Monday, March 29, 2010

Introducing Stephanie

Monday morning came sooner than usual for me.  I didn’t like getting new clients because that meant the child had suffered some kind of trauma in their lives.  However, I wouldn’t have chosen this career to not get any work.  I was hear to help my clients.  So I arrived at the office early to read over the client file.  Stephanie. Age 17.  Lost her virginity to rape at 12 by two neighborhood boys. She was also abused physically by her father.  The father was in counseling. Her rapist disappeared after her parents confronted the boy’s parents.  The last incident with her father was the most recent.  This was going to be a difficult one.
I read through all the notes.  Stephanie’s mother didn’t leave the father after the details of the abuse came out.  Stephanie had been seeing a boy older than her and he was in the house when the father got home.  Stephanie told the police that she hadn’t had sex with the boy “yet” and her father came in and ran the guy outside. The father went back in her room while she was half dressed and made her take her clothes off.  He told her to lay down on the bed and he touched her breast. He then asked her what she was going to do with a boy that size and then put his fingers between her legs touching her private part.  He then said to her, “you don’t even have a smell yet.”
I wasn’t quite sure what that meant but that’s what Stephanie had in her report.  He then made her lay back down and he took his penis out and put it on her.  Then he put the head of his penis on her private part.  When she started asking why he was doing that to her and crying he stopped, pulled up his pants, and left her in the room humiliated and confused.  This happened when she was 14.
The last incident by her father happened as a result of what Stephanie reported as a lie spread by someone in school she didn’t like.  The girl she didn’t like had written her phone number on the boy’s bathroom wall.  She wasn’t allowed to have boys calling her at home.  Boys started calling her house phone asking for her and every time they did, her parents would get mad at her.  She tried to explain to them what happened in school but they didn’t believe her. 
Coincidentally, a boy she did know, who was her boyfriend at the time, called the house, knowing he shouldn’t have, but his sister had been hit by a car and he was calling to tell her.  Her father answered the phone at the same time she did.  The boy told her the story as the father was coming up the steps.  Her father grabbed the phone from her, hung it up, and called her a liar.  She tried to explain to him that the boy’s sister had been hit by a car but the father didn’t listen.  He called her a liar again and smacked her. Then he started hitting her like she was a man, punching her and finally kicking her. 
The police report said that she had a black eye and her lip was busted. She also had bruises on her ribs assuming from the kicks.  She had run out the house after the assault and went to work not knowing what to do and definitely not knowing that her eye had started bruising.  By the time she got there, she had a black eye.  She knew her lip was busted because she had been holding a towel to it the whole time she had been driving to work.  She could explain that, or so she thought, but she wasn’t able to explain herself out of the black eye. 
One of the waitresses at her job, whom she didn’t really know, made her sit down at a corner table and tried to comfort her.  She had been shaking and every time someone asked her who did this to her, she wouldn’t say.  The manager started going down a list of people that he knew. Her mother. Father. Boyfriend. Best friend. Every time he would say someone she would shake her head no except when they got to her father.  They asked in the same rotation about three times before they had their answer.  No shaking of the head on the father.  They knew it had to be him.  The waitress who had made her sit down, Stacie, offered to take her home with her.  Not knowing what else to do and afraid to go home, Stephanie complied.  Stacie took her home with her and called the police.  The police arrested her father that night and Stacie went to court with the caseworker to get temporary custody of her.  Over the next few months Stacie got sick and was unable to care for her.  She had been with Stacie for nine months before coming to us.  She had been placed in foster care but ran away with the boyfriend she got the call from that horrible day.  When the police found her they brought her to us.  Over the weekend she had been in a foster home with someone she knew from school. Now it was time for us to help her deal with what had happened to her.  Her first caseworker had gone on leave and now she was assigned to me.
It was 8:55 am. She would be here any minute.
I got up from my desk and asked Nicole to bring in some orange juice and donuts.  I wasn’t going to take the girl through the routine of asking her to tell me what happened.  I had it all in front of me.  She was due to go to court for her father the next day and I just wanted to see what mental state she was in.  I would ask for a continuance if I had to. 
I saw Ms. Myles, the foster attendant walking with a tall, light-skinned, slim female.  She had long brown hair past her shoulders and she looked tired and worn out.
Ms. Myles introduced us and then left quickly.
“Hi Stephanie.”
“Hi,” she said looking around my office.
“Would you like some O.J and donuts?”
She looked at the table and took one of the jelly donuts.  She chose the strawberry one. My favorite too.
I waited as she took a bite.
“How are you doing at the new home?”
She gave me this sarcastic look as if I should know. 
“Are you getting along with everyone?”
She shrugged her shoulders, taking another bite of her donut.  She looked past me and focused in on something.  I didn’t want to seem intrusive so I didn’t turn around to see what had her attention.  I just waited. 
She stood up and walked over to my book case. She was looking at my pictures.  I had random pictures of landscapes I had taken.  My past time was photography. 
“You don’t have personal pictures in here,” she observed.
“No, I don’t.”
“So you aren’t married? No kids? No family?”
“I do have family but no I am not married and I don’t have kids.”
“Hmm..,” I heard her say.
I was being interviewed.
“Do you know why I am here,” she asked still with her back turned pretending she was still looking at the photos.
“Yes I do.”
This time she turned around to face me and crossed her arms.  You could tell she was more angry than anything.
“Your father abused you physically and mentally.  You were also raped a couple of years ago.  You ran away from your last foster home. Your parents are trying to petition the court to get you back. Meanwhile, you are in a new foster home.”
I made a point of stating all the facts.  I could tell she didn’t like sugar coating.
She looked out the window at something far off. 
“How are you doing with your rape?”
Ouch.  That hurt.  But I didn’t feel as if she was attacking me.  I believe she was looking for something in common.
“I am taking it one day at a time,” I said slowly trying not to seem uncomfortable with the tables being turned.
“Is he in jail?”
“Yes he is,” I said praying silently that he stayed there. I don’t know what I would do if he was released from jail and I lived to see it.
“That’s good,” she said coming over and sitting down in front of me. 
She poured herself a cup of orange juice.  Then she poured me some.  Time for business. The tables turned again.
“I don’t like the place I’m at now.  Its cool as far as the actual home but there is a boy there that gets on my nerves and I try not to be around him and the so-called foster parents are a trip!”
“Why is that?  How does this boy get on your nerves?”
“He keeps invading my space and touching me.”
Not good.  She didn’t need anymore unwanted sexual behavior towards her.
“In what way does he touch you? Is he the son of Ms. Tiller?”
“No he is another foster child.”
I made a note to find out more about the kids in that home.
“How is he touching you?”
“My leg. He keeps rubbing it and sometimes before I smack him he tries to put his hand near my crotch!  I feel like I am saying No on repeat!”
She was angry and had every right to be. 
“I will look into this today, ok?”
She looked at me searching for signs to trust me or not.  I didn’t want her to notice how irritated I was right now.  Why would they put her in a home with a boy anyway after what she has been through? Were their no other homes available the night they found her.  I was going to find out ASAP.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I unlocked my apartment door and for some reason I looked inside first.  I didn’t see anything unusual.  I guess I was still spooked about the calls the other day.  After talking to Officer Moses, I decided to go home instead of back to my parent house.  No one out of the ordinary had used the telephone booth after I received the last call so the Officer Moses thought it was just a prank caller.  I hoped so.  I took my clothes off and put on my pajamas.  I would take a shower later.  I just wanted to sit down. 
I turned the television on and let the television watch me as I thought about Jessica and Diego.  Diego was definitely a nice looking man.  I’m sure he was taking care of her financially.  That’s the kind of man he was.  He could definitely afford it.  I wonder how they met? Car dealer! Ha!
Jessica’s heart was fragile.  She had been hurt way too many times.  Now that she knew the risks, her heart would be even more vested.  That’s the way her heart worked.  It didn’t listen to instincts.  It only listened to the conscious that kept whispering in her ear to do it no matter what your instincts say.  Like the devil and the angel in the movies that sit on each shoulder.  The angel tried to sympathize and help you make the right safe decision. Then you had the devil, contradicting everything the angel said and made you see the benefits in taking risks and possibly heartache just for a few moments of short-term pleasure and satisfaction.  
My thoughts were interrupted by a scratching sound and smiled.  Walking over to the window, I opened the curtains to see my friend, fat cat.  This time he had a tag on him.  I looked at the tag- Sammy.  His name was Sammy.  It fit him perfectly.  I opened the window to greet my little friend.
He must have went missing enough times for his owner to put a tag on him.  He lived down the block.  Not too far away.  At least I knew now where he was from.  Fat cat went to the kitchen again in search of milk.  I had left his bowl on the floor and I poured fresh milk in it.  He drank like a kid in a candy store.  I leaned against the counter and laughed.  Maybe I should get a cat of my own.  I had always had pets in my home until my father got sick of them and then I would come home and the cat or dog or hamster would be gone.  I promised after the last cat that disappeared never to get another cat while I was living with my father.  That’s another story.
Maybe it was time to get me one.  A cat was always good company.
Sammy walked from one room to another as if he was scoping the place out.  I hope he didn’t have to go to the bathroom because my place was not a kitty litter.  I followed him around peeking where he peeked.  I felt like a little kid.  He must have liked my bed because he jumped on it, walked around in circles, stretched out his fat legs and plumped down.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  I actually laughed hysterically as he looked at me wondering what was so damn funny.  I just hoped he didn’t have fleas but I could tell he was taken care of pretty well.  Thinking it harmless I let him cat nap while I checked my mail. 
An envelope from the District Court was there and I opened it nervously.  I took the envelope to the bed where Sammy was napping and sat down.  The first time since my ra…
I rubbed Sammy as he purred.  Glad you’re here fella, I thought.
I opened the letter and saw the State of North Carolina against Quentin Proctor.  The preliminary hearing was in three weeks.  Great!  I should have been happy that I was going to see that bastard in court and in handcuffs but part of me felt sick to my stomach.  I called my father and told him and he told my mother.  They promised me that they would be there to support me, if not kill him.  I started to call Jessica but decided against it, for now.  Sammy was looking up at me.  He had the cutest face I had ever seen on a cat.  He looked like he was a Persian.  His hair was a silverfish gray.  He was freshly combed and his nails were recently clipped.  Someone really loved him.  I should probably send him home before his parents started looking for him. 
I put my sneakers on not bothering to change my clothes and grabbed my coat and Sammy.  He purred and laid down in my arms as we took our short walk around the corner.  I wish I didn’t have to take him back but I knew I would want him back if I owned him.  I had a feeling I would see him again soon.
I knocked on the door and waited.  No answer.  I knocked again.  I heard footsteps.  An older woman with bright green eyes answered the door.  She had a lively smile.  It was even brighter when she saw Sammy. 
Sammy jumped from my arms and she bent down and picked him up.  I smiled.  Happy reunions.
“Thank you so much.  Sammy likes to explore.  I just put a tag on him this morning.”
“Well he has visited me a couple times.  I wanted to bring him back before you missed him.”
She smiled a warming smile.
“Thank you so much.  My kids are grown and he is my company in between visits.”
“You are welcome.  I’ll be going now.”
”Oh please come in for a moment.  Would you like some tea,” she asked walking towards the back of the house.  For some reason I decided to follow.  There were pictures on the wall of her and a man.  I figured the man was her husband.  Handsome guy.  He looked familiar. 
“My husband passed away two years ago,” she said reading my thoughts.
“Do you like herbal, green, or regular tea?”
“Green tea is fine.”
I sat down at the table.  The kitchen was huge with an island in the front.  I had always liked that feature.  As I looked around, Sammy jumped in my lap.  I rubbed him and he resumed his purring routine.
She brought me over a hot glass of tea and sat down across from me.
“Thank you again for bringing him home,” she said looking down at Sammy.
“He is such a sweet cat,” I praised.
We sat and talked for what seemed an hour.  I got up to leave and she asked me my name.  We had been talking this long and we hadn’t even introduced ourselves. 
I apologized and told her my name.
“Toni.  That fits you.  My name is Regina Moses.”
I looked at her.  I was full of coincidences today.  It couldn’t be.
“Do you have twins?”
Her face lit up.  “Yes I do!  How did you know that?”
I laughed. Well I’ll be damned. 
“I know your son and daughter I believe.”
“Oh wonderful! Sean and Steve are actually on their way!”
As she said it, I heard the front door open.  I whirled around and saw Sean heading my way. Well I’ll be doubled damn.
Sean stopped in her tracks when she saw me.  I suddenly felt conscious standing in her mother’s kitchen in my pajamas.  I had even forgotten that I had them on.  I felt like an idiot.
A smile started forming on Sean’s face as she approached.  I just looked at her.
“What are you doing here?”
I put my head down. “I brought Sammy home.  I had no idea…”
“Wow that tag actually was a good idea,” she said looking around to her mother. 
Her mother clapped her hands.
“It sure was! Where is Steve?”
“He is grabbing the groceries.  Care to stay for dinner Toni,” she asked me.
“Oh I couldn’t. I’m uh…”
Looking down at my slippers. 
“In my pajamas.”
Sean looked down at my slippers and laughed.
“Sammy was that much trouble?”
I blushed. 
“I figured someone was missing him. He has visited me a couple times actually.”
“Good Sammy,” she said patting fat cats head. 
I was really feeling awkward now.  “I’ll go.  Have a nice dinner.”
I moved so fast that I almost knocked Steve down.
“Whoa,” he said stumbling back.
I didn’t even stop to apologize.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Questions about Sean

Quentin wasn’t going to get away with what he did to me like a lot of rapist do because of technicalities.  I had to think positive.  He was sinking his own ship and that was going to work in the publics favor including mine.  He would never be able to hurt another woman.  I was going to see to it.
Officer Moses and Terry were doing there job and doing it well.  Another thing on my side is that they caught him in the act, per say, so that helped my case even more.
“He isn’t going to walk,” they assured me.
“Thank you.”
They excused themselves and left the precinct. Now what? Just as I was about to leave, I walked right into Sean literally.
“Hi,” she said grabbing me so I didn’t fall.
“Oh, hi.”
She released my arms and I stepped back.  She had her hair out of the usual ponytail and was wearing her uniform. She looked very attractive as always.
“One of the officers had a heart attack but the other van took him to the hospital.”
“Oh okay.”
“I’m about to get off.”
I didn’t know what to say.  Why did I feel so awkward around this woman? Maybe because she had seen me in my most vulnerable state. Maybe because she was so nice to me. Maybe because she showed genuine interest after the… Maybe crap!  I had no clue why I felt so damn nervous.
“I was going to call you later and check on you. Is everything okay?”
“Yes, I came down here to get an update on the letter that was sent.”
“Oh right.  Was it taken care of,” she asked concerned again.
“Yes, they did. He can’t write anyone now.”
That’s good she said folding her arms.
“And how has your morning been?”
“Fine. I took a client to breakfast.”
I started to relax.  She was very easy to talk to.
“I was about to get something to eat across the street. Want to join me? Do you have something to do? You have time?”
“I um…I was just going to go home…nothing else to do. I just ate though so maybe some other time,” I said shrugging my shoulders.
“Okay that’s cool.”
I turned around to leave.  I really didn’t know what I was going to do I just knew that I needed to get out that police station but wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go home either.  I could feel her watching me.
I turned around and caught her smiling. 
“Sure I’ll join you. I could use another cup of coffee.”
“Okay great. Let me change my clothes.  Ten minutes.”
She rushed off down the stairs to where I assumed the lockers were. What else could be down there?
The hospital was connected to the police station so maybe that was the paramedics’ area. Why was I thinking about that? I felt silly.
Exactly ten minutes later she saw Sean running up the stairs with blue jeans, a white tee shirt and fresh timberlands.  She looked nice, in a boyish kinda way.
“Yea of course.”
I followed her to a diner across the street that had no name or at least I couldn’t read the name on the sign outside because it was so old.
She pulled out a seat for me and we sat down.  I knew I was blushing because I never had a woman pull out my seat for me before. 
“I’m sorry. It’s a habit.  I do it for my mother.”
I laughed a little.
“It’s okay.  I was just surprised.”
A young lady who obviously knew Sean took our orders cheesing in Sean’s face the whole time.  I chose to ignore it but it was hard to when every time the girl came to the damn table she was breaking her jaw smiling.  She almost threw my coffee in my lap paying attention to Sean so much.  Wow! This was starting to become comical.
“I see you have an admirer.”
Sean laughed.  “Admirer but not admired.”
We both laughed. 
We looked at each other for a moment before I broke the silence to sip my coffee.
“How was your morning? Did I ask that already?”
I smiled putting my cup down that was half empty already.
“Yes you did but its okay.  I had an interesting morning.”
“Oh really? What made it interesting?”
“My client, Denise, told me today that she thinks she’s gay.  She is only fifteen!”
Sean laughed.  “Well kids these days seem to know much quicker than the adults these days.”
I smiled.
“I guess…,” not fully convinced.
“And what was your response,” she asked giving me her full attention.
“I let her talk. I didn’t say much. She said that boys were horrible and pointed out what happened to me.”
“I simply told her that all boys weren’t horrible,” I laughed nervously.  I wasn’t sure how this conversation was going.  I wasn’t fully sure what her sexuality was though the waitress gave me a serious clue.
“Well that is true. Not all boys are horrible,” she said sitting up straight.  “So I guess that wasn’t a bad answer.”
“I hope not cause I had no idea really what to say.”
“Well if you ever need help talking to her about it, let me know.  I am a counselor at the youth center and I head the LGBT group.”
“The what?”
She laughed, visibly amused.
“The group that deals with teens who are gay, bisexual or still trying to figure it out.”
“Oh,” now I knew or did I.
“So um, are you…uh…one of those?”
She laughed again leaning into to whisper.  
“Yes I am a lesbian.”
“Okay, how long? How did you know that you were?” 
I really wanted the answers to this question because I wanted to help Denise if she needed it.  I also wanted to know why this beautiful woman decided not to be with men.  She was attractive, smart, sexy, and successful. Any man would want her. Hell, I guess any woman that was gay would too!
“Well I knew in high school for sure.  I was a late bloomer when it came to being attracted to either sex. My family had a lot going on and I just didn’t have time to think about boys or even girls for my sake.  Once I got into high school that changed.  My parents had separated a few times but I guess it got old so we were a little more stable and I started socializing more and I never was attracted to boys.  I thought they were immature.  My mom said that was normal for a girl to think guys were immature and actually said she still thought they were but it was different for me.  I just wasn’t interested.  I finally found a guy I did like but only because we had a lot in common.  He tried to kiss me and I let him.  I got nothing out of it.  That was my junior year.  I was always attracted to my girlfriends though and one day my best friend asked me if she could kiss me. I let her and I liked it. I’ve been gay ever since!”
I laughed more out of shock then anything.
“So you have never been with a man?!”
“I tried it once in college but didn’t really get anything out of it but losing my virginity.”
I put my chin in my hands and looked at her.  I wandered what it was like to be with a woman but quickly dismissed it.  Sex was the last thing on my agenda right now.
“You’re quiet.  Are you okay? Too much information,” she laughed nervously.
“No, I just… I… I don’t know.”
I honestly did not know what I was feeling.
“That’s normal,” she laughed again sitting back and observing me.
“So lets talk about you.”
I sat up straight.
“What do you want to know?”
“Before all this happened were you gay,” she joked.
That broke the ice. I laughed until my stomach hurt.  I needed that.
Once I was able to talk, I patted her hand.
“Nowhere close.”

I walked Sean back to her car and she promised to call me later.  I was actually looking forward to it.  She was so easy to talk to and I trusted her.  She wasn’t a man, which I didn’t want to be around right now besides my father and she wasn’t my family or Jessica treating me like a wounded bird.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Silence Please...

I decided to venture from the book for a moment to share what I just wrote.

Three Sixty

I think about the last twenty-four hours and wonder why I did the things I did.
I wonder why I felt the need to completely hide myself from the world.
In my world of life, I felt the need to cut off everyone including people who love me?
Haven’t I suffered enough?

From the beginning until now I know I’ve made mistakes.
I know that I have hurt people.
I know that I have cheated.
I know that I have lived a double life.
I know that I have disrespected people.
I know that I have lied.
I know that I have purposely set out to destroy and won if only for one minute.
I know that I have used my body shamelessly.
I know that I have abused trust.
I know that I have forsaken the vows of marriage.
I know that I have abandoned all reasoning at times.
I know that I have broken laws.
I know that I have addictions I tried not to face.
I know that I have lost faith in God at times when I needed him the most.
I know that I have broken promises even if they are few.
I know that I have regrets about breaking the hearts of people who truly had my best interest at heart and loved me unconditionally.
I know I have not been the best daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend, lover, employee, coworker, boss, godmother, companion, wife, mother, and Woman.

I also know that people are not perfect even the ones you want to be.
I have been abused by people who know better.
I have been neglected by people who were supposed to nurture me.
I have been hurt by people I thought were my friend.
I have been betrayed by people who I’ve loved and trusted.
I have been raped by men who could not control their lust and can’t take rejection.
I have been robbed by people who needed a new thrill.
I have been lied to my face without even a trace of guilt.
I have been lied on by hateful people who have nothing else to do but prove true that “Misery Enjoys Company.”
I have been misunderstood by people who haven’t taken the time to get to know me.
I have been mistrusted by people who had my complete loyalty.
I have been infected by the sins of Adam and Eve.
I have been taken advantage of by people who don’t know the meaning of friendship, love, trust, and respect.
I have been the unfortunate associate to perverts, criminals, betrayers, rapists, pedophiles, family, husbands, partners, haters, and the list goes on to include the seasons that have come in and out of my life that make up Imperfect People.

I also have come to realize that I am not the only one who has shared my experiences.
I am not the only one who has been abused.
I am not the only one who has been raped.
I am not the only one who has been betrayed by a friend.
I am not the only one who has regrets.
I am not the only one who has been disappointed in the people in their lives and the world around us.
I am not the only one who has done some dirt.
I am not the only one who has been infected by sin.
I am not the only one who has taken delight in hurting people.
I am not the only one who has broken someone’s trust.
I am not the only one who has cheated on their partner.
I am not the only who has been divorced three times.
I am not the only one who has caused and been in the middle of drama.
I am not the only one who suffers from guilt.
I am not the only one who has lived in denial.
I am not the only who worries about failing as a mother even though you know you were born to be one.
I am not the only one who has denied the true affections of my heart.
I am not the only one who has cursed God at the most vulnerable time in their life.
I am not the only one who has been stabbed in the back, lied on, hurt, disrespected, manipulated, misinterpreted, taken advantage of, victimized, depressed, and went to bed hoping I wouldn’t wake up to have to go another round.

I have had enough.
The times of being a victim to the madness is over.
I Am a Daughter, Sister, Friend, Lover, Companion, Entrepreneur, Aunt, Godmother, Patient, Writer, Mother, Woman, and Survivor.

I testify to not let anyone destroy the happiness I deserve.
In return I promise to love, honor, cherish, respect, appreciate, understand, believe, have faith, be loyal, make amends, and most of all Forgive myself for my mistakes and the mistakes that other people have made concerning Me.
I pray that those who have hurt, abused, violated, victimized, lied, cheated, stole, threatened, harassed, mislead, misunderstood, betrayed, raped, and almost destroyed my inner peace- intentionally- learn from their ill intentions and Repent.

God is a forgiving God.
Who am I to judge anyone? 
Who are You to Judge me?
Forgiveness is the key to Heaven.

I am who I am.
I love who I love.
Change is necessary.
I am Tiffany.
I am Me.

Introducing Denise

I needed to do something productive, so I called the office and asked them to send my caseload to my house.  Brittany, my Director tried to talk me out of it, requesting that I take more time but I told her that the more time I took, the angrier I would become.  She agreed to let my pending cases get delivered to me but that was it. That pending status included Denise.  They had found her at her mothers as I expected them to. She had been missing her mother terribly and kept fighting at school anytime someone mentioned her mother’s recent news report.  Her mother, Vivian Thompson, had robbed a liquor store a few blocks from there which was the latest mark on her record that kept Denise from being returned home. She had almost gotten away with it until her on again off again boyfriend got mad at her and told one of his in between girlfriends who ratted her out.  She had gotten away with five thousand dollars and was facing felony charges. Denise was not going home anytime soon. Denise’s father, Diego Vargas, had gotten her out on bail. Denise’s father was a well known drug dealer. Poor Denise, she was screwed both ways.  She would be my priority. 

I got up from the couch and noticed that Jessica had cooked me breakfast. My body was still aching but the pain was less.  I got up slowly and steadied myself.  Jessica must have stepped out for a second.  She wouldn’t have gone far without waking me to tell me.  I went to the bathroom and stopped before entering.  I looked around as if I was expecting someone. No one was there.  I stepped in and looked in the mirror.  I couldn’t believe how horrible I looked.  Actually I could, because I always looked how I felt.  Some people could pull of looking amazing while they are feeling terrible inside.  I was not one of those people.
My skin was pale.  My hair was limp.  My face had a few faint bruises on it.  I took my mothers nightgown off and stood naked in front of the mirror.  I could see the bruises on my body and a few scratches. I saw the needle marks on my forearm where the IVs had been placed.  I turned the shower water on and waited as the room filled with steam.  I wanted the water as hot as I could stand it. I wanted it all to wash away.  I was fooling myself. I could never wash this feeling away.  I scrubbed my skin until it was almost raw.  I sat down on the shower floor and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.  I got out of the shower and just stood there folding my arms around me.  I leaned against the wall and listened to the silence around me.  I wondered when this dismal feeling would go away.  I feared it never would.  I knew it had to get better one day. I knew it wouldn’t be immediate then I thought of Denise.  She might as well have had no one. I could be someone to her.  I needed to reach out to someone who wasn’t looking at me as a victim.

I pulled myself together, wrapping my robe around me.  I had air dried already so I went to the hall closet and grabbed my cell phone out my sweater. I hadn’t turned it on since… since I was raped.  I was a rape victim.  I shuttered at what was yet to come. Court, testimony, counseling, sentencing, healing…the list would go on.  I thought of Denise again. I promised myself that I would accomplish something each day.  I went back to the couch and opened Denise’s thick file.  I started reading the police report that was placed when they took her from her mother again.  Denise had put up a fight, biting one of the officers.  Vivian had jumped on the other officers back.  It had been a circus and the local news had caught it all on tape. Another embarrassing moment for Denise.

I dialed the youth detention center that they had taken Denise the night they found her.  She wasn’t going back to foster care anytime soon.  This last incident confirmed that. She would just run away again. 
“Hello Karen.  This is Toni Brown.  How are you?”
“I am fine Toni.  How are you feeling?”
She never asked me that before but then again I hadn’t been a victim of a crime before this.
“I am okay,” avoiding a long explanation.  “I was calling to check on one of my clients, Denise Thompson.”
“Oh yes.  Denise is not doing so well.  She heard about your attack and is very angry that no one would let her call you.  She kept asking for your number and no one would give it to her.”
I sighed.  My phone had been off for over a week now and I hadn’t even checked my voicemail.  If she had called she probably had left several messages. 
“Is she available for me to speak to her,” I asked already knowing the answer.
“You know she can’t have calls during her probation period.”
“I know but it is very important that she talks to someone and I would prefer that person to be me.”
I heard Karen breathing.  Then the phone was set down with a thump as if it had been dropped.  A few minutes later I heard footsteps and then Denise’s voice.

“Hello,” I heard Denise say impatiently.
“Hi Denise, this is Toni.”
“Oh my god, Miss Brown! I’ve been so worried about you.  Are you okay? How are you feeling? Is that dick in jail? I can get my daddy to kill him for you! Just say the word!”
I laughed because I knew she was serious. 
“No Denise. He is locked up and he will not be getting out anytime soon.  I am better. Taking it one day at a time.  I heard that you were concerned about me.  I was concerned about you and truthfully I missed your jokes.”
I smiled at the memory of our last visit.  I had picked her up from school and some boy kept trying to talk to her.  She had talked about him all the way home- from his “whack ass Mohawk” to his “red busted up shoes.”  I remember those days.   
Denise was kind of a bully.  She was always fighting boys at her school and the girls stayed out of her way unless they were in her click.  She hung out with a lot of hard looking girls. At one point, I thought that maybe they were gay.  I hadn’t asked though. That was the least of her problems.

We talked for a few moments longer before Karen interrupted us. 
“The witch said I can’t talk to you no more.  Can you come see me?”
“Denise, be respectful,” I encouraged.  “I will come visit you as soon as I’m able.”
“Don’t forget what I said. My daddy is a block away!”
I laughed again. Denise, despite her tough demeanor and quick temper, had become my favorite client.  I had her case off and on for four years and soon she would age out of the system.  I was hoping I could help her get on the right road before then.  So many kids age out of the system and you don’t hear anything but negative things about them. Very few actually make it, but it took good support systems to make that possible. Denise didn’t have a support system. I vowed to be that single force.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ch2- Vaughn

The day that I was being released, Vaughn came to pick me up.  I thanked him for the lilies but in my mind I knew it was the worst attempt at an apology.   Flowers died so did love.  I donated them to the cancer wing of the hospital.
Jessica and I had discussed her picking me up but at the last minute Vaughn called and asked for the “honors” and even though I wasn’t ready to face him, I knew he had been waiting patiently to see me.
He signed all the necessary paperwork for my release and then the officer assigned to my room wheeled me out to wait for Vaughn to drive up and get me.
As Vaughn helped me in the car, I felt my stitches stretch.  I had been told to stay on bed rest once I got home.  That bastard had torn my skin at the entry to my anal area and I had to have five stitches. It was not a comfortable feeling having your ass stitched. Nothing about this whole ordeal was comfortable.
I had overheard Jessica and my mother talking about why Vaughn was the last one getting to the hospital.  He had been out with another woman with his cell off.  I wondered for a moment if it was the same woman he had canceled our dates for before. Or was this a new conquest for him?  One of my clients had told me that they saw Vaughn in my car with a woman.  I had questioned him about it, but of course he gave me some lame excuse that it was one of his clients.  Vaughn was a tattoo artist and clothing designer.  He was artistic and very good at what he did.  He was one of the best.  He was around women all the time.  He was good looking and knew how to say the right things.  He had gotten me, hadn’t he?  Once I realized I was getting played, I was too embarrassed to just give up.  I had invested a lot in us.  He swore that whoever was telling me stuff was just hating and jealous.  I didn’t keep people in my circle like that, but by the time he finished talking and romancing me, my head was so far in the clouds I never stayed mad long.
I wasn’t one to be made a fool of but so long.  Once I heard more than once that he was cheating on me from different sources, I took my time dumping him because I was comfortable but I also took my time because I was going to let him see how much he hurt me. I didn’t need any evidence this time. I had it right before my eyes.  He had canceled our date and was with another woman when I was raped.  That was evidence enough for me.  I knew deep down inside, he wasn’t to blame for my rape, but maybe it wouldn’t have happened that night and maybe I would have thought twice the next time.  I was ready to end this charade.

“First I want to tell you that what happened to me was not your fault. Obviously Quentin had been watching me for some time. He was just waiting for an opportunity to approach me.”
Officer Moses informed me before I left the hospital that Quentin had been staying at a hotel a block away not his normal spot, at his mothers.  When they searched his room, he had photos of me alone, with Vaughn, Jessica, at work and even getting undressed.  Their was an empty condo directly across from me that he had set up to watch me.  Mental note was made to invest in curtains and an alarm. 
“I know that you were with another woman the night that I was attacked.  Who was she?”
He put his hands in his pocket. Classic sign of guilt for him. 
“It doesn’t matter. I can’t do this with you and I right now. I need time to myself to sort all this out, start healing, and get back to work.”
I walked over to him and took his hand.  I had to do this for closure.  I wasn’t in love with him anymore. He had hurt me too many times.  I had to let go right now. One less obstacle to conquer.   
“Toni, I am so sorry. I love you and care for you. I want to help you through this if you let me.”
I turned away from him.  I couldn’t allow that.  Not now anyway.
“I’m sorry, but I cant accept your help. Where were you when it happened? Where were you when Jessica was trying to reach you? Where were you when I went into surgery? You didn’t care about me then. You are selfish! Always have been and I don’t want you here right now. I might not ever want you here again.”
I went to my front door and opened it.
“I need you to leave,” I said stepping away from the door so he could pass through it possibly for the last time.
 He stopped close to me. I didn’t look into his eyes.  I don’t want to see anymore.
“I am sorry.  Please call me if you need anything.  I promise to be there when you call.”
He walked through the door as I shut it.  I cried for what seemed forever until I heard a soft knocking.
It was Jessica.  I opened the door and fell into her petite frame.  I cried until I had no more tears left and she rubbed my hair until I fell asleep on the couch.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night as she put a cover over me, then I drifted off again to try to find some peace.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hospital- Ch1 cont.

I awakened again to see my mother in the corner praying. My mother has always been a religious woman. She wasn’t insane with it but she completely had faith in her God. I wasn’t so convinced most times. Right now I knew I needed prayer. I could hear the doctors talking to my father and Jessica. I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I didn’t want to know. I knew what had happened to me. I felt the injuries. They must have given me something for pain because the pain was dull but still there reaching out.

My mother saw me looking at her and came to my side.

My mother was shorter than me by a few inches with green beautiful eyes, fair skin, and naturally long curly hair. Her eyes always revealed her emotions. She looked at me, taking my hand and kissing them. She didn’t say anything. For the first time, she didn’t say anything. Tears came to her eyes and I looked away. Not now. Please don’t cry. I can’t cry anymore. Anger started to rise in me and I spoke so loud everyone turned around to look at me, even the nurses in the hallway.

“Where is he,” I yelled. “Where is he?”

I tried to sit up as my mother tried to calm me. Jessica ran over to my left side and grabbed my free hand.

“Toni honey. Please calm down. Lay down please. Please lay down,” she said softly pleading with me. I felt her hand on my hair and I flinched. I wanted to cut my hair off. He had used my hair to restrain me. I hated it.

She pulled her hand away and took my face in her small hands. She looked me in my eyes and told me she loved me. She told me that he had been arrested and was being held until the mornings bail hearing. He wasn’t going anywhere. Charges were already piling up against him including sodomy, rape, attempted murder, assault on an officer, and the list went on.

I started to breathe slower, easier. I laid back down. My mother stepped towards me but hesitated. I touched her arm and she came closer, hugging me. My father joined her, hugging me gently. Jessica stepped back to compose herself. I saw her wipe a tear from her eye. She was trying to be strong between all this chaos.

Then I saw her. The paramedic that helped me.

“Sean,” I managed to yell. I heard her footsteps stop and then start again.

She was standing in the doorway. My parents stepped back for her to approach me.

She was a tad shorter than me, about five foot five. She was slim but you could tell she worked out. Her thick black hair was pulled tightly back in a ponytail. Her eyes were soft but I could tell she had seen a lot. Her skin was smooth and clear. She took care of herself. I appreciated that in a person especially a woman.

She wasn’t just a person or a woman. She had seen me in a state of mind that was foreign even to me. She watched me cry and grieve over my sexuality being defamed by a bastard that couldn’t accept that I did not want an intimate relationship with him. She had seen me screen, yell, and withdraw into a cocoon in less than an hour’s time. I could only imagine what a normal day was to her. I hoped this was not normal for her because it was anything but normal for me. This was a nightmare.

I saw her bow her head down respectfully as she passed my parents and Jessica. She came to the side of my bed stopping a few feet back. Boundaries.

“How are you feeling? Pain lessen any,” she asked warmly.

“Yes thank you. I just wanted to thank you for getting me out of there before I killed that man.”

She smiled. “You are tough. I thought I was going to need help restraining you.”

I heard my dad laugh lightly and my mothers jaw dropped.

“What happened,” she started to ask but my father quieted her.

Jessica walked up then and thanked her as well, taking my hand.

“Your welcome. I know that what happened to you was horrible. I see you have a good support group and that is important.”

She reached in her shirt pocket and handed me a card.

“This is the officer who made the arrest. He is also my younger brother. He will make sure everything is done the right away. I’ll make sure of it.”

I smiled. For some reason, I trusted that she would.

She left, excusing herself politely. Before she entered the hallway, she looked back and smiled. I smiled back.

The next few days were a blur of police, lawyers, doctors, and concerned visitors. My body was still sore and aching all over but I was ready to go home. I vaguely remember Vaughn visiting. I had been in and out of sleep since they moved me into a private room. My Director had arranged for me to get a suite so I would be in a private but secure wing of the hospital. I was grateful. My tolerance level was nil. Jessica told me he showed up not too long after Sean left. My father wouldn’t allow him to stay long plus I was asleep and had no idea they were even there.

Jessica said he came back the next day around lunchtime but I couldn’t remember that either. She said he was sick with all this and was blaming himself. He hadn’t been back yet. She had promised to call him when I awakened and was alert enough to have a guest.

My parents had been there everyday in shifts. My dad had been weaker than normal and my mother was concerned about him. She had been taking care of him for so long.

“Before I forget Toni, I talked to your sister and told her what happened. She asked if their was anything she could do and I told her we would call her soon.”

I hadn’t talked to my sister in almost two years. The last fight had been it for me. Her jealous acting ways had made me dislike her. I was okay with my mother telling her what happened to me but I wasn’t ready to talk to her about it either.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First Chapter of Reality Check

I slowly went around the corner to look for Quentin and he wasn’t on the stool anymore. I looked in the bathroom. He wasn’t there either. Then I saw a shadow in my bedroom. What was he doing now?

I went in my bedroom and he was looking out the window. He was looking around. What was he looking for?

I grabbed my keys off the dresser.

“I can take you home now,” I said turning to walk to the door. I heard him rush up behind me, spinning me around. He tried to kiss me and I slapped him.

“What the heck are you doing,” I yelled putting my hand in front of me to push him away.

“Give me a kiss. That’s the least you could do for head butting me,” he smirked.

“I didn’t mean to do that and no, I am not kissing you.”

I tried to turn and he put his arm around my waste.

“Where are you going,” he asked pulling me close to him with some force.

I yelled at him. “What are you doing?”

“I’ve been wanting you for almost a year and you keep pushing me away. Am I not good enough for you or something?”

No he wasn’t but I didn’t tell him that.

“I never said that. We both agreed to be friends, remember?”

“No, you said you wanted me to be friends only not me.”

That was true.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you wanted more.”

“How could you not know? I made sure I visited you every time I was in town.”

Which wasn’t often. I never thought anything of it. A friend visiting a friend, right? Wrong!

“Please, it’s late. Let me to take you to wherever you’re staying.”

“We aren’t going anywhere,” he said pushing me into the wall.

I tried to free my arm from his grasp but he was squeezing it tighter than before.

“Quentin please don’t do this. This isn’t necessary. Let’s go out on a date and see what happens okay?”

Yea right but I was saying anything to get him out of my house. I looked for my phone. I never kept the damn cordless on the charger. Ugh! I surveyed the room trying not to be so obvious. He looked behind him to see what I was looking at.

“What are you looking for? This?”

He took the phone out of his back pocket.

I looked at him.

“I didn’t want us to be disturbed.”

“Do you want something to drink,” I asked trying to distract him. Make him let me go enough for me to run for the door.

“No, I’m fine.”

He tried kissing me again.

“Look, Quentin. No. I don’t want this.”

Training said to be direct and to the point. Say no repeatedly. Look your attacker in the eyes.

He threw me down on the bed and stood over me holding me down with both hands. He tried kissing my neck and I screamed.

He put his hand over my mouth.

“Shut up,” he sneered. “You know you like it rough.”

“No, I don’t!”

“Oh yes you do. I saw you with your boyfriend last week. He pushed you against the wall and fucked you against the wall.”

I felt faint. He had been watching me! Us!

I wanted to vomit.

“You remember that?”

“Yes,” I said looking for my phone, scissors, anything.

“We were playing,” I said. Keep him talking.

“No you weren’t. You liked it.”

He tore my shirt open and tried to kiss my neck again.

“Stop it! Stop it now,” I screamed. I tried kicking him but he parted my legs so quickly with his, I gasped from the pain.

“You’re hurting me,” I yelled trying to struggle from under his weight.

“Stop fighting me,” he said laughing at me.

“Let me go! Please let me go…”

I didn’t want to cry. I couldn’t show him I was terrified. That might be turning him on. I didn’t want to turn him on anymore than he already was. I felt him hard against my leg. I felt like vomiting again but I knew I had to be strong. I couldn’t show him my fear.

I managed to free my leg and kick him as hard as I could. He bent over in pain long enough for me to get from up under him. I ran into the hallway and he caught me by the leg. I fell hitting my head on the floor. Dazed I tried to crawl forward but he grabbed my ankle and pulled me back.

“Where do you think your going,” he asked angrily. I had pissed him off.

I felt him grab my hair, lifting me up. He threw me down on the bed and tried to unbutton my pants. I kicked and screamed for him to stop. He grabbed me by my throat and squeezed until I started gasping for air. I stopped struggling. I wanted him to think I was giving in. He lessened his grip on my neck and started unbuttoning my shirt. I let him while I calculated my next move. He kissed my neck and I felt squeamish. I saw my phone on the floor by the closet. When he lifted me up to take my shirt off, I elbowed him in the nose again and leapt for the phone. I grabbed it, ran in the closet closing the door behind me and tried to dial 911. He tugged at the knob but I was holding it with everything I had in me. He kicked at the door. The phone was dead. I was frantic. That was my last chance. I started screaming. He kicked the door in and grabbed me by my throat to stop me in my tracks. He picked me up with one move and threw me on the bed. My head hit the headboard. I winced in pain. He quickly got on top of me and pushed my legs opened. He was pulling at my pants but they fit me so snug it was harder than he planned. I tried to kick him again and he fell back taking me with him. I was on top of him now. I tried running again but he was on me like an animal. He kept grabbing at my pants until they gave way. I kept yelling at him to stop. I hit the floor several times hoping someone would hear even though I remember my neighbor downstairs leaving as we were coming in. He worked nights. I was desperate.

I kicked at him again but it only made my situation worse. He had pulled my pants down below my buttocks and was pinning me face down. I couldn’t breathe. He had my face in the carpet. I felt him part my legs with his knees and my skin felt like it was tearing.
”No! Please no!”

I felt a tear at the entrance of my backside. I cried in pain. No one could hear me though. My head was being held down in the carpet. I kept yelling and kicking and I tried to reach back and scratch him. He pinned my arms down and violently entered me. He thrust inside me so hard I moved a few inches over the carpet burning my face and chest. I tried one last time to kick him and then I heard a loud noise. Someone was at the door yelling, “Police! Police!”

He pushed off of me pulling his pants up and grabbing something that was on the floor. He grabbed it so quickly I couldn’t tell what it was until it was at my throat. He had a gun!

The police were at my bedroom door, guns raised and looking at Quentin.

A female officer came in from behind the four male officers and looked at me. I knew she was specifically there for me to help me whenever this nightmare was over. I looked at her pleading to please move so the police could kill this sonofabitch. She must have read my mind because she stepped back. The officer in the back came forward, lowering his gun.

“What is your name,” he asked looking at me.

“Toni. Toni,” I said gasping for air.

He looked at Quentin.

“What is your name he asked him?”

Quentin’s hold got tighter. I felt myself getting faint.

“What do you need to know my name for,” he asked yelling like a madman.

“What is your name,” the officer asked him again even stern.

“My name is Q,” he said pulling us both backwards.

“Quentin, there is nowhere to go. Let her go.”

The Officer stepped towards us.

His arm seemed like it was part of my throat. I could breath. I tried to speak with the energy I had left.

The officer raised his gun. I could tell he was not one to play games with. I hoped I was right. I took my last ditch effort and elbowed him in the gut. I caught him off guard and dropped to the floor. He raised his gun and then I heard a shot fired.

Quentin fell to the floor grabbing his arm, yelling like a bitch!

I kicked him in his face once, twice, three times before the lady officer restrained me. I screamed obscenities at him as she ushered me away. That night my home became a crime scene.

The female officer turned out to be a paramedic. She introduced herself as Sean and started looking me over to see where to start. She started putting my arm in a soft cast when the officers walked rather pushed Quentin into the squad car.

We both stopped and looked at him as he stared at me with eyes that were cold and empty. My instincts had been right about him. Only if I would have let his ass walk by my car but I knew that I wasn’t thinking clearly. He had been watching me, stalking me, waiting to pounce. It might not have been planned for tonight. But he had been determined. I looked away from him and starting crying. I couldn’t help it. I started crying uncontrollably and Sean stopped touching me for a moment to see if I would calm. I didn’t. I felt my body get weaker, giving up. When I opened my eyes I was on my ride to the ER.