Part 5: Because of or Despite


Every day I do as much as I can in my online classes. Lesson after lesson. Triangle tater-tot after triangle tater-tot for lunch and dinner. Longingly I look out the window of the lunchroom across the empty field and watch the grasshoppers jumping.

The summer comes, day after day passes. There are hard days with lots of tears at the lack of freedom, internalized feelings of desperation and powerlessness. There are days that are more joyous as we get to go pick veggies at the garden next door. One day we go in a van for the first time in months to clean up after a tornado goes through. Wearing my jeans, listening to songs on the radio, even feeling the sensation of being in a car all bring so much joy after the mundane monotony of the routine in the detention center.

I get to call weekly to my mom. I get to talk to her about why I ran away. About what I felt inside. I get to hear her fear and anger and terror at thinking I had died, that I could be gone forever. I talk with her about my parents getting divorced and the anger and upset I never acknowledged I had about that. I write letters to my dad, my brother, my sister. All of them honest and heartfelt. I process new emotions for myself.

I start praying, reading a bible, writing daily. I get the experience of learning everything I am meant to be learning at the time. Feeling into who I am.

My one month review comes. I had only “green” or “blue” days. They ask me a lot of questions about my behavior and how I am doing. There is some air of questioning in the background I don’t understand yet.

Month two same thing - more blue and green days. Nothing else. More questions more disbelief.

My mom comes to visit. Love is present again. I really get to feel her and her pain and her love. I see I could live with her again. But the school says I am not ready.

Month three - more of the same good behavior. No red or yellow behavior days at all. They start getting suspicious. No one has ever had this kind of behavior for that long before they finally tell me. I don’t know what to say, it’s just my nature!

I don’t feel anger outwardly. I don’t fight. I don’t have hatred. I just want to leave. And it seems behaving calmly could get me a lot farther than acting out!

More and more of the girls around me go home and new ones come. They throw tantrums at times, or cuss or hit the walls. And they still get to go home. There I am, clam, just me, and they don’t believe me. The desperation builds again. It doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t feel fair. I feel I am never going to leave.”

Back in Indiana school starts in the fall. The days tick on and on. I get into a depression, feeling so powerless. But there isn’t anything to do. Just wait and dream.

Finally one day, the staff is strange in the morning. I see a cake. I get a suspicion but also assume it’s another girl going home. I have lost hope it could be me.

Then they come get me from the classroom. It’s finally time. It’s only a matter of hours before I am going to leave. They tell me to pack right away. I start crying smiling, ecstatic with joy! Freedom is finally here!


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© 2019 Olivia Pavlov