This part now switches over to Paula’s side of the story.
I could not believe my eyes. This little girl in front of me, only she wasn’t a little girl, she was all grown up. Could this possibly be Michelle? Am I dreaming? I can feel the lump in my throat rising as it gets harder to breathe holding these tears in.
She stood there staring at me with her big glassy eyes, hand in front of her mouth as if she was unsure of who she was, or even who I was. She reminded me of that little 5 year old beauty she once was.
I held my arms out, inviting her into my embrace. She hesitated a moment but then moved one foot and soon another until she was buried in my chest in sobs. Then the memory of the day she was torn from my life came creeping back as I held her.
[i]“No! This is not fair!” I screamed as they tore Michelle from my arms and led her to the vehicle. “I turn 18 in a couple weeks! She needs me, not YOU!” I kept yelling through my sobs. Then I felt a hand grab my arm to pull me to the other vehicle, but all I could do was beat on this man’s chest who barely flinched.
I couldn’t wriggle my arm free, and I despised the woman standing by the other car. Her big smile struck the wrong nerve, maybe she was just trying to make me feel comfortable. To me, her smile seemed to tell me she enjoyed tearing people apart. I glared at her as we came closer.
Once again I tried to wriggle free to run, but it was no use. She opened the door and the big guy helped me in, as if I am not capable of getting in a car. Although, if I were then I guess I wouldn’t have had to be placed in it by someone else.
I stared out the front window to see Shell staring out the back window of her car. “Why won’t they let me go with her? Why do they want us apart?” I kept wondering. I looked at the front door to see them wheeling my father out, I couldn’t see him though as the sheet covered his head too.
“Why God? Why? You already took mom! Why would you need dad? And now Shell!” I cried. The woman got into the driver door and buckled herself in.
“Paula I know this is hard sweetie-” She began to say before I interrupted.
“NO! No you don’t! Please do not talk to me!” I shouted, suddenly feeling like an immature child once again.
What will Shell do without me? Where is she going? Is this my fault? She needed me! Thoughts ran through my head the entire car drive. I have one more chance though, dad’s funeral. We can run away. Once I am 18, they can’t take her away.
We pulled into a driveway and into the front of a smaller building. One I had seen maybe a thousand times but never paid any attention.
As we walked into the front door a group of teenagers my age looked up at me. They were sitting around a small table playing what looked to be Poker. I followed the woman into the office and sat down.
She began to explain to me the reasons Shell and I were not together, something about me coming close to 18 meant I had to stay in a different facility than the younger ages. This city did not have anything like that and so she would have to stay elsewhere until she was either placed in a foster home or turned 18 as well.
“Why can’t I take care of her? I already have been for the past 8 years.” I explained.
The woman’s face hardened a little, but not enough to be considered intimidating or rude, and she simply replied, “I know.” Almost trying to hint that I had done a bad job of that.
8 Years Prior
I woke up to daddy escorting Shell out the door. He didn’t look so happy though. Maybe because Shell wet the bed again. Who knows. I hopped down from the top bunk to discover for myself, and found myself a genius once more. Shell was having problems with bed wetting again, it happened once mommy passed away. Doctors said it was normal for children, but it was becoming almost once a week now. And even some daytime accidents, usually when she was playing in the sandbox.
I stretched and made my way to the closet to pick out clothes to wear. I could hear Shell whimpering in the bathroom in embarrassment as daddy was probably making her take a bath.
I went downstairs for breakfast, I popped some toast in and sat and waited. After a few minutes daddy came into the kitchen, he looked a little annoyed.
“Did Shell have a accident again?” I asked. He nodded.
I had to wonder if he was getting mad at Shell for it. Maybe I should start helping her before daddy gets up, then he wont ever know. And that was pretty much that.
For the next several weeks, I remember waking up early before daddy to make sure Shell was ok only having a couple incidents. But I helped her get cleaned up before daddy knew.
Sometimes I believed Michelle was oblivious to her surroundings and happenings. She always asked if daddy was sad, but I knew he was just worried about Michelle’s new problem. It was like she intentionally forgot what was going on around her.
She would have an accident, and unless it was unbearably embarrassing, she tended to leave that detail out. In fact, she left a lot of details out. I had to wonder sometimes if she wasn’t a little “slow.”
She was -always- in her sandbox, in her own little world. I thought it was cute, but daddy was worried about her active imagination. It was like Michelle would get lost inside of herself.[/i]
I embraced Michelle as we reunited. I could not believe my eyes. I felt like it was only yesterday I was doing this. Only thing is, it was many years ago.
[i]Shell woke up crying again, it must have happened. I crawled down to help her into the bathroom, we ran into daddy on our way there. I remember he was upset. He took her arm and told me he would take care of it.
I heard the bathwater running as I tore Shell’s sheets off the bed. Our room was beginning to smell of urine stronger with each incident. I opened the windows and brought the sodden sheets to the laundry room.
That was when daddy called me into the bathroom. I slowly walked in, hoping he would not yell at me for keeping Shell’s accidents from him over the past months.
“You stay here with your sister. Help her get cleaned up and take her back to your room.” He had said. I wondered what was going on. Shell didn’t seem too upset, I guess more frightened that daddy found out.
I heard the front door latch shut and realized he was going out. Unsure of where, I dismissed the thought and gently squeezed the warm water onto Shell’s little shoulders. She mainly stared down at the water while I helped her, maybe she was embarrassed of her exposure right now.
I helped her from the tub and wrapped her bath towel around her and led her back up to our room.
I began to dig around for some clean clothes when I heard daddy come back in the house. I looked at Shell when I heard his footsteps coming up the steps.
He came into the room holding a brown bag. Even though he was upset, he was still so gentle about it.
I remember Shell crying that day because daddy went and bought baby diapers. He told her that if she couldn’t keep the bed dry, he would make her wear them. He set them out on the dresser as a reminder every night before bed.
Luckily, Shell kept her bed dry for 2 whole weeks. And then it happened. I felt the bed move, and opened my eyes to see Michelle climbing up. She had tears in her eyes and no pajamas. She told me, horrified, that she wet the bed again.
I was unsure how to handle the situation. I knew that Daddy was upset when I hid it from him last time. And I didn’t want to get into trouble. “Shellz, it’s ok. You have done good for awhile, maybe daddy won’t be upset.”
Michelle just whimpered nervously. I got up from my warm bed and looked down into Michelle’s. Sure enough it was soaked, there was no way to hide it. I toppled down off the top bunk and stripped her bed, still debating if I should run the pile to the laundry room or let daddy know. Maybe I could sweet talk him somehow into believing it wouldn’t happen again.
Daddy must have heard our commotion and popped his head into the door. “You girls ready for some breakfa-? What’s going on?”
Michelle began sobbing, “I’m sorry Daddy, I did it again, I didn’t mean to, I really really didn’t.”
I watched as Daddy walked over to my bunk and lifted Michelle down. He carried her into the bathroom and began to run the tub. I sat in the bedroom feeling sorry for Michelle as I heard her sniffles and choppy breaths.
Daddy walked into the room, “Sweetie, can you help your sister wash up? I will run the bedding down to the washer and finish breakfast.”
That was it? He didn’t look angry, and he didn’t look disturbed at all.
After breakfast there was no talk at all about Michelle’s accident. I figured that was the end of it, he didn’t care that it happened. Or maybe he forgot about his stipulations for Michelle’s accidents.[/i]