Salem by Peyton Freng

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Salem has always kept his abusive life at home a secret. But, now he's told the guidance conselor at his school about what his mother has done to him. Will telling him be a mistake or could Salem finally have a better life?

“Let me guess.... you fell off your bike again?” Mrs.Viens scowled at Salem, rolling her light brown eyes.

Salem turned a deep shade of red, looking at his bruised arms, “Yeah.”

Mrs.Viens gave him a doubtful look and sneered, “Or are you fighting with other students after school?”

The question caught Salem off guard. “Huh?” he replied, looking up at her with confused eyes. “No, it’s just I’m.... clumsy.” He lied quickly. If his mother found out he told he would be black and blue all over.

Mrs.Viens narrowed her eyes and pointed to the door, “Go to the guidance room,” she sighed, “again.”

Salem nodded and walked out of the room, he felt the stares of students burning into his back. He could feel them looking at his arms. The arms his mother had made bruised by beating him last night. His hands were red and sore from trying to shield his body from the blows from when, last week, she had punched him repeatedly in the stomach. When he arrived at the guidance room he smiled politely at Mr.Randulph, the guidance counselor.

“Why are you here this time, Salem?” Mr. Randulph sighed and put away a stack of neat papers.

“I fell off my bike,” Salem replied, but he had been down here often enough for Mr. Randulph to know he was lying.

“Your arms are pretty badly bruised,” Mr. Randulph pointed out, as if Salem didn’t know already. “Do you want to tell me what really happened?”

Salem swallowed hard.  He had been in Mr. Randuph’s office more times than he could remember. This time has to be different.  I just can’t do this anymore.  “Yes,” he did want to but he couldn’t.

Mr.Randulph paused before asking, “So, why don’t you tell me?”

Salem shrugged, “I can’t.”

Mr.Randulph stood up and motioned for Salem to sit down. “Salem, I’m going to call your parents and ask them. Is that ok with you?”

As he sat, Salem’s deep green eyes widened and he shook his head violently, “No.”

The counselor sat back down and looked at Salem’s pale face with such intensity that Salem shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “Tell me what happened,” Mr.Randulph demanded in a soft voice. “I assure you, everything said in my room, stays in my room.”

Salem looked at his shoes that the school had given him because his mother hadn’t provided him with adequate footwear. “She beats me.”

The counselor inquired, “Who beats you?”

Salem’s eyes got watery and a stream of hot, sticky tears started to fall down his face, “My mom.”

Mr.Randulph nodded, “Alright. How does she beat you?”

“There’s punching, kicking, choking, throwing, and slapping.” Salem’s throat was dry and he could already feel his mother’s fist connecting with his jaw when she found out he had told. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to imagine he didn’t have to go home.

Mr.Randulph placed a large hand on Salem’s shoulder, “Do you want to go back to your house? Or are you afraid to go back?”

Salem thought of what might happen when he walked in the door of his home and his mother’s fists driving into his face. “I don’t ever want to go back,” he sobbed, wiping endless streams of salty tears from his cheeks.

Mr. Randulph’s hand was removed and he said firmly, “I can’t do anything now. But, if you allow me to tell the police, I can get you out of there soon. Would you let me do that?”

Salem looked up at Mr. Randulph, nodding, “Thank you.”

 

Salem was on the floor, spitting out blood and coughing. He looked up at his mother and yelled, “Come on! Do it again!” His voice softened as he mumbled, “I don’t care anymore.”

A foot barreled into his side and he rolled over in agony. His ribs felt like they were crushed to dust inside his chest. He felt his lip. It was busted open and when he pulled away his fingers they were a deep crimson.

His mother snarled, “Why should ya care? I don’t! No one else do either! Do ya know why?” she answered herself, “Because you just some low-life kid who ain’t got no one to love you!”

Salem’s heart sank to his stomach. He could feel the truth in her words hit him like a tornado hurling a bucket of nails in his face.

She turned, laughing, and walked into the kitchen. Salem stood on shaking legs and walked into his room. His heart was broken in two and his eyes stung with tears, if Mr.Randulph wanted to help he could have called the police, like he told me he would. He fell asleep, his pillow and blankets being soaked with blood.

The next morning, Salem walked to school and went straight to the guidance room instead of first hour. He opened the door and quietly cried, “I thought you were going to help.”

“Salem,” Mr. Randulph turned and Salem noticed the police officer standing by the guidance counselor. “Meet Officer Havreit.”

Officer Havreit shook Salem’s hand and explained, “Hello, Salem.  Mr. Randulph and I have been talking about your situation.  How would you feel about staying with another family for a while?  We want to make sure you have a safe place to stay.  And we want to get your mom the help she needs.”

Salem thought for a minute, tentatively, and said, “That sounds OK.”  Officer Havreit replied, “Thanks for telling Mr. Randulph what was going on. You did a good thing, kid.”

Salem smiled half-heartedly, “Thanks, Officer,” he added, “In foster care, am I going to be abused too?” Salem had never been loved before and couldn’t imagine someone not wanting to make him bleed every day for the rest of his life.

Officer Havreit shook his head, “No, Salem. We make sure our foster parents are good people who want to make kids’ lives better. Kids like you.”

Salem smiled, “Thank you. But, where do I go after school?  I can’t go back home anymore.”

Officer Havreit nodded, “That’s right. After school, I’ll drive you to the Festrine family’s home and you’ll be living there for a while.”

Salem nodded and ran to first hour. He just barely made it before the bell rang and wondered about what his new family would be like. He imagined Mr. Festrine a strong, tall man with a kind smile and bright eyes. Mrs. Festrine was a plump woman with eyes that always made her look like she was laughing. He felt excited to meet them and drew a picture of them and this time, his little stick people were all smiling.


Submitted: April 25, 2012

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