We walked into the next room over. It was all of us again, only two years had passed. I seemed happy enough, playing with my action figures on the floor while Mom pushed cooked hamburger into a pot of bubbling tomato sauce. Dad was laughing at a TV show in the other room. But I could somehow remember my emotions and thoughts that day. I wasn’t happy. Something was eating me up inside, and the little Me on the floor kept glancing back and forth to Mom and Dad, scared to make any mention of what had happened, and scared that they might somehow already know and blame me for it. The secret was eating me up inside, but I had been told by the man who did it to me… very bad things would happen if I ever told anyone. And I didn’t want any more bad things to happen. Not to me. Not to anyone. So I played with my toys and kept my mouth shut, even though the same horrid images of what had happened cycled through my mind repeatedly and without any hope of a torment-free end.
“Come on,” the ghost said. “There’s more.” She took my hand and I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, we were in a different childhood home some years later. I was angry. So angry. And as my siblings ran and played around me, I found ways to torment them and bully them. I said the meanest things to them. I hurt them, as often and as harshly as I could. She didn’t let me stay long there, I think because she saw me begin to truly hate that child I had become.
She touched my shoulder and I was taken into my elementary school bathroom just six hours earlier that same day. My heart sunk as I came face to face with my two biggest tormentors. I watched, horrified and unable to do anything, as Miles kicked hard against a bathroom stall door. I knew the younger Me was cowering and terrified behind that door. The brute burst through, and he and Levi cracked their knuckles and entered. The ghost and I turned the corner of the stall to watch; I stood sick to my stomach, unable to look away. I knew what was about to happen. “Get out of here! Leave me alone! I didn’t do anything to you guys!” I screamed in panic as they approached a fat and horrified Younger Me. Miles kicked my knees from behind and the two bullies forced me to the ground.
“Lick it,” they told me as they pushed my face toward the toilet seat. I resisted as long as possible, and then I watched the light and fight completely leave me. I went limp as Levi grabbed a handful of my hair. “Lick it,” he repeated. I told him no. I watched them force this younger Me to lick the entire length of the toilet seat. They finally left me alone. Levi’s last words were, “try hiding from us again. I dare you.” They ran from the bathroom together, laughing. Before I could watch what younger Me did next, the ghost touched my arm and took me to our family’s laundry room three hours later on that same day.
My mother was leaned over, pulling hot clothes from the dryer. I entered through the doorway behind her. “Mom, I need to tell you something,” I said so sheepishly and with a cracked voice. She asked what it was. Tell her the truth, I pleaded with younger Me through my thoughts. Tell her the truth and your entire life might be so different. But younger Me didn’t tell her the truth. Instead, it went down exactly as I remember it going down. “Some kids at school keep calling me fat.” It was as much truth as I was willing to share. And the younger Me burst into tears after he said it. “TELL HER THE TRUTH!” I screamed it at him this time. But it was no use. He couldn’t hear me.
Mom turned toward the younger Me and gave me a hug. “Some kids are just mean, it’ll be okay. Don’t let it bother you.” The younger Me began crying uncontrollably, wanting help. Desperate for help. Wanting her to somehow know that I needed that help. I began to cry as I watched. I knew that younger Me would leave the room. And I knew that for years after that, younger Me would never trust another adult to help him. And I knew that the bullying would get so much worse.
The ghost took me from life moment to life moment after that.
I watched on my birthday as my gym coach punished me cruelly in front of all the other students for whistling in the gym. I watched other students destroy my school projects. I watched beautiful and popular girls invite me to parties that didn’t exist. I watched one girl, Kitt approach me at a drinking fountain and say, “hey, you wanna see my tits?” as she fondled her own breasts. I watched myself walk away and I cringed as I heard those words follow me that have haunted me my entire life. “Dan Pearce is a faggot!” Younger me kept walking. Several people in the hallway began yelling it with her. “Dan Pearce is a faggot! Dan Pearce is a faggot!”