WASHINGTON, January 28, 2016 – Church was over. It was a moving sermon followed by a delicious dinner afterwards. The members always made their guest feel welcomed.
Now seated at my desk with my head back in the books, the days was dedicated to studying for a major exam coming up in the next few days. It wasn’t easy to focus on school with other things on my mind.
It was April and everyone was focused on graduation and the upcoming summer break. We had four of us in my Independent Living program that would be leaving high school. Two of us hoped to be going out into the world on our own.
By now, I was living in my own apartment, thanks to the Independent Living program. My roommate was named Charlene.
“Trish! Trish!” I heard my name being called repeatedly. It was Charlene informing me that I had a visitor.
Looking up, I saw that it was my guardian ad litem, Ms. Pimperton, better known as my G-A-L. I had forgotten that she had scheduled a meeting with me that afternoon. She was assigned to me some years ago by the court. Her responsibility was to monitor my progress and my general welfare in the foster care system.
Standing up, I walked over to greet her. Her bespectacled face seemed much rounder and softer today than before…and more youthful. Perhaps she had been treated out to a romantic candlelight dinner by her husband, the night before, I thought.
The two of us met for about thirty minutes. Over the years we had bonded so I was able to open up to her a lot more than when we first started out. I was even able to share some of my more private concerns with her.
We talked about my upcoming graduation. She also wanted to know if I had received any letters of acceptance from the colleges I had applied to. The answer was no, not yet.
With a lot of focus and hard work, I had managed to maintain a GPA of 3.56 throughout high school. I thought that would be enough to catch the eye of a reputable institution of higher education. So far, nothing.
But I remained positive. It wasn’t easy though. Our bulletin board at the school, and our school’s website, boasted the names of those who had been accepted at various colleges and universities and technical and business schools.
Of course, I felt left out….my spirit deflated.
Returning to my room, I took out some photos of Javier and me. They were pictures of my senior prom. That would surely cheer me up.
He looked so handsome in his white tuxedo and cummerbund and powder blue ruffled shirt and blue butterfly bow tie. I wore a magnificent powder blue gown that garnished a lot of attention, all of it favorable,
My case worker, Darnell, had volunteered to escort us to the prom that night in his late model Cadillac. He had that modern chariot washed and polished like it was just rolled off of the assembly line. I felt like royalty for the first time in my life, a real live princess.
Javier was enlisting in the Navy. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL, the best of the best when it came to Special Forces. I would miss him dearly, and told him so.
The following day, I was visited by my Independent Living coordinator Rory Scott and my case worker Darnell. Both wanted to know what my backup plans were if I did not get accepted into the colleges of my choice.
I told them that I would enroll in the local community college and take it from there. That was the plan. The two reiterated that I could stay in the program until I was twenty-three years old, which was good to know.
After they departed, Charlene and I went for a walk over to a local shopping center. While there we talked, shopped and ate lunch. Not out of the unusual, we encountered a group of boys a tab older than us who decided to flirt with us.
They seemed harmless enough, and were very friendly.
We talked to them briefly before we began our journey back to our apartment, which was less than a mile away. During our promenade, three of the boys caught up to us on foot and began to come onto us bigtime.
It was obvious to me what they wanted and were desperately after.
At some point, they became a little frightening. Their eyes seemed to wander all over my body. I felt exposed….naked. The form fitting dresses we wore wasn’t helping our situation any, either. These guys did not seem like the types who took no for an answer.
We kept walking but eventually, the three surrounded us, forcing us to stop. They wanted to know if they could drop by our place and talk and have a good time. We told them that we did not think that was a good idea.
They persisted. They wanted to know who we were staying with and how old we were but we divulged nothing to them about our living arrangements.
Charlene and I traded nervous gazes. Both of us saw fear in the other’s eyes. These boys were starting to talk about things of a sexual nature, and asking us were we virgins. They claimed that virgins were never considered true women.
Again they asked us about our virginity.
We told them that was none of their business. At that point their temperaments changed and that was when they started to get more aggressive and physical with us. They began to grope us and hug us around the waist against our will.
We protested and warned them that we would scream if they did not leave us alone. We were dead serious. That did not seem to bother them. They only laughed.
Suddenly, one of them reached for Charlene and ripped her blouse opened; exposing her brassiere-covered breasts and that is when we started to fight back. They had gone too far.
Because they were bigger and stronger than us, they were able to manhandle and overwhelm us easily. That is when they threatened us.
A minute later, they forced us behind a vacant building where they promptly shoved us down onto the grass. We protested loudly, and we even attempted to scream.
That was when one of them produced a switchblade and held it in a menacing manner and warned us not to open our mouths again or he would cut our tongues and ears off. His profanity laced ranting creeped me out. They all looked crazed.
It was a frightening feeling as I fought to keep the one guy from positioning himself on top of me. Once he managed that feat, he struggled to force my legs open. With all of the strength I could muster, I kept my legs crossed at the ankle.
While one stood guard, with the knife at the ready, the other guy violently subdued Charlene and began to rape her. Blood dripped from the side of her mouth where she had been struck.
Apparently, I had put up too much of a resistance for the guy who decided to come after me. Frustrated, he paused, while patting heavily, and warned that I had better cooperate with him. I had not been an easy prey and did not intend to be.
If anything, I was determined that he was going to go through hell, and back, to get what he was after, no matter what his threats were. Undaunted, he managed to pry my legs apart and unzip his trousers. I could see that he was fully aroused. His eyes looked glossed over.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone grabbed the fiend wielding the knife, from behind, disarmed him, and took him down with a blow to his neck. Then he joined another man in taking down the two guys who was sexually assaulting Charlene and me.
I could not believe my eyes. It was Rory and Darnell.
The two held the delinquents at bay while we waited on law enforcement to show up. And they did minutes later. Photos were taken, statements were recorded, and the three handcuffed and arrested. Sliding into the patrol car, we were taken to the hospital to be examined.
While there, we asked Rory and Darnell how they managed to come across us. They said that Rory had left an important notebook at our apartment and was returning to retrieve it. The two had been doing a report on me, and several others, for the court when Rory noticed he was missing the notebook.
Putting two and two together, they stopped by the apartment where they were told, by one of our neighbors, that we were seen walking towards the shopping center. That’s when they came looking for us.
While driving they heard our screams, saw a commotion in the distance, and came to investigate.
They said they did not even know it was us. Boy, were we relieved that they happened upon us.
A week after our ordeal, I got an acceptance letter to attend the University of North Florida and a day after that; I got one from the University of Central Florida. Of course, I was overjoyed to the point of bouncing up and down and yelling like a mad man.
My name was finally posted on the schools’ bulletin board and on our website. Everyone I knew congratulated me. I had never felt so proud of myself.
Time ticked by as I wrapped up things at school and at my apartment.
Javier and I graduated that June. My brother Ryan attended the pomp and circumstance with my disabled Aunt Ruthie and her boyfriend, Ralph. Rory and Darnell attended as well as some of my former group home mothers.
My biological mother never showed up, although I had sent her two separate invitations. And she never responded. Her absence saddened me but not for long, especially after my brother arrived.
His presence was more than enough to cheer me up.
Retrospectively, I wondered why I was brought into this world only to be left unwanted and unloved by my mother. I had cried buckets of tears over the years pondering an answer to that question.
With my determination, and the love I received along the way, I was able to overcome my disadvantages and become somebody. And along the way, I was able to realize some of my dreams.
Sitting there in the auditorium wearing my cap and gown, I listened along with others as our guest speaker spoke. I took it all in knowing that my life was just beginning…and so were a new set of challenges.
In my hand I held a photo of my father who died in Afghanistan years earlier. He loved me and would be proud of me and my brother. I only wished he was here. In many ways, he was.
Well, after this, it’s off to college. Whether I make it in the real world, or not, I’m going to give it my best shot. I will be checking in with you, from time to time.
Thanks for following my drama and my twisted adventures. It has certainly been a life of trial and tribulation. But somehow I managed to prevail.
You all wish me and my brother well, okay…
To be continued….well maybe
CS Bennett – Author of Court Ordered Custody and its sequel Court Approved Custody, both books are about our forgotten children and life in Florida’s state foster care system. Both books can be found on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore.