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February 11, 2010

Free At Last

She had been sent to the school in Los Angeles because there were no foster homes available. At least that was what she was told. She was made a ward of the court when she was twelve years old. She had not been in the court room when this took place. She had never been in a court room. She went willingly to the school as it had been described to her by the woman assigned to her case.

The woman drove her to Los Angeles. The girl had one old suitcase of clothes and nothing else. During the two hour drive, the girl tried to calm the butterflies and concentrate on the sights along the freeway.

The first view of the outside of the school was impressive. The three story structure was massive and seemed to occupy an entire city block. In her nervousness, the girl didn't pay much attention to the bars on all the windows. She had moved many times in her young life, more times than she was old, and she was used to adjusting to new situations. The woman walked her up to the front door and rang the door bell. The woman gestured for the girl to walk in front of her so the girl carried her suitcase and walked in. It was a good feeling to know they were expecting her. The nun who had answered the door showed them into a small office. After signing some papers, the woman said good bye to the girl and the girl was left with the nun, who proceeded to open the suitcase and take out all the contents. She put things back in one item at a time, setting aside things she explained were not allowed in the school. Razors were not allowed. The nun explained that a razor would be given to her just before she walked into the shower and returned to them as she walked out of the shower. What a strange rule!

The first six months in the school were spent in some sort of disciplinary action. Most of the time it was standing for hours in a corner with her nose touching the wall. The infractions were many. Talking back to one of the nuns. Not doing school homework. It took those six months to teach the girl how to survive in that school. She didn't speak unless she had to. That way she wouldn't be punished. If a girl tried to get into bed with her during the night, instead of hitting her, she got out of bed and went into the bathroom. After six months she had learned. She sat docilely with the other girls in the main room and watched television. It was safer to be in a large group. She didn't get into any more fights or disturbances.

One day a girl who was in the senior class approached the girl and instructed her to come with her. At first the girl thought she had slipped up and was in trouble for something. She thought and thought and couldn't think what it could be. But she followed the girl and when they proceeded up the stairs toward the dormitory, the girl suddenly couldn't breathe and she couldn't walk and she kept trying to get up the stairs but she would crawl up one stair or two and fall back one and then try to get up. The senior girl kept her distance and didn't say anything, just watched the younger girl trying to find the strength to make her way to the dormitory. The younger girl had been there long enough to know that the only time a senior girl went with a younger girl to the dormitories at this time of morning was to get the girl's belongings. She was going to finally leave this school!!!

33 comments:

Brian Miller said...

this is story i know all too well...

Dave King said...

Brilliantly told

Jeanie said...

Your ability to describe feelings and evoke the emotions of the reader is amazing.

Suldog said...

and... happily ever after? More, please!

Lou said...

My husband's father went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back when he was 3. His mother had him, his twin brother, a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and was 9 months pregnant with another boy. She put all 5 of them into a well known Catholic orphanage and she joined the Navy. They were there 3 years.
We were married for 25 years before he could begin to tell me some of the things that happened there.
Your story sends chills down my spine. I know it's true, and I want to give that little girl a hug.

Ina in Alaska said...

What a nightmare! Made me sad... xoxo

cinner said...

Beautiful post, You describing it makes me think this was you...maybe I am wrong, heart wrenching. You had me at the first word. Take care.

Enchanted Oak said...

My God. What IS this, TechnoBabe? It gives me sorrow. I'll be back to see if you speak of it.

Margie said...

Dear friend
Thank you for sharing this!
Your story tugged at my heart!
Wonderfully told!

Have a beautiful day!
It's the most gorgeous day here and I'm off to enjoy it!

Margie:)

Ms Hen said...

((((hugs))))) .. Oh technobabe...a million hugs to that little girl.. ((Hugs)).

Julieh said...

Again, I want to hug you. But I also applaud your writing. It is very powerful. This story could be a chapter in a book. The first thing that really struck me in the heart was that the girl had a suitcase full of old clothes "and nothing else." Then to think that she had already moved more times than her years on earth was another heartbreaker. Every child deserves to feel loved and cherished, but she spent six months being punished and learning how to survive in her setting.

Children are the casualties of problems their parents have. I've seen it so many times, and it's heartbreaking every time. Wonderful writing, Technobabe. It is an important subject. Thank you for sharing it with us here.

Kathy M. said...

This is beautifully written and heartbreaking. I also went to a Catholic school in Los Angeles for a time. But I got to go home at night. There were many things wrong with our home, but your story makes me feel grateful I had one.

In your blog, you say you are an aspiring photographer. But you're a hell of a writer. I'd love to read your memoir some day.

I'm so glad I found you. You are a constant source of inspiration for me. My respect for you grows daily.

Dan said...

Great writing. Orphanages and foster care can be some of the most bad memory inducing experiences. Do we get to the resolution in the future?

Just Breathe said...

This was a good read. Written well.

Ronda Laveen said...

Very touching tale. It speaks volumes about how we treat our children without parents in our country. Looking forward to more of "her" story.

just jill said...

I'm getting a feeling this could possibly be a story about your childhood based on your #4 from yesterday's post??

Syd said...

It sounds like a terribly sad time in the little girl's life. I'm glad that she got out. I hope that she is well and understands that the past does not have to be the prologue for the future.

blueviolet said...

That precious, precious little girl!!!

Shrinky said...

You are not only a survivor, you are also a writer, and a very good one at that. It's terrifying what a child is forced to endure. Hugs to you, sweet lady. Continue writing, painful as it is, it needs to be told. ((x))

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Sending you big hugs....

A Free Man said...

This is very mysterious. Seems to call for a part 2, if not 3 or 4.

Spencer L Casey said...

I love the way you use the impersonal, nameless, 3rd person identification for such a personal story. The contrast makes it crisp and relatable to the reader.

Thank you for sharing this.

Cheers,

SLC

Unknown Mami said...

I look forward to the continuation.

Margie said...

Hi TechoBabe
I just came by to wish you a most beautiful Valentine's day with your hubby!
And to thank you for always visiting my blog and leaving your special comments!
I really do love and appreciate your visits!

I will be back to visit you when I get back from San Francisco.
So, it's one of your most favorite cites, mine too!

I send you hugs, my friend!

Margie:)

secret agent woman said...

Wonderfully written. Have you seen "The Magdelene Sisters"? A true story that will chill your soul.

Kristina P. said...

OK, where the crap have you been this whole time! I wish you would have commented earlier. Your blog is delightful.

You are a very giften writer.

And I would love a picture of you in your Snuggie.

I am excited to hear how the rest of the story turns out!

jozien said...

What a sad sad story. I hope things like that never ever happen again, not even a fraction of it.

You do hint on a happy ending, i hope to read it in one of your next posts

Beth said...

This makes me want to go get a troubled yet abandoned teen and bring her home.

gayle said...

My thoughts are all messed up!! I don't know what to do or say!! My mom and aunt(my mom has passed away) were in a Catholic Orphange in LA,CA. My mom never talked about it that I can remember and my aunt has said she doesn't remember much. I have always wondered. I have written some thing down that my aunt told me years ago but I don't think it was much. They didn'stay long and my granfather had to pay for them to stay there..their mom had died...I so wish I knew more. I don't even know where in LA they were. This post has tugged at my heart!!

Anything Fits a Naked Man said...

I'm with Suldog, does it have a happy ending? Please? What a great story, you're a fantastic writer.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog. I'm your newest follower!

jinksy said...

What a bleak tale- I hope the future gets brighter soon.
BTW, thanks for your visit to my corner of Blogland - for a closer look, why not email me direct, and join my behind the scenes giggling!

Cheryl said...

I just can't seem to find the words I want. I am deeply touched by this story.

Joanna Jenkins said...

"....the girl didn't pay much attention to the bars on all the windows....." Big sigh.

I continue to be amazed by your writing Techno. This is heart-breaking.

xoxoxoxoxo