Tuesday, March 1, 2011


...my wife runs a successful daycare business out of our finished basement. She's been at it for more than a decade.

Throughout most days, the lower half of our home can sound like a demolition derby at the county fair. The hopping, thumping, banging, screaming excitement of children at play. And while her patience can at times, dwindle and scatter like dust, my wife's done well for herself.

Among her team of tiny home wreckers, are a pair of girls. Sisters, ages three and a year and a half. While the other children arrive with lungs full of voice, their bodies like capsules housing pent up energy, these girls crawl onto our couch, resting quietly amidst the bedlam. Their eyes focused on Sponge Bob, or The Teletubbies.

They smile when needed. Nod their heads if offered a snack. And at times, will speak if deemed necessary. But not often.

On occasion, the older sister suffers from a tremor. It comes and goes. And while it's no longer as noticeable as it was before her scalp grew in, the one year old's head bears a flat spot behind her temple.

It's a shame the girls don't speak more than they do. For if they would, the story they could tell...

...roughly a year ago, a social worker was accompanied by a Sheriff's deputy to an apartment building. A crippled, brick triplex teetering on a foundation of crack pipes and lost souls.

They'd received a call the other day. There was a "smell" coming from room 4B. Someone thought they'd seen a kid in there.

The first knock roused the dogs. A series of growls and yipping. Pairs of claws being dragged along the lower half of the door from inside.

The second knock earned itself a curse. A male voice, pitchy but definitely from a man, hollering at the dogs to shut up, and for the knocking to cease.

It was the third knock that finally did it.

The door swung open. The social worker was prepared for her usual greeting, most times an uncomfortable confrontation with festering parents, when she found herself unable to voice a single word. Her mouth hung open in a silent scream. Nausea gripped her stomach with fists that squeezed.

At seeing the policeman, the half-naked man in the doorway simply dropped his gaze to the floor and stood back, defeated. Allowing them access inside.

Three barking mongrels, the tallest one standing no higher than one's knee, hopped in circles around the guests as if each one was clenching a bowel movement. One glance at the floor however, revealed that these dogs squatted wherever they pleased.

Without a word, the man backed up, dropped onto a sofa. It sagged under his weight, what with it already supporting his significant other. The lady was passed out under a stained blanket, a stream of drool draining from the side of her mouth.

The apartment smelled of dope and animal feces. Small piles they stepped over en route to the bedroom. Where they found the girl.

She was wearing a diaper and nothing more. Crawling through what the dogs had left behind, some of it smeared on her face, the rest of it coating her arms and legs like grass stains on a used pair of jeans. Her full diaper dragged along the floor as she crawled. And when she saw them, she stopped, tilted her head to the side, and watched them. Curious.

It wasn't until they were leaving, before the little girl finally spoke. Clinging to the trembling social worker as they approached the exit, the girl reached back the way they'd come and said, "Sissy."

The social worker froze in her tracks. She looked from the girl in her arms, to the man on the couch, now handcuffed, the child's mother just now waking up, offering the nearby cop a yawn. Without a word, the man nodded toward the hallway, to the spare bedroom.

They found the girl's little sister in the closet. She was strapped into a car seat. And she'd been there a while. So long in fact, that one side of her head had a flat spot on it from supporting its weight against the side of the plastic carrier.

Just a baby, her arms were a set of twigs, pale flesh gathering around her elbows. A set of chapped lips parted a bit upon noticing the social worker, but no sound left her mouth. Her eyes were once blue, but had faded to a shade of gray. Purple bruises outlined her sockets as if she'd barely survived a fist fight. The battle she was fighting was not one of violence however, but rather neglect. She was dying of starvation, as her parents sat on the couch in the next room, getting high.

The social worker, a longtime veteran of the cause, dropped to her knees upon a floor littered in unspeakable filth, and cried.

...a year has passed. In a week the sisters will find themselves in a courtroom, the final papers regarding their adoption to a nice couple a mile or so down the road from us, will be signed. Their rescue made official.

They still don't talk much, those two. But eventually they will. And when they do, such stories they will tell...

Thanks for reading...


gideon 86 said...

Wow, El.

It blows my mind how people can abuse their children or pets.

Animals take care of their young with more love and caring.

Thank God for that social worker and the policeman who rescued those two precious children.

I love how you write with such sensitivity.


Roland D. Yeomans said...

I hang my head in shame for the human race sometimes. But there are still warm, loving people like that couple down the street from you that will give two bruised angels a much better home.

May your week be healing. Your talent with words is inspiring, Roland

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh Elliot. Reading this was like watching a horror movie. Appalled, yet I couldn't stop until I got to the end.
Tears are falling, out of shock, out of joy, that finally, at the end, these girls were saved.
Thank God.

What is it with you El? You always seem to get the broken ones. God must love you very much to entrust them to you.

Jules said...

OMG, this broke my heart. Painful to read yet somehow my heart knows it must be written. It just makes me want to join the social worker and cry. Praise the lord for the happy ending :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Starlight said...

This is a very touching story and very well written. I'm speechless which very rarely happens...

The Words Crafter said...

I am stunned. I simply cannot wrap my brain around the fact that such neglect exists. How can you put a child in a car seat, in a closet, and simply forget they're there?

I know a GA who took children from a home in which the parents (and friends) were shooting up...in front of the kids. The DSS/court system returned the kids because they felt family was best for them.

We live in a messed up world.

I am thankful that these girls won't have to relive that nightmare.

Elliot Grace said...

...heroes often come in the smallest of packages. Sometimes no larger than a pair of tiny sisters, quiet, and ever curious.
Those girls deserve the better life they're about to experience.
Thanks for reading:)

Flying high in the sky.... said...

i was stumped..speechless....cried... cried...my God..... how can we nurture babies into monsters!! ... how can we not let them know the value of life and babies.... are you sure they were the real parents.... i was shocked.... speechless....sad....

B.E.T. said...

Wow, thank God they were found. Those conditions are horrible. I could really tell your heart was in this post, though, every one of the ones you make around this subject.

L'Aussie said...

God, Elliot, I kept wanting you to say this was a chapter out of your book. It is so distressing. How can this happen?

Thanks for posting, though, and making us more aware. Thank God someone wants to be a social worker, and thank God someone alerted them, or there would have been another death of another innocent.

(I'm on a bit of a hiatus after my Pub Party. I'm sneaking around catching up with my blogger buddies.)


**Heidi** said...

Broken people nurture babies into monsters every day...it is unfortunate but oh so true...but there are days when you dig deep enough to see the angel beneath the monster and those are the days that make it all worth while....

DEZMOND said...

makes you wanna scream and cry for weeks and weeks after reading this story, Elliot.
What happened to the parents? Were they arrested?

Michael Offutt said...

Some people need to be taken aside and given parenting lessons.

Donna Hole said...

OMG; such a horror story. I'm glad the girls have found such wonderful parents - and you and your wife.

My own beginnings in the foster care system have a similar story.


JUST ME said...

My heart just dropped a few floors.

I don't really believe in the death penalty, but people like that - I can't help but wanting them to feel some sort of misery for some sort amount of time.

Beautiful. Golf claps.

Amazing writing as always.

Lola Sharp said...

You're killing me.

Personally, I hope they don't remember any of that, thus unable to tell any of those heinous stories you mention. They're young and thank God in a good home now. I hope they live healthy, happy, love-filled lives.

(I hope the poor dogs found good homes, too.)

I hope those 'parents' are in prison. Still their lives would be cleaner and nicer than they gave those kids. But, knowing our judicial system and overflowing prisons, they're likely still doing drugs sitting on the same soiled couch making more babies.

I need to go throw up now. And then sob for a while.

Elena Solodow said...

I recently decided to pursue a degree in social work - and this post reminded me why. Thanks for sharing.

Elliot Grace said...

...for those who are curious, I've no idea what happened to the birth parents. However, were I to pass them along a busy highway, stranded, their thumbs in the air...I'd offer them a middle finger salute and keep driving.

Children often dream of monsters hiding under their beds, an evil presence crouched under the shadow of garments in the closet...yet in many cases, the real monsters are unfortunately who they look up to each and every day. Shameful...

Most of my posts include some form of inspiration. The goal being to cause my readers to hesitate a moment before moving on with their day. There is no inspiration like the sight of these two girls entering my home each morning, weary but smiling, and healthy.

This was their story. Thanks for reading:)


Donna Hole said...

Dude; I gave you the journey support award on my blog. No obligation to accept . .


JEHELB said...

Wow, I had no clue. We've been gone, it seems, forever, due to A's layoff but kinda glad I didn't know about this cause I didn't need the extra nights of staying up and worrying and being sick for these little ladies. They couldn't have brought them to a better home for child care. H is awesome and we love her! Gosh, I thought that kind of child abuse only happened in movies- its just sad. But they will survive and grow like little flowers!!

Kari Marie said...

Well, first day on your blog and I'm weeping. I also hope they don't remember a thing. It would be better, no not better, easier on their little hearts.

Thank heavens for the folks who called the police.

Stacy Henrie said...

How incredibly heartbreaking - made me want to cry. So glad they've been rescued. Like Kari Marie said above, thank goodness someone intervened.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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