Monday, June 8, 2009

Loss of Innocence

By Nicole Adam

My breath hung in the air long after I let it escape my body. My brother’s small six week old body laid against my toddler frame. He began to cry.
“Shh Jase mama will be here soon. You can’t get us kicked out of here we need the shelter.”
I began to sing my ABC’s I heard someone I held my baby brother as I strained my ears hoping it was Mama. Mama promised she would pick us up here. Mama promised. But Mama didn’t always keep her promises. The wood in front of me creaks. I hold my breath for eternity as I wait for my fear to evolve in front of my eyes.
“What are you doing in here?” A voice plagues with worry asked. “It is 22 degrees out, you must be very cold.”
“My mama izzz cominn, she said she’ll be right bac.”
“Do you have a home?” She asked very calmly
“nnnnooooo.” I forced as my lips trembled in the cold.
“Why aren’t you guys in a shelter?” She asked again
“The guy didn’t like us there.”
“Please would you come inside. Would you like to eat? Is that a baby in your arms?” She cried
“Yess.” I stuttered worried about my brother.
“Please come inside, Let’s get the both of you warm and fed.”
I pulled up my body with all of my might. I had been sitting in that spot for several hours since my mama said she was gonna go get us some food. A nice lady gave her 50.00 to get us food. Except I knew when she was gone this long she never came back with food and was always mean when she got back. I would have to make sure Jason would be extra quiet or she would try to hit him again.
“Would you like some spaghetti, honey?” The voice interrupted my thoughts.
“mmhmm psghetti please!”
“Now why don’t you sit down honey? Can I hold the baby? Is he your little brother or your little sister?”
“Itz a boy he’s my brudda.” I said holding him tightly I knew never to let Jase go, not after mama’s friend almost hurt him.”
“Honey, I promise to take good care of him. I just want to change his diaper and put him in some nice warm clothes. I have a little boy as well and they might like to see each other. What do you think.”
I looked at the lil baby he sure was cute. He had pink cheeks. Pink happy cheeks. I looked at Jase his cheeks were red, the deep red your cheeks turn when you’ve been outside to long because mama forgot about us again.
“Oh, wow, what a beautiful boy! Sit here, and eat. I will go change him and be back in a jiffy.” The kind lady walked out of the room with Jase.
I sat alone at the table for a while looking at the walls around me and the bright colored fork in front of me. I always eat with white forks. The forks that you get at the shelter. Mama says cause they don’t trust us with real forks cause we’d steal em. A tall man asked if I wanted milk. But I think the milk he gave me was bad. It wasn’t white it was a cool brown color. I was so thirsty I didn’t care though. I thought I should keep some aside if it was good to slip in Jase’s bottle. I lifted the glass to my cup. The smell was sweet and intoxicating. The liquid flew to my lips it was sweet so sweet I gulped and gulped until I had to scream for air. I had to stop or there would be none left for Jase.
“He’s barely six weeks old Peter! Look, you can see where his umbilical cord stump fell off. He looks starved. I can see all of his ribs. She looks like she hasn’t ate a good meal her whole life. She looks terrified out of her body.” I heard the kind lady say hushed they probably thought I wasn’t listening but I’ve learned to listen to these conversations I’ve learned to pay more attention to the hushed conversations than the loud ones.
“Kathryn, we need to call the police. This is sick, look at this poor kid. When do you think his diaper has his diaper been changed last? You can’t tell the difference between the rash all over his but from the windburn on his cheeks. They need to be put in the system. You and I both know this.” The kind man said but with a harsh tone to his voice.
“You and I both know not all families are as kind as us. These children need to be nurtured the poor girl looks like damaged goods. We need to do something WE need to help them.”
“Kathryn, these are not lost dogs. There are laws. We could lose our license. We will call the police and then put a request to see if we could be their foster parents. But don’t get your hopes up. You and I both know our word and wishes have little baring.”
“FINE! You call them.”
The kind lady entered the room and I quickly put food in my mouth to not get scolded for not eating my food or worse having it taken away from me.
“Honey, slow down! Is your milk okay?”
“No I was saving some for Jase.”
“Jase? Oh your brother, Honey, he can’t drink that he has to have special baby food. Is that What you have been feeding him?”
“I give him half of my drinks cause Mama says he can’t chew?”
“Where is this MAMA of yours?” She demanded something I said bothered her. Please I prayed don’t kick us out before we ate.
“She left to go get us food earlier.”
“Was it dark? Or was the sun up when she left.”
“Tha sun” I said as I stuffed more food in my mouth. Hoping to get as much as possible in. Before I knew it she had a bottle filled and was feeding Jase he looked so happy and was drinking really fast.
“Wow! Hunny you were hungry.”
A bell interrupted my thoughts as the kind man opened the door. In walked two police officers.
“NOOOO leave me alone I didn’t do anything I swear Please Please don’t come here.” I started screaming and crying I ran to go get Jase but the man stopped me please let us go I promise Jus don’t make me leave jase. I stuttured.
“Honey, these men are here to help you.”
“Nu uh mama says those men will take me and Jase away and I will never see him again and bad things will happen to me again.”
“Ariana, your mama was lying. I promise nothing will happen to you.” The kind lady said and walked me over to her couch. It was so soft to the touch. I heard the gentleman and the police officers mumble about us but I couldn’t hear. I looked at the baby in his pen and thought how that should be Jase warm and not hungry. Clean and not wearing the same diaper for several days.
“We’ll do what we can. But, right now we need to get them to the station. Social services will have to step in.”
“Ariana, we are going to take you on a ride with us. We’re gonna get you somewhere warm to sleep tonight. Is that ok with you?” The police officer with a funny nose asked me. He seemed nice but I knew not to trust them. They always seem nice at first.
“Onlee if Jase comez wit me.”
“Of course.”
I slid off the couch with a lot of effort. It took every part of me to move my body closer and closer to the door. I wanted to run and put Jase in the pen with the other baby and pretend we lived there. I wanted to eat psghetti every day of my life. I also wanted to drink that milk that different kind of milk that was sweet and yummy.
I walked behind the officers. I felt the kind lady and man walking behind me. She was whispering words I couldn’t here. I looked out the door and saw a woman crouching under the front porch.
“MAMA you’re here. Sir she’s my mama she’ll take us home.”
“We’ll see about that honey.” The funny nose one said as he quickly turned to my Mama
“Ma’am, I’m officer Jones. Please get out from under the porch!” the other officer said.
Mama stumbled out from under the porch. She walked like she always did when she yelled at us. Or when she brought those strange men home. I knew she was gonna yell at me. I had to make sure she wouldn’t hit jase. I needed to save Jase. The officer with the big nose scared me.
“Ma’am are these your children?” He sounded like he was trying to hide his anger. It’s the same way Grandma would talk to Mama whenever we came over. I never knew if they were mad at me so I tried to keep on my best behavior. I would have to be nice around the men in the dark suits just in case. Mama’s voice tore me from my thoughts.
“you stupid girl i told you to stay away from da popo you stupid stupid girl you gonna get yourself hurt again they gonna take jase away and put you in a home again a home with men who will hurt you you stupid girl good i’m done with you i never wanted you i never wanna see you again you stupid girl.” Mama shook as she yelled, I thought if I ran to her she would fall over. Her cheeks were red but her eyes looked as if she didn’t see us.
“Mama! Please don’t leave us mama please don’t let them take us” I screamed I felt like I did when Mama would sit on my chest to make me stop crying. I couldn’t breath I just tried to scream as much as I could but she ran before I knew it I couldn’t see her anymore. Tears streamed down my face she was gone. I knew she didn’t get us food she was gone.
The officer ran to catch her but came back by himself. My mama was gone…again.
The kind lady ran to me and held me.
“I promise you honey. Nothing will ever happen to you honey. I promise! You are not going any where bad.” She whispered in my ear. But, I knew better this wasn’t the first time the men in the dark outfits took me away.
“Ma’am we need to go.” The other officer said.
“I know. I will follow.”
“Kathryn! We said we’d wait!” The man was mad, he looked at me like I did something wrong. I knew I would never come back here now.
“Sometimes god doesn’t want you to wait! These kids need us!” The kind lady shouted back at him. She wants us, but she won’t go against the man’s wishes. Mama never went against a man’s words no matter what they asked.
I felt like my head was going to explode. Mama left me the nice man was mad at me. The kind lady wanted to keep me. But I knew I wouldn’t get anything I wanted. I never did. I just stared at the man with the funny nose hoping he would give me some kind of answer.
“Ariana, you need to get in the car.” That was my answer, I dragged my feet to the door and climbed in the door waiting for it to close. Waiting for my chance of safety to end. The funny nosed cop put me in my seat and placed a big belt across my chest and lap I jumped every time he came near. His breath smelt different than mommas does it smelt gross and stale. He sat in his seat and I looked next to me and saw jase he wasn’t buckled up he was in some kind of seat that wrapped him like a hug. I heard the ground before us as we left the warm house the nice house the house I knew I could be safe in. Behind us followed a blue car. We drove around the block I thought I saw mama walk into a store with neon lights and people standing outside in but I really don’t know. As we drove I cried. I cried because I knew we were going to a place with lots of kids and little food. I knew I would get hit if I wet my bed. I knew that men would be there who only wanted to hurt me and Jase. I cried because I could not do anything. Mama would have protected me but she didn’t get food tonight. If she got food she would never have ran away.
The car came to a slow stop as we pulled into a garage. I stepped out of the car and walked where the officer told me to go. We passed women dressed up like mama did sometimes with bright lipstick and pretty skirts. Momma use to look so pretty when she was dressed like that but when she came home she usually couldn’t walk in her high shoes and was very mad talking about how she needed to shower cause the people she was with was dirty.
The officers put us in a room where another lady was waiting for us.
“Hello, My name is Wendy. What is your name?”
“Ariana and dis my brudda Jason we call him Jase though.”
“Would you like some milk Ariana.”
“YES.” I screamed hoping it would be that sweet milk.
“Here, hunny” she held a cup of white milk.
I knew it I knew I wasn’t safe here.
“I’ll be right back okay Araiana”
She walked out of the room and the door slammed shut. It scared me but not as much as the future scared me. I didn’t know where I was going. I sat there and hugged my brother because I knew this would be the last time I would see him and I cried. I sat there for a long time. I thought about mama. I thought about the scary place we were gonna go. I hoped no one would hurt jase the way they hurt me. I sang all the songs I knew to Jase.
“A B C G E D N, Now I know my AB…”
The door swung open and the woman entered. She walked to her chair and sat down. She looked at me like she was sad. Her eyes reminded me of the kind lady’s eyes. She made a noise like mama made before she would yell at us. But this lady’s noise was different more like she was sad.
“mmmm yezz” I knew it. They are gonna take Jase now. I bit my lip hard don’t cry. I can’t cry.
“Would you like to stay the night at the nice people? The people you were with earlier this morning?”
“YEZ please.” I screamed almost falling off the chair. “An Jase too righ? Jase iz gona be warm too righ?”
“It won’t be permanent until we get some paperwork done. It may never be permanent. You need to know that but a couple of nights I can defiantly do.” She got up and gathered her things. She looked at me with a look I haven’t seen before, only on the kind lady, she looked like she was sad. I don’t know what I did but she was sad. She exhaled again it reminded me of mama a little. She walked to the door. I ran past her with the door hitting me in the arm I ran into the arms of the kind lady and cried.
“Please pease take us I promise I’ll be good. Please don’t let them hurt me again.”
“Honey. My God! I promise I will do everything in my power to get you to stay with us. I will make sure no one hurts you again. You’re too beautiful. You and jase are too beautiful.” She whispered as tears ran down her cheeks.
I nestled my head against her chest. I felt safe. Mama couldn’t hurt me here. Those men wouldn’t come in my room here.

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