Dear Emily (Forever Family) (5 page)

Portland, Oregon

Past

Age 19

Dear Sara,

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry.

My baby.

I couldn’t keep you and Tony didn’t want you.

I’m so sorry. You are better off. You didn’t deserve to be born into this life.

Forgive me. I can’t forgive myself. So please, I need you to forgive me.

I love you.

I’m about to sign the letter as I hear a noise below the apartment. A loud clunking noise barreling up the stairs.

Tony.

I turn off the light, crumble the letter, and shove it under my pillow. It’s after midnight. I quickly close my eyes and pretend to be asleep.

I hear the apartment door open, and I can already smell the smoke and filth on Tony.

He owns the club downstairs where I work. I’m a cocktail waitress in a sleazy strip club, and Tony is my boss, my baby-daddy and my captor. He terrifies me.

When he found out that I was pregnant, he demanded that I give up the baby. You see, he is Catholic and doesn’t believe in abortion. He also hates children. True story.

But he believes in kicking the ever-living shit out of me any chance he can get.

I don’t have dinner on the table on time. I get the shit kicked out of me.

I don’t roll his dress socks the right way. I get the shit kicked out of me.

I handed Sara over to an adoption attorney two weeks ago. I don’t know where she is or who adopted her. I didn’t have a choice. I signed away full parental rights. I was desperate. Tony arranged it. It’s done, and I now feel so empty. Gutted. My baby girl is gone, and I will never know her. She will never know me. She will be better off, but right now, I can’t get over the loss of my little girl. Tony controls me. I’m stuck here in hell.

He won’t let me work in the club again until I get my figure back. Whatever, I only gained seventeen pounds during my pregnancy, and I’m smaller now than I was before the baby. He doesn’t like it though. My body. So, he kicked the shit out of me.

I’m pretending to be asleep when he stumbles into the room. Ugh, I smell the cigarette smoke, booze, and stale cologne. The usual.

He loudly flicks on the florescent light and kicks the foot of the bed.

“Waaake uuup!” he slur-yells.

I start to stir and peek out of my eyes. He’s inebriated.

Blotto.

God help me.

“Tony,” I say quietly.

“Geeet uuup Bitch!” Funny, he pronounces ‘bitch’ perfectly.

“I’m up, I’m up!” Squinting, I slowly sit up and lean against the headboard.

Shit.

This is not going to be good.

“I neeeed you to do something for me,” he continues to slur, “now!”

He grabs me by my ankles and twists me around so that I’m on my stomach. He forces his weight onto my back, and he is breathing heavily into my ear. The stench from the alcohol is overwhelming, and I can practically taste it. I’m nauseous and can taste the bile rising in my throat.

“You’re gonna get pretty, right now.” He burps; I taste more bile.

“You’re gonna go downstairs into the private party room, aaand you’re gonna give one of my best customers a blow job.” He says ‘blow job’ directly into my ear with his hot breath and some of his spit drips onto me.

“Tony, no, please!” I beg. Plead. Holy shit.

What is going on? Is this happening? He has never asked me to do anything like this before. I’ve only ever been allowed to be with him. Oh God.

He gets up, grabs the back of my hair, and pulls me off the bed. The pain shoots through my skull and down my spine. He spins me around, pushes me up against the wall, and a pocketknife suddenly appears. His drunk, shaky hand presses it into my cheek. He slices me.

Deep.

My blood is dripping into my mouth, and it tastes like tin and rust. I gag, and suddenly, his hand is wrapped around my throat.

“You do what I say, Bitch!”

Slap! My other cheek now burns from his strike.

His hand moves back to my throat. Squeezing. Choking me.

He’s cutting off my air supply now, and I’m starting to gasp for air. He’s going to kill me this time. I need to do something! I can’t die like this.

My arms are flailing wildly, and my fingers brush against something on the dresser. It’s a paperweight. Desperate, I grab hold and swing it at the back of his head as hard as I can. Thud!

He drops like a stone.

Oh. My. God.

I don’t care if he is dead or alive. I just need to get out of here. I’m trembling as I scramble for my clothes and grab my duffle bag. I stuff everything and anything I can into the bag.

Then I go back to Tony. He’s out. He’s breathing.

Not dead.

Bummer.

A lot of blood gushes and pools in his greasy hair.

I reach into his pocket and pull out his wallet.

Empty.

Fuck. Shit. Fuck.

I reach into his other pocket.

Jackpot.

It’s a wad of bills. I don’t know how much. I don’t care.

I run out of the apartment, out into the empty ally behind our building.

And.

I.

Just.

Run.

I’m free.

I’m nineteen years old. I gave my baby girl away two weeks ago. I’m now completely alone.

But I’m free.

I taste more blood as it trickles down my cheek.

I smile.

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Past

Age 18

BEEP BEEP
BEEP

I pull the covers off of my head and shoot my arm out toward my night table.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

God, that noise! I slam my hand on top of my alarm clock to silence it.

I turn my head, nine-thirty AM. Fuck. I missed Bio. Again.

I sit up, stretch, and look out the window. It’s snowing, and it looks so peaceful. I take a deep breath, stretch some more and make my way out of my room to the bathroom. It’s quiet in the hallway. Of course, everyone else is in class while I blow off Bio. Oh well, Professor Martin likes me. She believed my lie when I told her that I had the chicken pox and was sent home for a week when I missed the last Bio Lab. She’s so sweet. She is going to give me time to make up the lab so that I can get full credit for it. What will be my excuse this week?

I relieve myself in the bathroom and turn on the water in the second shower stall. My shower stall. When our schedules sync up, Becca, Callie, and sometimes Manny time our showers together. It’s a great time to catch up. It’s also a great time for us to innocently check out Manny’s abs. We can usually be heard belting out a few tunes (you always sound better singing Bon Jovi in a shower stall!). We have assigned shower stalls for each of us. Becca is #1. I’m #2. Callie is #3, and Manny is #4.

I leave the bathroom after I start the water to go back to my room to get my toiletries. It takes forever for the water to get hot!

As I’m walking back to the showers, Denise, our resident advisor, stops me.

“Carly!” God she is so chipper that sometimes I want to strangle her.

“Good morning, Denise.” I say as I keep walking, away from her.

“Carly! Happy Birthday!” she yells.

Shit.

It’s my birthday.

I’m finally eighteen years old. I’m one of the youngest in my freshman class. I skipped second grade because I was a literary genius according to the private school where my parents sent me. I’ve always been the youngest in my class and my group of friends. I was the last to get my driver’s license, and I will be the last to turn twenty-one.

“How…?” I start to ask.

“Carly. I’m your RA. I have your housing records. Of course I know that it’s your birthday!”

“Oh. Thanks.” I keep walking to the showers.

“We are having a social tonight in the lounge to celebrate! Be there at seven o’clock sharp. Cookies and hot chocolate! Yay!” She skips away. Skips. Ugh.

I will so
not
be going to the lounge tonight to celebrate.

I step into the bathroom, and it’s now filled with steam. I undress, get into the shower stall, and turn the water up hotter. I need to feel the burn to make me forget where I have to be in one hour.

Today I go back to the clinic to find out if what Todd did to me left a mark.

Fuck.

~

I dress in my baggy jeans and favorite U2 concert tee shirt. My skin is still pink from the shower. I’m getting ready to get my jacket on when there is a knock on my door. Huh. Callie, Becca, and Manny are all in class. At least, they should be.

I open the door and suck in my breath. Whoa. Hotness is standing there. Tall. Male. Hotness.

I’m certain that my jaw is hanging so far open that flies can set up an aircraft carrier in there. Standing in my doorway is the most gorgeous guy I have ever seen. Tall, dusty blond hair, piercing blue eyes, and tall. Did I say tall?

“Hey,” he says. “Are you Carly Sloan?”

“Yeah,” I say in my best New Jersey accent. What?

“I mean, yes, I’m Carly Sloan, of the Jersey Shore Sloans.” What the fuck am I saying? God.

I’m such a dork
.

I can feel my cheeks flush even more than they already were.

“OK. Good. Glad I found you. Your RA, Denise, said you were here.”

Why is he looking for me? Wait, this is a joke. Someone sent him as a joke. A stripper-gram. Birthday jingle. It’s a joke. It has to be.

“OK. Get on with it,” I say with an annoyed tone in my voice as I cross my arms over my chest.

He looks confused by my reaction and continues. “Professor Martin was concerned that you missed Biology Lab today and wanted to be sure you were over the chicken pox.” He’s now smirking because clearly he has figured out that I don’t have them. Shit.

“I’m her new teaching assistant for her Bio Lab, and she was hoping that I could help you catch up since you’ve been so sick.” He now has a full-on grin and his perfect teeth are blinding me.

“What are you insinuating?” I pause.

“I’m Kyle. Kyle Finnegan. And I’m not insinuating anything. Clearly, you have been so sick the past few weeks you haven’t been able to make it to Biology and Professor Martin has a soft spot for you and wants to be sure you get caught up. Wow, chicken pox. Really cleared up fast.” His sarcastic tone is obvious.

Jerk.

“Yes, they did, as a matter of fact.” God, this lie is going to kill me. “And I didn’t get any on my face. I had them in places you can’t see…” I trail off. Fuck.

His blue eyes get darker as he gives my body a once over and he just nods. “Yeah, I’m sure.” Another smirk. I’m caught.

“So, what do you want?” I ask defensively as I start to push past him and out into the hallway. “I have to be somewhere in ten minutes.”

“Obviously you’re not going to class,” he accuses.

“No, I have an appointment. So What. Do. You. Want?” I’m very pissed now.

He pushes a folder at me. “Professor Martin wanted me to bring you copies of her lectures and lab assignments for the past two weeks. And for me to set up a time with you to do the lab assignment from this morning.” He shoves the folder at me, and I grab it.

“I don’t understand,” I say.

“What don’t you understand? Professor Martin wants to help you. Period. So let her. She doesn’t do this often. You’re lucky she isn’t failing you already. OK?” Now he is getting annoyed.

“Fine,” I state in my bitchiest tone possible.

“Fine,” he states back.

I’m suddenly drawn to him. Attracted to him. What is going on with me?

“OK. I have to go now. I’m going to be late for my appointment.”

“Here.” He hands me a folded piece of paper. “It’s my phone number and my lab hours. Suggested times to complete your missed assignments.” He places it in my hand and folds my fingers around it.

I tremble when he touches me. It’s like an electrical current runs from my palm straight to my belly and core. Whoa. I may just melt, and I don’t want him to let go.

“Oh, OK.” I can’t say much else. I’m stunned, tongue-tied by his touch.

His smile returns as he winks at me.

“Call me to set up the lab work, and I’ll let Professor Martin know that you are almost over your chicken pox.” He releases my hand slowly, winks again, and walks toward the elevators.

“Wait!” I yell after him.

I run a little bit to catch up. “I’m going your way.” I smile.

We ride the elevator in silence, and I can hear his every breath. And I’m sure he can hear my heart beating wildly in my chest. Does he feel this, whatever it is?

We arrive at the first floor, and he gestures for me to get off first. Wow, what a gentleman! OK. My standards may not be that high, but really, I’m touched by his chivalry.

We walk out of the elevator, and he turns back to me. “Happy Birthday.” He smiles at me.

“How?” I’m stunned. What is he? Clairvoyant?

“The sign above the door to your room. It said ‘Happy Birthday Carly!’”

“Oh. OK. Thanks.” Incredible. Denise.

“OK,” he says. “Talk to you soon?”

“Yes!” I exclaim. I take a breath. “Yes,” I say again more quietly. “I’ll call you to set up the lab. And thanks for everything.” I’m thankful knowing that he is going to keep my secret from Professor Martin.

He walks away as I stand here gawking after him.

Shit. I’m going to be late.

I start jogging in the opposite direction toward the clinic.

As I am running up the steps, Callie is walking out. “There you are!” She looks worried.

“Sorry.” I’m gasping trying to catch my breath. Although I try to jog a few times a week, I just ran about a mile at a speed I’m not used to running. I’m totally sucking wind. I picture Kyle and his dusty blond hair and smile. “Something detained me.”

“C’mon.” She takes my hand and pulls me into the clinic.

PA Jean is standing in the waiting room. As soon as she sees me, she opens the door to the hallway that leads to the exam rooms. “Carly, we are ready for you.”

“OK.” I follow her, and Callie has a soft smile on her face as I walk away.

I hop up onto the exam table, and PA Jean sits in the chair closest to me.

“Carly.” She starts talking, and her expression tells me that I’m about to find out something that I’m not going to like.

Not.

Good.

“Carly, as I expected, your pregnancy test was negative.”

I sigh and take a breath. “OK, good,” I say, my voice wavering.

“However, we found some additional things when we ran your blood work and cervical samples.”

Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

My heart is racing and is in my throat at this point. I start to sweat and rub my hands back and forth on the tops of my thighs. The friction from my jeans is making my palms burn.

“Carly, you’ve tested positive for chlamydia. Your levels are quite high, and we need to start treating you immediately. If we even got to it in time,” she says through tight lips.

“Here are some pamphlets on chlamydia that will tell you what it is. It can be completely symptom free, but it can cause serious complications to your reproductive tract.”

I don’t know what to say. I’m stunned, silent. Chlamydia? What. The. Fuck.

Fucking Todd. Fuck.

I feel sick.

I stop rubbing my hands on my jeans and take the pamphlet. I don’t look at it. I just fold it into a small enough square to shove in my jacket pocket. I start to hop off of the exam table. “So if that’s it, I’ll just be going,” I say quietly. I can’t stay here any longer; the room is starting to close in on me.

“Carly, sit down,” PA Jean says sternly.

I do as I’m told and hop back up on the table. I don’t make eye contact with her as I stare out the window at the still-falling snow.

“Carly, we need to talk about treatment. I’m prescribing you antibiotics to take for the next thirty days. I’d still like you to consider birth control medication or other methods of protection.”

“But…” I stop. What’s the use? I should talk to her about it and find out my options.

She continues. “Birth control pills may help counteract some of the side effects of chlamydia. It can help regulate your period and menstrual flow. Sometimes chlamydia can cause scarring in the uterus and fallopian tubes and going on birth control can help ease any discomfort.”

“OK.” I’m numb at this point and will say yes to anything.

She hands me two prescriptions. One for antibiotics, the other for birth control. She then hands me a paper bag.

“Three months’ worth of birth control pills are in here to get you started. Fill the prescription when you need it,” she says. “And finally, if you become intimate with anyone while you are taking the antibiotics, please use a condom, in order to protect your partner from infection.”

Really? As if I’m going to have sex after all of this!

I grab the bag, hop off the table and walk toward the door.

“Carly?” Jean asks.

I turn to look at her.

“Have you thought about talking to Dr. James?” she asks.

“I haven’t even thought about it, Jean.” I say sternly. I can’t deal with this right now.

“Please talk to her, Carly. At least, please consider it?” she begs.

“Fine.”

I walk out the door. Through the waiting room. Past Callie.

Out into the snow.

Happy.

Fucking.

Birthday.

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