The war in which I fought, the war that left its indelible mark on me, was not a major battle lauded by historians as a great victory or a lesson learned. It was not researched after the fact, analyzed, viewed from various interesting angles and dissected by great minds with the intent of culling any worthwhile data it might provide. Nor was it documented with video equipment and reenacted, or detailed in studious dissertations. It was not noted at all, in fact, by any person alive on planet earth, either during or after the terrible war had officially ended. It is, in fact, only briefly noted within a massive list of words and definitions by a single two-syllable word that resides in Webster’s Dictionary. Just one word with two simple, unassuming syllables, expected to encapsulate the hideous events that changed my world forever. That annihilated me, though I fought for survival ever so gallantly. One word.
The battle was fought in my own home behind doors that were kept locked with the intent, not of keeping the boogieman safely outside, but of keeping the terrible secrets that occurred inside safe from prying eyes. For the boogieman was a resident of the house where I grew up. He built it. The locks were pathetically ineffective in providing any kind of protection. The fox was guarding the hen house. Instead, they trapped me inside with the monsters, never whispering a word of what transpired behind those heavy wooden doors they valiantly secured.
I had to maintain the highest achievable level of invisibility to survive the secrets. I was a silent child, terrified of those who gave me life, only to metaphorically take it away. I could not draw attention to my battle. Record my name upon the wall to mark my passing. To commemorate how I had fought and suffered. Not then. No “Kilroy Was Here” was left on board or stone to prove I had struggled and been grievously wounded. That I had existed, though I was no more.
I cloaked myself in darkness, but repeatedly, the darkness betrayed me. For it did not hide me from my father who quietly slipped into my room at night and took what he wanted from me, leaving me empty and shattered. It did not soften the impact of being raped, abused and used. It did not shield me from his warped, consuming lust.
The only one protected by the darkness was my abuser. The only one protected by the locks securely engaged, barring entrance from the world outside, was my rapist. My father. The only people shielded by the blinds tightly drawn against the light were my parents. They who made me, used me and destroyed me.
I could not leave a mark as witness of what I suffered at hands that devoured me to satisfy their whims. I was an easy target for their anger, providing a temporary release for their rage. I was at their mercy…and they had no mercy for me.
Yet, I could not speak of the atrocities. Nor memorialize the tragedy. No one knew of the conflict in which I so desperately struggled and fought. I could not tell them, for I had no voice. I was a prisoner of an unknown and unacknowledged war, held by an enemy hiding behind masks bearing my parent’s faces.
Even if someone suspected evil lurked within the fortified house where I was a prisoner, they did nothing but turn and walk away. Preferring to ignore the abomination. Preferring to remain blind, on the outside, untouched. Safe.
It is too much ask someone to watch the decimation of a defenseless child. To fight on their behalf.
“Kilroy Was Here” was a proclamation. It was created as a visual symbol, one that would commemorate the GI’s presence. What he had experienced. He left it behind as a sign for those who would come after. To let them know he had been where they now stood…and had lived to tell, if only for another moment or two in time.
I have no clever graphic. No miraculous tale of glory, bravery or battles won. I have only words. Inadequate words. Words that can never sufficiently explain. That will never truly tell the story.
I leave them strewn here, these simple, inadequate words, scattered across this screen for those who will come after me. This is my “Kilroy.” The marker I place to commemorate the battles fought. I was left to perish, a broken soul. Wounded by those who were supposed to die protecting me. I have staggered beneath the weight of every form of child abuse. And like any soldier who endures and fights in horrendous conditions, attempting to survive the unrelenting attacks of a deadly, disguised, fanatic enemy, I have been forever changed by what I have endured.
I moved on, but found no path back to the world outside the locked doors of my childhood. Those who should have cared never did. Never will. So I leave these meager words stacked upon this page as a memorial, a visible symbol of the inner destruction.
Kilroy was here. A tiny child, alone in the chaos, tortured, twisted, despised and used. That little girl I once was started life whole and hopeful, a living, joyful being. It is she who is buried beneath the memorial stones I stack and shape with my imperfectly placed words. For wars inevitably have casualties. And children can die in a million different ways.