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False Memories

by Leila Kulpas

False Memories

My ten-year-old sister was nearby

that day, though I don't know what

she saw or heard; I was six.

Saying he wanted to show me

something, the thirteen-year-old

boy arranged me upside-down on a

kitchen chair.

The next thing, he was trying to

push a part of himself into me.

Pain! I cried out.

He'd withdrawn and disappeared,

before my mother peered from the hallway, where she was sewing:

What's going on?

Much later,

when I came to understand what he'd

done, I was overwhelmed with


The first person I told, in my thirties, was my psychiatrist,

whose comments were kind and soothing.

Decades later,

I confronted the molester,

whose response astonished me.

Well, at least it wasn't rape or anything, he said..

It wasn't? I declared. That's exactly what it was!

After a silence, he muttered

something, and then apologized to me.

My sister had been my best friend

in adolescence, but I didn't talk to her

about what happened

until many decades later.

Immediately and loudly, she declared,

That never happened—it's a false memory.

Surely couldn't imagine

she knew every moment

of my early life.

I repeated what I'd said more loudly

and succinctly,

emphasizing that it was the truth,

and also mentioned that the molester

had admitted what he'd done.

To no avail.

In the years since that day, she has repeatedly insisted

on the falsity of my memory,

and even wrote and published something about it. The memory no longer hurts like

it used to; now my main feeling is sadness

about my sister's response.



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