In 1981, I was an 11 year old girl with curly, dark brown hair in what was undoubtedly a bad hair cut but one that I LOVED (anyone remember the bubble?), hazel eyes and a sprinkling of light freckles across the bridge of my nose. I had long skinny legs and even skinnier arms that looked too long for my body.
I loved my family, friends and playing starting center for the Superstars basketball team. I cheered for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, spent countless hours playing Life with my friend Dana, and had a mad crush on a boy named Brett. I was fascinated by his ability to play Chess. His fourth grade sister was hilarious, his Dad worked for IBM and they lived in a big house. He was the trifecta of crushes.
I started playing clarinet in the school band the year before. I was THRILLED when we started selling candy bars for a fundraiser. I couldn't believe my luck. I felt omnipotent with my hands firmly clenched around the handles and toting that brown cardboard box chock full of candy bars through the streets of the bluegrass state. We had TWO kinds...chocolate and chocolate with peanuts. Each one cost one dollar which was A LOT of money back in the day.
It was a Sunday in February. My mom was playing volleyball at the church rec center and my brother, sister and I all went. She said I could go door-to-door peddling my wares but ONLY on the street where the church was and ONLY if someone went with me. My little brother, dishwater blond hair and swimming pool blue eyes, was eager to go with me.
We were met with several empty houses and a few "thanks but no thanks,kid." I was thrilled when a younger couple, toward the end of the street bought not one, but TWO candy bars...one of each. Later, I would take the police back to their house.
I was confident in my sales skills and powered on despite the cloudy sky and chill in the air.
I quickly felt defeated as we started to walk away from the last house, the one on the corner. No one answered the door and that was as far as we were allowed to go. As we walked down the steps, a man in gray sweatpants came jogging up. He was pleased to see us and desperate to buy some chocolate candy bars. He asked us to wait on the front sidewalk for a second while he went in thru the back door since he had forgotten his keys.
My little brother and I were ecstatic to sell some more candy. The man came back toward us and asked us to follow him so he could give me the money. We went with him around the corner and slowed as we approached a chain link fence and an empty driveway. I stopped abruptly as he opened the gate because I wasn't going any further.
He gripped my forearm tightly and shoved me into the backyard. My not-quite six year old brother was forced to follow.
The man in the gray sweats wasn't going to buy any candy bars.
He pushed me up against the metal screen door, pulled out a gun and forced the muzzle against my right temple.
This post was originally published on April 3, 2011. I am sharing it today as a distinct moment my life took a turn. Link up with Jenni for Blogtember.