Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

There’s a Pedophile at My Pool

Last night, without any grace or coordination, I was bouncing and flouncing my way through a water aerobics class in our neighborhood pool when I caught the eye of a man.

He was bare-chested, appropriately clad in swimming trunks and easily preying in 5 feet of water. He was surrounded by three prepubescent girls. Maybe the one he was holding a little too closely was his daughter. I did hear Daddy ripple over the water. I have no way to know, no reason to judge how this man was playfully engaging with bikinis draped across newly-forming breasts and hips that had only begun to curve. There was nothing in his public display that should have set off alarms but as soon as our eyes met, I knew.

I’ve seen that look before and in the second it took for me to lose the aerobic routine’s rhythm, he felt my confusion and a little too promptly, a little too harshly, he released his playful, ticklish hold from under her arms and pushed the child away from his body. It was simply happenstance that our glances crossed, an inadvertent sway of my head as I moved my body to the instructor’s beat, but the immediate, defiant tilt of his chin and clandestine glint in his eye told a story, a narrative I know too well.

I’m not prone to hysteria or conclusions. I tend to seek explanations and champion the underdogs, but I’ve also learned with time and experience to trust my instincts. Last night my soul screamed and my gut whispered…he’s one of them. If you’ve been abused, if you’ve been witness to your own slaying, you know what I’m talking about. You know about the little voice you learn to hear; the whistle and hum that starts softly and resounds quickly to tighten the pace of your heart and tingle your spine.

My body’s response was so intense last night, my instincts screaming so loudly, I’d sit at the feet of mercy and put it all on the line if asked to testify and accuse.

Do you ever have that feeling…a gut check so extreme it haunts you for days?

Every place I’ve looked or ventured today I am stalked once again by the statistics—1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before they turn 18.

I shouldn’t be surprised. With 800 homes in my subdivision, I’m sure there’s more than one pedophile at my pool, or at your pool, at my playground or at yours. They’re everywhere, aren’t they.

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