you taking me now, Rena?” I said with a peaceful smile, for she was showing me her town, as I had shown her mine.
“To the museum!” she said brightly, proud of herself that she was waving the white flag after our fight, our slap-fest when I got into the back seat of the Dodge to get some much-needed rest. I had taken the back seat out and put in a mattress so we could take turns sleeping. After I showed Robert how to get into gear on a column shift – he only driving his mother’s automatic – I hoped I could hold Rena in my arms, reassure her I love her, and then fall asleep while she sat up in front.
Rena had been sleeping for several hours, but as soon as I climbed in the back, she got up in a hurry and began to crawl in the front seat to sit in the middle of Robert and James. I could tell she was mad at me for telling her I did not want to play anymore. I grabbed her arm to stop her, and she slapped at my hand, hard. I gave her a hard tug, and she was in the back, on the mattress, slapping at me. When I hit her back, she quickly gave up. I’ll never forget the look on her face. It was no submissive. She was doing her best to show me I had won, because I was more powerful than her. Otherwise, she would kick my ass, because I had hurt her feelings, and she loved me, or had loved me.
I felt sick with regret. She looked more beautiful than ever. Rena had a hard time showing her feelings. She told me she was more comfortable talking to boys, and not, men.
“What age are we talking about?” I asked her, I not getting it.
“About nine or ten.” she replied, then watched me take that in and study it.
I wondered if there was arrested development because she was raised by her grandmother. She was not around her older sisters, and thus was not involved in all their feminine play – and gibberish. Rena hated small talk. The girls in the neighborhood were probably cruel to her, because they had fathers – and mothers! Rena told me she was a tom-boy, and not very pretty. Compared to what? Did she fight with these ten year olds? I was shocked when she slapped me. There is anger in Rena that I saw again when she spotted the girl wearing the same cape as her. There was anger in me due to the abuse of my alcoholic parents, who fought all the time. I felt so guilty ass I lie in the backseat by myself, not able to fall asleep.
“I’ve lost her.”
* * *
I do not recall exactly when I wondered if Rena was sent to live with her grandmother because she was being abused. When she got back in Wanda’s bed, she made a tent as young people do. She had such a strange look as she said;
“I hate him so much. Save me!”
Rena was acting out. I believe she was ready to open up to me. I turned my back.
I made the biggest mistake of my life, that is so very fresh, and so very haunting.