By: Alex Dodson

I walked into my room, setting my old backpack down next to my bed. One more, one more year and then I’ll be old enough to move out of this place people call a home.

And then as I was thinking about him, as if on cue, my number one reason threw open the door. My father. I winced and under normal circumstances would have cried, except today, I decided. I wasn’t going to take his constant abuse.

“Noe, come here, you worthless little girl!” His flabby arms flail about him as he, as usual, yells at me in a drunken rage. I see the reddening around his eyes, smell alcohol from across the room. Then I saw the rope he had in his chunky fist behind him.

It would be stupid to stand up to him now, but I know it is either now or never. “No.”

He stands there, stunned, though only for a few seconds. When he realizes what I had said, I began trying to push him out of my room, but when he leans back against the door to resist, I know it is too late. “What the,” he is even more angry now, if possible, and all I can think about is how much trouble I was going to be in if he catches me.

So I run.

I duck under his swinging fist which had been aimed at me and run down the hallway, slamming the wall as I try to turn. I slip. Fall. I scramble to my feet.

He has me. I know, somewhere in me, that no matter how hard I try, I am probably not going to make it anyway. He seems to be enjoying it as he ties up my arms and legs, dodging my slaps and kicks, calling me names like, “worthless,” or “trash.”

I scream and my mother comes running down, her eyes are red from crying, she has a bruise on her face suggesting she had been hit earlier too, but she is too scared to help her own daughter. I glare at her as Kyle, my stepfather, carries me off to some unknown place, me not even resisting anymore.

“Glad to see you know how futile your efforts were. Are. Noe, your mother even tells me how much she wishes you hadn’t been born into this world. She is always saying it and crying. Now I can show her what it’s like for awhile. Enjoy your stay!”

I fall into total darkness, one moment I am in the air, falling blissfully an unidentifiable distance, the next I land on hard cement.

The hours passed, me cowering in the only corner I found that seemed to be away from where I landed that I could crawl to. I am about to start screaming for help when my younger brother Zack finds me in the basement as he returns home from school. He asks me what is wrong, and I tell him about the story, and he says that I really am useless.

I slapped him, hard after he unties me. He ended up with my handprint on his left cheek. “What was that for?”

Glaring, I mimic what he had said moments before, “You really are useless.”

“What are you talking about? I never said that!” And after thinking about it, it didn’t sound like it came from him. It was a completely different voice.

Days go by, same abuse as always: take some punches, get called names. I simply wait, constantly anticipating the hits.

On Monday, it gets worse. I am at school, hear someone say that my dad is here, and I freak out. The teacher asks why I was yelling and I ask to visit the counselor. After a long conversation, the counselor tells me that she hadn’t said anything and that I had basically been carrying out a conversation with myself. “What?” I am more confused. She stands to leave and says, “Stay here while I make a quick call.” And I do.

She returns moments later with a doctor in a white coat. I had been anxious, waiting for something to happen to me, but when I see the man, I know something is wrong. They drag me out of the school, “Your family has already been contacted; your brother was the one who asked for this to happen, for your sake.” That must be the doctor.

around, when I feel a pinch in my neck and begin to feel drowsy. Upon waking, I am in a white room. There is a nurse, she smiles at me. “Hi Noe, I’m Lindise, please call me ‘L,” and she holds out her hand to me.

I refuse, not wanting to accept her smile and warmth when even my family is outcasting me to a mental hospital. She would be there, every day for the next two weeks, holding out her hand and smiling at me, waiting for me to shake her hand. I never do. I met Mel in these two weeks. She is obsessive-compulsive, and will wash her hands constantly to get rid of germs. She seems relatively normal compared to the other patients except that she has a tic that her left arm will twitch sometimes.

I wake up early one day and see L next to my bed. She smiles, and this time, before she can hold out her hand, I hold out mine. I strongly respect her. She puts up with a girl like me, and not once does she complain. She is just that way. She takes it happily and seems even happier when I shake her hand the next day.

I am happier here than I had been anywhere, and after one short month, I have found someone who cares about me. I found someone like L, and that just makes me happy. I am so happy that I don’t think that it will end, not once did I think that.

A week after I had shaken L’s hand, she is gone. When I ask where she has gone, another nurse tells me she went to Africa.

I was stunned. For the first time in my life, I had found someone interested in actually helping me. And she is gone. She had become my idol, someone that I wished to become, someone that if I had had the strength to become, I could make the world better. She is someone worthy of trust and respect. She had done little more than sit around and talk with a grumpy teenager and try to shake her hand. L is a big part of my life. I know she hadn’t been in my life prior to this hospital, but my memories have her in them somehow.

After an hour of grieving for my own selfishness, another nurse comes in and tells me that I am going home today. Seeing my stepdad, brother, and my mother. “Will you say hello to your family on behalf of all of us here?” Another nurse says, this one completely indifferent towards me. I hear someone say, “Finally she’s leaving, can’t believe her, so annoying.”

I run out crying, holding my small bag of belongings. I know that I shouldn’t be sad, but I am. In my stay I had almost gotten used to not being called names and being harassed. I know it is coming.

At school, people had heard the rumor about how I had to stay in a mental hospital, people are avoiding me. I cry at first but think of L. I think about how hard she tried to get me to accept her, and decide that I should do the same.

Unknowingly, L had been built up in my mind; she had become the only person who got me through that last year of my stepfather’s beatings. They gave me medicine for my schizophrenia, apparently to help me not hear things and to relieve some anxiousness, and told me the reason I am leaving is because my father refuses to pay for my treatment.

My mother sees me, not bruised, and I see her, bruised. I am looking around the outside of the hospital, waiting for something to happen to me. But I have the idea that maybe when I grow up, maybe I can become someone like L, if I can get over some things first.