AI story introduction: Seraphia and her Celestial Dragon

This came from Playground – OpenAI API

I have been playing with different AIs, Chatbots and AI image creation bots. Here is the prompt given this bot. 

“Tell a story about an autistic girl named Seraphia and a celestial rainbow-colored small dragon named Starfire, a tale of courage, determination, and the power of friendship, where a young girl with autism and her celestial dragon companion, overcomes the prejudices and misconceptions of others, to prove that true strength comes from within, a reminder that we should not judge, or label others based on their differences, but rather embrace them as unique and special individuals, to understand that being different is not a weakness, but strength and that everyone has the potential to be a hero in their own way.”

The prompt comes from a portion a story created by ChatGPT and edited by me. This is the response of the OpenAI Playground program.

“Once upon a time, there lived an autistic girl named Seraphia and her faithful companion, a celestial rainbow-colored small dragon named Starfire. Seraphia was a brave and determined girl. She faced many challenges in life due to her autism, and often felt misunderstood by those around her. Starfire, however, remained her faithful companion, understanding her needs and standing by her side through thick and thin. One day, Seraphia was walking with Starfire when they stumbled upon a group of people who were mocking and teasing her for being different. Seraphia was about to cry when Starfire stepped in and roared fiercely, scaring the bullies away. Seraphia was amazed by Starfire’s courage and bravery. From that day onward, the two became closer and closer, and Seraphia’s confidence began to grow. She started to believe in herself and her own strength, and slowly started to overcome the prejudice and misconceptions of those around her. With Starfire’s help, Seraphia proved that true strength comes from within, and that being different is not a weakness, but a strength. She reminded everyone that we should not judge, or label others based on their differences, but rather embrace them as unique and special individuals. Through this story, Seraphia and Starfire showed us that everyone has the potential to be a hero in their own way.”
I have found that most AI content creations are fairly repetitive in most themes. I am not at all concerned that AI would replace human creativity, but instead serve as a tool to inspire human creativity.

DALL·E 2023-01-30 16.52.26 – realistic painting of a Long-blond-haired girl riding on a celestial rainbow-colored dragon

Seraphia and her Celestial Dragon AI images remaster and story prompt rewrites by Salie Davis.

In this time and place, lives a young girl given the name, Seraphia. She is different from other children. She is autistic. This often makes other people misunderstand her, but Seraphia is not alone. She has a special companion – a celestial dragon named Starfire.

Starfire is not like the dragons of legend. He is small and has shimmering scales that sparkle like rainbows in the early morning mist and like stars in the night sky. His wings are also rainbow-colored, but unlike the cold leathery wings one might imagine a dragon to have, they are soft and warm as feathery down. He often wraps them around Seraphia like a comforting blanket to warm her heart when she needs it the most.

He was sent to Seraphia by the celestial being, to be her companion and protector. No one else can see Starfire.He is a magic dragon after all. Seraphia often talks about him but pretends that he is only in her imagination.

Seraphia and Starfire spend their days exploring the countryside and playing in the fields. They are happy together, and Seraphia’s autism does not hinder her because their friendship gives her inner strength.

One day, while they were out exploring, they came across a dark and sinister forest. The trees were twisted and gnarled, and a thick mist hung over the ground. Starfire warned Seraphia that they should not enter, but she was curious and would not be deterred.

People often told Seraphia that she was not capable to do things because she was autistic. Even the elders and wise men of the community assumed she was just a helpless child, who could never be anything more than what they imagined her to be. Seraphia knew differently. She was determined to prove everyone wrong.

As they ventured deeper into the forest, they came across a terrible creature – a giant, fire-breathing dragon. The dragon was fierce and terrifying, and Seraphia and Starfire realized that they were no match against his terrible rages!

Seraphia was very frightened. She took a deep breath, but instead of running away, she stopped and quietly observed the dragon. She didn’t try to speak to the dragon. She didn’t try to stop the dragon as he thrashed about, she just quietly sat on a rock and waited for him to calm down.

She understood, because of her friendship with Starfire, that dragons were not necessarily mean just because they were dragons. She also understood that being different often made people afraid of you, even when there was really nothing to be afraid of. She understood how it felt to be judged wrongly and could understand why the dragon was so upset.

She understood this, because people treated the fact that she was autistic as if it was a bad thing. People assumed being autistic made her weak and incapable, but she knew differently!

Her parents couldn’t help but realize she was different from the moment she was born. They saw her difference as being special. They didn’t always understand her, and it wasn’t until many years later that they finally discovered why she was so special.

Her name was Seraphia! Her parents gave her that name because they knew she would be great, that she would fly high! Others only saw her as a disability, but her parents saw her inner magic! Seraphia knew what it was like to be misunderstood, just because of assumptions based on ignorance, even still she chose kindness and love in the face of ignorance. She was determined not to make the same mistake as all the other people had made with her, with this dragon.

Seraphia convinced Starfire, with his celestial powers, to communicate with the dragon. Dragon-speak is a very delicate process. It took a while, but Seraphia was patient and waited. Seraphia and Starfire learned that the dragon was not truly evil but had been cursed by a wicked sorcerer. The sorcerer had taken the dragon away from his home and left him in the dark cold cave all alone. He was very sad and lonely, but no one would be his friend. No one was kind to him because he was a very large scary looking dragon. He also breathed fire and people assumed that he did so because he was evil. For him fire-breathing was just something dragons do, but the people didn’t understand and so they were afraid and ran away. Those that did not run away were cruel and made fun of him, even throwing rocks at him as he tried to sleep in his cave! This made him very angry and distrustful of people.

In reality, he too was a celestial dragon and belonged high in the sky above the judgmental eyes of ignorance. Unfortunately, his wing was injured, and he could not fly. With Starfire’s help, Seraphia was able to break the curse and free the dragon from its torment. All it really took was kind words and patience, you see, unbeknownst to the dragon, his wing had healed a long time ago, but the cruel words the dragon heard daily from the judgmental people had convinced him that he would never be able to fly or return to his home in the sky, so he had never tried.

In gratitude, the dragon bestowed upon Seraphia a magical ring. With the ring on her finger, Seraphia and Starfire journeyed home, their hearts filled with hope and wonder. From that day forward, Seraphia though different, knew she was a brave and kind-hearted hero, even if others could not see it. Starfire, her celestial dragon, remained her constant companion but she no longer needed his protection.

Together, Seraphia and Starfire will live many more adventures, and their stories will be told throughout the land for generations to come. Seraphia’s story will be a tale of courage, determination, and the power of friendship, where a young girl with autism and her celestial dragon companion, overcomes the prejudices and misconceptions of others, to prove that true strength comes from within. It will be a reminder that we should not judge, or label others based on their differences, but rather embrace them as unique and special individuals. As Seraphia’s legend spreads, more and more people will come to understand that being different is not a weakness, but a strength and that everyone has the potential to be a hero in their own way.

Many individuals on the autism spectrum and their families believe that autism is not a disability, but rather a different way of thinking and perceiving the world. They may view autism as a unique set of strengths and abilities, rather than solely focusing on the challenges it may present. This perspective is often referred to as the neurodiversity paradigm. It emphasizes the idea that neurological differences such as autism should be accepted and respected, just like cultural and linguistic diversity.

The neurodiversity movement is about accepting and valuing people with autism for who they are and recognizing that the qualities associated with autism can be valuable contributions to society. This includes an inclination toward attention to detail, an aptitude for pattern recognition, and a heightened ability to focus on a task for extended periods of time. It’s important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder and the level of support needed varies from person to person. Some may need more support than others, but the goal is for all individuals to be accepted and included in their communities, with the accommodations they need to thrive.

Seraphia’s AI Art and Short Story

Art by Midjourney Bot on Discord

Creative Prompts by Salie Davis
Story written by

“Tell me a story about a girl with Autism named Seraphia who pretended she was a rainbow dragon.”

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a young girl named Seraphia. Seraphia was different from other children. She had autism and often struggled to connect with others and understand the world around her. But Seraphia had a secret, she pretended to be a rainbow dragon.

In her mind, Seraphia was a powerful and majestic creature who could fly through the skies, breathe fire, and change colors to match her moods. When she was feeling happy, she would be a bright and vibrant rainbow, but when she was feeling sad, she would turn a dull grey.

One day, Seraphia was walking through the forest when she came across a group of children who were playing. They saw Seraphia and immediately started to make fun of her because of her autism. Seraphia was hurt and ran away, deep into the forest, where she found a cave to hide in.

As she sat in the cave, Seraphia closed her eyes and imagined herself as a rainbow dragon. Suddenly, she felt a strange sensation, and when she opened her eyes, she saw that she had transformed into a real rainbow dragon.

Excited and amazed, Seraphia flew out of the cave and soared through the sky. The children who had made fun of her were in awe and apologized for their behavior. Seraphia forgave them, and they became friends.

From then on, Seraphia would often fly around the forest, spreading joy and wonder wherever she went. She learned that even though she was different, she had something special to offer the world. And in her heart, Seraphia knew that she would always be a rainbow dragon, a creature of beauty and strength.

The end.

Here is a second Prompt:

Tell me a story in the style of J.R. Tolkien About an autistic girl named Seraphia and her celestial dragon

Once upon a time, in a far-off land, there was a young girl named Seraphia. She was different from the other children in her village, for she had a condition called autism. This made her withdrawn and often misunderstood by those around her. But Seraphia was not alone, for she had a special companion – a celestial dragon named Starfire.

Starfire was not like the dragons of legend. He was small, no larger than a cat, and had shimmering scales that sparkled like stars in the night sky. He had been sent to Seraphia by the celestial beings, to be her companion and protector.

Seraphia and Starfire spent their days exploring the countryside and playing in the fields. They were happy together, and Seraphia’s autism did not seem to be a hindrance to their friendship.

One day, while they were out exploring, they came across a dark and sinister forest. The trees were twisted and gnarled, and a thick mist hung over the ground. Starfire warned Seraphia that they should not enter, but she was curious and would not be deterred.

As they ventured deeper into the forest, they came across a terrible creature – a giant, fire-breathing dragon. The dragon was fierce and terrifying, and Seraphia and Starfire were no match for its might. But Starfire, with his celestial powers, was able to communicate with the dragon and learned that it was not truly evil, but had been cursed by a wicked sorcerer.

With Starfire’s help, Seraphia was able to break the curse and free the dragon from its torment. In gratitude, the dragon bestowed upon Seraphia a magical ring that would protect her from harm and give her the power to speak with animals.

With the ring on her finger, Seraphia and Starfire journeyed home, their hearts filled with hope and wonder. From that day forward, Seraphia was no longer seen as different, but as a brave and kind-hearted hero. And Starfire, her celestial dragon, was her constant companion and protector.

Together, Seraphia and Starfire lived many more adventures, and their story was told throughout the land for generations to come.

After I edited and reposted the story to the Chat AI:

Seraphia’s story will be a tale of courage, determination and the power of friendship, where a young girl with autism and her celestial dragon companion, overcame the prejudices and misconceptions of others, to prove that true strength comes from within. It will be a reminder that we should not judge or label others based on their differences, but rather embrace them as unique and special individuals. And as Seraphia’s legend spreads, more and more people will come to understand that being different is not a weakness, but a strength, and that everyone has the potential to be a hero in their own way.

I then responded.:

Many autistic people believe that autism is not a disability.

And this was the AI’s response.

Yes, many individuals on the autism spectrum and their families believe that autism is not a disability, but rather a different way of thinking and perceiving the world. They may view autism as a unique set of strengths and abilities, rather than solely focusing on the challenges it may present. This perspective is often referred to as the neurodiversity paradigm. It emphasizes the idea that neurological differences such as autism should be accepted and respected, just like cultural and linguistic diversity.

The neurodiversity movement is about accepting and valuing people with autism for who they are, and recognizing that the qualities associated with autism can be valuable contributions to society. This includes an inclination towards attention to detail, an aptitude for pattern recognition, and a heightened ability to focus on a task for extended periods of time.

It’s important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder and the level of support needed varies from person to person. Some may need more support than others, but the goal is for all individuals to be accepted and included in their communities, with the accommodations they need to thrive.

How do you get a Donkey to go?

Hello, I am Salie. I do not drive a car, I ride a donkey. I need not go far. His name is Don. How do I get him to go? Well, I turn him on. How you ask? You really do not know? Duh, on key!

…. My daughter says this poem is a little cheesy but you try to write a constraint around the pronunciation of a word….

Let us try another.

Why are people from Arkansas more fierce sea farriers than people from Kansas? One is a pirate who can saw and the other can only sass…. Arrr can saw and can sass…..


Instructions for the performance play- A STORY OF IDOL WORSHIP AND MURDER

Instructions for the performance play-



BY Salie Davis

Bold face typecharacters, underlined words are part of the Palindrome, *and are the only words that are heard onstage.*

The names of the characters are spoken by the narrator (the character of Jesus Christ) to draw attention to the actions of the characters or before the specific character speaks. Words sometimes represent actions that are part of the palindrome and are also spoken by the narrator. The only words heard on stage are those that are specific to the palindrome. The story is given detail in actions, in select props, in symbolic wardrobe and in lighting that are all dramatized for effect. The only props needed are pews, pedestals, a cross, a bottle of rum and lager, a small cave and a single chair along with different colored robes, different colored body suits, different colored scarves, which represent various sins (the giving out of such can be simplified according to artistic interpretation), a spotted scarf or one with Velcro attached spots, an identifier for Time, such as a clock or staff and a really big fancy woman’s hat. This play would benefit from music. A musical palindrome would enrich it even more so.

Suggested set up for a one act play-

Initially the stage is dark. (Right and left references are facing the stage.) Pews are at the left of the stage in the mid area of the left side. These hold the Dias family and other church members. These people wear grey robes. Under their grey robes are white body suits or robes. God, dressed in a white robe, is positioned at the left of the stage in the rear area of the left side, on the highest pedestal. God is always represented with a capital “G” just as other characters who try to be idol gods are represented with a lower case “g”.

The Narrator (Jesus Christ) is at the left front, off stage at a podium or on the stage at the left front on a pedestal equal to God. Jesus is also referred to in the play as the Red Rose of Sharon. A cross is set behind him. Jesus is dressed in a white robe. His robe may be trimmed in red at the base and sleeves. A crown of thorns may also be used at this same point in the play in which the crucifixion is represented.

At the center rear of the stage is a set of three low pedestals. The center pedestal of these three is slightly elevated from the ones on either side. This center pedestal is where Star stands. She wears a gold robe.

At the right rear of the stage is another high pedestal, lower than that of God, in which Satan stands. He wears a black robe. The Rats and various Demons are gathered in front of Satan.

The Rats all wear black robes and carry black scarves. The Rats represent the occult members. The Demons all wear body suits. One Dragon wears a red suit with green scarves and represents unrighteous anger and ill temper. Devil wears a green suit with orange scarves and represents confusion and madness. Emos wears a purple suit and blue scarves and represents depression, sadness and being alone. Royal wears a gold suit and purple scarves, representing false rulers, and self appointed power. Eros wears a pink suit with red scarves representing physical desire or empty longing for passion such as the love for drink or other addictions. Tenet wears an orange body suit and silver scarves representing beliefs in a religion that believes in the organization rather than the truth. Dogma wears a silver suit and gold scarves representing authoritative and judgmental doctrine. Id wears a blue suit with pink scarves to represent the instinctual and unconscious nature of sin.

In this same area, out of sight or off to the side, is a chair holding Asa. He wears a nude colored body suit and a big fancy ladies hat. The small cave, big enough to fit one crouched person is also somewhere on stage out of sight with the spotted scarf inside or Velcro spots on a scarf.

The character of “Times Eye” represents time. The character should signify Father Time in appearance, with a white robe or, Time, in a white robe wearing or carrying a clock. A spotlight appears to the right of the stage to draw attention Times Eye as the character walks slowly from the right side of the stage to exit the left side of the stage as the character speaks. At the same time a spot lights appear on Jesus and God. From this point the spot lights are ever present on God and Jesus except for one important moment during the play. A red light may illuminate Satan in the same way. This is an artistic representation of their constant and unwavering presence.

Times Eye“Revoke, ‘tis I, time’s eye.  Finish sin if eyes emit… six a.m.  … Max is noon… 01, 02, 2010… 12, 02, 2021?”

This statement represents an expression concerning the end of time and the end of sin. Note that the dates can be changed to reflect current times, 11, 02, 2011, … 02, 02, 2020 etc., while maintaining the palindrome, as time progresses beyond these dates. This action keeps with the artistic intent that no one knows when time will end while highlighting the possibility it could be soon.

The Demons and Rats begin moving from the right of the stage to the left of the stage, towards the pews following Time. The Rats slink. The Demons walk, skip, jump and dance. A spotlight falls upon Star as Tenet places a silver scarf on Star. The artistic intent is to symbolize false worship. Tenet pulls Eva from the pews.  Id places a pink scarf on her. Royal gives Star a purple scarf. This signifies the idolization of royalty. When scarves are given they are initially seen as beautiful but as they mount in numbers they become a burden to the wearer. Tenet puts Eva on a pedestal next to Star. Tenet places a silver scarf on Eva. The Rats worship Eva and Star. Royal places a purple scarf on Eva. The Rats give Eva and Star black Scarves. The black scarves symbolize the occult.

Jesus ChristReviled, Eva’s dog swept pews!”

Eva, Rats, Star and Demons react at this statement and a spot lights sweeps through the pews. The Rats and Demons whisper to those in the pews. The artistic intent is that this statement and actions symbolize temptation. Id gives all the Rats a pink scarf.

Jesus ChristGod!”

Jesus makes a hand gesture towards God as if announcing God’s presence. God continues to be ever observant. Every one in pews, Rats, Demons, Star and Eva react.

Jesus ChristDias”

Jesus makes a hand gesture towards the pews. Lighting increases so that the left side of the stage is fully viewable.

Dias family- “Ah!!”

All characters that are members of the Dias Family speak this in awe and fear.

Jesus Christ– “Satan said”

A spotlight shows Satan at the right of the stage. Ideally a light might illuminate each person as their name is spoken or/and as they speak as characters.

Satan- “Star-Di, Asa, Dennis, Natasha, Ron, Maori, Ida, Ed, Hannah,

One Dragon, Eva, Sharon, Naomi, Isa, Emos, Deborah, Royal, Rats, Eros,

Tenet, Dogma, Id, Nacina, Paris, Devil …Sinned.”

As Satan speaks lighting increases to show the full stage, he points to all the characters, accusingly. Each character reacts to its name as they might in the time of judgment.

Jesus ChristTenet”

Tenet gives all the Rats silver scarves then is walking around the pews whispering in the ears of the people. The artistic intent is the temptation to sin under religious doctrine.

Tenet“God…Too far away…Murmur, murmur…”

Tenet draws attention to the center stage with Star on a pedestal as he whispers. Tenet is tempting people with religious doctrine that is not based on truth.

Jesus Christ“Rats”

The Rats (five in total) are walking around the pews whispering in the ears of the people, tempting them with false rewards for joining the occult.

Rat One“‘Y no mere clay or wonder… Murmur murmur…”

The artistic intent of this statement is the idolization of the self. Royal gives Rat One a purple scarf.  Rat One pulls Ron, Eva’s boyfriend, from the pews. Id puts a pink scarf on him. Rat One places a black scarf on Ron to symbolize his acceptance of the occult and puts him on the other pedestal next to Star. Tenet places a silver scarf on Ron. All the Rats worship Ron, Eva and Star. Royal places a purple scarf on Ron. Eros gives Rat Two a bottle of Rum, and places a red scarf on Rat Two. This symbolizes the empty longing for passion and temptation to fill this with drink. Since Rats are also people, they can receive scarves as well. Eros is whispering to Rat One. Rat Two pulls Dennis Dias from the pews and gives him the bottle of rum and a black scarf. Id places a pink scarf on him. Dennis proceeds to drink. Eros drapes a red scarf on Dennis.

Rat Two-“Yes! Orders red rum, redder Eh?”

Rat Two rejoices at the drunkenness of Dennis Dias. Dennis Dias pulls Natasha Dias (his daughter) from the pews and gives her the rum. Id places a pink scarf on her. A Rat gives Natasha a black scarf. She drinks and also becomes drunk. She gives the rum back to Dennis. Eros drapes a red scarf on Natasha. They both begin worshipping Star (AKA  Dog Star, Di, Star-Di, Dog, and Doggie), The various names of Star symbolizes the many possibilities for people to find idols, in great objects in the sky, royalty, or leaders, famous people, animals, or trendy concepts and ideas etc. Ron and Eva are also being worshiped. Ron and Eva participate in the drink and are given red scarves from Eros.

Rat Two“ ‘Twas I!”

Rat Two rejoices in the accomplishments.

Rat Three“ Dog!…”

Rat Three points at and accuses Star. Dogma gives Rat Three a Gold scarf symbolizing false judgment and blame.

Rat Four“Tonsured rum pots!”

Rat Four accuses Dennis, Natasha, Ron and Eva. Dogma gives Rat Four a Gold scarf.

Jesus ChristSaid”

Rat Five addresses every one including the audience pointing as Dogma places a Gold scarf on him.

Rat Five- “Murder… Red Rose of Sharon!”….

At this statement the cross behind Jesus lights up. Jesus puts his arms out as if hanging on the cross and bows his head. All lights go out so that the stage and audience is in complete darkness for three seconds. The artistic intent is the three days Jesus spent in Darkness. If this is not desirable by the production then the red light on Satan may remain as Satan rejoices in victory. After three seconds the lights resume as before. The Rats point at God, questioning his allowance of the crucifixion of Jesus. Devil places orange scarves on them.

Rats- “He murders red rose… Y?”

Jesus ChristDennis said”

As Dennis is speaking Natasha gets on her knees in front of Star. Dennis points out her guilt in worshipping Star.

Dennis“sinned?  Did I? Now I won top spot.  Ah… Natasha Dias sees dog star…put it up…”

Dogma places a gold scarf on Dennis symbolizing unrighteous judgment.

Jesus ChristSinned”

Dennis“…as a god. Fool… A! Wow…, ‘Ave, ‘Ave some red rum too.

Fall apart, Natasha.”

Dennis gives Natasha the bottle of rum again. Tenet speaks and all the Rats and Demons jump and dance.

Jesus Christ“Tenet”

Tenet- “Lives evil!”…

A Rat gives Dennis a bottle of lager. He drinks it then gives the lager to Natasha with his next line.

Jesus Christ“Dennis”

Dennis- “‘Ave some lager?”

Natasha, suddenly feels repulsed at being drunk, throws the drinks down and turns to Star offering to bring her sister Hannah into the occult in exchange for forgiveness. Tenet gives Natasha a silver scarf.

Jesus Christ“Natasha Dias”

Natasha Dias“Doggy! Dash sin if I deliver Hannah?”

Natasha pulls Hannah from the pews and brings her to Star, AKA  Star-Di, Dog, Doggy, Di, Dog Star, who is too self absorbed to notice. Id places a pink scarf on her. Hannah is given a black scarf by a Rat and begins worshipping Star. Tenet places a silver scarf on her.

Jesus Christ“Star-Di”

Star-Di- “Did I as I? Was I? I was raw Dog, as a devil, I am god deified.”

As Star is speaking Devil puts an orange scarf on her symbolizing confusion and madness.

Jesus Christ“Dennis said”

As Dennis is speaking the Rats are pointing at Ron and Eva and whispering in both his and Natasha’s ears.

Dennis- “Ha! Ron? He lived as a rat’s god.

Wow, I Liven a mood. I roamed under it…

Revolt, AHA, Live!”

While this is being said Tenet is whispering to Dennis who then struggles with Ron and throws Ron off his pedestal. Tenet helps Dennis unto the pedestal and gives him a silver scarf. At the word “revolt” Natasha throws Eva off her pedestal, and takes her place. Royal gives Dennis and Natasha a purple scarf.

Jesus ChristHe said”

Dennis- “as a “foeman” as I live.”

Naomi and Ed, Ron’s parents, leave the pews to comfort Ron and Eva. Id places pink scarves on Naomi and Ed. A Rat leads Hannah to a stand next to her sister, Natasha’s pedestal. Royal places a purple scarf on her. Both revel in being worshipped by the Rats. As Natasha speaks to Dennis in the next line, Nacina and Ida, friends of Natasha, leave the pews and are given pink scarves by Id.

Jesus ChristNatasha said”

Natasha- “Did Nacina play or did moody Ida? So… Ida? Adios!

Hey Dad, are we not drawn onward? ”

As Natasha speaks, The Rats give Nacina and Ida black scarves and they join in the occult of worshipping those on the pedestals. Emos gives Ida a blue scarf symbolizing depression. At the word, “Adios” Ida walks away crying. Tenet gives Nacina a silver scarf. Nacina is whispering to Sharon, who is in the pews and she leaves the pews as well and is given a black scarf by a Rat and a pink scarf by Id. She stands next to her father, Dennis’s pedestal, and is given a purple scarf by Royal.

Jesus Christ“Dias said”

Dennis is talking to Satan in the following line. He is offering his three daughters to Satan, expecting something in return. He then accuses Hannah just as he had Natasha before.

Dennis–  Ah! Satan. Rats deliver goddesses, so pay. Flesh saw a sin, mad, dastard, Hannah, raw as a widened dam.”

Devil places an orange scarf on Hannah, symbolizing confusion and madness.

Jesus ChristHannah”

Hannah- “I madam, I made fool a poor Dog.”

Hannah points to herself at the word “fool” and to Star at the word “Dog”. At these statements, Hannah stops worshipping Star and walks away, weeping and distraught. Deborah, Hannah’s mother, leaves the pews to comfort her. Id places a pink scarf on Deborah. Natasha is observing her mother and sister, feeling remorse. Star has also stopped her self absorption to take notice of the events.

Jesus Christ Natasha Dias”


Natasha moans as the narrator, Jesus says the word “moan” and points at Hannah.

Jesus Christ“moan”

Natasha“ go deliver Eh? I saw thee mad!”

Natasha is mournful; crying as Emos puts a blue scarf on her. Star has become visibly upset by this point.

Jesus Christ“Dennis Dias”

Dennis is speaking to Satan about his daughters.

Dennis-Sir, appalls Dog…”

Jesus Christ-“Stops”

Dennis “stops” for a moment then, upset by Star’s upset, he again curses Hannah. One Dragon places a green scarf on Dennis.

Dennis“…sleep repel, Eros eye saw Hannah.”

Eros puts a red scarf on Hannah and she is given drink. She becomes drunk and falls at Eva’s feet.

Jesus Christ“Said Hannah”

Hannah-Eva! Can I live on?”

Eva ignores her. Paris, Hannah’s boyfriend, leaves the pews to comfort her. Id places a pink scarf on him.

Satan speaks although not announced expressing pleasure at the situation.

Satan“Hannah, O’ No…  Ah…”

Jesus Christ-“Satan”

Satan continues, encouraging evil and sin.

Satan“Live dirt up!”

Jesus Christ-“Mom said”

Deborah confronts her husband, Dennis, blaming him for their daughter’s predicaments. Dogma places a gold scarf on her.

Deborah-Ha, Robed!”

Deborah begins to cry. Emos places a blue scarf on her. Norah, Deborah’s mother, leaves the pews to comfort her. Id places a pink scarf on elderly Norah.

Jesus Christ“God”

God speaks, to Natasha and Hannah, warning them that these things are not from him. Each reacts in fear and weeping. Everyone reacts by cringing. God points to Jesus, Reminding everyone that their sins are what Jesus died for. God warns that the Demons, such as Devil and One Dragon, and those things they worship, such as the Dog Star (AKA, of many names), do not have their interests in mind. The Demons cower at his words, as does Star. God asks the people to repent and warns them of the dangers of losing eternity spent close to God (the Garden). God speaks to the elders of the church, Norah, also known as “Red Rose” symbolic of her pious and close relationship to Jesus as the “Red Rose of Sharon”, and Naomi who consider themselves pillars of the church, warning them of the danger they are also in.

God- “Live not on evil, Madam Natasha, Madam Hannah Dias!

Murder Regal Red Rose of Sharon? I name no Devil-Dog as selfless.

A Devil! One Dragon! Pupils pull up! No Garden, O!

Norah, regal red rose… Y? Naomi…?”

Jesus Christ Moan…”

God moans as Jesus states the word “Moan”, both showing great distress.

God- “ ‘Y doom?”

The Rats are whispering in the ear of Ron while pointing at DennisRon moves towards Dennis but Sharon notices him. Rats also whisper in the ear of Eva, pointing at Natasha.

Jesus Christ-“Sharon Dias”

Sharon calls to her mother, Deborah, as Ron struggles to throw Dennis off the pedestal. She pleads with the demon Devil to help her father; no one is interested in helping. Sharon becomes confused in her excitement. Devil places an orange scarf on her.

Sharon“Mom, Ei! Reverie! Live O’ Devil, never odd or even.

No, it is opposition. ‘Y a period won? Oh!

Who was it I saw, Oh Who? Ha!”

Jesus Christ-“Ron”

Dennis is thrown to the ground and Ron takes his place on the pedestal, hollering triumphantly as he replies to Sharon. Despite this, Sharon remains near the pedestal, being worshipped.


During this same time Eva struggles with Natasha but does not succeed.

Jesus Christ“Eva”

Eva cries out in triumph for Ron’s success and continues to struggle with Natasha.

Eva-Revolt lover!”

Jesus Christ“Id”

The Rats are in fervor.

Id-Rats gnash teeth!”

Natasha throws Eva to the ground and the struggle stops. Natasha remains on her pedestal.

Jesus Christ-“Sang Star-Di”

Star is still in madness, upset by all the commotion, and sings her words.

Star“Do… Do Good’s deeds. Live on? Reviled did I live! God saw!

 I, deified, I was Dog. Evil I did deliver. No! Evil’s deeds do, O God! O! Did Rats gnash teeth?”

Star is visibly depressed; Emos places a blue scarf on her. She continues dramatically, after a pause…

Jesus Christ“Sang Star-Di”

Star-Revolt! Love! Rave I?”

Dennis is attempting to reclaim his position but is continually repelled by Ron. Norah, Dennis’s mother, becomes distraught and confused about what she should do as Ron is the son of her best friend Naomi. Devil places an orange scarf on her.

Jesus Christ-“Norah”

Norah“Oh who was it I saw, Oh who? Now do I repay?

No, it is opposition. Never odd or even…Live? Do evil? Ei!!, reverie!”

Deborah speaks to Norah but she is inconsolable. Emos places a blue scarf on Norah.

Jesus Christ-“Mom said”

Deborah-Norah’s moody.”

Jesus Christ-“Naomi. (moan)”

Naomi moans when the word is spoken. She asks for and is given lager as Eros places a red scarf on her. She then rejoices, lifting the lager, for her son, Ron. Dennis ends his struggle with Ron.

Naomi- Yes, order lager… Ha! Ron.”

Jesus Christ-“One Dragon”

One Dragon speaks to everyone, mocking what God has said and declaring Ron as a god, and as himself as he places a green scarf on Ron.

One Dragon“Pull up? Slip up! No Garden? O’, lived as selfless?

A god lived one man! I.”

The Rats all dance with lager and rum around Norah, tormenting her and offering her drink which she keeps refusing.

Jesus ChristNorah’s foes order lager, red rum…

Said Hannah”

Hannah makes an appeal to Norah, her grandmother, warning her, then points to and denounces Satan and Star.

Hannah- Madam, Ah!!! Satan! Madam, live not on evil. Dog!”

Jesus Christ“Deborah Dias (mom)”

Deborah points at Natasha, blaming her. Dogma places a gold scarf on Deborah. Deborah encourages Hannah to go away to a cave that is far back on the stage.

Deborah“Putrid evil, Natasha!  O’ No! Hannah, No evil in a cave…”

In the cave is “spots”, like a cloth with Velcro spots to symbolize leprosy. Hannah goes into the cave and puts on this cloth. As Jesus speaks the next lines Hannah sits at the mouth of the cave “peeling spots” Paris, Hannah’s boyfriend, leaves the pews. When Jesus states “Sllap” God makes a motion towards Hannah. Hannah is healed and drops the spotted scarf.

Jesus Christ Hannah Dias? Hannah was eye sore leper, (peels spots)

God, “SLLap!”… Paris said”

Paris points to Hannah, accusing her of sinning, deserving of leprosy. One Dragon places a green scarf on Paris. Paris denies his own responsibility or sin. Id places a pink scarf on him. Paris points to Star in blame. Dogma places a gold scarf on him.

Paris-Sinned dame… Eh? ‘Twas I? Here, vile Dog!”

Hannah rejoins the group, near Naomi and Ed. The Rats continue dancing around Norah who can not get away from them.

Jesus Christ-Naomi said”

Naomi looks at her friend, Norah, and is sad. Emos places a blue scarf on her. As she speaks, she notices Satan and is afraid. Naomi turns to her husband Ed and then to Hannah, asking if she is mad.

Naomi“Ah!!! Satan! Go droop aloof. Ed, am I mad?

Am I, Hannah? Madden…”

Jesus Christ“Ed”

Ed replies as Devil places an orange scarf on him. Ed exclaims war, symbolizing the war between good and evil.

Ed“I was… A war!”

Jesus Christ“Hannah”

Hannah also replies, still confused. Looking at Norah and Naomi.

Hannah“Drat, sad… Damn!”

Jesus Christ“Isa”

Isa, wife of Asa, leaves the pews; Id places a pink scarf on her. She accuses Star and receives a gold scarf from Dogma.

Isa“Wash self, Ya, possessed Dog, reviled Star!”

Jesus Christ“Natasha Dias said”

Natasha remains enamored with Star, speaking to and idolizing her father, Dennis, encouraging him to regain his position of power.

Natasha“…Drawn onward, to new era…Dad yeh… So…”

Jesus Christ-Ida”

Natasha’s friend Ida, echoes the same sentiments speaking to Star.

Ida- “Adios A! Di, ‘Y doom, Did Royal panic and Id?”

Jesus Christ-Dias”

Dennis, Sharon and Natasha all speak in agreement in the next line and continue in unison after Satan speaks.

Dennis, Sharon and Natasha- “Ah,”

Jesus Christ-Satan”

Satan points to Asa asleep in a chair off to the side of the stage, stating he is evil. Eros places a red scarf on Asa and Id places a pink scarf on him.

Satan-Evil is a name of Asa”

As Satan speaks, all the Rats except for one leave Norah. One Dragon places a green scarf on Norah. As the Rat One whispers in her ear, she also takes notice of Asa.

Jesus Christ-Dias”

Dennis, Sharon and Natasha-Eh?, Evil!, a hat lover, tired nude.”

Maori, a friend of Isa, is drawn from the pews by Isa, receiving a pink scarf from Id.

Jesus Christ-Maori”

Maori points to Asa while she speaks, and receives a gold scarf from Dogma. She denies her own responsibility and is wowed by the idol worship of Star. She receives a black scarf from a Rat, and a silver scarf form Tenet.

Maori-Doom an evil! I? wow, Dog Star as a Devil, eh?”

A Rat also begins whispering in the ear of Dennis, pointing to Eva who is worshipping the Star. Dogma places a gold scarf on Norah. Norah “murders” Asa by throwing a black cloth over him.

Jesus Christ- Norah Dias Sinned.  Deified Dogma”

Dogma is overjoyed and declares war between God and evil (all the Rats and Demons.)

Dogma“I lived as a god. War saw I. I saw! I said I did… Rats!”

Jesus Christ-Hannah”

Hannah continues speaking in remorse; she calls out to God, with a capital G, asking “Why”.

Hannah-Reviled, I finish sad. ‘Y “G” God?”

Jesus Christ-said”

She again denounces Satan with sarcasm.

Hannah- Ah!! Satan regal?!”

Jesus Christ-Emos”

Emos points to Eva, accusing her.

Emos-Eva… Sinned… lives Evil!”

Jesus Christ-Tenet”

Tenet is reacting to Dennis approaching Eva from behind.


Devil places an orange scarf on Dennis, symbolizing madness.

Jesus Christ-Satan”

Satan is speaking to all the Demons and Rats, who react with fervor.

Satan-Trap all afoot, murder!”

Jesus Christ-Emos”

As Emos says Eva’s name, Dennis approaches Eva.


Jesus Christ-Eva”

Dennis “Murders” her, by throwing a black cloth over her as she is speaking and worshipping Star, in mid sentence.

Eva-Wow, Aloof Dog as a…!”

Jesus Christ-Dennis”

Dennis takes notice of God and in a revelation, feeling remorse at what he has done, declares to the Rats that God sees.

Dennis-Put it up! Rats! God sees.”

Jesus Christ-said”

Dennis cries out in fear and repentance.


Jesus Christ-Satan”

Satan rejoices over the events.

Satan- “Ha, top spot. Now I won, I did!  Dennis Dias sinned. Yes! Orders red rum, eh!”

Jesus Christ- Norah’s foes order red rum… Dias”

All the Rats except for one begin dancing around Norah again, tormenting her with rum. Rat One is whispering in the ear of Dennis and pointing to Natasha and Sharon. Sharon and Natasha have remained in power while Dennis has not. They show fear of their father.

Jesus Christ-Dias”

Sharon and Natasha appeal to their father as he approaches them.

Sharon and Natasha-Stop, Murder us not!”

Dennis “Murders” Sharon, tossing a black cloth over her but stops short of murdering Natasha when he hears God speak.

Jesus Christ-God”

God-I saw the redder murders.”

Jesus Christ-Red Rose”

Norah cries out to God, asking why? Norah takes the rum and becomes drunk. Eros places a red scarf on her as she sings.

Norah-Y? Rum, rum, rum, rum red now.”

Jesus Christ-Royal”

Royal dances around Star then Norah, back to Star and then dances with Tenet singing.

Royal“ceremony Star! Rum, rum, rum, rum, Ya! War a foot. Dog! Tenet!”

Jesus Christ-Dennis”

Dennis falls to his knees in confusion and remorse. He denounces his attempts at being worshipped as a god. He realizes that Star is pitiful. He points to others, that they have been robbed of their happiness by him and he himself is in misery.

Dennis“Lived Sir? A panic… and I am god, tenet? Sore Star lay or…

Ha! robed some, as I… I moan.”

Jesus Christ-Norah”

Norah calls out to God to save, realizing the consequences and the Rats scatter.

Norah-Save! No Garden, O!”

Jesus Christ-Hannah”

Hannah is mournful.

Hannah-Dead, I… I roam.”

Jesus Christ-Norah”

Norah points at Satan and at herself acknowledging evil and sin, and then to the Rats and everyone else, stating “Dias” as if inviting every one to acknowledge their own sin.

Norah-Satan!…Sinned, A!”

Jesus Christ-said”

Norah- “Rats, Dias…?”

At this point some return to the pews, I.E. those that expressed repentance by words or by actions such as Dennis, Hannah, Norah, Naomi…(artistic interpretation can decide who and how many.)

Jesus Christ-Natasha said”

Natasha, still on her pedestal cries out to the Star to save her.


As Jesus speaks Natasha, Star, Ron and everyone else not in the pews crumple to the ground and scurry/crawl into the darkness towards Satan. This includes the Rats, Demons and all those that have been murdered without repenting, Eva, Sharon, Asa, also move towards Satan with all their burdens in tow. The lights go out except for lights sweeping the pews as the characters sitting there throw off all of their scarves and the grey robes revealing white robes, or body suits at their words “God Save, Deliver!” hands up rejoicing.

Jesus Christ-SWEPT PEWS…”

Everyone in pews-  “GOD SAVE! DELIVER!”

As Time speaks the light shines only on one side of the stage, joyful, while the other is in darkness and misery.

Time’s eye- 12, 02, 2021… 01, 02, 2010?  Noon… six a.m. max. Is time’s eye finish’ sin? If eyes emit is it, ek… over?”

This statement again represents an expression concerning the end of time and the end of sin. Note once again that the dates can be changed to reflect current times, 11, 02, 2011, … 02, 02, 2020 etc., while maintaining the palindrome, as time progresses beyond these dates. This action keeps with the artistic intent that no one knows when time will end while highlighting the possibility it could be soon.

End of play.

Brandy (part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)


“So what, you think you’re better than the rest of us? Don’t want to break those designer nails of yours.” The big girl sneers.  She wasn’t just big, she was big and square.  Her body was built like a soggy card board box.  I am so glad she’s not talking to me. The pretty girl looks scared.

“No, I just don’t like sports,” She stammers. “My brother was killed playing football. He took a hit so hard that his rib went through his lung. He screamed in pain until he drowned in his own blood.” The big girls face goes blank. She walks away.

Ms. Sweetsir, looks at the new girl for a minute-long-second then says, “You don’t have a brother.” The girl shrugs and looks the other way… I wonder if she’s crazy.

My knee brace gives me a good excuse not to do this stupid morning exercise group. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. A little pain is good. It makes me stronger, like cutting. The pain makes me feel alive.  I like seeing the blood. My pain, the stuff I can’t see, it makes it go away. I can control the pain. I glance at my arms and wrists. There are only faint lines left from the last time I cut but I can concentrate on the pain of my leg. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

When I first got here from the hospital, a guy offered me pain meds but I refused. He is such a jerk, Mr. Drumard… what a stupid name. Mr. Dumb, that’s better. Last night was really bad though and I asked for my meds and he wouldn’t give them to me. He said I refused three times so I couldn’t have them anymore. My leg is pounding so hard I have to keep holding my breath so I don’t cry.

“It’s time to go, Miss Summers, Miss Bates.” Ms. Sweetsir says to the new girl and me. “Miss Summers, you will be joining us in group therapy.”

As we walk the pretty girl looks at me. “What happened to your leg?” She asks.  Ms. Sweetsir is far enough ahead of us so I can talk freely without that stupid, “War stories” rule where we can’t talk about all the cool stuff we’ve done.

“I broke it jumping from my boyfriend’s car in a police chase.” I say, watching to see her reaction.

“Huh,” she replies, “and I thought I was good with the stories.”

“It’s not “A Story” “I snap back. “Me and my boyfriend got drunk. He’s on probation, couldn’t get caught by the cops so he sped off when the lights came on. I told him to stop but he wouldn’t. He almost lost control of the car and spun out.  Before he got going too fast again I jumped out. I wrenched my leg really bad when I landed. I heard he took out someone’s garage. I haven’t heard anything about him since.”

“Oh. Sorry.”  The girl says. She picks up her pace until she’s walking next to Ms. Sweetsir. It figures, another but kisser.

“Nice wiggle,” Rocky says from behind.

“What do you want?” I growl at him, as I try to cover up my smile by wrinkling my face. Rocky is hot. His muscles are all ripply under his faded Tee shirt, not just blocky like my boyfriend.

“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t get lost on the way to group.” He says. “You know, I’m a pro at this place. I can show you around, this being your first week and all.”

“Yeah,” I snap back at him. “I heard your making this place your life long goal of habitation.”

“I just thought you might want to benefit from my experience, not to mention, if you’re not nice to me you might end up with a nick name liiike,… Pumpkin Butt. Of course I’d just call you Pum so the staff wouldn’t qualm about it.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” I say, my face turning red.

“Well, “He beams. “Since I have seniority, I get to pick the names of new kids. I call dibs on you.”

I play along with the game, wondering where he’s heading with it. “So what do I have to do to get a good name around here?” I ask.

“Just stick with me.” Rocky says, “and be real nice.”

Rocky, the new girl; what was her name again? Oh yeah, Miss Summers, a spindly kid named Little Dickey; A name Rocky said came from the boys shower room and Peach; a short little girl with orange-red hair, all gather in room 213. I’ve seen this same crew, except for the new girl, for the past three days. It will be nice not to be the new kid any more. I wonder if I looked that scared on my first day. Her eyes look like big blue saucers. They do go nice with her blond hair though.

“We have a new person in group. I want everyone to introduce themselves and state the goal we’re working on this month.  Mr. Dunn, since you have seniority, why don’t you start.

“Hi, my name is Mr. Dunn, I’m working on getting a date with Ms .Sweetsir.” Rocky says. Everyone chuckles.

“Let’s keep it serious Mr. Dunn.” Ms. Sweetsir warns. “Keep going around the circle” She says.

“Um, my name is Mr. Nielson” Little Dickey stammers.  He adjusts his glasses before he continues. “I am, Uh, working on not lying about stuff.”

“That is very good Mr. Nielson.”  Ms. Sweetsir says warmly. “Next.”

“My name is Miss Bligh and I’m working on not fibbing too.” Says Peach in almost a whisper.

Now it’s my turn. “My name is Miss Bates. People say I don’t tell the truth but that’s only when I’m drunk or I’m trying to get drunk.”  I say.

“That’s a little better Miss Bates but you need to let go of the excuse part.” Ms. Sweetsir says.

Finally all eyes are on the new girl. She looks like she’s going to barf. “I don’t lie!” She blurts out.

Ms. Sweetsir raises her eyebrows and tips her head. She always does that before she nails someone. “What about your brother?” She asks.

“Hey that was just creative damage control.” The new girl replies. “That mountain was going to flatten me.”

“Actually we call her Wally.” Rocky interrupts.

“Let’s stay focused.” Ms. Sweetsir warns. “Just introduce yourself, last name only.” She says.

“Miss Summers.” The girl says flatly.

“Thank you.” Ms. Sweetsir says. “Today we are going to work on communication and social skills. I would like each of you to share a story about something you brought from home and have here at the facility. Who wants to go first? Miss Summers, how about you.”

“If everyone here is a liar then how are we supposed to believe what we’re told by anyone?” Miss Summers asks.

“Good point, “Ms. Sweetsir says. “Miss Bates, how would you respond to that?”… I hate when she does that!

“We only lie when we have to.” I say. Boy what a stupid thing to say. I hate being put on the spot.

“Like your police chase?” the new girl says. “I knew you were lying.”

“I was not!” I yell.

“Now let’s stay calm.” Ms. Sweetsir interrupts. “Miss Bates, How does it feel to tell the truth and not be believed?”

“It sucks, how do you think it feels? This group is so lame! My Dad wouldn’t believe me if I said the house was on fire and it was burning down around him!” I continue to yell. “What do I care if you believe me?” I glare at the new girl. “For all I know my boyfriend could be dead and my Dad won’t even call to let me know.”

“Do you think your Dad not believing you might have to do with the lies you’ve told him in the past?” Ms. Sweetsir asks.

“Maybe” I say, slouching in my seat with my arms crossed. If I just say what she wants to hear then she’ll leave me alone. Why do I always fall for her stupid questions?

“That’s a start” Ms. Sweetsir smiles. “Miss Summers, tell us about something you brought from home.”

“I don’t have anything from home, my mom drove me here straight from school.” The girl says as she squirms in her seat. It is so good to see someone else being asked the questions.

“Well how about something you brought from school then, I noticed an embroidered 4-H zipper tag on your back pack.” Ms. Sweetsir prompts.

“Yeah, I used to be in 4-H. A friend of mine made it for me.” She replied.

“Miss Bligh, how about you?” Ms. Sweetsir continued.

“I have a nice blue sweater. It’s my favorite sweater. It keeps me warm.” She says.

“A sweater;” Rocky laughs. “The best thing you got is a sweater?”

“That’s enough Mr. Dunn. Let’s hear what you have to share.” Ms Sweetsir says.

Rocky takes center stage like the star of the show responding to an encore.  “I brought Mr. Stewards car but they wouldn’t let me drive it down the hall way.” He says. Everyone laughs-Everyone except Ms. Sweetsir. “Well ,it is the truth.” Rocky responds to her stern glare. Rocky is so cool. One of the other kids told me he stole Mr. Steward’s car after sneaking away from exercise group. Which is kind of a bummer ‘cause Mr. Steward is really nice. Rocky drove it right through the front gate but he damaged it too much to make a clean get away. Now they have to park outside the gate, the new gate that is.

“Mr. Neilson.” Ms. Sweetsir continues.

“Um, I have a retainer I wear at night time to help my teeth.” He says.

“Lame.” Rocky says.

“One more rude interruption Rocky and I will be forced to take disciplinary action.” Ms. Sweetsir warns… Now it’s my turn again. With that warning maybe Rocky won’t have a come back to what I say but I don’t have anything. Just cloths, which is just like Peaches’ sweater, my knee brace, no different than Little Dickey’s retainer… I have my prayer bear…

“Miss Bates.” Ms Sweetsir says.

“I have a bear. It’s made out of real Alpaca skin. I’ve had it since I was born.” I say, and hold my breath.

“Cool a dead animal,” Rocky says. He looks at Ms. Sweetsir, “What?” He asks in response to her pursed lip. “ It was a supportive comment.” He defends.  She just sighs.

After group we have a break before lunch. My leg is still pounding and my head hurts really bad now. I know Mr. Dumb won’t give me any pain meds but I need something. I walk up to the med counter. Instead I see Mr. Steward there.

“Hi Miss Bates, How can I help you?” He asks with a smile.

“I know I wouldn’t take my meds before but my leg really hurts and I have a headache.” I say. “Can I please have something for pain.”

“Well, let me look in the chart.” He says. After about a minute he gets out a bottle of pills. “You have a prescription here for pain. It’s a PRN so you can take it or refuse it whenever you want.” He says.

“But I was told ‘cause I refused it I couldn’t have it any more.” I questioned.

“That rule only applies to certain medications, not PRNs.” He explains. He gives me two tablets. “Those should help you feel better.”

“Thanks” I say.

“So you brought a teddy bear.” Rocky whispers in my ear. “How cute.”

“Not just any bear.” I defend. Then I lower my voice to a whisper as well. “It happens to have a flask of brandy inside it.”

“You’re kidding me?” He says, his eyes twinkling. “Why haven’t you had any then?”

“Because I sewed it back up real fine so my Dad wouldn’t find it. There’s nothing around here to cut the stitching with.” I explain.

“I have something.” He smiles.

“What?” I ask. He gets really close so his arm is resting against my breast.  I can feel his heart beating. He shows me a piece of metal .

“I stole this from one of the staff and I’ve been sharpening it.  It cuts really well. When you free up the flask we’ll have to get together and have a party.” He says. His face is just inches from mine as he places the piece of metal in my hand. “Don’t let the staff see it, Brandy” He winks. “It’s considered a weapon.” I put the piece into my pocket as he walks away.

“Miss Bates,” Ms. Sweetsir says as she walks up to me with the new girl tagging behind like a dog, “Miss Summers is being assigned to your room. Will you please show her where it is?” Oh great, a roommate. I knew my luck couldn’t last.

“Sure” I say “this way.” As we enter the room. I point to the plastic bed and wall desk directly opposite my plastic bed and wall desk.  “That’s yours. We share a bathroom with the room adjacent to ours so never open the door without knocking first.” I warn her. “The sheets are in the draws under the desk.”

“I’m sorry about what I said in group.” The girl says “I know I haven’t made a very good first impression. My Mom always says the first impression is the most important.”

“Don’t sweat it.” I say “It’s not like we’re building a lifelong friendship here. Here today gone tomorrow.”

“So how long does someone usually stay here?” She asks.

“The minimum stay is six months.” I say.

“Six months??” Her eyes get wide and fill with tears. “I was told I would only be here a week!”

“Don’t freak about it, they tell a lot of first timers that, then wonder why us kids lie so much, we’ve got great role models. ”

It’s time for lunch and we all get in line, like cattle lining up at the feeding trough.  I feel great to have a sharp object in my possession again. Now that the pain meds are working I wonder if I’ll be able to feel the blade across my arm and of course the brandy. I haven’t had anything to drink in three days. I feel high just thinking about it.

“Hey,” says a soft voice from behind me in line. “Can I sit with you today?” It’s Peach.

“Sure why not.” I say. Lunch blows by, I am too excited about the brandy to eat. Peach talks the whole time. I ignore her.

“So can I hang out with you during break after we have individual sessions?” Peach asks.

“No I’m busy.” I say.

“Well I’ll stop by any way in case you change your mind.” She persists.

“Don’t bother.” I say.  I didn’t realize she could be so annoying.

“Can I see your teddy bear?” Peach asks.

“No.”I say.

“You can wear my sweater.” She says.

“You’re half my size, it wouldn’t fit.” I scowl at her.

“But you can wear it any way that’s what friends do, share stuff. You’re my friend right.” She looks up at me, kind of stupid like.

“No.” I say.  “I’m not your friend.”

“Oh you don’t mean that. I’ll see you later, after session. Bye.” She says as she gets up to leave. Man she is annoying like a little rat chewing on your head board at night.

My therapist is a push over. All she does is sit there behind her desk watching me till I say something but today I am going to play her like these people always play me.

“So how are you doing today?” She asks. I don’t give her the usual silent treatment.

“Horrible” I say. “I am in a lot of pain. My leg really hurts and my head is pounding. I just want to go back to my room. It really hurts.” Tears swell in my eyes and my voice cracks. I am such a good actor, especially since those pills before lunch worked great. They were those fancy pills only the hospital can give you. I was hoping to get more.

The tears were really coming now. “I’m sorry I refused the meds earlier, I was just mad but it’s been hurting so bad and I just can’t stand it anymore, Can I please have something for the Pain? Mr. Drumard wouldn’t give me any ‘cause he said I refused but Mr. Steward said I could have them whenever I needed them and I really hurt.” I sob. She really looks concerned.

“Of course you can. We can cut session short and after you take your medication you can go rest in your room for awhile.” She helps me get up and I limp to the door and down the hall. She helps support me the whole way.

Mr. Drumard is at the med counter again. “Miss Bates needs her prescription.” She says forcefully.

Mr. Drumard takes note of her tone and the tears streaming down my face. He gets the med book out.  “She’s already had some meds before lunch.” He says. I let out a stifled whimper.

“Isn’t her prescription PRN?” my therapist asks.

“Well yeah but these are pretty powerful meds, she can wait awhile.” He tries to say but his voice trails off as her back stiffens.

“Mr. Drumard. You may be certified to hand out the meds but you’re not a Doctor. I already know that you’ve refused this girl her medication in the past and unless you want me to fill out a written complaint, I suggest you follow the PRN prescription.” With that I got my extra meds and time alone in my room while all the other kids were still in session. The new girl would probably be late getting back as well since she had to go through care planning. This was perfect.

I lay on my bed for a few minutes to avoid suspicion. The second batch of meds is working and I’m starting to feel like I’m floating. I pull the sharpened piece of metal out of my pocket. It has writing on it. Some Bible verses. I know who he stole this from; It used to be Mr. Stewards Bracelet.  The verse is John 3:16. Yeah, Mr. Steward is a great guy. It’s a shame about his bracelet but hey it does make a handy knife. I slice open the back of my bear, stitch by stitch. My Mom gave me this bear. She called it my prayer bear. She said that all her hopes and dreams for me were inside of it. Some dream she turned out to be. I barely remember her anymore. Dad didn’t believe me when I said she went to sleep in the pool with her clothes on. I was too young to know to get help when she tripped and fell in. I didn’t know she hit her head. I thought she went for a swim and feel a sleep. I was only five. It wasn’t my fault.

I feel for the flask and pull it out. An envelope falls out with it. I use the bracelet to open it.

My baby,

An angel sent from heaven.  Today is your birth day, your first day in the sunshine but God knew you and loved you before you were conceived and I have loved you from the moment of your conception. You have been a part of me, growing, breathing, our hearts, beating as one. I thank God for your miracle. I pray he keeps you safe in all your days and that you come to know his love just as I have come to know him. His love is even greater than mine is for I am only here for a moment. God is here always.

If I were to die tomorrow I would still be the happiest woman in the entire world for being blessed with you. I pray you will be patient with your father and I as we grow together. We will do our best but we all make mistakes along the way. I pray you find in your heart the unconditional love and forgiveness that only God can give. I pray he keep you and guides you all your days.


Your Mother.

I crumple the letter up and throw it against the wall. I’m not waiting for Rocky, this is my Brandy. Yeah, that’s what they can call me, Brandy! I drink it down all at once. The burning feels good but it’s not enough. I look at the faded scars on my wrists. I need pain.

“Whatcha doin?…” that annoying voice. Peaches!

“Nothing, get out of here!” I snarl at her.

“But session is over; I want to see your bear… Is that alcohol?” She asks stepping closer.

“No, it’s empty!” I say. The brandy is really hitting me now, not like it ever has done before. It must be the pills and I am getting really angry at this annoying little brat.

“You know that’s not allowed.” She continues. “I’m telling.” She says and turns to leave.

What do I care, it’s empty so what can they do anyway. The knife however is a different story. I quickly stash it in the other girls back pack then I lunge at Peaches. I can’t help but laugh, creamed peaches. She is so small I pick her up without a problem. I feel great, my blood is racing and this little rat deserves it. I throw her into the bathroom and she hits her head hard on the toilet as she goes down. She screams like a rat too but she stops screaming before she hits the floor…

They take her out in a stretcher, that’s all I know.

They take me out in cuffs.

The lights on the police car look like a color war between hell and heaven, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue.

My mind goes black then white, I’m at the hospital and a light is in my eye.

Black then white like red-blue, everything goes black. It’s white again; I’m in a padded cell, Detox? It is black, night, it is white, day.  Breakfast? No way. I’m being read my rights.  I think about mom’s letter. Does God really forgive? Does he really love me?… The door closes behind me.

The Newbie (part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

I stare at the note on the refrigerator door. The penmanship is so curly cute on pink floral paper, it makes me want to puke; even worse, it smells of “Red”. When Dee Dee puts her “signature scent” to her little notes, I always know she’s feeling guilty about something.

“Hey girl!” it says with artificial hearts replacing all the dots and extra swirls on all the lines. “The lasagna is defrosting in the fridge. I am off to my photo shoot! John and I will be home late, connections, connections!” (Smiley face) “Kiss, Kiss” signed “Dee Dee”

This makes the third day this week, not bad really except that it’s only Tuesday. Not that I care, so they come home late and tipsy. It just means no nagging questions over dinner, then they sleep-in… less hassle around the breakfast table. I have enough worries with a new school anyway. I don’t need their song and dance of parenthood.

The lasagna weighs heavy in my hands. I put it down and pick up the empty box. I scan it for cooking directions. Instead I find the ingredients list. It takes up half the box and sounds more like my science book than food.

“Ingredients: Lasagna with Meat Sauce variety: Cooled mini lasagna noodles (water, semolina flour (enriched flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)), water, tomato paste, Hala beef, mozzarella cheese (part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), onions, cottage cheese, (milk ingredients, bacterial culture, microbial enzyme), beef base (hydrolyzed corn protein, monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate), sugar, granulated garlic, salt, basil, fennel, oregano, onion powder, pepper”…

Like I’m going to put all that in my body!

I find the directions and pop it into the oven anyway. I carefully place the box on the counter for later, “Let the ritual begin.”  I laugh to myself, just as the phone rings.

“Hi yah, Pip” the voice on the other end of the line chirps.

“Hi.” I reply flatly.

“I’ve been waiting to hear what it’s like at Kennedy High but you haven’t called.” Bunny continues. My mouth begins to go dry. It’s not that I don’t like Bunny, but she’s bad for my image.

Dee Dee always says, “You can’t make connections with the disconnected.” I can’t be seen with an eighth grader, especially one that calls me “Pip”.

“Pip” is my Grammies nickname, just as “Bunny” is the name of her Grandma, along with “Cubby”, my other ex-friend, given the same fate by her Granny. We were the hope for the next generation of “The sewing circle”. Even Cubby, as a seventh grader, has enough sense to know that Fresh man year is a one shot deal. She stopped calling after I snubbed her by quitting 4-H. It was Dee Dee’s idea. “Popular kids don’t do 4-H.” Even though John was a 4-Her when he was a kid, he didn’t protest when Dee Dee said it was time for me to move on. He didn’t protest even when I said I didn’t want to “Move on”.

Bunny persisted in her enthusiastic tone as if the lengthy silence, a sign of my reluctance to talk to her, didn’t exist, “Sooo, what’s it like being the newbie?”

I caved. “It’s O.K.” I said. A part of me wanted to return to my preteen days and break out in exited chatter to say… “It’s great! There’s this cute guy in my science class. His name is Chris. He plays football and his sister, Cassandra, is captain of the cheer leading squad! He hooked me up and I got accepted to try outs tomorrow!” Instead I bit my lip.

“Look,” I said, “I’d love to talk but my Mom went to the spa this morning to have a fish pedicure where Gara rufa, which are carp fish, eat your dead skin, but the spa’s delivery got mixed up with the exotic fish store’s order of Paranha, and the new attendant didn’t know the difference, so she put the Paranha in the foot bath and they bit Dee Dee’s little toe off.  Don’t worry though; they cut the fish open before it digested it. The Doctors say they can sew it back on. I have to go to the hospital to visit her so I’ll have to talk to you later. Bye.”

“Oh, O.K.” came the short reply. I am relieved at the sound of “click” and silence.

As I sit at the table, the smell of lasagna fills the room. My stomach makes a rumbling sound. I look over at the empty box on the counter and return to my task. The trash can is half full. Luckily Dee Dee is a perfectionist when it comes to notes. Several pink floral sheets of paper lie crumpled up on top of John’s morning news. I carefully remove these items, brushing off the scrambled eggs and coffee grounds from breakfast. Luckily Dee Dee and John have stopped inviting me to breakfast after my numerous complaints about the fat in egg yolks, cruelty to chickens, preservatives and colorants, grease, oil and sugar. Now however, she cooks too much and I am left scraping them off the much needed resources for my supper exploits. I place these co-conspirators on top of the box for later.

Thirty more minutes tick by. I pull the lasagna out of the oven and my mouth waters. I cut an extra large piece and put it on a plate. I sit down at the table with fork and knife in hand, staring at the huge heap of pasta, oozing with red meat sauce and dripping with layers of cheese. I put the knife and fork down, turn the plate a quarter ways around, and then proceed to cut the entrée into smaller than bite size pieces. The procedure takes another fifteen minutes. It now looks like a pile of regurgitated road kill. I get up and scrape the whole nasty mess into the bottom of the trash can. Success! I didn’t take a bite. On top of this I toss the newspaper and pink floral notes. With a great sense of accomplishment, I perch the empty lasagna box on top like a trophy. I put the left over’s in the fridge for John and Dee Dee’s late night nibbling.

Free from these dinner time hassles, I whip through my home work. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. I head downstairs to Dee Dee’s exorcise room. She always has the latest equipment and fad accessories.  It’s the one benefit of having a model for a mom. 700 calories on the cross trainer, then weights, the exercise bike for my whale thighs… I don’t even remember going upstairs to bed.

I get up extra early. This is the big day, my one chance to make a good impression. The squad only has one space open for a fresh man this year. I have to be the best and the lightest. I take the midriff flex, form-fit uniform with matching skirt out of my closet. It is made of red and black glimmer fabric with “wildcats” displayed across the breast, size 4. Dee Dee had bought it two sizes too small last spring, saying if I really wanted to make the team it would fit me by try outs. They must have made a mistake in sizing because it seemed to big now… I might have small hips but my belly bulges out like a cancerous tumor. My fat arms don’t help either. I take it off and pack it in my bag.

I am surprised when I go down stairs and Dee Dee is sitting at the breakfast table.

“Hey sugar!” She says with a beaming smile followed by a stifled yawn. “My shooting star! Going far! Today is the big day huh? Oh, you look great. I am so glad you took my advice and cut down on all that junk food. Chocolate just ruins your complexion you know.”

I don’t bother to tell her that they rebutted that myth years ago.

“How about some breakfast? We have all natural low fat goat cheese on Melba toast, 100% juice, fresh from the press with no added sugar, and a free range hard-boiled egg, minus the yolk.”

“No thanks.” I say. “I promised Cassandra I would have breakfast at school with her to go over the routine.”

“Go over the routine!” Dee Dee shrieks.

She is so temperamental when she’s tired.

“Haven’t I always told you that being unprepared is like being under privileged, success is nothing more than a dream for both. Is that all your going to do with your life, dream? The least you could have done is told me before I went out and spent money at that natural foods market to get this stuff. You’ve been harping so much lately about the ingredients in this and the chemicals in that. I try to do one nice thing for you, spend a little quality mother daughter time, and this is how it turns out? Why bother!” with that she turns and storms upstairs to her room. I just roll my eyes. Oh the melodrama!

Just then Dad comes down stairs, dripping from the shower. “What have you done now?” He asks. “Don’t you know Dee Dee has an important interview this afternoon? Why are you always stressing her?”

“Me?” I protest, “What about her? She’s stressing me and I have tryouts today. I don’t need her guilt trip. Maybe she should go into acting instead of modeling; she certainly has you tricked into this pity party.”

“Do not talk about your mother that way. She planned this breakfast especially for you. We had to go out of our way yesterday to find that hippy marketplace. Why can’t you go on a normal diet like most people anyway?”

I didn’t wait around for the rest of John’s lecture. The last I heard was something about “this isn’t over…” and “when you get home…” as a grabbed for my book bag and headed out the door.

When I got to school I went straight to the locker room to weigh in. 98 pounds. I was hoping to get down to at least 95. I’ll have to continue my fast until after tryouts and ditch my vitamin drinks, maybe I can lose some water weight before this afternoon. My stomach feels really tight but it stopped hurting awhile ago.

My first class is music appreciation-the Italian opera. Luckily all we have to do is watch an opera in class as a backdrop for a paper next week. It’s an opera that was written in the 1600’s. I laugh as I think to myself, “Hey, I wonder if they recorded this way back then.” Yeah it’s a lame joke but it still makes me giggle. Or maybe I just need a nap. As the opera singers move across the stage, all I can think about is flips and cheers. I imagine the fat tenor doing a cart wheel and have to cover my mouth to hold back a chuckle.

When the lights come on the teacher comments, “I didn’t realize that Orfeo, as an Italian version of a Greek tragedy could evoke a comic response. Maybe the individual who found such humor can use their unique perception in next week’s paper.” I duck out hoping no one inadvertently glances my way and exposes me.”

Next is Science-the physical properties of flight. Yesterday I was paired with Amber for team projects. She’s actually really nice but I’ve held back on getting to know her ‘till I find out where she fits socially. Dee Dee always says you have to pick your contacts carefully.

Amber is cheerful as usual as she says, “I was thinking we could do a visual project showing the flight pattern and wing structure of the swan. I found this great resource at the library on the mute swan. I have already read it so you can borrow it tonight.”

“Yeah, that sounds great.” I say. “I like swans.”

As we flip through the book together for rough ideas, I can’t help but warm up to her small talk. Every day she makes a point to say hello, even though I ignored her for the first week of school. Someone said she wasn’t cool and I didn’t want to take a chance.

On the third day of school she came up to me in the hall and said, “I notice you get to school early every morning, I run a prayer group before school, would you like to join us tomorrow?” Although I never went, it felt good to be invited. She kept inviting me every day since. Today was no different.

“I have a flyer I printed up for prayer group that explains it better.” She smiles as she hands me a piece of paper with a picture of a man on his knees. His hands are raised and tears run down his face. The picture makes me feel awkward but at the same time, I wish I was that man. Something about him seems…happy.

“Maybe I will.” I smile as the bell rings. Maybe I will.

As I jump up to leave I run right into Chris in the doorway-Literally. The impact almost knocks me over. My heart stops. He is so cute.

“You’ll need better coordination than that if you’re gonna win at tryouts this afternoon.” He says “You look good in those jeans though, I can’t wait to see you in the midriff flex.” He smiles with a wink. I shove the flyer deep into the pocket of my skin tight jeans. I hope he doesn’t notice my big butt. I swear I am going to faint. “See you this afternoon.” He says and strolls out of the classroom.

In social studies class we study about the Ozark Mountains. My mind seems a bit to fuzzy to really concentrate. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud. I imagine the Ozarks drifting underneath me. The ticking from the clock on the wall seems louder than the teachers lecture. To keep from dozing off I keep watching it as the hands get closer and closer to third lunch. I don’t know why I’m so tired.

Instead of going to lunch, I sneak into the library without a pass. Usually the librarian just assumes I’m from study hall. So she doesn’t get suspicious, I always check out a book that looks interesting. Today I find, The Interpretation of Dreams, by some guy named Freud. What’s so wrong with dreams anyway? Dee Dee is always saying she doesn’t believe in dreams, only realities. “Dreams are for people to lazy to work to get what they want.” She says. I try to listen to my Mom but sometimes I just don’t agree.

Physical education is my last class. Finally! The after school tryouts are just 80 minutes away. My locker is covered in pictures of models. Not middle age Sunday flyer models like Dee Dee but skimpily clad teen models, real motivators. This is my last chance before I have to weigh in for the squad. ‘Time to work up a sweat. As always Mrs. Prada uses me as a class example of enthusiasm. I ignore her as I pass the slowest guy in class for the fifth time to take another extra lap. Then everything goes black.

I wake up in the nurse’s office. “Your Mother’s on her way.” She says just as I black out a second time.

I don’t know how much time passes. Then I hear Dee Dee’s stressed voice in the outer office. “She does not have a weight problem! She happens to be physically fit.” She says. “I can’t believe you pulled me away from an important interview for this!” Her voice is growing higher and louder, but the Nurse keeps rattling off numbers and statistics. When the nurse says the “A” word, Dee Dee goes silent. Then the Nurse mentions the “B” word, like gross. Dee Dee freaks at the word vomit.

“If you are not going to take action then as the school nurse I will have to refer her myself.” I hear the Nurse say.

“No, I’ll take care of it. I’ll have to call my Agent. I expect discretion from the school. I don’t need this kind of publicity.” Dee Dee grumbles.

“Of course.” The nurse replies curtly.

After 30 minutes of Cell phone conversation Dee Dee walks into the nurse’s office with my book bag and cloths. “Let’s go.” She says with a stern face.

“This is no big deal Mom,” I try to reason. Her sharp eyes remind me not to call her Mom. “”Mom” is for housewives not models.” She would always say. She didn’t have to actually say it now, the words echoed in my head without her making a sound. Oh, how I hated some of her “Hundred rules to live by” quotes. They seem to have grown into a thousand over the years.

“I was only dieting for the try outs.” I continue to protest. “We can’t leave now.”

“You have no choice.” She explains. The school nurse is going to call the department if I don’t take you to see someone. I don’t have time for this! I had to leave in the middle of my interview! It took my agent months to book this opportunity. Do you know what you have cost me?” By the bright red complexion on her perfectly powdered face, I knew my protests were futile.

We get in her car and drive away…away from my one shot at high school success.

After about thirty endless minutes of silence I ask. “Where are we going?”

“My agent made a few phone calls and found a place out of town. In a week this will all blow over and we can say you came down with a severe case of walking pneumonia.”

“A week, I can’t go away for a week! What will happen to my grades? I won’t get high honors. I’ve already missed my chance at the cheer-leading team. How am I supposed to make a good impression in my fresh man year if I’m in a hospital for a week? I’m not even sick!” I shriek.

“Oh get over it! You think you’re the center of everything don’t you? It’s not a hospital anyway. It’s called “The Youth Foster” or something like that. They help kids with lots of different problems… which jogs my memory me… I got a call from Bunny’s Mom who said she has her whole church praying for my quick recovery and how thankful I should be it wasn’t a facial.”

We drive for another hour. My face is hot from whipping away tears. Mom never listens to me any way, why do I even bother and I can forget about Dad, he always takes her side. According to him she’s the next best thing to Madonna. If I could I’d tell him, “Hey Madonna isn’t a sex goddess any more, she’s just old and so is Mom. Stop treating her like a princess. I’m your Daughter. I’m supposed to be the princess. Mom is more like a wicked step mother than a Mom anyway. I hate them both. I wish I had been adopted or better yet, never born…

The car pulls up to a big brick building. It looks like an orphanage from and old English movie. As we approach the entrance the “old” perception wears off quick. We stand in front of a camera, state our name and are buzzed in through big steel doors.

Mom talks to the reception staff as one person sits me down and asks me a bunch of questions off a clip board. “Have you ever been arrested? Convicted of a felony? Do you smoke? Have you ever taken drugs? Do you drink alcohol? Have you ever been hospitalized for mental illness? Have you ever had thoughts about suicide? Are you sexually active? Do you have any communicable diseases? …”

I sit, stunned, looking like an idiot in my tea shirt and gym shorts and I stink. I’ll never complain about taking a shower after gym again…

Finally Mom comes over. “I called John,” She says. “You’ve really disappointed your Father. Maybe this will give you an opportunity to think about how you treat us.”

“You’re leaving me here?” I ask. I can’t believe it. What did I do wrong?

“Just for a routine evaluation, we’ll see you in a couple of days.”  She says. She acts so casual I want to slap her face and scream at her “A couple of days! Why don’t you just ship me to a third world country, sell me into slavery, make a profit while your ruining my life?” instead I just stare at her. I can’t speak. She walks away without even saying goodbye.

“Turn your pockets inside out and lift your hands above your head.” A woman says sternly. I do so as if in a dream. She pats at my sides like I’ve seen in cop shows on T.V.

“This way.” The guy with the clipboard says.

“What about my things?” I ask.

“You’ll get them after they’re searched and cleared.” He says back. We walk towards another set of steel doors. A buzzer sounds and the door opens. I glance back at my back pack on the table. A man is going through the pocket of my jeans. He pulls out a crumpled piece of paper, reads it and tosses it into a trash can. The flier Amber gave me earlier. “I guess I won’t be going to prayer group.” I think as the door closes behind me.





The Man (Part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

The Man.

Brandy… makes my heart race, my body warm, and my mind numb. I could really party with brandy…

“Hidee ho Mr. Dunn.” Mr. Stifleman says cheerfully as I walk into session. What a goof ball. He looks goofy too. Mr. Stifleman is my therapist. He is tall and lanky with a long face and bushy eyebrows. He lets his mustache grow down off his chin and curl up at the edges. He even pulls at it when he thinks. Every kingdom needs a jester. This is my kingdom.

“How is ADITLO.” He says as he leans back in his leather chair. The legs are worn down and rounded as he lifts them off the floor in his makeshift rocker. “ADITLO” is his saying for “a day in the life of”. I’m supposed to spill my guts.

“Good.” I say. Good to keep it brief, make him work for my words, then I’ll feed him a few lines and sit back to watch the show…“I met a cute girl today.” I bait him.

“Is this the same one as the other day?” He asks, taking the bait.

“No, I said I met her today. For a guy who is supposed to listen, you don’t do a very good job.” I slam.

“That is a hurtful thing to say.” He replies. “How might you express yourself in a more positive manner?”  Mr. Stifleman asks but I know the damage’s been done. I can tell ‘cause he shifts his seat and comes unbalanced.  He leans forward now, all four feet on the floor, with his arms on his desk.

“When I have to repeat myself I feel like I am not being heard.” I say on cue. Mr. Stifleman smiles, he looks proud of himself and of his pupil.

“You’re Dad,” He asks. “does he hear you?” Crap. I knew this was coming especially with my visit tomorrow.

“Yah he hears. My Dad’s great. He’s the only person who’s ever heard Me.” …My Dad used to let me smoke and we’d get drunk. He talked to me like a man. I was The Man. Just thinking about how great it used to be makes me wish session was over.

“Do you have any plans for tomorrow?” Mr. Stifleman continues to press.

“I’m not planning on stealing any cars, if that’s what you mean.” I accuse.

“No, that’s not what I meant. I mean, do you know what you are planning on saying to him?” He asks. Mr. Stifleman is so easy to shake up. If I keep him on the defensive then there’s less of a chance of him hitting any sore spots.

“I plan on saying hi.” I say.

Mr. Stifleman looks at me. There is that stupid mustache twist he does. He leans back in his chair again. “Tell me about this new girl.” He says finally.

“She’s a hotty, couldn’t keep her eyes off me this morning. I could really get into her…Pants that is.” I smile smugly. Mr. Stifleman continues to pull at his mustache. I get away with saying more in session then in other groups. I keep waiting for lectures but all he does is twist the mustache. If I had my knife with me now, I’d grab it and cut it off.

“What happened to your interest in the other girl?” He asks.

“Oh, she’s still a hotty. I had her drooling over me after exercise, real wet. Her pants will fit nice too.” I smirk.

“Have you talked to either of these girls?” Mr. Stifleman continues.

“Of course, they’re in my group this month.” I say.

“Do you even know their names?” He asks.

“What’s in a name? Babes like men who treat them like they are, chicks, I like my chicks southern style, hot and spicy with fat drumsticks and smothered in oil.” I say.

He stops twisting his mustache and leans forward. “That sounds like something your Dad would say.” Mr. Stifleman says. “How do you really feel about these girls?”

“They’re o.k..” I say. I ignore his comment about Dad. He’s just trying to get a rise out of me. The new girl with blue eyes and blond hair is even kinda sweet but she’s way too lean for my tastes. I like the other one. She’s got just enough cushions for comfort. “I was even supportive of them in group this morning. “ I say. I don’t tell him how one of them smuggled in some brandy or our plans of getting together later and partying with it.

“This reminds me,“ Mr.stifleman says,“ the monthly group rotation starts next week. I am signing you up for Anger management again, seeing that you were suspended from the last one for fighting… So how have you been getting along with Mr. Frost?” He asks.

“Fine.” I say. “The Jack ass is leaving tomorrow any way.  He’s only been here six months. I’ve been here for eleven, ever since me and my Dad got busted. It’s not fair.” I say. The conversation is starting to piss me off. “Jack off” got busted for the same thing as me. So what if he stole food. What’s the difference between stealing some bread and fencing goods? Me and Dad used the money to buy food. If anything me and Dad worked like real businessmen, not like that petty theft bum, we were pro’s. Dad said we were part of a righteous system.   What we stole had to be replaced which made the economy better and then when we sold it, we kept the pawn guy employed…  regular business men and I heard that “Jack shit” ran off.  When the heat came down on me and Dad I gave up quick and easy. I’ll never admit I was too scared to move.  Dad though, he moved, left me in the dust and they were heavy on him for that. They didn’t get him though ‘til three weeks later. Mr. Stifleman once asked me how I felt about my Dad leaving me behind like that. Hell, it’s not like we were at a baseball game together. Dad always says you have to cover your own ass, run – don’t look back. That’s the only way to stay ahead. My Dad really knows the circuit. He’s the man.

“It’s good to see you expressing your feelings.” Mr. Stifleman says. “You’ve made a lot of progress. In another month you’ll have your care plan meeting. Have you been thinking about your options for placement?”

“I don’t need no frigin placement.” I say. Some choices I have anyway. With Dad in the pen I can either stay with my bible thumpin Aunt and Uncle or foster homes. “I can take care of myself.”

“That’s not an option. If you haven’t made a decision by this Friday, then the decision will be made for you. Is that what you want?” is Mr. Stifleman’s reply.

“No.” I say.

Finally session is over. I have some time before supper to find Brandy. I check out the common room but she’s not there. Neither is the new girl.

“Hi Rocky” says Peaches in her fruity little voice.  Peaches reminds me of my cousin. Not her annoying habit of clinging to any one that smiles at her but her size. She’s the youngest kid here and small for her age so she looks even younger. I wonder if she’ll ever grow any bigger. My cousin has reddish hair like hers. I guess that’s why I made the mistake of sticking up for her once when Wally, the girl version of me but twice as big, decided to pick on her. I never hit a girl before but she swung first. We came to a mutual understanding. Now Peaches thinks she’s my friend no matter how mean I am to her.  She’s kinda like a little puppy.

“Hey squirt, don’t bug me I’m looking for someone.” I say.

“Who ya looking for?” She asks.

“The new girl.” I say.

“Well if you’re looking for Miss Summers, she’s gonna be late, I saw her with her mom and dad. They looked real fancy. Not like my mom and dad. I wonder if they’re rich. Do you think they would want to adopt me?” she asks.

“You have to be an orphan before you’re adopted.” I say.

“What if my parents died? Would they adopt me then?” She continued. I decided to change the subject.

“I’m not looking for that new girl.” I say. “I’m looking for the other one. Is she in the girls ward?” The boys and girls rooms were on separate wings with the common area in the middle and the meeting rooms down a third hall kinda like a big T. The girls ward was off limits to boys and vice versa.

“I was gonna stop by her room to say hi so I’ll go check for ya.” Peaches says. She’s off down the hall in a half skip.

I hear Mr. Drumards booming voice from behind the med counter. “Don’t run in the hallways!”

I can’t help but see my little cousin in Peaches. The last time I saw her was… the week after the Christmas before last. We made the trip ‘cross town ‘cause they said they had some gifts for us and we needed some cash. Me and Dad had made five huge scores before Christmas but the media made such a fuss, calling us the grinches that stole Christmas… my Dad loved the publicity. All those kids that we stole from got new stuff from the t.v. station and donations. We actually did them a favor but the stuff we stole was so hot that our connections wouldn’t take it until it cooled off a bit. My niece was so excited she kept skipping around the house. She gave me a really cool Jacket that she bought herself with her own money.  It was really nice and must have cost over fifty bucks. We got ten bucks for it at pawn. It bought us some cigarettes. The other stuff, toys and junk, a skate board, a portable c.d. player and a few sets of nice cloths all went for under twenty. We blew through that in a week on booze. The real money came from my Aunts Jewelry box. My job was to keep them distracted while Dad was “Napping” from all the “overtime” he had been working. My Dad’s great at lying. The next day my Uncle came to visit my Dad and my Dad started yelling at him. Then my Dad started accusing me. I knew it was an act but he grabbed me hard and threatened to beat the shit out of me if I had stolen anything. He did such a good job, I was really scared. After that they never asked about the stuff again.  I saw my Uncle again at my hearing. He stood up for me. I was surprised. He said all I needed was a chance to be around some good role models… I wonder what’s taking Peaches so long when I hear the seclusion bell. When that happens, unless we’re in session, group or a meeting we have to go to our rooms. I guess my party’s gonna wait.

My room is boring. There’s nothing in it but a bed attached to the wall with a rubber mattress on it. A desk was built into the wall too with some drawers under them. I’ve a room by myself ‘cause they caught me stealing from the adjoining room one time. They never found the loot I had gathered before they caught me. I got a retainer from this one kid. He cried for a whole week before they got a replacement. That one was easy ‘cause he left it on his desk during the day. I knew they would get him another so I never felt bad. I stole a bracelet from Mr. Steward. That was tricky ‘cause he only took it off to help us kids do dishes if we were on restriction and so I had to take it real quick and slick with everyone milling around after meals. I actually got on restriction on purpose so I could grab it. It looked kind of like a dog tag and had a bible verse on it. When I sharpened the metal edge it made a great knife. I gave it to the Brandy to borrow though. That’s what I’ve decided to name her, ‘cause she smuggled in the brandy. I hope I get it back tonight ‘cause I’m planning on giving Jack a little going away present. The last little treasure I have belonged to him. I didn’t really steal it. When Jack first arrived he had this Black book that some other kid tried to tear up. I saw Mr. Drumard throw the cover away but Jack made such a fuss about it, the rest of the book got put into his locker in the office. I grabbed the cover out of the trash when the staff wasn’t looking.  It was the cover to a bible. On the back side of it is part of a letter written by Grandpa Frost, the first few lines had been ripped so I couldn’t read them but whenever I get to missing my Dad I read what I can.  I pull it out and read it now.

…..  life is not always easy.  It will have its ups and downs as you know too well.  When you think about your Mom and Dad, bear in mind, I lost them too. With Gods’ help we will get through this together. It’s not what life takes from you but how you take what life gives you and use it to make life better. In this book you’ll find what you’re looking for. You just have to open your eyes. I pray God will fill the hole in your heart. He can if you just let him in. Remember I am here for you and I love you. God loves you too and when you’re ready you’ll find him here.

Love Grandpa Frost.

I didn’t know any bible verses so I wrote the one that I found on Mr. Stewards Bracelet at the bottom of the page, John 3:16. I don’t know why but it makes me feel strange whenever I read it.

I wonder what caused the alarm. Usually it’s a fight but I didn’t see one when I came onto the boys ward. Maybe Wally on the girls’ side got in a fight. It seems to be taking an awfully long time to clear. I am so bored I fall asleep.

When I wake it’s time for supper. I get in line behind Little Dicky. “How’s your new retainer working out?” I ask him, a private joke just for me.

“O.K.” he says. “They readjusted it so it’s not rubbing my mouth raw anymore.”

When we get to the serving counter it’s burnt Lasagna and runny pudding.  “What happened?” I ask. “Did the cook go on strike?”

“We had an emergency.” Mr. Drumard growls back. “Just be thankful it’s not cold oatmeal.”

“Some Emergency, ” Wally says from behind me. “They took three girls out of here, two in ambulances and one in a police car. It was cool.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Those two new girls and Peaches.” She replies.

“What happened?” I ask, “Not that I care but it sounds like it was fun to watch.”

“Well, I didn’t really see what happened. All I know is they took Peaches out in an ambulance, and the other one that came in last week, out in cuffs then later the ambulance had to come back and take the newest girl out, you know the goody two shoes with the blond hair.”

“Cool.” I say but my insides feel like they’re shaking. I feel sick to my stomach. All I can think about is the knife I Gave Brandy. What happened? I don’t bother with supper. I ask Mr. Steward to be excused. I say I’m sick. He walks with me back to my room.

“One of the girls from your morning group was found with a sharp piece of metal this afternoon.” He says to me when we reach my door. “It was a bracelet that I lost a little while ago.” He continues. I don’t make eye contact. “It had been sharpened by someone into a knife. Would you happen to know anything about it?” He asks.

“No.” I lie. “and if I did I wouldn’t tell. I’m not a rat.” I say.

“A rat is someone who lets a friend get hurt just to save their own skin.” Mr. Steward says. “I know you’re not a rat. If you want to talk, about anything, I’m here.” He says.

I decide to go to bed early but it doesn’t help. I keep dreaming about Peaches being put into an ambulance, cut up by my knife, or Brandy, was she drunk? The new girl…?

I wake up to the breakfast bell. We have thirty minutes from the first bell to be in the cafeteria. I get there late. Breakfast is getting over. When I walk in I see Jack. I hear him asking a group of girls about the new girl. He calls her Swan. The Jerk thinks he’s a big shot giving out knick names just ‘cause he’s getting out today.

“Swan?” I say. “You mean dead duck. That new girl she did herself yesterday, from her wrist to elbow. They should have done a strip search when they let her in. Boy that girl knew her stuff.”Jack looked at me with a horrified expression. I can lie better than my dad and it feels good to cut him deep.  I didn’t even need my knife.

“Mr. Frost. Your case worker is here.” Mr. Steward says. One less Jack in the box.

Morning exercise goes by in a haze. Ms. Sweetsir calls me in for group. It’s just me and Little Dicky.

“I can’t go into detail about what happened last night,” Ms. Sweetsir says. “However, if you know anything about the sharpened piece of metal or the brandy that was found you need to tell us. Our number one priority here is to keep everyone safe.” She says.

“Is Miss Bligh dead?” Little Dicky asks. “Was the piece of metal my retainer?” he continues.

“Don’t be stupid!” I yell. “I have your retainer you weasely piece of shit.” I confess; anything to change the subject.

“Why did you take my retainer?” He whines.

“”cause you have a little dick that’s why.” I yell at him.

“Mr. Dunn that is enough!” Ms. Sweetsir says.

“Why? Isn’t this group all about telling the truth? Don’t the ground rules say no one gets in trouble as long as it’s the truth? The kids nicknamed him Little Dicky ‘cause he has a little penis and no matter how much he pulls on it in the shower it’s not going to get bigger!” I say. Little Dicky breaks out in tears. What a pansy.

Ms. Sweetsir grabs me by the arm. She walks me out into the hall where Mr. Drumard’s stationed as support staff. “Mr. Dunn needs a time out.” She says to Mr. Drumard.  He points to a hard metal chair in an open area of the hall. I sit down with a flop. Ms. Sweetsir goes back into the room to baby Little Dicky.

My free time before lunch is spent watching staff search my room for any other stolen goods.  Mr. Steward finds the bible cover. “What’s this?” He asks.

“I found it in the trash can.” I say.

“It has Mr. Frost’s name on it.” He says.

“I found it in the trash.” I say.

“and your hand writing at the bottom?” He asks. I stare at the wall.

“Am I going to be able to visit my Dad today?” I ask.

“You came clean.” Mr. Steward says. “That takes a lot of courage. You won’t be getting any consequence and even if you were, you would still be able to see your dad.” He reassures me. “Now get ready for lunch. You have a busy day ahead of you.” He smiles.

“What about the cover?” I ask.

“I think Mr. Frost might like this back.” He says. “I have a bible in my car you can have. Why read the cover when you can read the book.”

“Sure” I shrug. I’m not in the mood for lunch. Anyway last time I went to visit my Dad Mr. Steward bought me food at McDonalds. My Dad never took me out to eat anywhere before, not even through the drive through. I want to save my appetite.  I felt bad about what I did, not just the bracelet but his car. I couldn’t help but notice he left the keys in it when we got in. I told my Dad about it and he said it was the perfect opportunity to blow the joint. I heard Mr. Steward got in trouble for leaving the keys there but he didn’t press charges even though I totaled his car. That’s what kept me out of jail. I just got more time here. My Dad would never stick his neck out like that for me. “You got to watch your own ass” that’s what he would say.

‘”You ready to go.” Mr. Drumard said.

“You’re driving me?” I ask.

“Not if you’re going to waste my time talking about it.” He says. “I just want to warn you not to try anything stupid with me or you’ll see yourself in a prison cell right next to your old man.” He growls. “You’ll be there soon enough anyway.”

I don’t bother saying anything back to him. He’s not like Mr. Steward.  Mr. Drumard is more like my Dad.When we get to the prison we check in and Mr. Drumard gets ready to leave.“You’re not walking in with me?” I ask. “Mr. Steward stayed with me until I was able to meet with dad.”

“I’m not a baby sitter.” He says. “You act out here and they have guards that’ll give you a real shake down.  Mr. Steward will be in to pick you up when your visit is over.”  He walks out without another word. I go through the rest of check in alone.

As I follow the guard down the corridor I stop. “Where are we going?” I ask. “My Dad is in general population.”

“Not anymore.” He says and keeps walking.

When I reach Dads new cell area, instead of being led to a visitor’s room I sit at a table with glass between us.“Dad, what’s going on?” I ask.

“Hey there’s the man!” he says. “Did you bring me any cigarettes?”

“No.” I say, “I’m still at that Youth Foster.”

“Yah? You still there? Well when you get out send me a carton of cigarettes.” He says.

“Why aren’t you in general population?” I ask.

“Oh hell, I got in a fight and the guy pulled a shaft but I got him with it instead. It was self defense, nothing to worry about. So did you get more time for that car deal we talked about?” he asks.

“Yeah Dad, I did. I crashed it.” I said.

“ohwhoya! You’re the man! You show the jerk hippies who’s the boss! You keeping up with them finger light skills of yours.” He asks.

“A few things.” I say. “There’s not a lot to pick from.”

“Well, when I get out we’ll get back to business. Nothing can keep pro’s like us down, Not me and the man!” he chuckles.

“When you getting out?” I ask.

“Oh, I got to go to trial about this murder thing first, but I’m not sweating it. I’m covering my ass. You know how it is.” He says.

“Yeah, I know.” I say.

“Next time you come to visit bring me a carton o.k.”

“Yeah.” I say. I get up to leave.

I hear Dad say to the man in the next booth, “That’s my boy, he’s a chip off the old block, just like me. He’s The Man.”

No. I am not The Man. I don’t want to be like you dad, I think to myself. I want to be like Mr. Steward, like Grandpa Frost, like my Uncle. I approach the outer doors. I am not “The Man”. The door closes behind me.

The Swan (part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)


“Where were you last night in your slumbering? Were you snoring through an Opera in Italy in the year 1658, or like me, flying over the Ozarks on the back of a swan?” Her words come fast and excitedly as if she is afraid she will forget what she had planned on saying.

“What are you talking about?” I ask with a twisted expression on my face.

“Dreams” She says. “Don’t you have dreams? The Opera first started in Italy in the 1600’s, haven’t you ever dreamed of going to the Opera, and the Ozarks from way up high, wouldn’t it be beautiful to see the mountains from up so high? Do you believe in God?”

“All I want to do is eat my cereal, do you mind.” With that I get up and move across the room. The blond haired girl is left sitting alone with a single staff member at the cafeteria table. She stares at her eggs as they rubberized before her big blue eyes.

“So who’s your new girlfriend Jack?” Rocky cracks with a wry smile.

“She’s not my girlfriend dufas, and quit calling me Jack.” I reply angrily.

“Mr. Frost, remove yourself to the restriction table, instigating will not be tolerated.” Mr. Drumard states harshly.

“He started it.” I protest.

“Now.” is the cold reply.

“So long Jack” Rocky jabs one last time.

This last day is going to be a long one. Why is the staff always so hard on me? Rocky is the real trouble maker but his dad is made of money, according to Rocky, which makes him exempt from certain rules. When I complained once the staff only said that “each person had individualized care plans and the treatment procedure of others was not a focus of discussion.”

Dunn is Rocky’s real name. The Staff call him Mr. Dunn. First names are never used, it is supposed to prevent unhealthy friendships from forming, protect confidentiality and all that crock. As if the kids are going to form an underground crime syndicate or commit mass suicide when they got out.

Rocky had got his name from a kid who was on his way out of the facility. Kids with seniority always chose the nicknames of new kids. He got it because of his impressions of Rocky Balboa. It wasn’t even a good impression; he just punched some other kid in the nose. Then he raised both hands in the air making cheering crowd impressions till the staff tackled him.

People just assume Rocky started calling me Jack because of my last name, Frost, but Rocky let it be known otherwise by following the term “Jack” with several various swear words out of staff hearing. This happened enough times that just saying “Jack” was enough to get the derogative point across. He would have been gone by now but got more time when he got out and stole a staff member’s car for a joy ride. His rich dad kept him out of jail; Rocky said this was his “country club” option.

“You can’t keep yourself out of trouble for even a day, can you Mr. Frost?” Mr. Steward says while handing me an orange vest to put on. Before I can eat my soggy cereal, breakfast is over. Normally I would have had 30 minutes to eat but now, on restriction I have only 15 and that time was wasted moving from table to table. My stomach growls.

“Times up, clear the table.” Mr. Steward announces. Clean up is always the job of the restriction table.

“Since you’ll be leaving us tomorrow Mr. Frost, I’ll give you the choice, Wash, dry or put away?” Mr. Steward says with a friendly wink.

“I’ll put away.” I say. I know Mr. Steward is trying to cheer me up. He is the only staff member that has treated me half descent this past six months. I also know that if I took my time the rest of the kids will be done washing the tables and the floors before I come out of the kitchen.

At the 30 minute bell all the other kids in the cafeteria line up in their assigned groups for out door exercise. I look over the kitchen serving counter to the blond haired girl staring at the moving crowd with her big blue eyes. She looks like she wants to fly away. Yeah, She looks like a startled bird; maybe a swan.

I see her again at lunch time from across the room. She still sits alone with one staff member at her table. I am sitting, still adorned in an orange plastic vest, at the restriction table. One stupid infraction earns a day of restriction, but “each day starts off with a clean slate.” was the coined phrase of the facility. “Big deal,” I think. I am out tomorrow anyway. Lunch time for those on restriction is 30 minutes, while the other kids have longer but I never understood why. All three meals are the same while on restriction, plain oat meal, no sugar, no salt, just white globs of gruel and usually cold. Before lunch I had been excused from my anger management group to go to discharge planning. I have been assigned a new home in a new school in a new town and am introduced to my new foster parents. The old man is a farmer who promises to build my character with honest work. All I have to do is keep my grades in school above a D average and I can get a job in the fields in the summer and after graduation. Maybe someday I can even be field supervisor. I imagine the stocky woman in the farm house kitchen cooking chicken and mashed potatoes with carrots, peas and apple pie. With that in mind I lose my appetite for lumpy oatmeal. I spend the last 20 minutes staring at the blond haired girl with blue eyes. Suddenly she stares back.

“Times up, clear the table. Mr. Frost, you’ll be washing the dishes this after noon.” Mr. Drumard growls.

“Great,” I think. “Nothing like scraping burnt lasagna off baking pans and runny pudding out of bowls to develop moral fiber.” I keep glancing up at the sink hoping to catch a glimpse of the new girl when she brings her tray to the counter. Every time I strain my neck the staff member who is righting down the meal percentages gives me a sour look. Just as the meal bell rings after a 30 minute wait, the blond haired girl comes to the window with her tray.

“A swan’s egg for you.” I tease when the staff notes that the plate is full.

“Mind your own task.” The staff member warns. The girl quickly averts her big blue eyes, turning abruptly away as she is lead to her assigned group by her orientation staff.

“That was a stupid thing to say.” I thought. I plan on apologizing when I see her at supper. I spend the afternoon packing my scant possessions, three faded blue jeans, two tee shirts and a bible my grandfather had given me. The cover was torn off by some kid who tried to rip it apart when I first arrived. The kid said he was a Satanist and sharing a room with a bible thumper was against his religious freedom. I have never even read it but it is the only thing I own. The staff had put the bible in storage for safe keeping these past months. Now it fits nicely at the bottom of a paper bag with the rest of my stuff.

I look for the blond haired girl at supper but don’t see her. I have decided to give her the nickname swan. I just couldn’t get her words out of my head from breakfast. “Well, tomorrow I’ll be off restriction and I’ll sit at her table.” I thought. Sometimes new kids missed meals, especially if they had to be put into isolation. I had been their a few times for fighting with Rocky. It was a room a little bigger than a closet with padding on the walls and a slot in the door so you could be stared at.

The new girl’s thoughts keep coming back to me. I have dreams; I would love to see an Opera; go to Italy; learn what it was like in the 1600’s, and the Ozarks; to see the mountains from way up high; I don’t know about God, maybe I’ll read my grandfathers bible… I can’t eat a thing for supper, especially not oatmeal that I know they cooked at breakfast. I spend the rest of the night planning what I will say when I see the girl tomorrow.

“Where were you last night in your slumbering? Were you snoring through an Opera in Italy in the year 1658, or like me, flying over the Ozarks on the back of a swan? Have you ever read the bible? My grandfather gave me one…”

The next morning I am up early. My case worker will be in to pick me up after breakfast. I walk into the cafeteria and look around. I don’t see the blond haired girl with blue eyes anywhere. I don’t feel like eating anything, Maypo is to much like oatmeal anyway, so I walk around until I recognize someone from the girls group.

“Where’s Swan?” I ask a girl with brown curls, “The new girl with blond hair?” Before she can answer Rocky butts in as he walks past,

“Swan, you mean dead duck, that new girl she did herself yesterday, from her wrist to elbow. They should have done a strip search when they let her in. Boy that girl knew her stuff.”

“Mr. Frost. Your case worker is here.” Mr. Steward says. I followed him out of the cafeteria to the front desk. I pick up my paper bag and walk toward the locked doors. Just as the door opens the bag rips and my grandfather’s bible falls to the floor.

Mr. Steward picks it up and hands it to me. “Your free flying kid, head for sky.” He says. I managed half a smile with my grandfather’s bible in my hand, maybe I’ll read it. I walk past him slowly as the door closes behind me.





The Tigress and the Kite (part of the series “In TO SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

I am a Tigress, alone in the wilderness I stride with confidence and the strength of youth in my bones. I am fully content in the comfort of my wilds. As the morning rises, ripples of light intermix with lines of shadow to mark my ginger hide. To my right is a forest of greenery in every shade and hue. It is a wonderful place for play. So I play. The silver cross and chain makes a soft chinking sound around my neck as I run and jump and play. As the red ball rises… time ends for play. The umbrella canopy of dark foliage, glossy like jade, is suitable shelter from the rays of the high sun, even from the constant wind, and occasional rains. To my left is the light drenched solace of the grasslands. Cat tails, water lilies and pampas reeds bow in the winds. Sprawled out, I sleep in the fields of long grass, hidden from view but not from danger.

I dream of past days and childhood games. I dream of chasing red butterflies. I chuff in my contentment until sleep becomes a bore. I shake away the laziness that blankets me; feeling the discomfort of the red ball, playtime is over. I remove myself from the intense heat and skirt the edges of the dappled forest. There I see my favorite Omba tree, tempted, with a running start; I climb its soft and spongy branches. The crimson berries prevail over the greenish-white flowers that hang in droopy clusters from its boughs. With satisfaction I stretch out on its lower branches for yet another cat nap. The bough bends under my adolescent weight. Nightmarish visions startle me in my dreams. I am not safe here. The backwards descent from my perch does not appeal to me but the head first decline is too difficult an angle for my claws. The branches display deep scars from my prior days of leisure in their embrace.

As the afternoon wanes, I casually wander towards the cool of the deciduous forest, trying to forget the torment of my imagination; games of the mind. My last meal is a memory I feel in my gut. I would eat the red butterflies now, if I were to see them fluttering about. I pause and smell the air, for the first time unsure of my senses… the smoke of a bush fire? A regular occurrence on these grassy plains…I see a Black Kite. Is it watching the fire for escaping rodents to snatch as prey? No. Something else is in the air. The Kite hovering mid sky with little effort and striking skill, peers intently down, then glides this way, then that way, to hover minutes more elsewhere…but I find no reassurance in this familiar site. Something is not right.

With a sudden wailing cry, the Black Kite circles in the wind, startling me as it frightfully flutters past in shallow flight, its forked tail twisting all the while whistling, what sounds to me like “Pseudo err, see, see, see, see, see,!” With a bizarre shifting of its character it transforms into a black “V”, free flying, blown by the wind, string tail flailing, until it becomes entangled in the arms of the Ombu tree.  I look upon this sight with disturbed concern, unaware of its meaning. I continue my journey around the curve of the forest.

There, unlike the numerous times I have traveled this same route, the wood abruptly ends. The scent of fresh cut grasses and overturned earth prick at my nose as a flood of other unfamiliar scents confuse my mind; hot smells of black and wet smells of grey. I slow my pace, hairs bristle, muscles twitch, and suddenly there is an eruption from the ground before me. The dirt is flung up, turned over, revealing black, running thick and slow like a molten river; black that burns and sticks to my pads, smelling of death. An unnatural stone breaks the ground and pushes upward towards the red ball. Another erupts from out of the earth to join the first, then a third, and a fourth like a volcanic explosion of solidified magma; grey, hard, unnatural rock. I jump backwards, twisting and turning as if convulsing as a shrill sound fills the air; far more insidious, but likened to the laughter of monkeys at play.

Before me are small forms, unlike monkeys; intruding upon my world. My empty belly fills with anger, and a thunderous roar spills out from deep within me. The sound shocks even me, and seems to resonate, permeating the squared stones and cutting through the dense forest behind me. I hear it echo from the hills beyond the Ombu tree and grassy plains. The unlike monkeys are momentarily paralyzed. Their laughter turns to high pitched screams, like the cry of prey at the time of kill. They jump from their places, and flee into caverns that appear and disappear in the towering unnatural stone. I pounce on the only thing moving on the landscape, instantly tearing to shreds a small red ball, unlike the one in the sky, that was the attention of play moments before. Retracting my claws into their protective sheaths, I leave the object; its innocence deflated. I turn my attention again to this bizarre unknown.

The cold unnatural stone seems to continually rise before me. I enter through an open cavern, entering discord. I see a tall form like the small ones before, with her hands in water, washing flat stones. Around her neck is a silver cross and chain, in every way like my own. A larger form of her kind stands beside her, enraged. She screams, as the stones, unlike stones, break apart with a shattering pitch, as they strike against wall and floor. I watch their movements with focus unwavering. The larger form holds a dark, long, thick, object, unlike a stick. My instincts sharp, my fearful heart tells me to slowly back away, but I resist my desire to run. Instead I growl as fiercely as I am afraid. The form lifts the object as I lunge forward, knocking him to the ground in reckless abandon. As I struggle against this menace, the air shatters. A smell of pungent smoke fills my nostrils. The female form falls to the floor. I turn and am upon her. Again the air explodes. I can not keep myself from cowering as a searing pain enters my side. I resist the desire to bolt as the smell of heat, unlike fire, fills the air; my courage maintained, I leap, biting and clawing at the male form.

My adversary strikes hard at my head and momentary darkness overcomes me. The air shatters once more. When my sight is regained I see the blood, the lifeless forms. Out into the moonlight I flee, back beyond the forest edge and the Ombu tree. Into the field I dash, side burning as it is whipped by reeds.

Noises unfamiliar, assault my ears, deafening my senses. Thunder shakes the terrain and once more the smell of hot black and wet grey. The smell sickens my stomach as I seek solace in the grasslands of my youth.

I find no solace there. I am pursued by monstrous beasts, unlike stone or wood, metallic in smell, beasts that rip away the field as jaws devour and long necks swing wildly about. Under lights, unlike the light of the day sky these lights blind me, all the while casting darker shadows, as the beasts continue their motions. They consume and discard all things loved by me. With quickening bites they leave behind only the rancid stench of black. Out of this black erupts, still more square walls of grey unnatural stone. Higher and higher they climb, blocking out the sky. The wind howls its complaint against this alteration as I dart in and around the commotion, running through the scene, my paws becoming burnt by the fire of the blistering hot black. I would bolt in the opposing direction yet in all four directions, similar scenes. I narrowly escape the jaws of the metallic beasts who roar at me from unseen faces.

In desperation, I set my eyes on the forest, now a few trees where once uncountable stood, with hopes to soothe the searing hurt. I only find remnants, all greenery quickly withering from view, leaving only the maze of walls. The buzz and chatter of voices, likened to the foreign forms, surround me like a thick host of insects on a muggy day. They pick at and pester me, my senses weakened, and my courage lost; I am the hunted. Quivering from shock, darting in and out between the walls, the grey and black, the walls themselves seem to be in pursuit of me, trying with all cruelty to trap, to crush, closing in.

These foreign forms pursue as faster and faster I flee, sounds making me deaf, smells sickening me, senses dizzying my mind, sights making me blind. I run the opposite way, and the opposite way again, confronted by more; I am trapped. A sharp pain, the sting of an insect, my mind continues to run, but my body does not respond. My sight blurs as my limbs give up their strength. Despite my horror I cannot prevent the sleep that overcomes me.

I awaken inside a room, empty except for a bed, sink, toilet, mirror… I hear a woman’s voice. “It’s alright Tiagra, you’re safe here.” The woman tries to reassure me. I stand on uneasy feet. My paws have become hands. The woman is watching me. “Don’t be afraid. We are here to help you.” She says. I turn and see a reflection in the mirror. It is of a girl, like the unlike monkeys. Ginger hair, slender arms and legs, unevenly tanned skin. “Who am I?” I hear myself say aloud, startled by my own voice. The woman says, “Try to remember, don’t be afraid.”

I remember. I took my shoes off in the park to walk in the grass and climb my climbing tree, happy in my imagination; but the city crews were tearing away at the grass, laying down blacktop that burned my feet. I was angry and afraid. I remember the other children laughing. Where they laughing at me? I remember feeling alienation, anger, and then the knife slashing through the playground ball. I remember being afraid, running bare foot on hot tar, running through the buildings of cold concrete, running home to the anger of my father, my fear and anger, my mother fighting with my father, the gun. He shot her. The struggle; he shot me. The butt of the gun against my temple, what happened? I saw them both; dead. I remember running barefoot till my feet bled, running, through the construction site. They were tearing up the park to build skyscrapers, working into the night. I remember running; they came after. I remember the doctor, the needle…

“I am trapped.” I think aloud.

“We are here to keep you safe for the night. Arrangements have been made for tomorrow.” says the woman. I look around at the grey; unlike stone, unlike wood, no greenery, no earth, no red ball of light, no wind, no wilds. An eerie awareness fills me. My sense of smell is fouled by the astringent stench of the sterile, the lifeless. My image in the reflection wavers as if a pebble was tossed into the water; full awareness overcomes. My body trembles as I remember metallic monsters devouring forests and fields. The smell of hot black, wet grey, cold unnatural stone causes fear to swell. I am trapped. My mind spins, staring at the sickly form that is me yet is not me. I cry out, throwing my body against the mirrored image, again and again as my screams become a roar. I lunge from wall to wall, seeking any weakness, my claws scratching, but I find no escape from this confinement. I collapse in exhaustion, my fur wet with perspiration, as the echoes in my mind slowly fade. A man’s voice disturbs the momentary silence of my thoughts. “There is no place for you here!” I see the barrel of the gun raise. I hear the thunder. I smell the pungent smoke and hot metal; I feel the flash of fiery pain in my skull. Then all is darkness…

Awakened from my nightmare I sit upright in bed. The room is bare with grey cold walls. Everything is sterile and clean. I get up and walk to the sink in the corner of the room and looking at the twisted reflection in the steel mirror, I brush back my ginger hair with slender fingers. I touch the scar upon my side where the bullet grazed me, but the one before it shot my mother dead. She tried to help me. I touch my head; the mark where the butt of the gun struck me unconscious, while my father turned the gun upon himself. I shake my head to shake away the memories. A woman comes to the ward room door; my grandmother. About her neck is a silver cross and chain, in every way like my own.  “Tiagra, it is time to go.” She says. I walk with her, towards the open door, and the cold morning air. Beyond the confinement of the doorway, I pause. The city seems to suffocate the sky and crowd in around me. I see a black kite, shaped like a “V”, destined to be blown by the wind, string tail flailing, and entangled in the arms of the cityscape…But I am mistaken. The kite becomes a free flying bird, circling in the wind, hovering in mid air above the buildings with little effort and striking skill, peering intently down. Somehow I find reassurance in this familiar site as the Black Kite, with a sudden wailing cry, flutters past me in shallow flight, its forked tail twisting all the while whistling what sounds to me like “pseudo err, see, see, see, see, see!”…I walk out into the day, as the door closes behind me.