When I was seven, my parents took me with them to visit some of their friends. They had a kid the same age as me, Max, and so we were sent off to play while they talked. Max had a large playroom full of lots of toys that I was very jealous of. We started there, but he seemed distracted. Eventually he stood up.

“Follow me,” he said.

I followed him out into the garden, into the trunk of his parents’ car.

“Take your pants off,” he said.


“Because I told you to,” he said, “and if you don’t, no one will be your friend.”   

After a little more encouragement, I eventually did take my pants off. He stuck his hand in my underwear and played with my scrotum. I told him to stop and he shook his head.

“You can play with mine later,” he said.

I remember looking at the gray ceiling of the car and feeling ashamed, but not knowing why. There was a small elliptical shaped light on the edge where the ceiling met the wall. Something was wrong with it, and it flickered a little, a dirty flash of yellowbrown. I wished that it would turn off all the way and everything would just be dark.

We heard our parents’ voices outside and Max told me to put on my pants.

I didn’t tell anyone about Max until Devon told me about twelve years later that Max had also brought him to the car, and told him to do the same thing. Devon had said no. I wondered why I hadn’t said no then, where all the no’s had been every time I had needed them.

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