Slowly, my eyes opened to reveal a bright white room that smelled like iodoform. I squinted my eyes due to how bright the lights in the room were, then sat up carefully. The room was empty except for me and the beeping machine behind me. It was still light outside, which meant that I hadn’t been out for long and that school was still possibly going on. I must have passed out from starvation. It figures that would happen again. It shouldn’t be normal for me to wake up in a hospital like this, but it is. I’ve passed out at school a few times before and ended up in the same hospital too. This was nothing new to me and it never will be because it’s a normal thing for me.
The door to my room opened and in walked Kimora and Sadia with a teddy bear, a vase filled with an arrangement of my favorite flowers, and some Get Well Soon balloons. They both wore had expressions that were a mix of worry and relief.
“Hey, Marley. How are you feeling?” Kimora asked. That question didn’t really need a response to be honest. That question had an answer for itself already and that answer was me lying in this hospital bed after passing out from starvation. Kimora sensed how ridiculous her question was and looked down guiltily.
“Sorry. I forgot,” She mumbled.
“It’s fine,” I responded.
“Let me get you some water real quick,” Sadia told me. I nodded as she went to pour the water into a cup. Kimora pulled the chair near my bed and sat down in it.
“We should’ve told someone that they were starving you the first time you passed out in school,” Sadia said handing me the glass. Slowly, I drank the water to relieve my dry throat.
“You could’ve died if we hadn’t tried harder to get you out of there,” Kimora said.
“We feel like horrible people for not constantly going to the police about it, despite what you told us, and we’re such horrible friends for just sitting back,” Sadia sniffed.
“But we didn’t think it would this time after the first couple of times that we reported the abuse to CPS. We should have at least told your aunt,” Kimora responded.
“We weren’t doing you any favors holding this information back from her,” Sadia rubbed Kimora’s back soothingly. A silence filled the space between us as Sadia continued to comfort Kimora.
“Is he....is he angry with me?” I asked.
“He’s more angry with us than anything,” Sadia added.
“Especially me. He practically hates me,” Kimora informed me. If keeping this a secret meant that everyone else had to be punished for stupidity, then I should’ve said something sooner, but I didn’t. The deed is done and all I can do is just try to get Kyle to realize that it’s not Kimora’s fault that I kept this hidden. It’s mine. It’s my fault that I wanted to keep everything under wraps. He should really and truly be angry with me.
“It’s my fault for not letting you guys speak up,” I said.
“Yeah, but we played a part in this as well, Marley. What kind of friends just allow their friend to suffer?” Sadia asked. Tears began to run down her cheeks and Kimora pulled her into a hug. I
“It’s not your fault. I’m the one who didn’t want you guys to tell. If anything, Kyle should be upset with me, not you guys,” I murmured.
“That’s what your aunt tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen,” Sadia cried.
“He yelled and cursed at us horribly as soon as we saw him. He told me....he told me to never talk to him a-again,” Kimora’s voice began to shake a little.
“I’m so sorry for doing this to you guys. You don’t deserve this,” I frowned.
“Yes we do, Marley. We deserve every bit of his anger because we didn’t continue reporting this to the authorities,” Sadia looked at me. The guilt started to weigh down on me as I looked at her tear stained face. Why didn’t I think about how they felt the entire time they were watching me go through this? Why didn’t I allow them to say something?
“Was you not telling anyone, especially me, really worth it?” We heard from the door. My aunt walked into the room and sat on the edge of the bed.
“I just....I just didn’t want to....want to feel like a.....like a.....b-burden to a-anyone.” Tears formed in my eyes.
“Marley, you could never be a burden to us,” Sadia.
“But you all d-do so much for m-me and I...and I d-didn’t w-want yo bother you guys with any more of m-my problems,” I sobbed.
“Oh, Marley. You could never bother us,” Kimora walked over and hugged me.
“They’re right, Marley. You could never bother us. I don’t know where you even got that from,” My aunt frowned deeply.
“Y-You all h-have your own things to worry about. I-I didn’t want to...want to add on to it,” I cried.
“Marley, your well being comes before anything else in the world. We would all drop whatever we were doing at the door of a hat for you,” My aunt explained, “Don’t think for a second that you’re bothering us or that you’re a burden because you’re not. We all love you so much, Marley, and we don’t want to ever see you hurt.”
I soaked in all of what they were saying to me and it still made me feel even more guiltier than before.
“Now, I’m very upset with you three for even holding something as serious as this back from me. What were you thinking?” She chided. Sadia, Kimora, and I looked down in shame.
“Why did you wait so long until she passed out, for what I just found is the fifth time since she’s been at that school? Why didn’t you three just come talk to me or anyone for that matter?” She scolded.
“Well, Ms. Lisa, Marley begged us not to,” Sadia informed.
“After we reported to CPS for the first couple of times, they did nothing at all. It felt like any adult we trusted wouldn’t believe us at all ,” Kimora replied.
“You two still should have tried coming to me,” My aunt said.
“We’re so sorry,” Sadia apologized.
“No need to apologize now. The deed is done. You two need to promise me that you’ll speak up, and God forbid this ever happens again, next time no matter how much you feel like it’s next to impossible to tell an adult, tell them. Understand?” My aunt said.
“Yes, ma’am,” They nodded.
“Good. As for you, Marley, I’m upset with you for thinking that you would be a pain in my ass with what you were dealing with. It pains me to hear that because it tells me that you can’t or won’t come to me for anything. It tells me that you don’t even trust your own aunt and that hurts. Do you know how distraught I was to find out that you were being starved, that you had scars on your legs, and that you had bruises all your body? Do you know how horrible I felt knowing that my niece wouldn’t even come to me about something like this after all those chances she’s had? Do you know how I started to think that I was such a horrible aunt for not even seeing all the signs?” She asked.
Each word was like a dagger to the heart and it hurt to hear her talk like this. It hurt to hear her confess how she felt when she found out. It just hurt so much.
“It pains me to see you sitting in this hospital like this because you didn’t want to open your mouth in fear of being a burden upon others. It pains me to know that you don’t think you can come and talk to me. It pains me to know that you didn’t even have the courage to come say anything to me,” She said, “It’s my fault after all. I should’ve done something when I had a feeling that something was off, but I didn’t. I should’ve taken that as a sign to just take you out of that house as fast as I could, but I didn’t and now I feel like such a terrible aunt for not doing anything.”
It was never my intention to make anyone feel this way and it was never my intention to allow my friends to be punished for not speaking up due to my fear of just dragging them all down with my issues. Just from the way they were all speaking, it made me feel like a complete and utter jackass, but that’s how I should feel. I was trying so hard to not drag everyone down that I didn’t even realize that they would all suffer. It was selfish of me to not say anything because my aunt is now feeling guilty and thinks that she’s a horrible aunt. It was selfish of me to not say anything because now my brother is upset at Kimora who was only abiding by my wishes. It was really selfish of me to just allow myself to suffer while others looked on and I felt terrible.
“I’m....I’m sorry, everyone. I’m....I’m....I’m so sorry for l-letting you all...you all d-down,” I broke down crying. They all pulled me into a group hug as I cried my eyes out to them. Sadia and Kimora started crying again as well with me.
After a while, we all calmed down and pulled away. My aunt had called in a doctor to come check in on me while Sadia and Kimora went out to go get some food. The doctor checked my vitals, then informed me that I would be here for a couple of days.
“Where are Kyle and grandma?” I asked curiously.
“Oh those two are at your parent’s house with Eric,” She answered.
“Why?” I knitted my eyebrows in confusion.
“Hm? Oh starting today you’re living with me,” She replied.
“What? Really?” I questioned in disbelief.
“Because I can’t allow you to just stay in that not after what you’ve been through, Marley. It would be ignorant of me to even think about doing that,” She explained.
“O-Oh,” I nodded, “What about Valerie?”
“She’s coming too. I’m getting the both of you out of that house for good and I’m going to file for full custody of the both of you,” She informed me, “I’m not going to take any chances at all with her even if your parents didn’t abuse her.”
I knew instantly that Valerie wasn’t going to be happy about this arrangement at all. In fact, she was probably going to be pissed off about it and blame me for it.
“Honestly, I should’ve done something the other day when I came over, but that’s my fault and I’m sorry, Marley,” My Aunt said.
“It’s okay,” I assured her.
“It’s not and I failed as a so-called trusted adult,” She shook her head. Hearing my aunt speak like this was upsetting. This was really affecting her right now and I understand why.
“As for that school, I’m taking you out. I’m not about to let you continue going there with the constant bullying,” She told me. It was probably for the best that I changed schools, but I don’t think I want to change schools this late in high school.
“Not to mention that I almost went up to that school and set it off in that bitch anyway,” She shook her head.
“What if I don’t want to leave?” I asked.
“Then I’d say that would be foolish, which it is foolish," She replied, "I'm not having both of my nieces attend a school where they don't take action towards one of them bullied every single day by not only her classmates, but by her own sister."
I guess that was that. I'm officially being pulled out of that school. I'm more reluctant to go somewhere else without Sadia and Kimora by my side because those two made my days at that school a little more better.
"Your aunt is right, Marley. You need to leave the school for good. There's no use in going there just to suffer over and over again," Kimora agreed, walking into the room.
"My mom made up her mind to do the same for me too once you left," Sadia added.
"Wherever you go, we go, Marley," Kimora said.
"See? Now you don't have to worry about being alone at your new school," My aunt replied.
"Thanks," I smiled faintly.
"You're welcome, Marley," Kimora and Sadia responded.
"Now, the police are going to come in to talk to you. Do you think you can do it?" My aunt asked.
"Y-Yeah," I nodded.
"Do you mind if I stay with you?" She asked.
"I think it'll be best if I tell them by myself," I murmured.
"Alright, Marley. I'll send them in," She kissed my forehead. She left the room with Sadia and Kimora in tow. Soon, a female police officer walked into the room.
"Hello, Marley. How are you?" She asked.
"I'm fine. How about you?" I answered.
"I'm great. Marley, I came here today because I wanted to talk to you about what was going on within your house. Do you feel comfortable enough to talk with me?" She explained.
"Yes I do," I answered.