Part II – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

C is for compromising my self-worth
O is for overcoming diversity
N is for needing to be loved by any means necessary
S is for self-loathing when I knew no other way
E is for the evolution of my soul
Q is for the future queen in me
U is for understanding that all of this isn’t my fault
E is for the essence of my being
N is for all the time I neglected my common sense
C is for controlling my narrative
E is for emerging from the flames victorious
S is for surviving and living to tell the tell

Consequences can only hurt you
if you don’t learn from them
so do better to be better next time…

Consequences can either make you
Or break you
You decide,
the choice is always yours…

*******************

Author’s Note: If you are one of the peeps following this book, thank you for taking the time out to read about Topaz’s life. If you’re new to this book, please take the time to read from the beginning, it’s much appreciated. Plus you don’t want to miss any of the twists and turns of Topaz’s life, right?

Please continue to practice social distancing to stay safe and healthy. You are important to the world and to me.

Peace and Blessings – CV Davis

© 2020 | CV Davis, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Leighann Blackwood at Unsplash (Photos for Everyone)

Chapter Seven – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

Our first time together did not happen until after six months, and for sure not until we had our heart-to-heart talk about my past. Jayden wants to make sure it is special, so he rented a room at the Hyatt Hotel.

The Hyatt Hotel is an upscale hotel in downtown Oakland, that has beautiful rooms with all the amenities you could ever want in a hotel. The outside of the Hyatt isn’t much to look at, but the interior is so stunningly crafted with high chandeliers that hang from vaulted ceilings, plush deep green carpet, with a mahogany wood front desk counter, and wood moldings all throughout the lobby with intricately etched designs of cherubs. There is a piano bar and a beautiful fountain with some classic sculpture design of a scantily clad woman. I have never seen anything so spectacular in all my life.

Jayden, holds my hand, as he leads me to the suite he has rented for the weekend, and when he opens the door, my mouth damn-near hits the floor, “Oh my goodness,” this room, like the lobby of this hotel, is incredible, it has a sunken living room that you walk down two steps to be in, a king-size bed with the most expensive and elegant comforter and bed sheets I have ever seen, a sunken jacuzzi bathtub, a walk-in shower, and a hidden stereo system.

“So, what do you think about the room? Do you like it?” Jayden asked with a concerned look on his face.

“I love it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever been in,” I responded embarrassed to admit my life was simple with no perks or uniqueness, well maybe not simple, but it was basic by the standards he had grown up with and for the Hyatt.

“This room was simply gorgeous, and to top it all off, Jayden made the most beautiful all Prince slow jam CD for me. He knows how much I love Prince. I had told him that when “Purple Rain” came out a few years back, I saw it at the theater over 100 times. I would go to the movies and sit there and watch it all day. I just simply swooned over any Prince song when he played it in his ’83 royal blue mustang with its booming-ass stereo system.

The bass in his car stereo rattles my bones when he plays any song. I can feel the pounding rhythms deep in my core. Music has a way of making me feel free and connected to nature. So much so, that the right song under the right circumstances could make me wet with desire. The fact that he took the time to make me an all Prince slow jam CD is truly special. He really cares about me or, “Maybe he just wants me in the mood, so he can get in my pants,” it does not matter because no matter how frigid a person may be, Prince can melt that frigidity clear away in one song. Prince’s music is definitely my weakness. I am talking a straight panty-dropper, no defenses, and no inhibitions whatsoever, all it takes is one song and I am weak for the rest of the evening.

Jayden went all out, ordering lobster dinners from room service, with crème brûlée for dessert and sparkling apple cider. Dinner was D’Lish. During dinner, we talked casually about the events of our day. Jayden went to school and I went to school and work.

“The room is beautiful. Thank you so much for putting so much care and thought into our first time together.” I comment again on the room.

“I just want you to know how much I care about you. I don’t want you to feel like all I want from you is sex. You know that’s not the case, right?” He responded.

He has a way of soothing my fears and putting me at ease, which makes the feelings I have for him grow deeper.

“Yes,” I shake my head, overwhelmed by the emotions flooding my body. I do not know how much longer I can contain myself. I do not wanna come off like some type of freak or sexpot, but he is really getting under my skin.

Jayden walks to the CD player putting my special CD in, and wouldn’t you know the very first song is, “Do Me, Baby”? The music starts in and Prince joins in singing:

Here we are in this big old empty room (We sure are – )

Staring each other down (Umm-hmm)

You want me just as much as I want you (You damn right I do)

Let’s stop fooling around (I know that’s right)

The whole time the song is playing, I have this internal dialogue with it. When Prince gets to the line about, “Take me, baby, kiss me all over,” I am in full striptease mode. I kick off my shoes and start unbuttoning my shirt to peel it off, slowly, seductively, and teasingly. Jayden’s eyes are glued to me as he hums along with the music. I didn’t think dark-chocolate blushed, but I swear I could see Jayden melting right before me,

“Girl, the things you do to me. You’re making me weak.” Jayden said as he licked his full already moistened lips.

It was all his fault, I could melt right there in the middle of the floor, “How did he know that this was my absolute favorite Prince song?” I thought to myself as I continued to sway to the syncopation of the deep rhythmic beats as Prince belts out his invitation to do him, baby.

Jayden walks slowly over to me and holds out his hand, asking me, “Dance with me,” while I’m in the middle of taking off my shirt. I don’t know if I can handle such close contact without ripping his clothes off in an instant, but I oblige, and we come together in the middle of the living room floor, with its deep green shag carpet, and rocked slowly back-and-forth, grinding against each other’s bodies. Feeling our anticipation growing by the second barely able to contain ourselves but using all our faculties to maintain some composure. Jayden wants to take it slow, he doesn’t want me to feel rushed or pressured.

He whispers in my ear, “You okay? This too much?” Catching me off guard, I am so far from my past at that moment, that all I can think is, It’s taking too long for him to make love to me.

While we dance he kisses my cheek, nips at my ear, and lightly sucks on my neck leaving faint red marks of passion where his lips visit, all while his hands run the length of my torso grazing the sides of my breasts with his fingertips at each pass. Everything he did seems to be setting my body on fire, and I do not know how much more I can take. By the time the song ends my nether region is drenching wet and I am so ready to go all the way with him.

I have never been a rapist, and God knows I would never want anyone to feel that way, but in a playful way, at this very moment, I can totally tear all his clothes off and be justified in doing so, due to the amount of teasing he is doing to me. I am so consumed by his actions, I have no foreplay in me to share, I am completely at his mercy and don’t want to escape. I just want to feel him in any way I can.

I am sure he knows that, and I’m sure he takes great pleasure in knowing that my defenses are down, but not in a malicious way, but in that sexy hunting thrilling way. At the rate he was going, I don’t think anything is going to happen.

He surprises me by running a bubble bath for the two of us in the beautiful sunken bathtub.

I am suddenly fully aware of my partial nakedness, I have never felt so exposed in all my life, I thought, even being sexually assaulted didn’t make me feel as exposed, or as bare as I do standing in front of Jayden, hearing my loud inner thoughts as I continue to disrobe.

He looks at me with lingering lustful eyes, eyes filled with desire, and the need to have me to himself. He pours oil and bubble bath into the water, making sure the temperature is just right, not too hot – not too warm, but the right amount of heat. The kind of heat that can make you sweat. It doesn’t matter, because my sweat mingles amongst the bubbles and sitting in water that smells so good, that my sweat smells good also.

We sit at opposite sides of the bathtub while he massages my feet and legs. I take notice and the hint, returning the favor, and massage his feet and legs at the same time. We both moan our satisfaction at each other massaging expertise.

Moaning in unison, “Hmm, that feels so good.”

At some point, I get lost in the moment and forget that I am supposed to be reciprocating his gesture and just melt into the back of the tub enjoying his caresses. He guides my body, leading me to turn around and lean against him, my back to his front. When I do, he wraps his arms around me while he kisses my ears, neck, and cheeks.

Asking me, “Is this OK? Are you comfortable? I really want to make love to you, but I don’t want to pressure or rush you if you’re not ready.”

My insides scream at him, Ready! Man, are you kidding? I’m so fucking ready! I turn my head to face him and can only see the side of his face and say, “You know I’m not made of glass, right? I am 18 years old. I’ve kind of dealt with my past issues, so I’m ready.”

With that reply, we make deep passionate earth-shattering love for the next two days.

After the first time we have sex, I have a nightmare that night about the first sexual encounter I have ever had. I was five years old, and my Uncle Ned was the culprit. My dream takes me back to that day like I’m living that moment in time for the first time all over again.

******************

Uncle Ned sat his overweight smelly body, facing slightly away from me, on the edge of his queen-sized bed, with its tattered bedspread and fading flowers, waving his chubby finger at me, “Come here, I want to show you sumthin.”

The years haven’t been kind to Uncle Ned. He’s lost most of his hair and put on a considerable amount of weight with age. He smells like old stale beer, which makes him smell bad. I don’t think he takes baths, but he’s nice to me when we visit, so I try to be nice to him too.

I walk closer trying desperately to get a better look at what Uncle Ned wants to show me. Craning my neck as much as possible to see but not really seeing anything. What’s he holding? Maybe it’s a surprise, something special, just for me, but his big hands, hands as large as feet, won’t let me get a good look.

The stark room’s only light came from the glow of the television lurking in the back corner bouncing greyish-blue light off the dingy white walls covered in decades of second-hand smoke. The carpet is worn from years of being on the floor.

There’s a TV tray next to Uncle Ned’s huge leg, with a recently discarded plate of food, most of which landed on his dingy sweaty dirty shirt, as well unopened letters resting near the empty plate. I approach slowly because I don’t know what he’s holding. The dimness of the room won’t allow me to see.

I feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to prickle with anxiety and I don’t know why I feel this way. I like Uncle Ned. He’s always been nice to me. He always gives me money for candy at the corner store when we visit Ma’Dear, but today, he’s different. Like he’s got a juicy secret that he can only tell to me.

He smiles at me coyly, showing very little teeth, while he slowly licks his top lip, speaking in a gruff voice tainted by years of smoking,

“Come, girl, let me show ya. If I show you this, you can’t tell nobody bout it. You understand?”

Nodding my reply, “Yes.” I think I understand what he means but I’m not sure. I feel the tension mounting in the pit of my belly.

I don’t want to make him angry. I feel like I can make him angry if I say the wrong thing. I want to be a good girl and do as I’m told. I don’t want to get in trouble. Children are always supposed to respect their elders and do what they’re told.

“This will be our own special secret. Okay?” Uncle Ned said, looking for my confirmation while he beckoned me to come closer to him.

Again, I nod. Each step makes me more nervous. The butterflies in my stomach are in a full panic because I can’t figure out what to expect. I don’t know how I’m supposed to act. I just keep putting one tiny foot in front of the other, slowly closing the distance between us.

“Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you none. I just want you to touch it for me. I’m ma show you how. Okay?” Tilting his head to point to his slightly open legs.

Fear continues to tighten the muscles in my stomach, making my butterflies frantic with panic. I continue forward, taking tinier steps, with tiny feet; wringing tiny fingers behind my back. He didn’t seem to want anything bad. He didn’t seem like he’s gonna hurt me. He just seems weird, a bit off, not his usual playful self.

As a five-year-old, I’m not sure I have the words to describe the feeling in the pit of my belly, but I know I don’t feel right. I feel peculiar. I can’t control my body, nor the pull he has on me. I want to see, but something’s telling me I don’t. I can’t stop my feet from moving towards him. Maybe it’s his sheer will and presence that compels me to keep moving forward so he can show me “sumthin”. The something he’s holding in his hand between his legs, close to the top of his thighs. This does not feel right – when I touched it.

I have no more steps to take. I stand in front of Uncle Ned as he reaches for my hands, “Now there girl, give me both your little hands. They’s so small, you gonna need to use both em.” He says as he places both my hands on what’s between his thighs.

I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was long, hard, and sort of wet, like from sweat or something thick and slick like Vaseline or lotion. It felt warm, warmer than I thought it should be. The smooth part looks slick and shiny. It’s different from the longer part’s skin. It doesn’t look anything like my baby brother’s wee-wee, but it’s in the same place as his, but a lot bigger.

I hold out my hands. He takes them, placing them on the long smooth body part with its slick shiny top. He puts his hands over mine, so I can’t take them back. The pressure of his hands holding mines hurts, making me squirm. I don’t think I care for this surprise. I don’t understand it, it’s not something I know. Uncle Ned starts to mumble incoherently under his breath while moving my small hands back and forth.

“Just like that precious baby,” Uncle Ned said while holding my hands in motion on him. “There you go baby girl, your surprise will be here in a few minutes, okay?” He said in a sing-songy voice.

With eyes wide and curious I ask, “A surprise for me?” What kind of surprise? Where’s he hiding it? I don’t see any surprises. I keep my eyes on Uncle Ned’s face, watching it change expressions. His skin darkening while beads of sweat form on his forehead.

He’s squeezing my hands too tight. My fingers are numb. His thing feels harder. I decided right then and there to call it a ‘thing’ because I don’t know what else to call it. It’s his and it’s on his body, so it’s his thing.

Before I complete my current thought, something whitish and thick comes out the top of his thing. Shocked at what happened, I speak with surprise and curiosity, “Ooo-wee, what’s that?” I ask, he doesn’t answer me.

His breathing is deep and hard. Sweat drips from his face, and small droplets land on my numb fingers. He drops back, seemingly exhausted, on his bed, struggling to catch his breath, “That was good baby girl. Did you see the surprise? Here, clean your hands,” as he hands me a soiled towel from the other side of the bed.

I stand motionless, confused about what just happened. I feel tears that haven’t fallen yet. I won’t cry. Uncle gave me a surprise. I gotta be nice. Nice girls don’t cry when they get gifts. They say thank you.

“You did good baby. Uncle Ned is thankful you such a sweet baby. Now I want you to be a good girl and remember your promise, and don’t tell nobody, kay? Member, you said it was gonna be our special secret, right?” He said, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand.

Stunned by the recent events, I nod my reply, while I wipe the sticky whitish stuff off my hands, wondering why he made me touch him there, like that.

After a few moments, he told me, “Get me a beer out the fridge. Get yoself a pop. You did real good for ole Uncle Ned,” winking with a silly smirk on his face.

Walking into the kitchen, tears sit at the ridge of my eyes, burning and blurring my vision. In my head screaming, “I don’t want no pop! I don’t want to drink anything! I just want to find my grandma.” I just want to sit with her and Ma’Dear while they talk about old times and old people, but I got to get Uncle Ned’s beer because I always do as I’m told. I’m a good girl. I don’t get in trouble like my brothers. They always in trouble for doing something they’re not supposed to.

I want to tell them I got a special surprise, that I don’t like much, and tease them about it. I promised Uncle I wouldn’t tell anybody bout his special surprise, and I don’t ever break my promises…

Uncle Ned took the cold beer from my trembling hand, not giving me a second glance and said, “Gon outside and play with yo brothers now. Remember yo promise. Don’t you tell our special secret.” As an afterthought, he tells me, “Next time you come over, I’m ma make sure I give you some money for the corner sto.”

**************************

I remember the silhouette of his body. I remember the events that transpired. I remember how he smells; sweaty and grimy. I remember the roughness of his hands as they hold mine in place tightly under his. I remember his clothes damp to the touch. I remember the gravel in his throat when he spoke. I remember the details of the room where it happened, but not once, can I remember his face.

There is one more thing I remember, how I felt afterward, me standing there confused and scared as if I’d done something wrong. What he did was mean for making me feel that way…

I truly cannot remember his face, but the essence of him haunts my dreams often.

That dream shook me to the depths of my soul. Jayden can never find out, he will never touch me again, or look at me the same. I told him about this incident during our heart-to-heart, because it was my first sexual encounter. I didn’t think it would come back in the darkness and get me. Like I said before, Me and darkness don’t get along and we never will.

***************

Author’s Note: Thank you for waiting patiently for this chapter. I am still deep into revisions and working on them as quickly as I can. I am happy that you are keeping up with Topaz and the changes her life encounters. She’s still got a ways to go.

Please continue to practice social distancing. Stay safe and healthy.

Peace and Blessings – CV Davis

© 2020 | CV Davis, All Rights Reserved

Consequences (From Ghetto Girl Rising, Part II)

C is for compromising my self-worth
O is for overcoming diversity
N is for needing to be loved by any means necessary
S is for self-loathing when I knew no other way
E is for the evolution of my soul
Q is for the future queen in me
U is for understanding that all of this isn’t my fault
E is for the essence of my being
N is for all the time I neglected my common sense
C is for controlling my narrative
E is for emerging from the flames victorious
S is for surviving and living to tell the tell

Consequences can only hurt
if you don’t learn from them
so do better to be better next time…

Consequences can either make you
Or break you
You decide,
the choice is always yours…

*******************

Author’s Note: If you are one of the peeps following this book, thank you for taking the time out to read about Topaz’s life. If you’re new to this book, please take the time to read from the beginning, it’s much appreciated. Plus you don’t want to miss any of the twists and turns of Topaz’s life, right?

This poem is from Part II of the book. I just wanted to give you a little taste of what’s to come for Topaz in Part II. Please feel free to comment or make suggestions. All are welcome and are helpful in making this the best book it can be.

Please continue to practice social distancing to stay safe and healthy. You are important to the world and to me.

Peace and Blessings – CV Davis

© 2020 | CV Davis, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Leighann Blackwood at Unsplash (Photos for Everyone)

Chapter Six – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

Today I received a letter from social services telling me that my time in foster care was nearing an end. I got the typical aging out the system letter that all 18-year olds get when they’re in foster care up until their 18th birthday.

There was nothing unique about the letter, it went on and on about how it hoped I would have a successful adult life and that there were resources available if I needed it. What a bunch of bullshit! Did Social Services think I thought they cared about me? I was just another kid in a long list of other kids who had been sucked up in the foster care system attempting to survive their horrific childhoods.

I knew this day was coming for a while, and in a way, I had been preparing for my future for the last year. I spent months studying for the SATs and was scheduled to take the exam soon.

My favorite teacher Jeffrey spent hours sitting with me and helping me through the study guides he had found used at a local bookstore. I hated to admit it, but I think I have been crushing on Jeffrey since I started his English class last semester.

Who would not at least be moved by his sensual voice and his charismatic personality? He had a way of reading poetry that touched something ravenous inside me, something so simplistic and animalistic, like a gnawing deep inside my soul. It did not matter that I had a boyfriend.

Don’t get me wrong I care about Jayden, but Jeffrey touched something deeper than physical contact could ever touch. Maybe it was just wishful fantasies spun in my head, but I truly enjoy being in his class.

Dorsey Alternative High School sat on the corner of Church and Allen Streets in the heart of Mexican Land. There were mostly Hispanics everywhere you looked or went. The building itself was a single-story brick building that was a recommissioned library for our school’s purpose.

Classes were from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and usually consisted of four classes, except Wednesdays, which was an elective class day that you stayed in for the four hours of school. I chose bowling at Alameda Bowling Alley for my elective.

The inside of the school was divided into classrooms big enough to hold about fifteen students, desks, and the teacher. Upon entry, you run smack dab into the main office. That was it, besides the bathrooms, one for staff and two for students.

The only other unique thing about my school was we called all our teachers by their first names, and most of the time, they called us by our last names. I was used to being called Ms. Giles. It was their way of shortening the divide between students and teachers.

When Jeffery offered to help me prepare for the SATs I jumped at the opportunity to spend quality time with him. I knew nothing would ever come of it, but it was nice to sit close to him, smelling his delicious cologne, seeing his eyes sparkle when discussing the English comprehension portion of the test, and his beautifully structured face with thick arched eyebrows, pale brown skin, and stunning blueish-gray eyes.

I could melt in his eyes. When he looked at me I saw myself the way he did, and not for one minute, doubted I was not as spectacular as he believed me to be. Through his eyes, I saw the possibilities. I saw my future, and my future was bright.

“You know Topaz, I love your poems. They are so raw and real and organic. You should do well on the reading, writing, and language portions of the test. I suspect you’ll get a perfect score, if not pretty close to one.”

“You really think so?” I asked.

Jeffery’s confidence in me was engrossing. He made me feel as if I could do anything, but my inner demons taunted me with vile thoughts of inadequacies. I want to believe him and when I look him in those eyes, I did for that moment. I really believe what he sees in me and I feel invincible.

The time had flown by, the SATs were fast approaching. I felt pretty confident I could hold my own during this four-hour test. I may not have strong math skills, but they were adequate. I usually got high B’s in my math classes, so I would be okay.

Jeffery told me to focus on the English portion because that’s where my strength lies. Whenever I worry about school stuff, I recite my favorite parts of a poem by Maya Angelou written in 1978, that I learned a few years back, Still, I Rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still, I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise…

I know it’s not the whole poem, but those parts really made me think about my life and situation. Those words seem to calm and center me whenever I need to be calmed and centered. Whenever I am standing on legs lacking assurance and a mind racing a mile a minute, I have those words to snap me out of it.

The closer the SATs got the more unprepared I felt. Jeffery reassured me at every study session that I would be fine and do well. I have never gotten anything I want in life. Why would this test be any different? All this test would do is prove how uneducated and stupid I am and I did not need the whole world knowing this about me.

I spent the last remaining two weeks cramming as much information into my brain that it could hold and still it felt like it was not enough. The test was tomorrow. I was out of time and out of options. I could reschedule the test but that would mean having to pay the sixty-five dollar fee again. There was nothing left to do but woman up.

I arrived at the SAT location as the doors were closing, making it in a nick-of-time, literally. I sat through the grueling four-hour exam because I opted to do the essay portion of the test, writing is in my will-house. I finish the test, walk out feeling at least a hundred pounds lighter, happy that this damn test is behind me. No matter what happens next, the test is over. It is finally over! Just as that thought left my brain another more dissatisfying thought entered, no more one-on-one time with Jeffery, and soon no more Jeffery.

The reality was taking hold. I would soon have nowhere to stay, and no Jeffery to fantasize about while I listened to his deep sultry voice recite pose and portions of the most delectable sort of romantic classics. Like most things in life, everything must change, nothing ever stays the same.

****************

Jayden is on time, as usual, to pick me up from the test. I promised I would be a better girlfriend after I got through the SATs and he meant to hold me to my promise. We were going to hang out and celebrate. I am no longer grounded at the group home so my curfew is back to normal. I did not have to be home until midnight. Yipee! If nothing else, I am excited to have my life back.

Hanging out with Jayden is always an adventure. We usually end up in the most interesting places. He has taken me to the Oakland Museum, which I had not been to before. Me being an Oakland native, I am ashamed to admit that, but my life didn’t leave a lot of time for me to explore Oakland and all its wonders growing up.

We have been to the Oakland Zoo, which I had not been to since I was seven years old. Not much had changed in that time. All I remember from my last trip to the zoo is a picture my grandma had of me and my two oldest brothers walking, eating an ice cream cone with ice cream running down the hand and arm holding it.

We would often go to the Castle Arcade and Malibu Speedway in East Oakland near the Oakland Coliseum. Everyone hung out there on the weekends. I always said if you were looking for someone you had not seen in a while, all you had to do is go to the Castle to find them. The flip-side to that is if you were trying to be on the down-low, then you shouldn’t be at the Castle. We had even gone roller skating. I love hanging out with Jayden, he makes me feel normal.

Shortly after me and Jayden’s six-month anniversary, I realized things were changing between us. I no longer felt as guarded or defensive when we were together. I laughed more and would let little details about my not so distant past slip. So the day he approached me about having a heart to heart, I figured why not. It was time for me to tell him my dirty dark secrets. Honestly, it would be a relief to finally get this stuff off my chest. He had stuck with me this long, he deserved to know. Didn’t he? I want him to know I am not the angel he thinks I am, but I am dirty and damaged.

The day we went to Dimond Park to talk, the park was beautiful and shady which is what I needed. There was no need to add extra heat because my body was already on high-alert, and my body was damp, on the verge of real sweat. I am glad he chose this park with its luscious trees and wonderful cool breeze. The Bay Area is not known for extreme weather, unlike other nearby cities. Most summer days feel like spring, but today is a scorcher.

Today, I learn a lot about Jayden’s life and family. He is so nervous about telling me. I think it’s funny. His life has nothing on mine. I have never told any guy I dated about my past. Jayden would be the first, at least I can give him that because all my other firsts have already been used.

He listened patiently, trying very hard not to seem shocked, but I could tell he was shocked very much by the words coming out of my mouth.

“From the beginning until now, I have experienced sexual abuse at least six times in various situations. I’m sure more happened but my mind has blocked it out.” I tell Jayden, watching his every facial expression for clues that this was too much for him to bear.

“Wow, babe. I’m so sorry that happened to you,” he struggled to get that out before I continued.

He did not interrupt me anymore. I think the shock kept him from speaking. What could he do about any of this stuff now? It is a part of my past and when I finish telling him about it, that is where it will stay.

He did not need to hear the explicit details of my sordid past, maybe one or two encounters is all I will tell him about. Before I get to those stories, I tell him about the physical abuse I suffered at the hands of my drug-addicted mother. I tell him about my fourteen foster home placements before coming to Camden House, which explains why I attend an alternative high school. There is so much I can tell him that will destroy my good girl façade, but I did not think I could bear him looking at me through eyes of pity. I just couldn’t handle that, not from him.

While I share my story, I try my best to seem nonchalant about my sexual abuse, not wanting to give these events any power over me or make me seem weak or feeble in his eyes. I did not think I could face him if he thought I was weak and could have gotten out of those situations if I wanted to.

The last thing I need is someone’s pity because pity couldn’t change the past, it can only make me relive all those horrifying events, and that’s not good for either of us.

He only turned away from me one time. I could see he was becoming emotional, but I keep going. When he faces me again, I can swear I see his eyes glazed and a look of indescribable pain on his face. But he nods for me to continue, and I do. When I finally finished, two hours later, we were completely drained.

I knew Jayden hurt with me, and possibly pitied me, and that is exactly what I do not want. I do not need pity. I don’t need him trying to save me or make my life better. I just need him to listen; possibly gaining some insight on why I am the way I am but, not his damn pity. It is not easy for me to share this side of me, but I did because I care about him.

I can tell he is touched by what he learned. He opened his body to me without touching me, letting his body language tell me he is all in. I realize at that moment he does not pity me. Jayden wants to show me that love can be a healer and good for me. Seeing his beautiful molten-brown eyes fill with so much empathy, takes everything in me not to cry.

I cannot appear weak, not in his eyes. I mean, who always gets themselves into situations where they are sexually abused? I should have been able to find a way to escape the trauma of repeated offenses. But being a child, I just wasn’t smart enough or have the type of strength needed to fend off my attackers.

I think overall, he got that and opened his heart even more. I always felt that Jayden has so much love to share, that his heart was enormous, enough to love me unconditionally. For this I am grateful.

Jayden’s open-heartedness allows me the comfort I need to start to love myself again and to be willing to share myself with someone who isn’t forcing me. It takes me a long time to get to this place, and I love him for being patient enough to wait for me to get to where he is emotionally and, Oh Baby, the first time, blew my mind!

I had no idea sex could be so good, so cleansing. Sex with Jayden really did change my perspective about being in love, giving love, and sharing love with another person. He keeps making me surprise myself, Jayden.

***************

Author’s Note: Thank you for waiting patiently for this chapter. I am still deep into revisions and working on them as quickly as I can. I am happy that you are keeping up with Topaz and the changes her life encounters. She’s still got a ways to go.

Please continue to practice social distancing. Stay safe and healthy.

Peace and Blessings – CV Davis

© 2020 | CV Davis, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Leighann Blackwood at Unsplash (Photos for Everyone)

Chapter Four – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

All the bedrooms at Camden House Group Home for Teenage Girls were simple and looked basically the same. We all had one pinewood-paneled accent wall. The other three walls were painted off-white. Our doors locked by push button in the doorknob from inside the room, and by key from the outside. There is a small closet for our clothes and the miscellaneous items we want to keep out of sight.

Other than that, the walls were bare, apart from personal pictures or random posters of famous singers and actors we might decide to hang. I had a Prince, Teena Marie and Miami Vice actor Phillip Michael Thomas on the wall, along with some personal pictures of myself I had from old school portraits. I had to admit the girl in those photos was pretty cute, even though I didn’t believe myself to be that attractive. Apart from my physical self, I could admire the beauty others saw, but when looking directly into the face of myself, I could not see it. I could not appreciate it.

Disassociation from myself gained my appreciation.

I had a four-drawer dresser and one nightstand near my twin-sized bed that held my digital alarm clock and boombox. There’s wasn’t much else in my room, so why not destroy any and everything I could manage to lift or tear from the walls.

I had already committed to going ape-shit. I let out my battle cry to warn the town folk that this was serious, it was happening, and I was going to be what I felt right now. Outright rage.

I could not control the impulse surging through my body. It was if I were suddenly possessed by some evil spirit that was fighting its way out, wanting to be seen and heard. Who was I to keep my demon captive? I had been doing that for thirteen years, keeping her quiet and in check every time someone did something foul to me.

Every time a relative or caregiver wanted me to touch them in that way. Every time some grown ass man wanted me sexually and I obliged because I didn’t know how to say no or get out of that situation. Every time my grandmother or mother beat me, I took it because I knew no other way. My demon would no longer be denied. She would be recognized. She would be seen, so I cut her loose, letting her have her way with the room.

With her newfound freedom in my small group home bedroom, she started by flipping the dresser over on its side by the front door. She ripped down all the posters and pictures on the wall that I had paid good money for. She knocked over my nightstand, kicking it until my toes ached from the pain she inflicted more on me than herself or that piece of furniture. She threw my boombox against the wall, while I watched it shatter on the floor in large chunks of plastic and speakers.

 The only thing left was my alarm clock. She grabbed it and swung it by its cord, again and again, against the wall until it busted through the plaster leaving a gaping hole, exposing mesh screening and a stud beam located behind the sheetrock. When she was finished with the obvious stuff within her reach, she went for the wood paneling.

I watched from outside my body while she gripped the edge of the first panel and pulled with all her might until I heard it rip from the wall. When it broke free, she commenced breaking it with her hands and feet into small pieces of useless wood. With the first panel removed, she then started on the next one, then the next. By this time, she heard the keys in my door and somebody trying to get into my room, she immediately pushed my dresser in front of my door to block their entry and continued her demolition of my room.

I watched her take out all that rage on an innocent bedroom. I watched her outside my body possessed and out of control. I had no idea how much I denied her the freedom to fight back. I denied her the right to protect herself for all these years. I didn’t know she was hurting so badly and that she wanted and needed release from the years of torment she endured.

I cried for her.

I cried for me.

I cried for not letting her out sooner.

By the time Gloria finally got past the dresser, She had done a real number on my room. The girls had gathered in the hallway wondering what was going on. Gloria stood there looking astonished by the sight in front of her, trying to figure out what in the hell possessed me to commit such sabotage to my room and the property of this facility.

“Do you feel better?” she asked. “Are you done?” as she waited for me to catch my breath to answer.

My demon had been freed and had now exacted her frustration from years of restriction. She had been made whole, releasing me to my own devices, just in time for me to suffer the consequences of her actions.

I slump to the floor, starting in on a good deep cry. One that came from the depths of my soul. Whaling and hyperventilating in the process. I drew my knees to my chest to continue my cry into the knees of my jeans. I stayed in this sitting fetal position for what felt like an eternity. I cried until all I could do was dry-heave my feelings. When I finally stopped and looked up, Gloria had cleared the room and hallway. She had shut my door and was sitting quietly on my bed waiting for me to finish.

“I’m ma ask you again, do you feel better?” Gloria asked with deep concern in her voice.

“Yes. I’m sorry.” I responded through tear-redden eyes and a runny nose. “I don’t know what came over me. I just felt so angry at everything that was happening. I couldn’t control it. I’m so so sorry.” I continued to cry somewhere between a sob and dry-heaving. I continued this way for another fifteen minutes or so before I no longer had any water left in my body to release.

She reflected for a moment, giving the situation in front of her a full evaluation of the available options before she spoke again. “If you can promise me that you’ll never do anything like this again, I’ll cancel the 51/50 call I put in to the police,” she sighed before continuing. “You know this type of behavior is grounds for an immediate 51/50 call and removal from this facility?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, what? Yes, you understand I could 51/50 you or yes you promise to never do anything like this again? Which is it?”

I sat for what seemed like a long time. Time enough for me to regain my composure, collecting myself and emotions before I spoke. “Yes, to both.”

She picked up the cordless telephone she had brought in with her and placed a call. I heard the police department dispatcher answer. Gloria gave some official-sounding information to the person on the other end of the call before she said thank you and hung-up.

I looked around my room ashamed of what I’d done. Although I had let my demon loose, it was my body she worked through to destroy any and everything in my bedroom she could get her hands on. With that realization, tears rolled silently down my cheek. Through sniffles, I promised to pay for all the damage. “I will pay for everything from my paycheck.”

“I’m sure you will because that’s about the only thing I can tell my boss to keep him from kicking you out immediately.”

“I-I will. I will turn over every dime until I replace or pay for repairs,” I said through a cracked and hoarse voice, “Except enough money for bus fare during the week to school and work.”

“I’m going to need you to sign a contract committing to just that. What will the consequence be if you don’t hold up your end of this deal?”

“It depends on when and if I break my contract, which I have no intentions of doing,” I responded, still recovering but more in control. My demon was gone for now. She had retreated to her nice and neat little hiding place. On high alert, for the next time, she would be needed to make things right.

“You’re lucky I like you and believe you have immense potential, that I’m even agreeing to this. If you were any other girl in this house, you’d be out on your butt A.S.A.P.”

I knew she was telling the truth because since I had been there another girl let her demons loose too, but her demon was kinder than mine had been, and she still got 51/50 from the compound. I was lucky, even though my demon had no regard for human life or its possessions. She absolutely did not give a fuck. My room proved her vengeance was long overdue.

*********

Author Notes: Hello to all my coming-of-age enthusiasts. Thank you for stopping by and giving this book a read. I am deep in the heart of revisions.

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions on any paragraph you feel warrants it. It is your comments and suggestions that will help make this a spectacular book in the end.

Stay safe and healthy. Read lots of books for entertainment, and soon this pandemic will pass.

Peace and blessings!-CV Davis

Constructive comments and suggestions are always welcomed. Thank you again. Here’s to hoping you’re having a safe and beautiful day. #CMBC

© CV Davis – Author

 

Chapter Three – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

Gloria King is a soft-spoken round woman, who’s slightly shorter than me, with long beautiful jet-black hair and smooth coffee-colored skin with a dash of cream thrown in so it wasn’t straight black coffee. I had never seen a Black woman with such long hair that wasn’t a wig or a weave, so I instantly found her interesting.

I could tell it was her hair because of the scalp. Wigs and weaves give themselves away because the scalp is never the right color for Black women. Well, unless you’re white, then it matches perfectly. Gloria’s make-up was always done tastefully and exactly the right amount. She was professional through and through. She never made me feel guarded or on edge when we met. She made most of our conversations feel as if I started them.

Up to this point in my life, there were only three other people I liked. My best-friend Legs, my teacher Jeffery at school, and my boyfriend Jayden. Gloria made the fourth person I could tolerate longer than ten minutes. Our sessions never felt like counseling, but more like two friends hanging out shooting the breeze.

Everybody on my list beat out my family, but that’s another topic for another time. Definitely therapy worthy. Gloria interrupted my thoughts abruptly.

“You want to go to my office and talk?” tipping her chin down towards me waiting for me to lift my head and respond because I had not once looked up at her or anyone else in the rec room. I just focused on the floor and my torn clothes as a distraction from the present.

I didn’t answer, I stood and walked off towards her second-floor office. I knew I wouldn’t escape a lecture, so I might as well get it over with. She would shortly hand down my sentence for my outburst and violation.

I stood to the side of Gloria’s office door waiting for her to meet me there. She arrived moments later, opening the door. I sulked in and took my usual seat at the window.

I typically sat in that chair during our sessions, so I could people watch and gaze at the world outside this existence, daydreaming about everything conceivable in life.

My mind was usually occupied as she talked about events. I would often miss her questions because I’d be so deep in thought and far away from this place with all its rules and occupants. As I sat there drifting in thoughts and watching people and cars go up and down the block, I was reminded of the time I had a run-in with the police on my way home from work one night.

That night when I got off the bus about three blocks from the group home, I stepped into a vacant doorway to get my jacket out my bag, when a cop shined his car’s spotlight in my face, blinding me.

He searched the length of my body with his spotlight, apparently looking for obvious contraband, and then paused his light directly in my eyes. I wondered what I had done wrong but was too scared to move. Oakland cops were notorious for racial profiling and I didn’t want to give this cop a reason to detain me any longer than he needed to.

“Yes, officer. Is there a problem?” I asked with a shaky voice.

“Why are you out here alone, so late, ?” He responded, keeping his light plastered to my eyes.

“On my way home, sir.”

“Hmm. You live round here?”

“Bout three blocks over,” I answered while shielding my eyes with my free hand, which were starting to hurt from the strain of trying to focus on seeing him through the blinding light.

“Hmm. I see… So why you hovering in that doorway digging through your bag?” His voice became gruffer and full of accusations.

“My jacket…” I trailed off, becoming more scared by the moment.

To keep things from intensifying, I immediately dropped my bag. I didn’t want him to think I was reaching for anything. Cops in Oakland tended to shoot first, ask questions later. It didn’t matter that they had a Black female Chief of Police. Black people and white cops are never a good combination under most circumstances. Honestly, I was shocked he hadn’t asked me to drop it already. If for nothing else, his safety, just in case I was carrying.

Keeping my hands visible, and in plain sight, I waited for further instructions, which he took his time giving. He was too busy chuckling at my unexpected reaction to his line of questioning.

“Missy, pick-up your bag. Go on, git home. It’s not safe to be out here this late by yourself.” He instructed, and I did as I was told, picking up my bag. I walked off swiftly, my heart racing as fast as my feet were moving. I didn’t want him changing his mind, thinking I was suspicious after all. He continued to follow me with his spotlight until I turned the corner a block away.

All I could think on my way home that night, speed walking to get there before that cop showed up again, was why in the hell did I let my co-worker talk me into covering his late shift. I had to get special permission to be out past curfew on a school night. What a dummy.

Back in the office with Gloria, who had just asked me a question that I completely missed. I looked at her blankly waiting for her to repeat it.

“Topaz are you listening?” she asked as she rustled through a folder in front of her, which I could only assume was mine.

I nodded my head as an automatic response, which is what I did to most questions I got from adults or authority figures.

“You sure? I’m waiting for an answer.”

“Oh…”

I’m sorry. I-I was sort of daydreaming,” I admitted as I dropped my head embarrassed and focused on the floor and my torn clothes. I should have asked if I could change before we met. Too late now. I just wanted to get this over with and go to my room, but it looked like it would be a while. We hadn’t even gotten to the lecture yet.

“Fine. I wanted you to explain how this fight started.”

“Oh…” I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I didn’t want to give a long explanation. I just wanted to get out of there. Away from her prying eyes that were fixed on me, reading everything into every facial tick or expression I made.

“The phone,” was the closest thing to the truth I could offer.

“The phone? I don’t understand why you two would be fighting over the phone,” she said leaning towards me, focused intensely on my eyes. It was if she were a human lie detector reading my thoughts and checking my racing pulse for falsehoods.

It didn’t take long for her eyes to soften. She seemed calmer and didn’t appear to be angry any longer. From what I could tell, she was more concerned with why and how this fight started. At least she wasn’t mad at me any longer.

I began with the details of the fight that ensued over the payphone. I didn’t want to sound like a whiny brat, but the more I talked the more I began to sound exactly like one. I gave her the short version and ended with I was right to stand up to Tonya. Gloria released me from her gaze and continued to review my file. When she was satisfied with the information she had gathered, she spoke.

“Unwanted physical contact is automatically three demerits. You have two incidents already. You will return to new resident rules for the next 30 days,” she informed me matter-of-factly, leaving no room for me to interpret this information in any other way. The only thing this equated to was me being, FUCKED!

Being in Gloria’s office suddenly became stifling. It was not the safe-haven I had become accustomed to. Her office was usually my escape from all the noise that ten girls make, but not currently. I just wanted to be anywhere but there.

“Was there no other alternative, Topaz?”

Shaking my head. No. I continued to look at the floor for guidance. Searching for the right words to tell her, but nothing came to mind. I just wanted this meeting over.

What could I say that would make this any better, Gloria knew I didn’t like Tonya, but she also didn’t think I would fight her until it happened. I could continue whining about how Tonya always hogged the phone, or that she was always casting snide comments in my direction.

No matter what, if I liked it, Tonya hated it. But none of these excuses were going to be good enough to get me off the hook. Not even the truth could change the group home rules. There were no exceptions, not even for me, one so highly favored by all the staff. Even I was not safe from the rules and their inevitable outcomes.

Having five demerits on my record could potentially extend my punishment from 30-days to 60-days if I commit one more rule violation. Gloria proceeded to tell me how I earned the previous demerits. Rubbing salt into my already open wounds, no less. I cringed as I listened to her list of my past violations.

“Topaz, you have two existing demerits currently on record. One from last month for breaking curfew, and one from last week for not completing your chores. You were already teetering, now this,” she explained. She looked so disappointed, which made me instantly feel worse.

“She started it” – I pouted my words like a two-year-old on the verge of a full-out tantra – “she was cutting into my phone time, even after I asked her to get off the phone, she refused, so I hung up the phone to end her call,” I interrupted, and offered in defense of my actions.

“I understand that you may have felt justified, but this is not how civilized people act. You know this. How many times have we talked about using our words instead of our fists to settle disputes? What could you have done differently to avoid a physical confrontation with Tonya?”

“I dunno,” flushed from frustration and a new fueled anger of having to be restricted to this freaking house for the next 30-days.

“I know that’s not true Topaz. You and I have discussed numerous ways to defuse a temping volatile situation. Have we not?”

At that moment, I no longer wanted to talk. I wanted out of her office and in my room. I wanted to be as far away from Gloria as I could be. I was seething with anger. I wanted to throw something, or smash something.

“I need some space. I’m going to my room.” I announced as I stood and walked out, not waiting for her answer or her attempt to continue to make me talk about what happened.

Tears welled at the rim of my eyes. I was so angry, I could see red. The only other time I’d been this beside myself is when I contemplated suicide as an escape from my horrible life. I wasn’t suicidal right now, but I was definitely dangerous. I could really hurt something or somebody, and I was sure something destructive was going to happen. My rage was bubbling, I felt explosive.

This Bitch has cost me my freedom. Because of her, I’m stuck in this God-awful house for the next 30-fucking-days.

I made my way to my room, slamming my door as hard and as loud as I could. I wanted it to shake the floor and for anyone walking in the hallway to feel my wrath. My rage, boiling in my gut, like a raging pot of hot water. I could feel myself on the edge of hysteria and I didn’t know how to make it stop. I had never felt such a loss of control.

I guess I could contribute my current state to all the years of bottled up emotions. All the years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. Always having to put on a brave face like nothing was ever wrong. Like nothing ever bothered me, but that was a lie. I felt everything. I feel everything. I just learned to hide my feelings from others because it wouldn’t do any good to complain or hurt in front of others. But right now I was all emotion, red burning hot emotion, was all I could feel.

Accepting my fate and my resolve, I released the loudest scream my lungs had the capacity for and let all my rage go.

*********

Author Notes: Hello to all my coming-of-age enthusiasts. Thank you for stopping by and giving this book a read. I am deep in the heart of revisions.

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions on any paragraph you feel warrants it. It is your comments and suggestions that will help make this a spectacular book in the end.

Stay safe and healthy. Read lots of books for entertainment, and soon this pandemic will pass.

Peace and blessings!- CV Davis-CV Davis

© CV Davis – Author

Chapter Two – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

I had been living at Camden House for a little over two months. Just having started my senior year of high school a few months earlier, right before coming to live here. So far things were as they were. I liked most of the girls living here or was at least cordial to a few. No real love lost, but not enemies either. I guess it was okay. I didn’t have any real problems, except for Tonya. She was proving to be a real thorn in my side.

One night as I laid in my bed listening to the murmur of distant conversations of the other girls that lived here. I could just make out who was talking. Tonya, augh, I can’t stand that girl.

Tonya was a loudmouth white girl who thought she was Black because of her Black boyfriend and growing-up in the hood, gray-girl. Most of the girls here are afraid of her fake gray-girl ass. She just needed to catch me on the right day, and I would show her she didn’t scare me.

What can I say about Tonya, she’s a skanky white-girl with dirty blond shoulder-length hair, who has the same nose piercing as Teena Marie, this white R&B singer that I love to death, and it might’ve been cool on Tonya, except she was an awful person. All the nose piercing did was accentuate her ugliness.

She would always start arguments with me about one thing or another. The payphone was usually the root of all our dysfunction. She knew we had time-limits. We didn’t need Tonya taking advantage and punking us into letting her cut into our precious fifteen minutes because she thought she could.

Tonya has said repeatedly to anyone that will listen, that she hates everything about me. Starting with my name, Topaz, which she thought was stupid because it’s a gemstone. My height, because I am damned-near a foot taller than her at 5’10”.

Her dislike could be based purely on jealousy because I got a lot of attention from everybody. Who knows? I can’t help it if people genuinely like me. I’m sure I have no idea why she can’t stand me.

She’s just jealous because she’s not me, was the conclusion I drew on the matter.

From what I’ve learned in the past, men might like me because they are attracted to my outer beauty, my wide curvy hips, full lips, long legs, my eyes with their sparkling golden irises, my caramel-colored skin, and my Black-girl thickness in a nutshell. I chuckle at the thought, Guys can be so shallow, can’t they? speaking out loud, not sure if anyone heard me talking to myself laying in my bed distracted by the other’s conversation taking place in the hallway near my room.

My grandma used to say, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.” I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken, because I have come across some beautiful ugly people in my short eighteen years of living. And I didn’t appreciate my looks the way most people did. It’s not what I saw in the mirrors I tried to avoid as much as possible.

Tonya, on the other hand, was shapeless, classless, arrogant, and ignorant. The only reason Black guys liked her was that she was easy. I’m not trying to slut-shame, But the truth shall set you free. Won’t it though?

With ten girls having to share one payphone with a fifteen-minute time-limit, and Tonya almost always disrespecting the time-limit, it can be challenging. Tonya liked to bully the other girls. I couldn’t stand for this type of shit any longer. I rarely used the phone anyway. I was usually at work or at school. Regardless, I’m bigger than her, so I know I can take her.

The few times I have gotten into fights was because other kids were instigating. I’m a softy until you push the wrong button, and Tonya makes my nerves ache every time I’m in her presence. Dealing with her made me forget I am not a fighter. Up until that point, I had only had three fights. I didn’t lose, but did I actually win? Something I was sure to evaluate in the near future.

If she keeps this mess up, I’m gonna lose it. I will kick her gray-girl ass, especially if she keeps trying me.

Tonya saw me approaching the payphone and with one hand covering the receiver says to me just above a whisper, “I’m ma be a couple more minutes,” smirking because she thought I wouldn’t do anything. She continued her conversation, ignoring me while I stood there.

I politely waited for another thirty seconds or so, before pointing to my imaginary wristwatch, letting Tonya know time’s up, wearing my frustration skewed across my face. I hoped she got the message, so I didn’t have to elevate my frustration into something a bit more physical. Of course, Tonya kept ignoring me, talking on the phone to her boyfriend as if I weren’t standing there waiting for my turn.

Tonya had the audacity to put two fingers up to me, indicating she needed more time.

“Oh, hell Nah, this shit ends now,” I said loud enough to make one of the other girls stick her head around the corner to see what was going on and then deciding to stay and watch the impending events unfold.

I walked to the payphone and pushed down the hang-up lever, ending Tonya’s call abruptly.

“I can’t believe you did that, Bitch, I was in the middle of a conversation with my man,” Tonya’s neck reddening from her obvious anger, which caused her face to flush pinkish-red. Soon the redness that started on the back of her neck was slowly meeting the now redness of her usually pale face, making her look almost cartoonish. I half expected steam to escape from her ears like it so often does in cartoons.

She was as hot as fish grease. I could see her visibly trembling with anger and weighing her options, like what would happen if she jumped bad with me? Regardless of my usual Zen-like nature, the outcome would not be good for Tanya if she dared to try me.

By now, my anger had escalated too. I was so angry with her. I was tired of Tonya taking advantage of us all. The other girls were scared to talk up for themselves, but one of us was going to have to take the plunge. I guess it was gonna be me.

I was the only one that sort of intimidated Tonya. I could tell because she always knew how far to push me and would stop right before I lost it completely. Today was the day she’d find out what it looked like to go too far.

“I don’t give a flying fuck. You’re cutting into my fifteen minutes, Bitch!” I responded, this was the last straw, I had had it with her and her attitude. Enough was enough. One of us had to take a stand against this gray-beast.

The counselors didn’t care if our time got cut short. They just made us get off the phone when the time was up for the day.

And this bitch was cutting into my time, but not to – fucking – day! I wasn’t going to stand there and let this happen, not again. She always did this, and I had fallen victim too many times before.

For the record, I can talk smack just as good as the next person, and Tonya always got under my skin. It made it too easy for me to bad-mouth her. I hate to admit hating another person but, I FUCKING HATE BITCH WITH A PASSION!. My inner voice screamed. I was itching for this girl to make a move; twitch or something so I’d be justified in giving her the ass-whooping she deserved.

I got the desired reaction because hanging up the phone started a screeching loud argument with both of us screaming at the top of our lungs, calling each other every vile name we could think of at that moment. A lot of bitches, hoes, sluts, and cunts were thrown around, which then escalated to one of us shoving the other, causing me to land the first blow right on the edge of Tonya’s jaw. A couple more inches and I’m sure I would have loosened at least one tooth because I swung with everything I had. I wanted it to make a direct hit and caused as much pain as humanly possible.

During our exchange of plummeting each other, the girl that had been waiting for the main event, called to the others who came yelling towards us, excited that I was finally standing up to the gray-beast. Unfortunately, this also got the counselors’ attention and they came running down the narrow hallway to break us up.

One of the counselors arrived a few steps before the other counselor, while I had Tonya by her dirty blond hair about to mud-stomp her ass into the ground. He stepped in between us, catching a full face slap from the flying hands involved in this boxing match.

By then the other counselor was right there, helping the first counselor to break-up the fight. I landed the last blow, ripping out the handful of hair I had taken hold of right before the counselor approached to break us up. I separated from Tonya with a souvenir of her hair as a reminder of the day the gray-beast got her ass handed to her.

I could tell the counselor that got hit was upset, but he held his composure, directing us to go to separate corners and cool down. We each retreated, as directed, to lick our wounds and assess the damage we’d done to each other. I’m pretty sure the bald patch I created wouldn’t go unnoticed.

I knew there would be consequences when the dust settled. One of the golden rules of the group home was no physical contact without the other person’s permission. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have Tonya’s permission to beat the hell out of her, but I had to take a stand.

My grandma used to say in all her infinite wisdom, “You gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Years later I would find out that that quote was a variation on a Malcolm X quote but still equated to the same meaning. In the end, I had to stand up for myself, which benefited the others too, and also I couldn’t let this girl keep thinking she can always get the better of me.

As I sat in my corner sulking, I didn’t notice my counselor Gloria King approaching with a complete look of total disappointment drawn on her face, I could hear her angry, heavier than usual, footsteps approaching me, so I knew she wasn’t happy, and rightly so.

I knew better. I knew I handled this all wrong and deserved whatever punishment that was coming to me, but first, there would definitely be a long lecture to discuss why I did what I did. It wasn’t like Gloria didn’t know the animosity between Tonya and me. I’m sure she wished I had handled it differently, but there was no use in crying over spilled milk now.

Gloria didn’t have to worry, I was totally embarrassed that she saw me lose it that way. I lowered my head to rest it on my knees, wrapping my arms around my legs to keep them from slipping and straightening out below me, and to avoid Gloria’s gaze I kept my head down.

I could feel the heat radiating from her fiery dark-brown eyes as she stared at me with fury and disbelief. In the end, I felt justified even though it was the wrong reaction to her action. Tonya got exactly what she deserved. I knew I could take her. She likes to talk a big game, but when it’s all said and done, she ain’t shit.

“Topaz! Really? I know you know better than this?” Gloria said, her voice raised louder than she normally talks, as she neared me sitting on the floor in my corner of the rec room.

I kept my eyes lowered, inspecting my torn clothes, saying nothing. I knew Gloria was right, I should have controlled my temper better, but why should Tonya get to abuse our phone privileges all the time?” justifying my actions to myself.

The counselors were never going to do anything to stop her. They didn’t care, as far as I’m concerned, the counselors have more important things to do; like talk on the phone, read books, talk to each other, anything but make sure the phone use is fair and equitable amongst the residents. Which was obviously not their priority.

Even though I was in massive trouble, I knew two things had changed today; one, Tonya would no longer bully any of us because she knew I was not afraid of her; and two, Gloria was angry and there was nothing I could say to change that. All I could do is get ready for what came next. The end of life as I knew it.

*********

Author Notes: Hello to all my coming-of-age enthusiasts. Thank you for stopping by and giving this book a read. I am deep in the heart of revisions.

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions on any paragraph you feel warrants it. It is your comments and suggestions that will help make this a spectacular book in the end.

Stay safe and healthy. Read lots of books for entertainment, and soon this pandemic will pass.

Peace and blessings!-CV Davis

© CV Davis – Author

Chapter One – Ghetto Girl Rising (Continued)

Darkness swallows me whole. Paralyzes my every move, stopping me dead in my tracks. You would think my nightlight would ease my fear of darkness, at least long enough for me to fall asleep peacefully. It doesn’t…

Darkness and me; complete and utter darkness, have never gotten along, and I doubt we ever will.

As I lay in my bed, at Camden House for Teenage Girls, I can see the light from under the door shining through from the hallway. It is so far from my nightlight plugged in at the far corner of my bedroom, that it makes me feel trapped. Neither light makes me feel safe from the shadows dancing on my walls and floor.

The shadows the lights make cause ghost-like figures to dance in my room. The shapes remind me of shapeless ghosts on display as Halloween decorations. At night these ghosts are held fast to the white linoleum floor as they bounce off the walls they dance upon, floating in the darkness. Oh, the terrors I imagine as I try to force myself to sleep.

It did not matter that I am in a home with at least twelve other people, the ghosts can still get to me. No one can save me. I am alone with my fears and alone in life. I know this like I know my name, Topaz Marie Giles, and I am going to have to learn to fend for myself.

It is an odd feeling to feel like there is not enough light to take away my fears or to make me feel safe, but it is how I feel, especially at night when it is supposed to be dark, quiet and safe, but it is always the worst time for me. Daytime is not much better, and living here did nothing lessen my fear of the dark.

I came to this group home because I had been labeled incorrigible by my previous placements, which is the grown-up way of saying I am hella bad. This group home is my last resort. It is either here or Juvenile Hall, which is a hard pass. 

I hear juvie girls are hardened criminals, and I am sure they could eat me alive. One look at me, and they would know I could not fight. The horror stories I heard made my decision easy, so when the opportunity for the group home presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. Besides, the group home is the better alternative for someone that lacks bravery, none of which I possess. If I could not fight off my predators, I am pretty sure I would not have lasted a night in juvie.

Before I came to Camden House, I had graced the doorways of fourteen other foster homes. A couple of those homes got rid of me because of misconduct on their part. They did not want anyone to know what they did. 

Years of conditioning had taught me to keep my mouth shut. These are secrets I am never allowed to share, and I am in no hurry to tell anyone anyways. I can keep a secret, especially the ones I feel I brought on myself.

My life (up to this point) had been one negative encounter after another. Usually from relatives or people that were responsible for my well-being. I did not know why I always ended up in these situations. I came to the conclusion that I must deserve it. There is something about me that says I will comply. It has to be, right?

One of the foster home placements I stayed in, in El Cerrito, my second oldest brother Thomas was placed there with me. I never told him what our foster parents did to me. I was too embarrassed and ashamed that I had let it happen again, and this time, both parents. It had gone too far. The only thing I could do was ask our social worker Joan for a new placement. 

I was even willing to go to Snedigar Cottage, on 150th Avenue, in San Leandro. It was a step below juvie, but with no criminal element, but still bad enough in its own right. It was co-ed housing for children awaiting foster home placements or those aging out of the system. I had been there a few times. Fourteen foster homes are not always easy to come by. It was not my favorite place, but it would be better than continuing to stay with them.

The night we left for 150th, it was pouring down rain. I did not care. I had to get out of there before it happened again. Joan came for us in the middle of the night, and we left. 

I was free for now.

If I have to guess why these things keep happening to me, it has to be purely physical, or maybe it is just them wanting to possess something pure and innocent. Do they not know I am anything but pure or innocent? I am tainted and damaged goods. Can they not see this, or maybe that is what they look for. I do not know, but I am tired of it. I no longer want any part in it, ever again.

I gave up the beautiful house in the El Cerrito Hills for a dump like Snedigar Cottage, forcing Thomas to come with me. He was not too happy about giving up all his newfound amenities. Tough luck. My sanity was more important to me than his creature comforts.

I told him he could stay, but Anne and James would not hear of it. If I was not staying he could not either. I guess they did not want him without their plaything. Thomas stayed mad at me for a long time after that and barely speaks to me now.

I often wonder after we left, do they compare notes about what they did to me, or is it their personal dirty little secret they keep from each other? It sickened me enough to endure their encounters, but it would be worse if they talked about it. The things they did to me or made me do to them. I shudder at the thought, they were sick.

I do not think I will ever understand how an adult can see a child as a sexual being, or how they can see a child as sexually appealing, but they manage to tell themselves otherwise. And the worst part is, they tell themselves that this child, they are abusing, wants them this way… 

For as long as I can remember, people have commented on how beautiful they think I am, but I do not see it, nor recognize it, or appreciate it. 

All I ever see is the face and body of someone that others want to possess, hurt, abuse, and use, that can’t be beautiful. I thought as I stood in the bathroom, in the group home with its multiple toilets and multiple showers, staring in the mirror at the face that stared back at me. Telling myself I am not special, I am just easy. This has to be it. I never put up a fight. I just do whatever they want me to do.

**********

Coming to live in this group home, made me change my way of thinking and living. There are rules and consequences for everything, but I eventually get used to it. 

When I arrived at Camden House for Teenage Girls, I was shocked by how big and industrial the building looked from outside. I could not imagine why a building that looked like this one is sitting in East Oakland, but there it was in all its glory consuming the entire corner it occupied with its presence. 

When I entered the foyer, I could not see anything but a pale-wood door, with a sliding square for someone to peek out and see. On my left, a plexiglass window with a metal speaker plate to talk through and a metal tray at the bottom to give items to the staff. I had no idea what awaited me on the other side of that wooden door and I was terrified of the possibilities. 

My first impression was that of a half-way house. Not like I had ever been in one, but it is what I thought one might look like. Growing up in Oakland, I knew plenty of people that had been in jail or were still in jail. They told stories about going to live in half-houses. So I started calling it the compound.

The intake counselor led Joan and me through the wood door to an office right off the kitchen that had a long dining table with several old wooden chairs, as well as all the other things kitchens tend to have. 

Across from the kitchen was this large open-area room with a floor model television, two old long worn couches, and a ping-pong table. I assumed this was the rec room. I was sure a tour would follow the completion of the paperwork.

As we walked to the office, I noticed a payphone in the middle of a long hallway that ended with stairs that lead to the second floor. The intake counselor, along with Joan and I, reviewed all the paperwork which required many signatures and took a very long time to complete, by the time we finished my fingers were sore and numb. 

But forget about the enormous amount of paperwork I signed, the house rules got my undivided attention. There were about fifty rules in all, leaving nothing to chance. 

The ones I hated right off the back were all about curfew restrictions. New residents had to be on-site by six o’clock every evening for the first thirty days. After which, Sunday through Thursday evening at eight o’clock and Friday and Saturday by midnight. 

And oh, the ones about the damn payphone really irked me. How were we supposed to have a decent telephone conversation in fifteen minutes? It was utterly ridiculous. Not to mention only having a couple of hours an evening to use and share a telephone amongst ten other girls. How could that possibly work? But I guess I should not be too hard on the counselors, at least in an emergency, we could use their office phone. 

Another thing I was not too fond of, was completing chores on Saturdays before leaving the compound. The final straw was the absurd bedtime during the week, ten o’clock, Sunday through Thursday nights. What… Did they think we were children? 

I mean, if I overslept for school, it was my fault and I would be the one held responsible for it, not them, letting out a huff, I continued to read their ridiculous expectations, finishing by signing my life and my freedom away. I now belonged to Camden House for Teenage Girls.

After completing my contract with the devil, Joan and I toured the facility. There was not much else to the first floor, except a single bathroom marked “Staff” and the laundry room which housed an industrial-sized washer and dryer. The bedrooms, bathroom, and individual counselor offices were all located on the second floor.

We walked up the stairs to the second floor, landing in a corridor long enough to qualify for a 40-yard dash with low lighting and what looked like hundreds of closed closet doors. It was all quite strange. My nerves and pulse quickened at the thought of possibilities of what might be lurking in the dimly lit hallway.

As we walked by each closed door, the intake counselor called out what they were, “Resident room… The next five doors are resident rooms on this side of the hallway, then the bathroom, as well as the other resident rooms, and the counselor offices on the other side.” She informed us as we continued our walk down the long corridor.

When we got to the bathroom we went inside. She offered me solid advice about not going in there without shoes of some sort on my feet, which made sense.

“Foot fungus is a real problem among a lot of residents.” She stated as I continued my survey of the bathroom.

The walls were painted a pale seafoam green with gray-tiled floors The toilet stalls’ partitions matched the floor. The bathroom was colder than the rest of the compound. The hallway we had just left was certainly warmer than standing in the paleness of this gymnasium-style bathroom.

Naming this place the compound was indeed the right choice, with its many jail-like features and excessive rules, but in reality, it was just a large rooming-house for wayward girls. There were enough rooms to house twelve teenage girls at a time. Currently, there were only ten girls, which was too many if you asked me. 

We left the bathroom and continued our tour. She continued to identify the closed doors until we got to the room I would now be calling my new home. For how long I did not know. I just knew that if this place did not work out, Juvenile Hall would be my next stop, no exceptions.

She had left the key downstairs in the office, so she could not open the door for a quick peek. All the resident rooms locked, which made me feel a bit safer about living here. Besides, I was too worried about how the other girls would take to me and if I would like any of them. Time was sure to tell.

We finished the tour and went back to the first floor. The intake-counselor provided me with my room key and copies of my signed paperwork, which she instructed me to put in a safe place once I got settled. I nodded and waited for what happened next.

“Well, that’s it. You can go and get your things and get moved in. Let me know if you need anything else. I’ll be here for another half hour or so,” she announced as she headed into the main counselor’s office, leaving me and Joan standing in the hallway looking at each other like, “Okay then…”

Thank goodness I did not have much stuff. Just a suitcase with my clothes, a boombox, and a digital clock. Joan helped me carry the boombox and clock to my new room. We dropped my things off, went back downstairs, and said our heartfelt goodbyes.

“So kiddo, I hope you like it here. I don’t have to remind you, right?” she asked, hinting at my “Last Resort” option. I got it and I knew the consequences if this did not work out.

“Yeah, I think it’ll be okay. It’s not like I have a choice.”

“You got that right kiddo, and please know there would be nothing I could do about it. So keep that in mind when and if you decide you want out of here.” With that, we hugged and she left.

Group home life. What can I say, it FREAKING SUCKS! 

Well, it beats juvie, there is that...

**********

Coming to live in this group home, made me change my way of thinking and living. There were rules and consequences for everything, but after a while, I got used to it.

When I arrived at Camden House for Teenage Girls, I was shocked by how big and industrial the building looked from outside. I couldn’t imagine why a building that looked like this was sitting in East Oakland, but here it was in all its glory consuming the entire corner it occupied with its presence.

When I entered the foyer, I couldn’t see anything but a pale-wood door, with a sliding square for someone to peek out and see. To the left, was a plexiglass window with a metal speaker plate to talk through and a metal tray at the bottom to give items to the staff in their office. I had no idea what was on the other side of that wooden door and was terrified of the possibilities.

My first impression was that of a half-way house. Not like I’ve ever been in one, but it’s what I thought one might look like. Growing up in Oakland, I knew plenty of people that had been in jail or were still in jail. They told stories about going to live in half-houses, that were as strict as this group home appeared to be. So I started calling it the compound.

The intake counselor led Joan and me through the wood door to an office right off the kitchen that had a long dining table and several old wooden chairs and all the other things kitchens tend to have.

Across from the kitchen was this large open-area room with a floor model television, two old worn long couches, and a ping-pong table. I assumed it was the rec room. I was sure a tour would follow the paperwork.

As we walked to the office, I noticed a payphone in the middle of a long hallway that ended with stairs that lead to the second floor. The intake counselor, along with Joan, and I reviewed all the paperwork which required many signatures and took a very long time to go over. My fingers were sore and numb when we finished.

Forget about the enormous amount of paperwork I signed, it was the house rules that got my undivided attention. There were about fifty rules in all, leaving nothing to chance.

The ones I hated the most were all about curfew restrictions. New residents had to be on-site by 6:00 PM for the first thirty days. After which, Sunday through Thursday 8:00 PM and Friday and Saturday midnight.

And oh, the ones about the damn payphone really irked me. How were we supposed to have a decent telephone conversation in fifteen minutes? It was utterly ridiculous. Not to mention only having a couple of hours a night to use and share a telephone amongst ten other girls. How could that possibly work? I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on the counselors, at least in an emergency, we could use their office phone.

And another thing, I wasn’t too fond of was completing my chores on Saturdays before leaving the compound. But the final straw was the absurd bedtime during the week, 10 o’clock, Sunday through Thursday. Did they think we were children?

I mean, if I overslept for school, it was my fault and I’d be the one held responsible, not them, letting out a huff as I continued to read their ridiculous expectations, signing my life and my freedom away.

After completing my contract with the devil, Joan and I toured the facility. There wasn’t much else to the first floor, except a single bathroom marked “Staff” and the laundry room which housed an industrial-sized washer and dryer. The bedrooms, bathroom, and individual counselor offices were all located on the second floor.

We walked up the stairs to the second floor, landing in a corridor long enough to qualify for a 40-yard dash with low lighting and what looked like hundreds of closed closet doors. It was all quite strange to me. My nerves and pulse quickened at the possibilities of what might be up here.

As we walked by each closed door, the intake counselor called out what they were, “Resident room… The next five doors are the resident’s rooms on this side of the hallway, then the bathroom, as well as the other residents’ rooms and counselor offices on the other side.” She informed us as we continued our walk down the hallway.

When we got to the bathroom we went inside. She offered me solid advice about not coming in here without shoes of some sort on my feet, which made sense.

“Foot fungus is a real problem among a lot of residents.” She stated as I continued my survey of the bathroom.

The walls were painted a pale seafoam green with gray-tiled floors The toilet stalls’ partitions matched the floors. The bathroom was colder than the rest of the compound. The hallway we’d just left was certainly warmer than standing in the paleness of this gymnasium-style bathroom.

Naming this place the compound was the right choice, with its many jail-like features and excessive rules, but in reality, it was just a large rooming-house. Enough room to house twelve teenage girls at a time. Currently, there were only eleven of us here, which was too many if you asked me.

We left the bathroom and continued our tour. She continued to identify the closed doors until we got to the room I would be calling my new home. For how long I didn’t know. I just knew that if this place didn’t work out, Juvenile Hall would be my next stop, no exceptions.

She couldn’t open the door because she forgot the room key in the office. All the residents’ rooms locked, which made me feel a bit safer about living here. Besides, I was too worried about how the other girls would take to me and if I’d even like any of them. Time would tell.

We finished the tour and went back to the first floor. The intake-counselor provided me with my room key and copies of my signed paperwork, which she instructed me to put in a safe place once I got settled. I nodded and waited for what happens next.

“Well, that’s it. You can go and get your things and get moved in. Let me know if you need anything else. I’ll be here for another half hour or so,” she said as she went into the main counselor’s office, leaving me and Joan standing in the hallway looking at each other like, “Okay then…”

Thank goodness I didn’t have much stuff. Just a suitcase with my clothes, a boombox, and a digital clock. Joan helped me carry the boombox and clock to my new room. We dropped my things off, went back downstairs, and said our heartfelt goodbyes.

“So kiddo, I hope you like it here. I don’t have to remind you, right?” she asked, hinting at my “Last Resort” option. I got it and I knew the consequences if this didn’t work out.

“Yeah, I think it will be okay. It’s not like I have a choice.”

“You got that right kiddo, and know there would be nothing I could do about it. So keep that in mind when and if you decide you want out of here.” With that, we hugged and she left.

Group home life. What can I say, it FREAKING SUCKS!

Well, it beats juvie, there’s that...

*********

Author Notes: Hello to all my coming-of-age enthusiasts. Thank you for stopping by and giving this book a read. I am deep in the heart of revisions.

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions. It is your comments and suggestions that will help make this a spectacular book in the end.

Please continue to practice social distancing to stay safe and healthy.

Peace and blessings – CV Davis

© 2020 |CV Davis, All Rights Reserved

Prologue – Ghetto Girl Rising

   (Jayden)

I can appreciate the simplicity of childhood. The simple pleasures childhood offers. A time in life so simple, it is often taken for granted. Until today, it is what I was led to believe by my parents and society. I did not know I was in for a rude awakening. 

Today’s beautiful, right?” I asked over my shoulder, holding Topaz’s hand, leading her over fallen crushed leaves from the tall redwood and oak trees that filled the park. 

Nodding in agreement, she kept in step behind me, through the path of picnic tables along the way past the play structures. I was looking for some privacy.

It was time for us to have the talk. The talk that would prove to be both enlightening and gravely serious I suspect. The talk about our past. How we came to be who we are.

Topaz finally seemed open to the idea, so I jumped at the chance. I did not want her changing her mind or coming up with excuses, it was time. We needed to lay our cards on the table, no matter how much it might hurt.

By now, she has to know I am in her corner and will stand by her, no matter what. We have been together a little over six months. If I have not left by now, chances are I will not be going anywhere anytime soon. 

The way I see it, she has to do something so unforgivable for me to give up on us, but I doubt she will ever do anything to hurt me or anything bad enough to make me want to leave her.

She has secrets. Sure.

Secrets she holds close to the vest. As most would, I know I do. 

Secrets she will not share without me giving up my secrets too. As it should be.

It has been said that “Fair exchange ain’t no robbery.” I know I have to give to get.

I am glad the weather is nice. Outside the cool breeze of the gargantuan trees; the city is smoldering from the heat of a hot summer’s day. This part of the park is where all the family picnics are held on the weekends, especially if you want to avoid the hoards of people at the swimming pool on the other side of the park.

Even though it is the middle of the week, I can still smell distant bar-b-ques, and the sounds of happy children playing somewhere near. Besides the family near the play structures we passed earlier, we were alone and out of earshot. The serenity of the park is what we need to get through this… 

Whatever we are about to share with each other will either be an awakening or a complete disaster, or both. Either way, we will leave this park understanding more about each other. But most of all, I want us to leave here closer than we were when we arrived.

Not too far from the play structures sat a single cedarwood picnic table nestled between the trees, which block out the sun and its relentless brightness and blazing heat.  

The park’s shade is deceptive and hiding the truth of what awaits us outside. I welcome the deceit; hidden away among the trees. I am grateful for the coolness of the park and the privacy it now offers us. Tucked safely in our little hide-a-away, I start my story about my life and family issues, softening the details about moms and pops. 

I got quite a ways into my family history when…

Suddenly.

It dawns on me that this is about the time most girls show noticeable discomfort. Looking as though they need to escape, running for the hills, but not Topaz Marie Giles. She shows no sign of unease. In my gut, I know she is different. 

My attention drifts off, checking our surroundings. When I return my attention to Topaz, I watch with childish amusement how the breeze gently plays with loose strands of her straight brown-ish shoulder-length hair, and how the light streaking through the trees made her beautiful topaz-brown eyes light up with sparkling golden irises. Despite the current mood, I cannot help but acknowledge how beautiful she is in this light. 

Easily distracted by her beauty, I have to force myself to refocus my attention on the matters at hand and continue.

I remember how girls soon cut-out when I tell them my mother is the Oakland Police Department’s Chief of Police, or that my father is one of the most revered criminal attorneys in Alameda County. At first, they seem to chill. Then they stop calling me altogether. 

I do not blame them. My parents are a microscope; a microscope I do not wish on anybody. Not to mention, they think they know best about who is appropriate for me to date.

I can only hope Topaz does not feel like most girls do after hearing this, realizing what it means to date someone like me. She hardly looks like the type to back down from any challenge.

As I talk, my heart beating fast and hard, I am sure she can see my vibrating pulse through my thin white T-shirt. The more I talk, the more the knot grows in the pit of my belly. 

I try to reign in my rapidly escaping emotions, which threaten to betray me, exposing all I think and feel. This is some heavy shit. More than I predicted.

“I can see this is hard for you,” Topaz said, as I struggle with my words. The tension caused me to inhale the cool air deeply.

“It-It’s just my family stuff tends to put most girls off,” – inhaling too much air – “and I’m afraid it will do the same to you,” pushing out all the excess air, truly hoping that I am right about her, that she is different from the others.

“Just keep it real with me and I’ll keep it real with you.” 

“I-I can do that…” I sputter out.

“Then you have nothing to worry about.”

Honesty is not the problem, it is my unbearable jitters which I am sure she notices but remains attentive as I continue talking.

I tell her how I feel money creates more problems than it solves in my life. How I have had my fair share of mishaps with the law and gotten the occasional fine, that my parents always take care of, keeping my record clean. 

Well, except for that one stint in juvie. They decided to let me stew in lock up for a couple of days to teach me a lesson. Putting an end to my rebellious stage, but having my juvenile record sealed soon after. 

Money solves so many problems but it can never replace the feeling of being loved. I know my parents love me and will do anything for me. It is just easier for them to throw money at whatever problems exist. 

Money might not buy happiness, but it sure helps with my parent’s with their selective memories

I am too embarrassed to admit to Topaz that I did not date much or how she is my first girlfriend in two years. My second real girlfriend, overall.

I have had the occasional one-night stand that did not amount to anything, except sexual gratification that left me emotionally empty. I was convinced there was nothing more to be had after my only other serious girlfriend broke my heart. 

She moved away with her family to Atlanta for her father’s music career. When she left, I swear I will never fall in love again.  That is, until Topaz, I have kept that promise with the assistance of my string of one-nighters. 

Since I met Topaz, I feel closer to her than anyone. She listens to me. She gives me her honest opinion on most things, but there are things she avoids talking about, which I now understand. 

“So, you’re a bit of a loner, I take it?” she asks, interrupting my train of thought.

“Yeah. I guess…”  I offer, “I’m not much of a ladies man,” smiling at her response, associating me being a loner to my lack of  girlfriends.

Comparing her to the girls I knew, Topaz is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. The first time I saw her in that small pizza joint inside the New Housewives Market that had recently relocated from West Oakland, I knew I would fall for her. Something about the way she moved made me stop in my tracks and just watch her gracefully tossing pizza dough in the air. 

Interrupting my admiration, she yelled over to me, “Hang on a sec… I gotta throw this pie in the oven,” she said as I wandered over to the register to wait patiently to place my order. 

While placing the pizza in the oven, she yelled over her shoulder, asking for my order. 

“I’ll have a slice of –” 

“Pep,” she interrupted. 

I nod yes, as she joins me at the register to ring me up.

A chill still runs throughout my body when I think about the day of our initial encounter, I remember that day like it happened yesterday. Meeting her changed my life forever. 

No more rose-colored glasses for me, distorting my world view. Topaz opened my eyes. I am seeing the world up close and very personal. The reality of the situation is I have never dealt with any girl that has been through so much at such a young age. 

I feel like my life story and my family history are already pushing the boundaries on how much a person is willing to accept about another person, and adding to the list all the deeply personal questions I ask her about sex. Like, how old she was when she lost her virginity, or what she liked about sex. I did not understand why she shut down, but I do now. I have definitely tested the delicate balance between us.

I began to lose control of my emotions so I turn away to look at the park surrounding us. I cannot let her see the tears that linger, clinging desperately to my lashes, fighting for the opportunity to run freely down my cheeks. 

It takes a few moments to formulate a coherent sentence because nothing I have ever heard before has touched me so deeply. I cannot think of the right words to say. The tears I hold back close my throat, trapping all sound deep inside; no words; not even a peep can escape. 

Nothing in my past can even come close to what she has survived.

I share with her the story of my stint in juvie. The couple of days I was there left a life-long impression on me, stopping all my future thoughts of errant behavior. 

She shared with me the first time she was sexually assaulted.

It takes all my strength not to sit there with my mouth gaped open, to control my facial expressions as she talks. I did not think I am doing that good of a job, but she continues whether she notices it or not.

Honestly, her first absolutely trumps my first. I was fourteen when I went to juvie, and she was about five years old when she was first assaulted. 

I did not think anyone’s life could be so bad for so long, and they do not end up completely insane. The fact she has survived all these horrific events, shows me her unwavering strength, which makes me love her that much more.

I am starting to see her, the real Topaz, and the clearer the picture becomes, the more I understand. I understand why she is so guarded and so unnaturally tough.

There this unforeseen battle storming deep inside her. The façade she displays in public and her true self are constantly at odds with one another. 

I finally get it, she is broken

She feels responsible for what happened to her, that she somehow brought all this on herself.

What a battle to face every day? To feel like you’re the blame for the sick thoughts and actions of men.

“Whaddaya so deep in thought about?” she asked. Her body tense.

I do not know what to say so I settle on, “How strong you are” – I replied, casting my eyes to the ground  –  “I’m in awe of your strength and your beauty,” out the corner of my eye, I see her face flush, embarrassed by my comment. She is my strong unbreakable gem, my rock.

How can I tell her that I feel responsible for what happened to her? I know I was not there, but if I had been, I would have protected her. 

I can see the inner turmoil her demons create, forcing her to protect herself at all costs. I do not want her to think I pity her, but I have to ask myself how can anyone live through so much and be so strong? My poor-poor babyShe is so much stronger than I can ever be. Despite all she has endured, she is still willing to give us a try. 

I lift my head from my unfocused spot on the ground, trying desperately to mask my lack of confidence. I want her to know that she is okay; that she is not to blame. She has to know I will always be in her corner, loving and protecting her. 

Do I love her? Am I falling in love with her? These questions will have to wait. 

Right now, I need to be present and focused. I do not want Topaz to feel like I have changed my mind about being with her, especially after she shared such deep and personal details about her life.

If she did not cut tracks and run for the hills after hearing about my life and family, there is no way I will do that to her. She needs me and I need her. 

Taking her hand in mine, I kiss her knuckles. Pouring all my heart into that one simple gesture. Topaz sighs deeply, slumping back against the picnic table as she finishes the last accounts of her past. 

When she finishes, we are exhausted from the emotional exchange we shared. At that very moment, despite my depleted emotional strength, I know all I need to know…

I love her. I am in love with her.

*********

Author Notes: Hello to all my coming-of-age enthusiasts. Thank you for stopping by and giving this book a read. I am deep in the heart of revisions.

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions. It is your comments and suggestions that will help make this a spectacular book in the end.

Please continue to practice social distancing to stay safe and healthy.

Peace and blessings – CV Davis

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