Something I Recognized

April 26, 2011
“ 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. “ -Jeremiah 29: 11-14(a) (New International Version)

The wind whipped my hair around as I made my way down the stairs after church. I heard parts of conversations much of which didn’t make sense. My gaze fell onto families discussing where to go eat lunch- I remembered when I used to do this with Brad but now…

“Mrs. Violett!!” One of my students brought me into reality.
“Hi Emma, how was your weekend sweetie?”
“It was otay. But daddy---” Her father cut her off
“Hello Violett, is Emma bugging you? I’m sorry, I’ll take her,” he already had her arm before I could get a syllable out.
“I’ll catch you tomorrow Emma,” she turned and ran to come give me a big hug. Her father was looking at me, I flashed him a reassuring smile.

Emma’s father was an awkward man. I never really understood him or got to know him. But I always caught him looking at me weird when Emma was talking to me; I tried not to let him know I saw him. He gave me the creeps and reminded me of my own husband.

Speaking of the devil, here comes Brad to pick me up. He insisted that he take me to church this morning and pick me up, I didn’t argue because if I did I knew what would come. He slowed to a stop and I walked over to the green Chevy truck and pulled myself in.

“You look kind of underdressed for church don’t cha think?”
“Not really, a lot of people wear jeans to my church, it’s not fancy,” I explained reviewing what I had said to make sure I didn’t say anything to set him off.
“Oh, so it’s YOUR church now?” I did, I set him off- typical.
“No, I just--”
“Stop that’s enough, I don’t want to hear it!” He was yelling and people were staring. I closed my eyes and just wished he would go before people started asking too many questions.
“Brad, can we just go home please?”
“No, I want to take you for lunch”
“Okay, but can we go? I’m getting hungry,” lies became more and more natural when I was talking to Brad.

He revved up the engine and he started towards the main part of town. I wondered where we were going but opted not to ask him. Instead I just sat in the passenger seat and watched the scenery fly by. We passed all of the local restaurants and curiosity got the best of me, so I mustered up the courage to ask him.

“Where are we going?”
“Don’t worry about it babe.”

I hated when he called me babe, I have hated it ever since the first night he laid a hand on me.

*** I remember that night pretty vividly, he had just gotten home from a local bar. He was drunk; I could smell the whiskey on his breath as soon as he walked through the front door. I tried to keep my distance but he kept moving closer. He pulled me into a drunken kiss, I pushed myself away from the bitter tasting kiss and he got mad.

“What don’t you enjoy my kisses anymore?” His voice was almost a snarl.
“You’re drunk”
“You didn’t answer my question. Don’t you like my kisses anymore?”
“Brad, please don’t do this. You don’t know what you’re saying right now, you know I love you and your kisses.”
“Then let me kiss you,” a demand rather that a suggestion.
“Not while you’re drunk,” The first blow. His hand bashed the side of my face. “Brad!?! What are you doing?!” The second. His hand gripped my arm so hard I thought that I would be permanently bruised.

At this point I was terrified, I turned and ran to the bathroom and locked the door, crying onto the finger printed bruise that he left me. ***

We were pulling into a parking lot now. I looked around to see if there was something I recognized, nothing. A sign, none.

“Brad where are we?”
“‘Heaven’s Staircase’“
“Where’s it at?” I thought the name was ironic that the name had to do with Heaven as being with Brad couldn’t even stand close to ‘Heaven’.
“Half hour out of Atlanta” I tried to think positive. Maybe it would be an enjoyable time? Probably not but I can only hope for the best can’t I?
“Let’s go eat, love,” he came around and opened the door for me.
“Sure,” wait Brad was calling me love? That was something he hasn’t done since we were dating. And it sounded odd coming from a man with such a thick country accent.

The dinner went fine, not perfect, not horrible. I was actually surprised Brad didn’t try anything with me or with the waiter.

“Ready to home?” he pulled me into a kiss before I could answer. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to stay here in the public where there were people around, where I knew Brad wouldn’t try anything, at least not now, not here.
“Yeah, let’s go,” like I said, lies became more and more natural.

We arrived at the house and just barely in the door Brad was already kissing me. I didn’t want to do this, I wanted to change into my pajamas, grab a book, curl up on the couch and read until my heart was content. But, I kissed him back lightly trying to think of an excuse to leave the house, to my surprise the phone rang. I never had this kind of luck. The caller I.D read “Baily Heights.”

“Violett Turst?” I didn’t recognize the man’s voice.
“Yes, this is she.”
“This is Pete McCorvey, we need you to come to the school immediately,” there was a sense of panic in his voice.
“Okay, I will be there a.s.a.p,” I spelled out the acronym instead of saying it as a word.

I hung up the phone and looked at Brad, “I have to go to the school. My supervisor called and asked me to come to the emergency meeting; I don’t know when I will be home. I’ll call you, okay?” I hoped this would go smoothly.
“How dare you leave me like this? You….you …you…” I blocked the rest of his statement out.
“Brad, I’m sorry, but I HAVE to go. It’s work,” I was calm.
“You’re a liar!” My face stung from the slap he just threw at me, I reached up to feel it, a welt from his wedding band was there.
“I will be back soon,” the words tasted like vinegar coming out of my mouth, and tears stung in my eyes as I walked out the door, purse and keys in hand.

The drive to the school wasn’t nearly long enough for the welt to disappear so I slapped on a fake smile and walked in hoping the welt wasn’t that noticeable. I knew it was, but hey trying wouldn’t hurt.

“Hello Kimberly,” I embraced Baily Heights’ music director. I have always been close to her.
“Hel—o ? …..Violett,” she saw the welt, I mean who couldn’t?
“Would you by any chance have any makeup I can use?”
“Uhm,” she tried to see into my eyes. “Yeah…yeah I do,” she dug through her purse until she found it.
“Thank you,” I said as I started to walk to the bathroom.
“Wait! Violett, are you okay?”
“Yeah I’m fine” no I’m not… I looked for the man who called me, Pete; there was only one man there I didn’t recognize. So I walked over to him,

“Pete McCorvey?”
“Yes, Violett Turst?”
“Yeah, what did you need me here for?”
“I’m a therapist and it’s come to my attention that your co-workers are worried about you. Saying that you often show up to work with new bruises…” he was waiting for me to reply, I didn’t so he continued. “…is this true?”
“I guess so, but I’m a clumsy gal,” I fake laughed.
“Laughter relieves tension”
“Excuse me, what?” Who is this man? Where’s he from?
“Laughter relieves tension,” he just repeated himself.
“When people are tense… or lying they laugh to relieve what they are feeling; tension”
“Look, I don’t know who you are or who called you or even why you came, but I am fine, I don’t have---“
“Being aware of your own denial is the first step in the process of getting help,” he cut me off.
“I don’t need to get help,” but I want to. I left it at that, I knew he too could feel I wanted to say more.
“What about the welt of your face?” I felt the blood leave my face.
“What are you talking about,” I tried to play it cool
“The welt. Your husband slapped you for leaving to come here and his wedding band left a welt. A wedding band you wish wasn’t on his hand,” man, this guy is good but I can’t let him in that easy.
“Okay, fine,” I had to let him in. “But, I don’t want any help,” at this point I turned around and went to my car.

I didn’t want to go home yet, Brad would still be angry so I went to the local park. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do there but I needed a break.

I saw a little girl there, her figure looked too familiar. I walked up behind her, she was alone.

“Emma?” she turned around, her face was black and blue.
“Mrs. Violett…” that was all she said and hugged me, the hug lasted forever silent tears streaming down my face and I could feel hers falling onto my back.
I pulled away and looked at her, “Emma, what happened?”
“Daddy hit me… again”
“What do you mean again? Has he done it before?”
“Yeah, all the time” tears were falling down her face.
“Awh, babe, I am so sorry”
“It’s okay…”
“Do you want to come with Mrs. Violett and go tell someone who can stop it”
“No, I don’t want daddy to get in trouble”
“Emma, this isn’t nice, it could get really bad”
“No. Mrs. Violett, no I don’t want to talk to anyone about it. Promise not to tell anyone that I told you?”
“Sweetie, Mrs. Violett has to run, I will see you tomorrow,” I walked to my car and pulled out my cell phone. I have to call CYS.

I called 411:
“Uhm, hello. Yes, I need to the number for Child and Youth Services in Atlanta, Georgia.”
“We we will send a text message to your phone with the number”
“Okay, thank you”

I got a text with the number and called, I explained to them what happened and they send they would send someone tomorrow. Now I was on my way to the police department to turn my own husband in for abuse. I went to my sister’s house for the night and borrowed some of her clothes for the day.

At school I noticed that Emma seemed kind of down.

“Emma, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she pulled that fake smile of hers, the one I have pulled so many times myself.

The phone rang, it was the call I was hoping it was, telling me that CYS was here and wanted Emma. I couldn’t let her go alone so I walked her up.

“Emma, honey, there is someone in the main office that wants to see you. I will walk you there,” as soon as I said this someone walked in to cover for me.
“Who is it?”
“A nice lady named Keira”

Keira was a small lady, blonde. She smiled when Emma and I walked up.

“Hi sweetie, my name is Keira. You must be Emma?”
“And you must be Violett?” she said looking at me.
“Yes, I’m Violett”
“Okay, Emma will be safe with us thanks for the call,” Emma’s brown eyes were filled with hurt, she knew. She knew I called.
“Emma, I had to, Mrs. Violett loves you,” with that Keira was taking her away. I felt kind of bad I have to admit but I needed to know that Emma got out of that situation.

I took an early lunch break and went to the house to get my things, filed for a divorce and a restraining order against Brad. My sister said I could live at her house for as long as I needed to but I planned to move in with a friend who lived out of town to be away from Brad.

The next couple of months in the classroom were lonely as Emma was M.I.A. After school one day I decided to call to see how Emma was doing. I learned that her father lost custody of her and she was thrown into foster care.

This broke my heart and I had to do something about it but I wasn’t sure what.

Adopt her, daughter. I’m calling you to do this
All this time I realized I wasn’t laying my burdens on God, wasn’t listening.
But God are you sure?
I’m always sure

I called CYS and told them I wanted to adopt Emma permanently and that started the adoption process. Emma and I moved out of town, found a new church and I found a new teaching position at a different school. I became Emma’s momma and she became the daughter I always yearned to have.

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