I used to tell my stuffed, fluffy panda all my secrets—what I wished for, what I was sad or scared about, what I shouldn’t have seen or done.

I lived in a tiny town that hides in the hills of the hell that is Honduras; everyone that lives there wants to hide—because of what they’ve seen or done.

They told me one day that I was pregnant. At 12-years-old, I still wasn’t sure what exactly that meant—or how it happened. My mother seemed to know, but every time I asked, she looked away and got angry.

Did I do something to anger her, I use to wonder? But when the memories came flooding back of the men with hairy chests, holding me down, tying my hands with their worn, leather belts, stuffing a rag into my mouth so I wouldn’t scream, and ripping off my clothes so that they had easier access to the thing between my legs, I knew that I had. She always told me to stay quiet and never to leave the house on my own.

I didn’t know what pregnancy meant or what would happen when I had to give birth. Can’t I just have a panda? I asked the doctor who was explaining it to me. As it turned out, I never had to find out what birth entailed. When the men came back some months later, and held my father at gunpoint, because he couldn’t pay the money they demanded, and did to my mom what they did to me, and made him and me watch, I picked up my stuffed panda and threw it at them and screamed, “Stop!” And that’s when they shot me in the stomach—and my mom and dad in the head. I’m the only one that lived.

Why couldn’t I just have stayed quiet like she told me to?

Next Vignette: Blind

Read Here