The dual treats of The Terra Debacle are: 1) spending time with my favorite character, Thyron (a sentient plant-based alien dubbed flora peas telepathis); and 2) meeting a new character in this extension of Marcha Fox’s Star Trails Tetralogy universe. I rate this book an easy five stars.
It’s 1978, and new character Gabriel “Gabe” Greenley is the expert called in to assess the odd plant we know not only to be intelligent, but telepathic. Turns out, so is Gabe. He’s “psi-sensitive,” so he can pick up thoughts and even learn to send thoughts to the creature. It won’t take long for him to discover Thyron is way more complicated than he wants his superiors to know. Problem is, the man in charge is psi-sensitive, too. Gabe decides he respects, then likes, then eventually cares about this odd plant-looking being; and he sure wants to learn as much as he can without losing control or even access to his top-secret discovery.
From there Marcha weaves a fine tale, that “first contact” element expanded to the point of thriller as Gabe races to understand Thyron so he can protect him. Thyron has other plans that even Gabe doesn’t know about, along with skills Gabe would never guess. Stranded on Earth with his companions, a fun and funny super-robot and a human girl in her teens, Thyron is in greater danger than we suspect at first. Of course, the outcome we readers want appears to be impossible as everybody must make difficult choices.
I’m a throw-back sci-fi reader, way more interested in the character-driven stories of Heinlein and Clarke than so much of the contemporary gee-whiz future-tech and dystopian survival tales that hew to graphic-novel formulas these days. That makes it easy to be a fan of Marcha Fox’s work, and The Terra Debacle makes it even easier. Be advised, the story includes a lot of authentic explanation for how a character like Thyron could exist, as well as how he could use his extraordinary capabilities. Some readers might not be as interested in those details as others, but for most of us, it adds authenticity along with fun make-you-think ideas. Marcha handles this deftly, offering just enough explanation to keep the story humming along with verisimilitude.
I highly recommend The Terra Debacle. I also recommend Marcha’s novella The Sappharin Agenda (sold separately) as a fine short tale in which we meet and better understand Thyron. Marcha Fox has me hooked now, eagerly awaiting the next Star Trails tale, with my fingers crossed that it just might even include my favorite character, that goofy-looking plant that talks with his mind.
Because of the division that’s going on in our world right now, the hate that’s being stirred up and spewed by these White Supremacist groups, we felt it appropriate and extremely necessary that we share a piece from our president, Nonnie Jules, that needs to be widespread.
“DOES MY LIFE MATTER?”
By Nonnie Jules
I am a black woman, and because of the shade of my skin and coarseness of my hair, because of the fullness of my hips, my lips and the bold colors I wear…some don’t find me as attractive as my fairer counterparts. You see, I’m no longer your house-maid or here for your sexual pleasure; no longer Mamie to your children, I’m now someone’s Mother…a treasure. But, does my life matter?
I am a black man, and because of my dark skin and the boldness of my stance, because of the kinky in my hair, the anger in my stare, and the wear and tear shown on my hands…some still don’t see me as a man. You see, I’m no longer your field property or your whipping post. I’ve freedom papers and own land now, maybe, more than most. You build cages to hold me, guilty or not; where you should build institutions of higher learning, you lock me away for little things, then leave me there to rot. Do you forever see my bed as a cot? But, does my life matter?
I am a white woman, and because of my milk dove skin and cute, pinched nose, thin ruby red lips and fair skin that glows…with my pearly whites and prominent chin…some still look at me and despise the skin I’m in. I was never privy to the pain that was caused. I was born into that hatred…those God-awful laws. So, does my life still matter?
I am a white man, born into privilege and wealth, easy life, perfect health, yet…I’m still persecuted and referred to as “the man.” I, too, hate the ways of the Ku Klux Klan. My neighbors are black, white, green and red…still, I haven’t fled. To be where everyone looks more like me, is not where I want to be. I, too, would like to one day be FREE. Yes, FREE! It also applies to me! FREE of the labels that bind because of the color of my skin; I’ve never owned any human or degraded any man. But, does my life still matter?
I am a brown-skinned woman and because of my accented words, you think I should be silent…quiet and not heard. I can do more, than clean your windows and floors. Just ask me what I’m capable of, you’d be surprised, I’m sure. I may have come here via the back of a truck, or even the legal route, if I was blessed with such luck. Maybe I was born here, and my parents, too. In your eyes, would that still make me less American than you? Does my life matter?
I am a brown-skinned man and though maybe a bit stocky, I’m no less in appearance, than your brawn and cocky. I’m not a rapist, a thief or thug…but a man like you, with kids to hug. I’m not ashamed to tend your lawns and trees, but Executive, also a title I wear with ease; whatever it takes…my family to feed. Don’t dismiss, or overlook my face; I may not have been born here, but I’m here to stay. And, with that said, does my life still matter?
With all that’s going on, there’s much racial unrest. It’s time to put differences aside and put real LOVE to the test. We can’t keep fighting each other, when there are real wars going on. We must come together in love, heal and stand strong. There are real enemies among us, and their names we know not. We must stand on the front lines, together and talk.
The differences between us are fewer than those in our heads; and in the end, until we draw our last breath, we all still bleed red. Yes, that small matter is what makes us brothers, and binds us tighter than any other.
That stream of red flowing thru our veins, is what should force us to… release all blame, stop the pain, forge ahead, no more blood we’ll shed.
I was sixteen when I first suspected that I might be the one. I’d seen people in my family striving for excellence all my life. My parents’ friends were creative types who often took time to quiz me about my goals and what I was doing to achieve them. I had been persistently pleading with a leader at my church who had the power to make one of my goals a reality.
This woman headed the Womens’ Ministry. Everything from church announcements to annual celebrations fell under her domain. I wanted to be the youth announcer on the weekly, hour-long radio broadcast that emanated from our church, but she was speaking a language that I didn’t understand.
“Take some speech lessons and come back to me.”
Where in the world was I going to get speech lessons and how would I pay for them? My family knew some people, and the house did overflow from Friday to Sunday with weekend guests, but that didn’t mean we had money. A party costs maybe $25 back then—especially if everybody brought food and drinks.
Bottom line, we didn’t have money for speech lessons. Still, I wasn’t going to give up. I was a spiritual youngster, even before I knew what spiritual meant. I told the Lord what I wanted and then forgot about it. While I was waiting, strange, but wonderful things were happening to me. I was voted vice president of my choir and I was chosen to deliver the Youth Day Address. Go figure!
One Friday evening, my mother received a phone call. The church maven and her assistant had gone on strike. I was too young to understand everything a strike entailed. I just knew that I was being asked to fill in as the main radio announcer for the broadcast; the very thing I’d wanted in the first place. That broadcast went out to hundreds, maybe thousands in the Chicago listening area.
When she returned from her strike, Ms. Maven kept me on as a junior announcer and she became one of my most revered mentors. That was the year I discovered that I was tight with God. I could get a prayer through! Was I the one?
I’m every woman. It’s all in me
While in college a few years later, I watched a bold, beautiful young woman, with a voice as big as a brass saxophone, sing on a makeshift stage. It was an impromptu concert behind one of the lecture halls on my university campus. The day was balmy and the sun was bright. We shaded our eyes as we stared straight into the golden orb that bathed her in its light.
She looked like a woman and a child at the same time. She wore very few clothes. Just a band around her breasts, a pair of short shorts, ankle boots, and a tall feather stuck in the crown of one of the biggest afros I’d ever seen.
We were fascinated, and her voice held us captivated. After the performance, members of the group handed out bills that said their name was Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan. They would be performing at a local club that night.
We showed up to the club, but a multi-ethnic crowd had filled the place to capacity. You don’t need to ask for racial diversity once everybody realizes you have something we all desire. Anyway, we couldn’t get in. That day would be the first and only time I’d hear Chaka Khan sing for free. At the time, I wondered if she was also the one!
In 1978, Chaka Khan recorded her first solo album, Chaka. One song from that album would define the rest of my life. In it, she sang my truth! I’d always felt that I could do anything, but it wasn’t until Ms. Khan sang the words, that I knew how to describe what I’d always known.
“I’m every woman. It’s all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I do it naturally. I ain’t bragging, but I’m the one. Just ask me and it shall be done.”
I had a theme song!
You may not know the purpose, but know that there is a purpose
In The Matrix, one of my favorite movies of all time, there’s the scene where Morpheus gives Neo a choice between the red pill or the blue pill. Neo has been searching for information about the matrix. Morpheus has to convince Neo that he isn’t looking for the matrix, but what he’s really looking for is more. Morpheus believes that once Neo has answers to his questions, he will come to accept what Morpheus already knows. Neo is the one.
Being the one is about knowing that you want more. You want to change things. You may not know what your ultimate purpose is, but you know that there is a purpose. You’re so absolutely self-motivated and focused, that God himself delights in your purpose. I told you I’ve always been spiritual, so, I’ll say that I believe when God and the universe delight in your purpose, there’s no stopping you.
The Matrix is fiction, so let’s take a look at real-life people who wanted more. One such person was the late author, Janet Dailey. A prolific writer, Dailey thought she could write better than most of the romance writers she was reading. She knew she was the one. When people referred to her as “just a secretary” who writes romance novels, Dailey said the following, and I quote:
“One of the things that to me is the biggest compliment any writer can get is hearing from the ones who say, ‘I used to think reading was boring until I picked up one of your books.’ ”
Between 1974 and 2007, Janet Dailey sold over 300 million copies of more than 100 titles. Not bad for “just a secretary”.
Then, there was Steve Jobs. Steve dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after six months, but he stayed there and audited creative classes over the next 18 months. A course in calligraphy developed his love of typography. Apple and Macintosh computers would be the first to offer creative fonts, including calligraphy, for the consumer’s use.
Steve Jobs partnered with his friend, Steve Wozniak, to start Apple Computer, in the Jobs’ family garage. Steve Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the universe”.
I guess he knew that he was the one!
Being the one comes with certain responsibilities
Many of you have already realized that you are the one; you just haven’t taken the red pill yet. When you’re ready, there are some responsibilities:
Toot your own horn
Don’t give up
Throw away false humility
First, toot your own horn! You can’t be afraid of appearing to be too much of a showoff. Waiting patiently for others to give you the rewards you so richly deserve, may yield nothing but hurt and disappointment. Individuals will slink away with your destiny in their greedy little hands without so much as a backwards glance for you.
A few times, I spoke too quietly in meetings or waited until it was too late to claim my own ideas that I’d shared with others in private. I watched, stunned, as another, bolder individual stole my idea, shouted it out, and received my praise. I had to wise up quickly and realize that there are differences in the way that leaders and achievers talk and present. First, leaders declare that they have something to say. Then, when everyone is focused, they speak. They make sure their ideas are credited.
Don’t give up, opportunity does knock more than once.
I’ve learned that opportunity knocks more than once. Heck, when you’re the one, you create opportunities. When one door closes, another door really does open. If you weren’t ready the first time, the truth is, you can keep reinventing yourself until your moment comes or until you’re tired of trying.
“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” —Steve Jobs
Throw away that false humility! It’s okay to hang back while you formulate your plan. Go ahead! Get the lay of the land. If you are confident in the knowledge that you can do anything, take as much time as you need. Just don’t overdo humble. That’s almost as bad as having too much pride.
It’s permissible to show pride in yourself and your accomplishments. The 21st Century is begging for your stories, calling for your experiences, and expecting you to step up and lead, in every way imaginable. Women like Oprah Winfrey—women like Taylor Swift—they are leading change with their out-of-the-box ideas and sweeping changes to the status quo.
Men like Barack Obama are stepping out of obscurity and into the Senate and the office of the President of the United States. Have the audacity to dream! Wear your mantle of distinction with pride. Step-up, speak-out! You are the one!
Thank you for supporting Linda Mims along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed Linda’s writing, to please visit her Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links. We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this Linda Mims:
Good afternoon, this is Mike Evans at iFantasy talk radio in Tucson, Arizona where we love to talk about science fiction and fantasy. Thanks for joining me today. We have a very special guest lined up for you, an iFantasy talk radio exclusive. World-famous journalist, Olivia Richards, is expected to join us via satellite telephone. As you may know, Olivia and her husband, John, were reported missing at sea several years ago, but she’s made contact and will be here in a few minutes. But first, we must hear from our sponsors at Cactus Thumb Nurseries. (run commercial)
Mike: Welcome back. We’ve just made contact with world-famous journalist, Olivia Richards. Hello, Olivia, this is Mike Evans. Can you hear me? (static) Olivia, are you there? (static)
Olivia: Yes, I can hear you, but just barely, please speak up.
Mike: I will. Thank you for joining me on iFantasy talk radio. I’m Mike Evans in Tucson, Arizona. Let me begin by asking, how are you and where are you?
Olivia: My husband and I are fine, but for the last few years, we’ve been stranded on this island called Seaward Isle. In 2011, we rented a sailboat in southern France and were sailing to Italy when we were caught in a ferocious storm. It came out of nowhere. We hid in the cabin below deck for hours until our boat crashed on the shores of this island. We survived the crash just fine, but we haven’t been able to find a way off. We’ve met hundreds of people here just like us. That’s how I met Takura. He’s a friend of yours, I understand. He talked me into coming on this program because he was concerned people wouldn’t understand his English.
Mike: Yes, I’ve met him and I thought his English was fine. He went to Harvard for his doctorate.
Olivia: Yes, I know, but he feels very self-conscious.
Mike: How is he?
Olivia: He’s doing well. As you know, he’s a geologist and has gathered a group of Japanese scientists to figure out our situation. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough computers or the right equipment to do the job, but at least, he’s discovered that we’re not on Earth and he’s discussed this problem with the Elves.
Mike: Say what? You’re not on Earth? Did you say something about Elves? Are you kidding? Say, have you met Legolas by any chance? (Laughs)
Olivia: No, but yes, I’m serious. They’re real Elves. This island belongs to them and even they can’t figure out how we got here.
Mike: So where are you, if you’re not on Earth?
Olivia: We believe that this island is at the end of a wormhole somewhere in space. We don’t know how or where, but here we are. Takura believes the opening is located about six hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface somewhere near the moon. We ask all astronomers to use their equipment to locate the opening and ask NASA for a rescue mission. That seems to be our only hope.
Mike: Attention all astronomers and scientists at NASA! Olivia needs your help. Contact this station immediately if you can provide any assistance. (chuckles) How are you able to talk to us?
Olivia: My friend, Ebony Shorter, had a satellite telephone when she crashed on the island. She was in a yacht race that went around the world, but she was caught in a storm and ended up here. Takura and his friends repaired an old generator to make electricity to recharge the phone. He’s also set up a computer network with bits and pieces he’s found.
Mike: What do you use for fuel?
Olivia: The scientists use alcohol made of old potato skins and grain.
Mike: You mean moonshine. Right. Anything else we can help you with today, Olivia?
Olivia: No, just please get the word out. We’d really like to get home and see our families. Thank you so much for your help. (static) Our connection is fading…(static)…only a few (static)…Please help…(static)
Mike: Apparently, we’ve just lost our connection to Olivia. Once again, let me reiterate her desperate situation. She’s located on an island called Seaward Isle, somewhere at the end of a wormhole and needs the help of astronomers and NASA scientists to locate this opening and rescue them. Hey, maybe we can bring the Shuttle program back to life. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you for joining me on iFantasy talk radio and join me tomorrow for another adventure into science fiction and fantasy. And don’t forget to send your comments and ideas to our Facebook page. Many thanks to our sponsor, Cactus Thumb Nurseries.
* * *
Mike leaned back in his chair and listened to the program again. Then he pulled out his cell phone. This had to be a joke. But he shook his head when he recalled that his old buddy, Takura, could never tell a joke. He was so serious. They’d met in college nearly twenty years ago when they were freshmen at the University of Arizona with majors in geology. Tak, as he wanted to be called, was a foreign student from Japan and understood more English than he spoke. He also loved the geological formations in the local area, but knew nothing about hiking in the desert. Mike was an experienced hiker and took him under his wing.
They’d remained good friends, but lost contact when Tak transferred to Harvard to finish his doctorate in geology and later returned to join the faculty at the university. Mike speed-dialed the geology department and it rang and rang. Finally, a young woman answered the phone.
“Geology Department, University of Arizona. Bear down, Wildcats!”
“I’d like to speak to Professor Takura, please.”
“I’m sorry, there’s no one here by that name.”
“What? Where is he?” Mike furrowed his brow.
“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know.”
“Is Professor Lopez there?”
“Professor Lopez. Who’s calling?”
“Julio, this is Mike Evans.”
“Mike! What’s up, man?”
“Hey, I was trying to get in touch with Tak, but I understand he’s not there anymore. Where’d he go?”
“Don’t know, man. A few years ago, he went on a sabbatical and never came back. His parents told us the ship he was on disappeared in a bad storm.”
“You mean it sank.”
“No, man. It vanished. No debris, no oil slick, no survivors. Nothing.”
“Weird. I got an email from him at the radio station last week asking for an interview so I agreed. He sent Olivia Richards to speak to me. She’s a famous journalist who went missing a few years ago. She was on a ship in a storm, too. Anyway, she told me that they were stranded on an island called Seaward Isle, somewhere in space at the end of a wormhole with Elves. I didn’t believe her.”
“Elves? Was she high?” Lopez paused. “You don’t think it’s real, do you?”
“I don’t know, man. They were both lost at sea.” Mike sighed, leaning back. “Thanks, man or should I say Professor?” He laughed and disconnected the call. After a few moments, he scrolled through his list of contacts and called one of them.
The receptionist said, “You have reached the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. How may I direct your call?”
“Doctor Rachel Goodwin, geology division.”
“Hold on while I connect you.”
“Doctor Goodwin speaking.”
“Hey, Rachel. It’s me, Mike Evans from Tucson.”
“Seriously? After all these years?”
“Hey, I come in peace. I apologize for whatever I did.”
“You don’t remember?”
“Not exactly. Hey, have you been in contact with Tak from college? The Japanese guy?”
“You mean the nice guy who asked me for a date and you told him he was nuts?”
“Um, yeah, him. I think he’s in trouble and needs help. Julio told me that he was on a ship that disappeared in a storm, a few years ago, but he just emailed me for an interview on my radio program. He sent a friend, Olivia Richards, the famous journalist. She was lost at sea, too.”
“So you don’t have a regular job yet?”
“Not fair. I want you to listen to it, okay? Just listen and tell me what you think.”
“Okay.” She sighed.
Mike played the program. “Well, what do you think?”
“Rachel? Are you there?”
“Yes. Is this a joke?”
“That’s what I thought, too, but Tak couldn’t tell a joke if his life depended on it.”
She paused. “You’re right. Send me a link to your program.”
“Thanks, Rachel.” Mike sighed deeply when Rachel hung up. She hadn’t changed much and still resented that prank, but he’d always found her attractive. Maybe he should try again, someday. Mike shivered when the air conditioning kicked on; he’d been sweating heavily. He emailed her the link and leaned back. What if it’s real? Nah! Can’t be, can it?
Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:
“I can’t stand the feeling of being out of control, so I’ve never had any interest in trying drugs or alcohol,” I mused.
“You sure seemed to have an interest when you were younger,” Dad informed me. He responded to my perplexed look before I had a chance to deny his claim. “What? You don’t remember trying pot? Let’s see. It was about 1975. That would have made you five, right? I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a summer afternoon. I walked into the living room and found you with a bong in one hand and a beer in the other. You just looked up at me, glassy-eyed, with a smile on your face and said, ‘Hi, Dad.’ You don’t remember that?”
“Ha! Do you remember the massive headache you had the next day? You hated life that day! I told you not ever to do it again…and you never did,” he reminisced in a tone laced with humor and pride.
It was after that conversation when I really began to question my apparent lack of childhood memories. I have next to no memory of life before the divorce of my parents (when I was eight) and precious few afterward.
My parental split also marks the onset of memories of the “secret playtime” I shared with Dad. I remember realizing that what was happening to me was wrong (to a certain extent, anyway), but Dad really missed Mom. I felt proud to be there for him in his time of grief and loneliness. I had many roles as the oldest daughter. I got my toddler sister to bed on time, scolded her when I found her drinking a beer (that one I do have a vague memory of), and I cleaned the house. Those “more intimate interactions” with Dad were just another in my list of responsibilities as I saw it.
But if Dad remembered the timeline correctly, Mom and Dad were still together when I was five. Where was Mom when her Kindergartener daughter was experimenting with drugs? Could this mean I should add neglect as a descriptor of my “chaotic” upbringing? Could it mean the molestation began earlier than I have any memory of? Does it even matter at this point?
For a time, I was skeptical if someone told me s/he didn’t have sexual abuse in their background. It seemed it was everywhere. I ran a support group in a junior high school when getting my psychology degree. It was for eighth-grade girls, and the only qualifier for an invitation to the group was poor school attendance. After a few weeks of meetings, I opened a session with – innocently enough – “So, how was everyone’s weekend?” One girl immediately began to cry. She explained she had confronted her parents over the weekend with the news that her brother had sexually abused her for years. She had come forward out of fear for the niece her brother’s girlfriend had just given birth to. That student’s admission led to the revelation that six of the seven of us in our circle that day had a history of sexual abuse.
My best friend in college was gang-raped in high school. My college boyfriend was [brutally] raped by a neighbor as a child. Maybe the most disturbing situation I heard about was when I was a senior in high school. I had befriended a freshman. She came to me one day, inconsolable. She was petrified, as she was positive she was pregnant. I tried to calm her with reassuring words, then asked, “Have you told [your boyfriend] yet?” She burst into a fresh bout of tears. When she was finally able to speak again, she confessed in an agonized whisper, “I can’t! It’s not his. It’s…it’s my uncle’s, or my father’s.”
I don’t know how I thought sexual abuse was rampant all around me but had somehow left the rest of my family untouched. Soon after my first daughter was born, I learned that Dad had attempted to molest my younger sister when I was about 12 (my sister would have been 7 or 8 then). As it turns out, I disrupted the attempt when I went to inform them I had just finished making breakfast. I learned of that incident because our [even younger] step sister had just pressed charges against Dad for her sexual abuse from years earlier. He served four years.
Incidentally, that family drama enlightened me to the fact that my grandmother had been abused by a neighbor. My aunt had been abused by her uncle. I wonder if Dad had been sexually abused, too (in addition to the daily, brutal physical abuse I know he suffered at the hands of my grandfather).
As with most survivors of abuse from a family member, I am full of ambiguity and conflict. I am glad Dad was educated to the error of his ways. I’m satisfied he paid for his crimes. I’m relieved the truth came out. I hate that the truth came out. I mourn for the shell of a man who returned from prison. I weep for a family that was blown apart by the scandal. I am heartbroken for my grandmother, who was devastated by the whole ordeal. I am thankful I live 3000 miles away from my family, so I don’t have to face the daily small-town shame they all do, now that Dad is a registered sex offender. I am proud of my step sister for speaking up. I am woefully ashamed for not having the courage to do it myself, which possibly would have prevented the abuse of others after me. I love my father. I am thankful for the [many] great things he has done for me over the years. I hate the effect his molestation had on me, including the role it likely played in my high school rape by another student, and my first [abusive, dysfunctional] marriage.
As I’ve clearly demonstrated, my story is far from unique. Heck, it’s not even remotely severe or traumatic when compared to what others have survived. Still, here I am – 40 years after my first memories of molestation – and I’m still suffering the consequences. Along with my disgrace for allowing others to be abused after me, I carry incredible shame for my involvement in the acts (regardless of the decades of therapy that advise me I had no real power or choice in the matter). I carry unbelievable guilt for the strain my history places on my relationship with my husband. He’s an amazing, wonderful, loving man, who deserves nothing less than a robust, vigorous, fulfilling sex life, but gets – to the best of my ability – a [hopefully] somewhat satisfying one. I carry secret embarrassment over the only real sexual fantasy I have – that of reliving my rape and [this time] taking great pleasure in castrating the bastard in the slowest, most brutally savage way imaginable.
Heaviest of all, I carry fear. There’s nothing I can do to change my past. All I can do is work toward preventing the continued cycle of abuse. I may have a warped view of personal boundaries, I may struggle with my sexuality, and I may be somewhat unfamiliar with healthy family dynamics, but I can do all in my power to ensure my kids fare far better than me. I fear failure.
My eldest daughter has mild to moderate developmental delay. While statistics for sexual abuse in the general population is scary enough, the likelihood of abuse when a cognitive disability is involved is all but a certainty. My second daughter is non-verbal, non-ambulatory, and severely mentally delayed. She’s a prime candidate for abuse. What if my efforts to protect them fall short?
My [teenaged] son and my youngest [“tween”] daughter both have ADHD. Impulse control is a constant struggle for them both. What if the education, counseling, advice, and coaching I offer them about healthy relationships, sexuality, safety and personal responsibility aren’t enough?
I try to counteract these lingering after effects of abuse by remaining ever thankful for the love, good fortune, and beautiful life I share with my husband and children today, but my guilt, shame, and fear cling to me with tenacious persistence.
I am just finishing “It Begins And Ends With Family” by Jo Ann Wentzel. I highly recommend the read. The subject is foster care, but no conversation about foster children is complete without a discussion of child abuse and neglect. While we can debate the best course of action in helping abused children, the top priority must be to work toward a goal of prevention; to break the cycle of abuse. I am hopeful that – as a society – we can work together to empathize, educate, support, counsel, and care enough to stop the cycle of all abuse. If sharing my truth will help toward that goal, well…Here I am. This is my truth.
Thank you for supporting Stephanie Collins along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed her writing, to please visit her Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links. We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks again for your support. We hope you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this Stephanie Collins:
The man stood outside the store window, shifting from foot to foot. I’d have probably gone right by him, but as I passed, he looked me straight in the face, sending a chill up my back. Mystified, I found a place in the shadows and watched.
He wore a black golf shirt with a Nike swoosh. His black slacks were neatly pressed, but scuffs covered the toes of his dark shoes. As he paced in front of the store, as if waiting for something or someone, his left foot dragged. Maybe that was where the scuffs came from. A girl passed by him without so much as a glance. She wore flip-flops and short shorts. He turned away from her. Why look me in the face and ignore this young girl with long flowing blond hair?
After an interminable twelve minutes, he entered the store. I crept to the side window to get a closer view. A saleslady approached with a big hopeful smile. He jerked away as if he might flee, but she persisted. Probably learned that in Sales 101.
Peering inside, I could make out the blurry image of the saleslady as she crouched down to retrieve a box. While she bent, the man grabbed an item off the counter. He pocketed it so fast if I’d blinked, I’d have missed it. Gasping in surprise, I nearly collapsed into the window. So neat. So fast.
While I recovered from the shock of having witnessed a theft, the man exited the store. He hurried in the direction of downtown. Hands tucked in his pockets and his head lowered, he wove along the sidewalk, avoiding moms with kids, students with backpacks, and cyclists. I followed. What did he plan to do with his ill-gotten gains?
My friend, Rose, would give me a lecture. Why didn’t you go inside the store and raise the alarm? What were you thinking, watching, witnessing, and doing nothing? No wonder we pay so much money for our trinkets. Thieves get away with it, and it’s all because of people like you. But, I never intended to tell Rose about this. Not if I could help it.
Instead, I hastened to follow the man, avoiding other shoppers and site-seers. My sole purpose was to find out what this strange person was up to. My watch read two-fifteen. I had missed the coffee date with my cousin. She’d forgive me. I’d have to make up an excuse about traffic or something equally lame, but I couldn’t think about her now. I had to see where this man led me. My curious nature would never let me rest otherwise.
Moments later he entered the parking deck. He was going to his car. Darn! Once he got in a car, I’d lose him for sure. My Honda was parked here as well, but on the top level. With my luck, his was probably on the first level. It was impossible to imagine we’d be parked close enough for me to follow him.
He entered the elevator. The light flashed up to level 4. I raced up the stairs like a madwoman. Huffing and puffing, I reached the fourth level just as the elevator doors opened. I caught a glimpse of his black form walking to a red Kia. I made a quick turn and hightailed it up to the fifth floor to retrieve my car. Then I plowed down toward the exit, round and round, hoping, praying. Eureka! The red Kia was just in front of me, waiting to pay. The Universe was on my side.
Mr. Thief drove with caution, obeying all the traffic rules, making it easy for me to keep him in sight. Nonetheless, I stayed one car back, not wanting to risk him seeing me. Maybe he’d remember me from the street! A shiver ran through me. What would he do, this thief? Stop his car, jump out, and murder me? Absurd.
The light changed. We moved down the road. A strange thought filled my head. Had the Universe wanted me to witness this thievery? Everything seemed to be falling into place. “Don’t be stupid.” Rose would say and would add I was being melodramatic.
We turned into the parking lot for the Hermitage Nursing Home. This made no sense. Why not a pawn shop? Didn’t thieves go to shady establishments on busy street corners with flashing neon signs to hock their merchandise? Not to a nursing home. Maybe he worked here? Maybe he was some sort of klepto and couldn’t help himself? Maybe he had no intention of hocking the stolen article? He pulled into a parking place a few steps from the entrance. I chose one farther away. From my rearview mirror, I spied him getting out of the car and entering the building.
Once he disappeared, I made my way inside and approached the information desk where a girl of about twenty had her head buried in a People magazine. When she finally looked my way, her eyes filled with wonder, as if I’d dropped from the sky, “Can I help you?” she said.
“The man who just came in. He dropped a five-dollar bill in the parking lot. I ran after him, but I missed him. Do you know where he might be?”
“Oh, that’s Jerome. He’s visiting his mom. Comes every day at least once. Want me to give it to him?”
I hesitated. She blinked. “Well… I guess it won’t hurt for you to go down to room 212. It’s the last room on the right, down that corridor.” She pointed the direction.
I moseyed away as if I had all the time in the world. Once out of her view, I picked up my pace. Conversation came from room 212. Mr. Thief was talking very loudly. Apparently his mom had hearing issues.
At the door, I peered inside where Mr. Thief perched on the edge of the bed near an attractive woman with cottony white hair.
“You shouldn’t have, Jerome. I know how much this place is costing you,” the woman said.
“But, Mom, it’s your birthday. I wanted to give you a little something.”
“Just having you here is enough. But, I do like bracelets. You know how I like bracelets. Remember when your dad gave me a diamond bracelet—of course, I didn’t know it wasn’t diamonds then. It wasn’t till later. Remember? After he died and left nothing but bills and debts, I tried to sell the bracelet and found out it was worthless. I flushed it down the commode.”
“I remember, Mom. You told me that story. I wanted you to have a real diamond bracelet before… well, you know.”
She hugged him. “This is the best gift ever.”
I backed away from the room, my heart racing.
Back in my car I didn’t wait for Mr. Thief, a.k.a. Mr. Nice Son, to come out of the building. I started the engine and drove home.
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