This chapter has been edited, 8.12.10
This fic was inspired by my own experiences in the foster system. Thankfully, I was never abused to the extreme but I met many others in the system who were, including my best friend (at the time).
I should point out, foster care isn't all evil. Just some people in it are, the people who the system doesn't weed out before placing innocent children with them. Like in Litzy's fic "Separated"…there really were/are many Kevin's out there. There are a few Crenshaws' out there…sad but true. But there are many wonderful foster family's out there too…in the end I was lucky enough to be placed in one, who later adopted me and are proud to call me there daughter…and my best friend, now my brother, their son.
Warnings: Contains child abuse physical and mental (implied sexual abuse), bad language, mental disorder and illness, possible character death in later chapters
The Devils Secret
I haven't seen the sunrise in weeks in what felt like weeks, I haven't tasted the sweetness of chocolate cake in forever it seems. What I wouldn't give to have a piece even one of Sodapops creations, oddly colored and all.
I haven't felt the warmth and comfort of my brother's arms in what feels like eternity.
My brothers and I, we knew this could've happened.
We knew there was also a chance the state would come and take me away and put me in some boys home or foster care...we just didn't know they would.
We just hoped and prayed that it never would.
I no longer have the safety and security of my brothers back in Tulsa. I no longer have my room with Sodapop and his arm to protect me from my nightmares. I no longer have Darry's strength to keep me safe.
My room is the basement I share with 3 other boys around my age, my bed is just a mattress on the cold concrete floor.
"Michael!" I wince as my foster mother, Janie Crenshaw, yells my name. She never called me by my first name - she said it sounds stupid.
I stand up and I began to walk up the stairs my head down and looking at the steps as I climbed them. I heard footsteps come towards me, I glance up; its just one of the other boys, Anthony. He's a only a couple of years older than me, 16.
We pass each other without a word. I can't see his face due to his hair but by the way he was holding his arm I knew how he felt and what he was thinking.
I shut the basement door behind me and walk into the living room where Mrs. Crenshaw and her husband are.
The Crenshaw's, they looked like your typical nice middle-class family. They had two biological children, twins. A boy and girl John and Joanna 8 years old, nasty little devils who they treated like gold.
The Crenshaw's took in foster children, not because they wanted to do something for the "less fortunate" but they were in it for the money…
"I get paid good money to take care of you little bastards!" Janie Crenshaw admitted to me when the beatings first started.
Mrs. Crenshaw was a tall, lanky woman. Her hair was red and long tied back into a ponytail. She always wore too much face powder that was pancaked onto her face. Her mascara made her eyelashes look like spider legs and her lipstick was always a dull red.
"Hello Michael." Ralph Crenshaw glared at me through his glasses. He was a big guy in his late 40's, reminded me of how I'd picture Santa Claus without a beard. He seemed nicer than his wife, he didn't hit us often but after just two weeks I realized he wasn't as nice as I thought he was.
"Hello, sir." I replied my head still down, every time I looked at him, heard his voice I felt so dirty and so ashamed.
Mrs. Crenshaw got up and came towards me, grabbing me by my arm her nails digging into my flesh. "Sit down." she demanded before let me go pushing me a little towards the couch.
I did as I was told.
I felt both there eyes on me, burning through my flesh. I tried not to shutter. I had learned many weeks ago not to show my fear.
What did they want from me? I did all my chores, didn't I?
I quickly went over things in my head:
Cleaned the bathroom. Washed dishes. Took out the trashed. We, the boys, cleaned up the house...
"Michael," Mr. Crenshaw interrupted my thoughts. I slowly looked up to him my eyes meeting his. He stood and came over to me, an envelope in his hands. He sat beside me his hand rested on my leg and I shuttered uncontrollably.
He placed the envelope on my lap and I could see Soda's messy handwriting on the front in blue ink.
I let out a breath and my eyes burned as I tried to hold back my tears. It's been so long since they let me contact my brothers. I felt Mr. Crenshaw squeezed my arm in a not-so loving way.
"Read it." He whispered in my ear. I wanted to pull away but I knew if I did there would be consequences.
I opened the envelope and unfolded the letter and I began reading.
"Out loud." Mrs. Crenshaw barked
"Hey Pon-Ponyboy." I began, obeying, "How are you? Hope everything is fine in Oklahoma City. Been along time since I heard from you. But the people taking care of you said, you've been busy making new friends, school and everything." I paused. Lies, we were suppose to be home schooled but we never were, only friends I had made were the other boys here.
I continued, " I miss you something awful Pony. I hate going to bed and not having you there." I heard Mr. Crenshaw chuckled, "Darry's gotten depressed since they took you away. But we're trying everything we can to get you back. We love you Pony, always remember that. So do the rest of the gang. We miss you and hope to see you soon.
Love Sodapop. PS. Darry say's hey and he'll write you soon."
I folded the later, keeping the tears back, as I was stuffing the letter back into the envelope it was snatched out of my hands and I was slapped.
I knew I hadn't done anything, she just liked the slap us randomly. "You know your brothers don't love you, right? Look at me!"
I slowly looked up at her, my eyes meeting her stone cold ones. "No one can love you. You're a dumb, little fucking brat!" With that, she dumped a phone book on my lap, the corner hit my groin and I groaned in pain. Paper was placed on the phone book and a pen in my hand.
"Write them back." Mr. Crenshaw moved the hair from my eyes, "Make it sweet, something like-."
Hey Guys, I began writing, word by word what Mr. Crenshaw spoke.
Good to hear from you, things are great here. Oklahoma City is so much bigger than Tulsa! I made a lot new friends and the other foster kids here are awesome. . My caretakers are sweet but they can't make chocolate cake with directions from a box...
I stopped and looked up at Mr. Crenshaw to check and see if it wasn't another sick trick, "That's okay. A little humor will make them feel better."
I miss you guys and I love you too. Tell Darry not to be depressed, I'm okay and it's not his fault. Everything will be okay, I promise. And tell him I hope to get a letter from him soon. Well, I gotta go we're all going to see a movie tonight.
P.S. Tell the gang I said 'hi!'
I placed the pen down and they took the letter from me. Mrs. Crenshaw read it over before stuffing it in an envelope and putting it on the table.
"You're dismissed Michael." She pulled me roughly up from the couch, causing me to drop the phone book, and pushed me out towards the hallway.
"I'll call for you later Michael." Mr. Crenshaw said. I didn't respond I just walked towards the basement door. I opened it, walked down the stairs shutting it behind me; I took my place on my mattress and brought my knees to my chest and I let the tears flow.
I felt arms wrap around me I knew it was Samuel, he's 17 the oldest of us and he's also been there the longest, a going on year two.
"I wanna go home." I sobbed.
He remained silent and just held me.
How'd I get here...?