My mother told me when I was three that I was the light of hope in my parents dream to make a family because they were always told that it was impossible to have a child. Thus I was named Hope, but ever since I can remember I have had anything but. The stone that created the path of my tormented life probably started its downhill roll when my parents got divorced. My parents were high school sweet hearts in their freshman year and stayed together until their marriage after college. They had tried for years after their marriage to have a child and were about to give up until my mom missed and got the conformation from the doctor that I was inside. After I was born my mom stayed with me for my early years before I could go to daycare and had one day found something my dad had forgotten to get rid of. When he came home all I could remember was yelling and the sound of tinkling glass hitting the linoleum floor. After a month I never saw my father again.
It turns out my father had been cheating and not just for a while. He had been with other women ever since he and my mom had been dating, and sometimes with multiple women at a time. It had hurt my mom so bad that she probably wasn't even thinking when she married my step-dad a few months later. He was gone most of the time trying to work for all of us because my mom was always drinking and smoking. This went on for a year, and then he started getting violent. He was home a lot more but he was always hitting and yelling at us. Then two years later my mom died, I don't remember why but I think the twelve bottles of beer and the two pacts of cigarettes a day had something to do with it. She died when I was seven and because my dad had died a year ago (some navy accident) custody went to my step-dad.
Now things got worse, a lot worse. I wasn't going to school anymore and the only times my step-dad went out was to buy new toys. He would play with me all day (he had a major Lolita complex) and for a year no one noticed until one of the neighbors called the police and the house was surrounded in a shower of flashing red and blue (turns out he was very popular). Driven by the panic of being found he took me into the bathroom, filled the tub, and pulled out his pocket knife. He cut his wrist and dipped it in to the pure clean water (I can still remember thinking that he was making cherry Kool-Aid with the way the ruby red liquid filled the tub). He reached out to grab my wrist but fell with his skin a ghostly white. After several breathless moments of looking into his face not knowing what to do the front door slams open and the sound of heavy boots trampling through the house. Several men dressed in black with guns came into the small bathroom. Taking in the scene one of them scoops me up and within the hour I am in the foster care home at the edge of town.
Over the next seven years I went to home after home, school after school, and foster care after foster care. Everyone was the same, abusive, negligent, and uncaring. Now for the past year I've been in a rundown foster care home, going to the run down school, and I have no hope for my life. But now it is time for the story to begin.
9/29/11 The day I am going to die.
People suck. The Home sucks. This school sucks. Life sucks. I am not going to take it anymore. I hate my life. I hate the nightmares. I hate the people. I hate everything and everything sucks. I'm tired of my life. So I shall put myself out of my misery. Today I am going to DIE.
“Hey Hope, want to come to a party?” says a voice that pulled me out of my journal of life. The owner of the voice stands over me almost vulture like but her face is by far more appealing than the wrinkly face of a vulture waiting for its prey to die.
“Sorry, what?” I ask almost surprised at the exchange of conversation with another human being. I recognize her from class. If I remember correctly her name is Destiny, and she is an outgoing person who is always surrounded by friends. I find it kind of surprising that she would ever talk to me. According to everyone else, I'm just the lonely emo kid in the corner who is always contemplating how she is going to die. Yet they are always surprised that I am here the next day.
“I asked if you wanted to come to a party. The party is being sponsored by my church and it’s promised to be fun,” she said with a kind smile.
“I'll think about it and tell you at lunch,” I reply, wondering if there is some deeper meaning behind this extended hand of friendship.
“OK then, I'll see you at lunch,” replied Destiny just as the bell rang for the next class.
I walked to my next class, not thinking twice about Destiny's party invitation. But throughout the next class period it is all I can think about (good thing I'm going to die or the information about the next big exam might actually be something worth paying attention to).
I go over the conversation again and again, thinking about the way she said it. I could not see anything about it that may make me want to kill myself any faster so I decide that I'll accept the invitation...one last good memory to take with me as I die. Having made this decision, I couldn't wait for the lunch bell.
The next two classes could have passed a little faster (honestly it felt like they took forever). The way I exited the class-with a speed that surprised everyone, including myself-feeling like I had to get to the cafeteria quickly or she might change her mind about inviting me. As I walked through the door, I instantly see her sitting at the table where I usually sit alone. I skipped the lunch line, the desire to accept her invitation was stronger than my hunger. As I walk toward her, I try to calm myself and the feelings that I have felt before stirring inside my heart.
“I have decided to accept your invitation,” I tell her as I sit down across from her.
“Cool, do you need a ride? The party is right after school.” Destiny asked with obvious glee in her voice.
“Sure.” I reply, trying to decide whether I should back out now and carry out my plans of death, or go with her and have some fun first.
“Awesome, I'll pick you up right after school by the flag pole,” she said with such perkiness that I almost ran screaming.
“Cool. See you then.”
She danced off to the other side of the cafeteria, leaving me to wonder what I've gotten myself into.
The next four classes pass by way too fast, giving me no time to contemplate what I have done, much less whether I should ditch her. I decide to not ditch her. So as planned, I go to the flag pole after school and wait for her.
She pulls up in a car that screams Barbie – hot pink with a flower on the hood. I silently ask myself if I could jump into the bushes to hide without her seeing me. But that moment has passed and she honks at me. This, unfortunately, has gotten the attention of everyone within a 20-yard radius of us. They see a red-faced emo girl jumping into the hot pink monstrosity.
Then Destiny asks, “So, are you ready to paaaarrrrtyyyyyy?”
“Oh, yeah. Can't wait.” I say with as much feeling as I can muster, given that I am still dying of embarrassment, with my hoodie covering my face.
In no time at all we pull up in front of an old warehouse that doesn't look totally condemned.
“There isn't enough space at church to throw a rave, so we picked this place,” she informs me. She continues to exude perkiness at a level that is utterly terrifying. Although I am almost climbing the walls to get away from her aura of “sunshine and bubbles”, I do give her props for the venue choice. This is exactly the type of building I used to run to get away from...people. The only difference is, when I used to run away to the dark, depressing and deteriorated buildings, it was a lot quieter. This place has a decibel level of a 747 taking off, and we haven't even opened the door.
As we enter the main room, I am vibrating like a Mexican jumping bean from the two bouncer-size sub-woofers. I almost can't hear myself think, let alone hear Destiny yelling at the top of her lungs, “Let get this party started.”
As I try to assess my surroundings, I am instantly pulled by my wrist into an ocean of people heading over to the tables on the other side of the warehouse. As Destiny and I exit the mob of people, she leads me up to a table of people I fear will be exactly like her – bubbly to the extreme. Thankfully, within the first five minutes of meeting them I am proven wrong.
Aaron, the emo-esque 9th grader. Chelsea, the future comedian who will make us all die laughing. And last but not least, Falcon, the emo-esque bookworm whose face turns tomato red when she laughs. After introductions, handshakes and jokes are shared, I tell Destiny that I need to go out for a bit of fresh air. As I am walking through the ocean of people, I start to pay attention to the songs that the DJ is playing. As I'm about to leave the DJ plays a song that ensnares my attention and freezes me on the spot. As I listen to the song and soak up the meaning of the lyrics, I begin to cry and feel people all around me. I run out of the warehouse for several yards, until I can hardly hear the blasting music but I can still feel the people around even though I am alone. I feel people flying around me, I feel people hugging me in compassion, almost as if all of the things that have happened before were only figments of my imagination.
My first moment of peace is broken by the sound of someone walking towards me. I look up to see a boy about my age walking towards me.
“Hey, you okay?” he asks concerned.
“I don't know. I don't know what's going on.” I reply, with tears in my voice.
“Why don't you tell what happened and I'll try to help.”
I start to tell him about Destiny inviting me to the rave, and the song I heard playing. Then for the first time I can't stop crying, I run into his arms and tell him about my life and the plans I had for today before Destiny's invitation. I feel like a child who runs to their parents for comfort after having a nightmare. He holds me close and strokes my hair, telling me everything will be okay. Now for the first time ever I feel almost complete and safe. I manage to stop crying and look into his face.
“I'm sorry about all this. I don't usually do this.” I tell him, wiping my face with the sleeves of my hoodie.
He replies, “That's okay. I'm used to listening to sad stories. I'm Samuel, by the way. It means 'God listens.'”
In that moment I feel like crying again. I had heard of God. Some of the kids at the Home were from families that had gone to church. I had never given it much thought, that there was someone watching over me, but now I know that it is true for He has sent someone to listen to my story.
Over the next several hours I couldn't remember much. My head was foggy from all of the crying. But what I do know is that I no longer have to go to the Home and that I now have a family who isn't abusive, always listens to me and is very caring.
Samuel's dad is the pastor of the church that sponsored the rave. Right after he heard my story, Samuel went to his dad and asked if they could adopt me. He immediately said yes, saying that God had told him that he would soon have a new daughter (only God scared him saying she would already be a teenager). After hearing my story, the pastor went to the Home and demanded that the adoption papers go through immediately. Within the hour, I had a new family and was christened Hope Newman, for now I was a new person and always had a reason to hope.
© Copyright 2017 Iris Silverson. All rights reserved.
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