Other days, however, I wake fully aware that sleep did not bring peace to me. I remember the times I awoke, looking at the clock to see how much longer till daybreak. My head aches from lack of rest. As much as I love to soak up those good mornings, I want to run from the dark ones.
During the dark days, sleep always brought me respite from the world. I looked forward to burrowing in my soft haven and making my brain stop. As my friends would say, "locking up the squirrels." Once those days spread farther and farther apart, sleep became what should be: Recharging the body and soul for another day of living. Every now and again, though, I'm cheated.
When I left the safe confines of my elementary school, I was amazed at all the people I was meeting. It was a mix of race and class (at least for a small southern town) and I truly loved finding new friends even at this young age.
As we were walking one day during gym class, I started walking with a group of kids I'd just met. A bunch of eleven and twelve year-olds on a fall day without a care in the world... When class was ending, the coach called us up, and I told the others I'd finish my lap. They went up to the school. What I did not know there were two other boys still down there. As I walked, they started saying things to me I had never heard, but I knew their tones didn't have good intentions. One boy was coming toward me, and I saw he was unbuttoning his pants. This is the part where I should've screamed or ran, but the only thought I had was, "What the hell is happening?"
I firmly believe in guardian angels, and, at that moment, mine appeared. One of the boys I had been walking with had noticed I was not coming up to the school as quickly as I should have. He came back for me. That simple: He came back. That moment is seared into my soul for eternity.
I am aware that I am luckier than most would have been in this situation. I walked away, but not as complete as I was when I woke that morning. My innocence had not been shattered, but there was a fracture. Their names stick in the back of my brain, crawling out every now and again. While I suppose forgiveness would be the noble thing to do, I can't. Last night I dreamed of them chasing me...never able to catch me, but always just right behind me. Maybe if I forgive them the dreams will stop? Or is it I can forgive them when the dreams stop? Dunno...
All I know is there was a young man, one who barely knew me, and he made a split-second decision that changed my life forever. Wherever you are, Donny Jackson, thank you for coming back. I pray your dreams are peaceful.