A Seething Cauldron

Ocak 7, 2021 0 Yazar: admin

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This is a fictional story suggested by a news article—”Ripped from the headlines”—as some television programs say. The names here are not taken from any actual person, living or dead.

Chapter 1

There was a time when I wasn’t a quiet, uncommunicative person, but I had a hard time remembering that far back, it was so long ago. My ten year old brother, Matthew, and my two sisters, Sarah, nine, and Rebecca, eight, were also fun loving, laughing kids. At seven, I loved my siblings, our days often filled with the joy of our being. That was no more though. Everything suddenly changed.

Many years later, I found myself working in a distribution warehouse. It kept me in food and rent, paid my few bills, and best of all the workers were female including our supervisor, thank goodness. It was the environment I needed. Men still scared me. It may always be that way for me. No, I didn’t consciously desire to be as I was; no one would want to be as I am.

We all used to go to church regularly with our parents. That too is a thing of the past, though not for our parents who have always been devout Christians. I hardly remember them, but when I was seven, they decided to be church missionaries, and took us along. It was like the Peace Corp, we were told; it was made to sound so exciting, an adventure that we could look back on and say that we had helped do our part in the Lord’s work. That was when we were so lively and full of the joy of living and being young and carefree.

Much later, after I’d graduated from high school and left home, I found this job. It provided me with the wherewithal to survive. My life wasn’t much, but I was alive, though no longer a happy, laughing person. I’m sure that many of the workers thought I was sort of standoffish since I didn’t socialize with them. When any greeted me, I would return it, but I had no smile, nothing additional to say, like asking how their weekend was; I just went on.

I’m not sure if I hoped for anything other than staying alive, if barely. There were no thoughts of finding love and living happily ever after. In fact, thinking was something I worked hard at not doing, and I was pretty good at it after all the years of practice.

* * * *

“Rachel, honey, are you okay?” I heard Janet’s concerned voice. She must have caught me in one of my times of being too quiet.

“Oh, yes, I’m fine. Just thinking,” I evaded. She was my close co-worker that I occasionally spoke to as needed. As much as I could, I tried to be friendly with her, but it was difficult for me.

Janet was a good person, very friendly, yet not overly so. She was here when I started, and probably just a few years older then me. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to open up to her in any way other than as needed for work, but sometimes I knew that I wished that I could, she was so nice. She didn’t seem to mind my quietness, and I appreciated that.

I did force myself to talk to her on occasion, but I knew that my part of it the conversations must have sounded stilted to her. It was the best that I could do, and she seemed to think that it was just a peculiarity with me. That’s what I told myself was what she probably thought about my obvious reticence. Yet I knew that some inner part of me wished that I could talk more freely, be sociable, but I felt that I didn’t dare.

After many months I found that I was working to be freer with Janet, I began speaking a little more than I had at any time before. She didn’t pry though goodness only knows some of the others wanted to. How she was with me though had me feeling grateful to her.

Maybe that was what started making me to feel a little more sociable with her. Indeed, I’d been there a couple of years when I finally started to talk to her, little though it was. Perhaps that was what made her to keep trying to get me to talk more than I did, at least with her.

For ever so long I had lived day and night making sure that no unwanted thoughts entered into my consciousness. At night, as I tried to sleep, I was so good at forcing myself into a limbo-like state that it had become too big a part of me. Still, there was something in me that wanted more, something different, but I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that not allowing thoughts to come freely within me kept me safe, but from what? That I had no answer for, but safety was paramount to me.

Yet Janet’s continuing smiles and soft voice, her always being the same friendly person, was pulling at me though I tried to block that out too. My mind could, for the most part, but a sense, a feeling, kept trying to come through. Some part of me, I began to sense, wanted, desired, Janet’s friendship, her voice, her easy words, few though they were.

I wasn’t cold toward her, not unkind, just not…not anything. Dull? Did I sense myself as being dull? It was nagging at me. I knew that I didn’t like the shell that I was becoming. That other part of me, the one that sensed that I wanted more, pulled at me; Janet’s friendliness was what was canlı bahis calling to whatever I had that wanted to be other than the fearful person that I’d become. Though I refused to openly think of it, I felt the pull, the desire.

Chapter 2

Wow! I’m bushed! How about you, Rachel?” I heard Janet’s voice as our work week was about over.

Like her, I was tired too, but dreading the night and the weekend of nothingness that I had forced on myself. For some reason, I responded in as friendly a voice as I could muster, all of my past considered.

“Me too. It has been a rough day.”

A moment later, but just a moment, I heard her again: “You know, I just don’t feel like going home though, and fighting all that traffic. How about you? What do you say we get a cup of coffee and just watch the world go by for a while?”

Something in me quickly responded, a jumping in some deep inner part of me. It was that something that was in me, but hadn’t been let out in ages—now it was suddenly there and alive in me.

“Okay,” I said, stunned at my word of acquiescence. For some reason it sounded good to me.

* * * *

Ordering a cup of coffee and sitting in one of the many free booths, Janet seemed quietly comfortable. For some reason or other I was content knowing that she was, and I mildly wondered about it.

“It’s kinda nice watching the people and traffic go scurrying by in a hurry to get home or wherever. I mean, it’s nice not to feel a part of it in a funny way,” she mused. “We, people, are always in a rush these days, especially at the end of the week.”

“I guess that’s true,” I couldn’t help but agree, though I wasn’t one of those ever rushing about.

I was uncharacteristically relaxed, comfortable! It was shocking to me. I couldn’t remember being anything but tight and wary since we were on the mission field as it was called. I liked it, though a part of me was still on guard. Why, I wondered, did I feel as I did? Did Janet finally break through my rock solid persona that I thought was frozen into the new me?

“I’m glad you’re here,” she said. “I’ve always seen you as a nice person, though a quiet one.”

I blushed, something else I couldn’t ever remember doing. Still, none of what she said struck me as objectionable. Was this how it was supposed to have been all along, this being somewhat sociable, even feeling my face flush at some simple, innocuous words softly spoken? It was strange, but I found myself enjoying this newness of person.

Janet had always allowed me my space, never critical of my quietness, or my seeming moodiness as I sometimes was.

“Do you have some big plans for the weekend?” she continued, her tone casual and not intrusive in any way.

My body stiffened involuntarily and my face froze with it.

Survive! Do what I could to keep the thoughts and sights that tried to plague me for years without end from coming to the fore in me; try to keep from thinking and hope the weekend went by swiftly.

Then I caught my change, and started to revert, to be as I was enjoying myself for the first time since forever.

“N—no,” I stammered at last.

“I’m sorry, Rachel. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Tha—that’s okay; I’m sorry.”

There, we were both sorry. It seemed silly, yet it wasn’t.

“Honey, my asking did seem to upset you; I didn’t mean to,” she said softly and very sincerely.

“That’s okay, and…and no, I don’t have any big plans,” I said as I tried to smile, something else that I kept trying to work on, at least with Janet.

I caught my thinking that I was: enjoying for the first time in forever a moment of relaxation. That thought also wasn’t lost on Janet as I often went into a state of fogginess whenever I did any thinking.

“Not meaning to go where you may not wish me to, but you sort of fugued out for a few moments. Please stop me if you don’t wish me to go there, but can I help you in any way, like maybe listen and let you get whatever is bothering you off your chest?”

The quiet sincerity of her words surprised me, made me feel a contrition for ruining her time of relaxing as she was doing, as we both were doing.

“No. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to mess up your quiet time.”

“No need, honey, but I do wonder if I can be of help. You’re such a nice person, and, well…”

Again, I blushed, though not badly. I hadn’t let anyone in, had always kept my distance, but frankly, Janet had made me feel warm, human again, and the feeling was becoming much desired.

“Say, listen, do you have some food ready for your supper?” she asked out of the blue.

I looked askance at her; the question wasn’t making sense to me.

“What I mean is,” she continued, “I have some good sandwich makings if you’d like to drop by and have one with me. I don’t know about you, but some company is nice when you eat, and I have enjoyed these few minutes. How about you? What do you think?”

Absent my gloomy thoughts, she was right—suddenly having bahis siteleri some company while I ate did sound good to me. Whether it was my time working with her, or something else, I found myself agreeing with her. Had I so lacked human warmth that I could trust for too long? Was I longing for the comforting feel of another person as I thought I had before going on the mission?

Chapter 3

Janet’s place, unlike mine, was cheery, the walls looking freshly painted in light colors. It had plenty of space, not like my hovel.

“Come on; you can help yourself to the makings,” she said with a very inviting tone that helped me to feel even more comfortable.

“Okay,” I said, smiling a little more freely than I could remember doing so in years.

I thought of a baby chick breaking out of its egg shell and looking at its world for the first time, then going out with it’s mother into a yard and instinctively scratching the ground as its mother was doing, then finding a tidbit. Unable to keep from noticing that I was feeling much like a new born chick, the world seemed to be opening up to me. There was also the sense of newness and some joy of the new feeling.

She looked at me in a way that was as if a question.

“You know, that’s the biggest, brightest smile I’ve ever seen on you, and to tell the truth, you’ve got one heck of a beautiful smile.”

Her softly spoken words sounded sincere. My face flushed, but I felt a gladness within at hearing her words.

“Thank you,” I said shyly.

“No, honey, thank you. I’m not trying to be nosy, but that is one really sweet smile. Whatever it is that’s kept it from showing before, I have no idea, but I wish I knew what brought it out now so I could keep on making you keep smiling like that.”

At those words, I was a bit troubled, yet my face burned, but in a good way, and I smiled more, though not a big smile such as I had before.

“Come on, let’s get our food fixed; I’m starving,” she said with a bright and warm smile of her own.

There was no doubt that I felt that I was opening up as I hadn’t in ages. Some part of me was relishing the abrupt change that I was sensing, and though I had no idea why it was happening, I was glad. Tears began rolling down my cheeks, but they were tears of happiness, though Janet didn’t know it.

“Hey, girl, what’s wrong?” she worried as she came to me.

I just shook my head, looked at her in her eyes, then irrationally, I hugged her.

“Oh my god, honey, what is it?” she whispered tensely.

“I’m sorry, I just suddenly felt happy,” I said quietly, my tears still falling noiselessly.

It took her a moment, but then she tried to make light of it.

“Well, I’m not sure I’d like to see you when you feel real joy,” she said uncertainly with a small laugh.

“Yeah,” I said, laughing lightly myself, my crying abated.

I pulled back from her, noticing that I hated giving up the warmth of her body, her person.

“Think you’re ready to eat now?”

I sniffed, then wiped my eyes and blew my nose with the paper towel she gave me.

“I think so. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome though I’m not sure about the why of it. Come on, let’s eat. Worrying for a moment made me hungrier.”

I smiled again as we sat, and started eating. I had a ham and turkey on rye bread. I couldn’t remember ever eating rye bread, but it was delicious as a sandwich. When we finished, we decided to split another one, then had a chocolate ice cream bar for desert. I was full. Desert wasn’t something I usually ate. In fact, I was fuller than I could remember in years, my appetite had been so sparse.

“If you don’t feel that you have to leave, we can sit and talk while listening to some music. Does that sound good to you?”

Again, I agreed without thought. Did I ever want to leave? Somehow I thought of it and quickly decided that I didn’t. It was all a marvel to me, the feeling in my heart as if a peaceful joy had settled within me. Why? I asked it out of wonder, not out of any attempt to dissuade myself from my new found enjoyment. There was no answer, only the ongoing warmth I had within me. Then another dark picture tried to enter in my mind, and I felt my body shudder as it tried to stiffen, my face suddenly taut.

“Rachel, honey, are you okay?” I heard Janet’s voice trying to penetrate that dark and nebulous picture.

“I—I think so,” I answered in a distant whisper.

“If something is bothering maybe it would be good to talk about it. If you think it might, I’ll be glad to listen,” she said quietly, her voice full of concern again.

I had no idea why, but her voice was like a beacon from out of no where that was inviting, letting me know that I had found safety, a warm place to run to and hide. I felt that, then I heard my own voice begin talking, but without consciously intending to.

“There are some pictures that try to come to me, and they frighten me. They’ve tried to come to me before, but I’ve always shut them out, bahis şirketleri but I think now that I know what they are.”

After a moment of silence, she said, “Want to tell me what you think they are?”

Again, her voice was soft, safe, I felt, though why I needed safe was troublesome, but welcome. Then it all began to pour out of my mouth.

“Many years ago my family took us on a mission, a mission to do God’s work among those who needed it, and to show them God’s love and his plan for salvation. I didn’t really understand it at that time, not like I do now,” I said and paused.

“How old were you then?” she gently prodded me helpfully.

“Seven, I think.”

“What else do you remember?” she did push me, but carefully.

Tears started to soundlessly fall down my cheeks again.

“Our parents worked with the local people and us kids were taken care of by counselors. It was fine at first, but then…” my tears flooded out like a steady rain that was growing stronger and stronger. “We…had fun at first; classes, play, but then…then…it began.”

“Honey, take your time if you want to go on, and if it’s too much, stop. You can say it later if you want,” she kindly told me.

Something in me fought, but I didn’t know why, and then I did.

“No! I have to get it out. I have to,” I said tersely.

For the first time, it all came out, or as much of what occurred as I knew, and much of what I found out later too.

While I spoke, I did so as if in a fog, not looking at Janet, or even thinking about her.

“We were excited as children can be when they think it’s all an adventure, and that you’re doing something really good for someone. At first, the counselors gave us all some classes on the local people, and some of the customs. We also got to know the other children whose parents were also on the mission. The counselors had classes and structured events for us after our parents went to do their work. They were supposed to look out for us while our parents worked. It was nice at first, but then it wasn’t,” the memories came tumbling out of me as they hadn’t before.

“One of the kids who was usually a happy, laughing ten year old, I think, suddenly stopped being as he was. He grew silent, then quickly very withdrawn. We had no idea why, and he wouldn’t talk to anyone. After that, it was a girl. She. became the same way. Matthew, my brother who was ten, started to be the same way too, then more and then Sarah, who was nine. Like Matthew, she wouldn’t talk either, and kept strangely moody. The last was Rebecca; she was eight. I never knew what was happening, not then anyway.

One day I went looking for Sarah, and found her and a counselor, both naked on the bed, and he was atop of her. I had absolutely no idea what sex was, never having been told about it, or even heard anything said about it, but it didn’t matter. What did matter was seeing Sarah’s face. The look of sorrow and her tears running down her face that looked as if she was desperate and helpless was, I think, the picture that’s haunted me since then, and that I learned to shut out.”

The while I talked, I knew my tears were silently streaming down my face much as I remembered Sarah’s tears.

“It was then that I began to suspect that something similar must be happening with Matthew and Rebecca. That silence, though, was picked up by all of us. It was like a long lasting virus that was suddenly there, and it made us live in fear and silence. We never talked about it among ourselves, and I just knew that it had to be the same with those other kids that were suddenly so quiet and moody. The counselors must have made sure that none would speak to their parents, or anyone else about what was being done to them.

“To make things even worse was that our parents never suspected that anything was wrong. They’d always come in tired, and simply give us a quick kiss, and tell us how grateful they were to have those wonderful counselors that were looking after us. That was a huge part of the problem, and it added to the stress of all of us. Helplessness pervaded our being.

“About the time a year was up, Sarah broke. Her mental state became much as it would be forever. As far as I know, she isn’t better. Rebecca held up better than Sarah, but it took its heavy toll on her too, but it was Sarah’s state that led to things being revealed.

“We all left after whatever was said, and I do mean all. When we were back in our own home, Sarah still not better, she was taken to a psychiatrist after a doctor examined her. He had verified that she’d been sexually abused. Then we were all examined. Things became worse for Rebecca; I could only guess that she’d been abused too, but no one said anything to me, other than to ask if I had been bothered by any of the men even though a doctor had examined me already.

“It was much later that I learned more about what exactly had happened even after we returned home. In fact, since those days, it is as if my heart has feared to trust anyone. When we’d returned from the camp, and it finally came out, everyone began to look at us stranger than they had at our first returning. Oh, they’d wondered why we had come back, but when they somehow learned why, they really changed.

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