Chapter One: In Which She Returns
Do you know that feeling? In which your whole world seems to crumble beneath your feet and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The emotions that come with it: vulnerability, humiliation, despondency, helplessness, misery. The betrayal that comes after you have let people into your life, your heart, and what that took from you. You let them see the most vulnerable parts of you, let them know your weaknesses, the things you love, only for them to use them against you, to leave you regardless. You feel sad at the beginning, we all do it’s normalacy for the human heart. But, after the pain and sadness subsides, there’s only anger and hate left. We are left with thirst for revenge, thirst for justice, the person who we were before overcome and transformed into someone who will stop at nothing, whose only desire is to see all the people that did her wrong to suffer the way that she did. To shed the same tears, to have the same doubts, to not be able to breathe from the torment, not be able to sleep, to wish for death instead of living.
For the last 17 years of my life, I’ve been trampled on, taken advantage of, told I was nothing. I never had support from anyone, an ounce of love, an act of kindness, the ones who did were all fake. My biological parents abused me. They never wanted me I was just an accident from their foolishness. They hated me, her and him both. They couldn’t live with each other, always insulting one another, fighting and each took their misery and fury out on me since I was the only thing that binded them. They hit me, made me bleed, I would cry and it would only get worse. He, sexually abused me and she did nothing. They yelled at me, they told me it was all my fault. When I was eight, for better or worse, he left and never came back. She got worse, she drank her sorrows away, drugged herself to forget all the things that happened around her, probably also to forget she had a daughter from the man who had left her. She began to leave me alone every night in the apartment. She would come back every morning without so much a glance at me, only to open a can of food for me and send me to school.
School only got worse as I got older. All the kids bullied me, I was too fat, my teeth too yellow, I was too short, too ugly, too lonely, too poor, too weird, too broken to be friends with, too unbearable to play with. I had no one and all I could do at recess and lunch was hide in the bathroom, alone and sobbing, the only thing I knew how to do. The teachers didn’t care, the government never paid them enough to worry themselves with the lives of kids like me. They truly were there only to teach and nothing else. The girls, knowing I was there already, came into the bathroom only to mock me, hit me, pull my hair, they ripped the few decent clothes I had and all I could do was cry and put my arms around me as if they could shield me from them. I never told on them, never accused them for fear. Every time they hit me, every time they yelled, and pushed me around I would see him and her in my mind, and remember all they things they did to me. Remember the consequences that followed if I ran away or defended myself.
Going home was better than being at school but even at home I was plagued with thoughts. I hated school. I hated my teachers. I hated the kids. I hated him and her. I hated myself. I hated the world. I was lonely, no one could hear my cries so I screamed and screamed till my voice went hoarse. I tortured myself and asked myself, “Why can’t I have a mom and dad like the kids at my school? Parents that love me. Why can’t I be like them, happy. Loved,” I cried for hours on end. One day after school, I had forgotten to close the door and unleashed all the emotions that I kept pent up during the day, and at one point I felt a small tap on my shoulder. I couldn’t help but flinch. I looked up and there was a black haired little boy, my age, with the sweetest chocolate brown eyes. Apparently he had been walking by the street, had heard me and walked in only to find me with puffy red eyes and tear-stained cheeks.
Matteo was his name and he distracted me by telling me who we was. He had lived with his father but his father was ill and passed away. So, he was forced to live with his mother, Karla. Karla was our neighbor and was coincidentally her friend. I asked him why I had never seen him before, and he had explained he was homeschooled. He continued with his story and described to me every moment he had lived. As I look back on it, Matteo told me all the things his mother did to him, that she hit him and abused him, everything about him, in an effort to not make me feel alone. Although, Karla was more caring with Matteo than she was with me, at least Karla acknowledged that her son existed. Karla sometimes even looked after me. From that day forward, things didn’t get better for me, but I had made a friend. Matteo and me typically stayed together all the time, we played, he consoled me and helped through the days that became too much for me.
Matteo was always the tougher one, he wasn’t sad like me, he looked beyond the sadness, beyond the abuse, beyond hurtful words, and instead longed and dreamed for the future. He longed to grow and leave this forsaken city, his mother and his past behind. I should have done the same but I wasn’t capable. He tried to teach me not to care about what others could say, he tried to show me how to defend myself from the bullies and how to handle what I felt. I never could, and he never understood why. He only knew about the kids from school, my neglecting mother, but I never told him about the rape, the abuse, the things he and she had done to me. Matteo knew very little about me other than what he had seen in his time of knowing me. Despite it, he didn’t grow tired of me, he was there for me, my only friend, my guiding light. A few years passed the same. As I transitioned into middle school, Karla decided to send Matteo to school with me. Matteo had always been homeschooled, and when he experienced school, he saw it in a different light than what I had described and as I look back he fit right in. I should have known. Matteo was going through puberty and he was growing taller, more muscular, more attractive by the day. He recieved a lot of attention from the boys and especially the girls. A door had just been opened up for him, and Matteo got ripped away from me.
Matteo left me. He wanted to be part of the cool kids, I no longer seemed valuable. Girls fawned over him. He wanted a chance at popularity and glory. If he continued with me, the worthless, sad and ugly broken girl he would lose his chance. He preferred them and so he left. He stopped sitting with me on the bus, coming to my house after school, and when his mother came to check on me I always looked with hope to see if he was with her. I was let down everytime. He joined clubs and sports, hung with the jocks and empty-minded cheerleaders. His rise to popularity was fast. For the first few weeks I would see him in the hallways and he would give a brisk hello. Two months in we would lock eyes but he quickly looked away. Months into the school year he began to snicker and make fun of me like everyone else. The bullying got worse, girls publicly humilated me, broke the little self esteem him and her hadn’t managed to break already. As if I didnt have enough to worry about the boys started to do it too, impulsed by their girlfriends and their stupidity, they abused me too. They began to push me in the hallways, take me to hidden parts of the school and would throw me to the floor and kick me, punch me, and leave me bleeding on the concrete. The abuse from the boys was worse than what the girls could have ever done to me and every night I wish it were girls and not boys hurting me.
No one ever did anything. Teachers “didn’t notice.” It seemed as if they hated me too. They preferred the other kids, the easy kids. It’s like they didn’t want to deal with me. I was too much but nothing at all for them. One day the hits from the boys were too much and I was knocked out cold for hours. The janitor found me outside, everyone had thought I skipped school or had finally blessed them by committing suicide. The paramedics were called. I was rushed into the E.R. with a concussion, broken ribs and a broken clavicle. She was notified but didn’t even show up. In her place came Karla, once again alone, Karla had told me she was high out of her mind. The police were called to interrogate me on who had done it. I was too scared to speak, I never told on the kids. I was a coward to most but they wouldn’t even began to understand why I was so scared of saying anything. Fear always stopped me. I just wanted the suffering to stop. So, the police stopped questioning and a month later I was released from the hospital. For a few weeks, I was left alone, people just stared, no one bothered me, no one wanted to look at me. I felt okay and I got comfortable. Only to be awoken with the freezing ice water of reality. Everyone seemed to forget the cops, my injuries, my near death and everything went back to how things had been. Like always no one cared, society chose to turn their heads instead, eyes down, conversations spun out of mid-air. I had accepted that peace wasn’t for me, this was my life: abuse, pain and tears. That’s the only thing there was for me.
Halfway through seventh grade, I met Ace, he was my angel, my saviour. Ace was the new blonde-haired boy with the electrifying blue eyes, that if you stared too much into them you could literally drown in them. He had just moved from Chicago. He was a boy too good for this fucked up world. His parents had raised him well, he didn’t care about appearances, he was nice to everyone, he didn’t care about money. He was humble and helped everyone. He kept the guys away and girls in check. I always warned him he would get hurt and blacklisted because of me. He always responded that his parents taught him that, “no man should lay a hand on a woman and no one should be treated different because of who they are, or what color their skin is.” I couldn’t help falling for him, it was inevitable for me.
He had been the only person in a long time that had shown kindness towards me, the only person to ever defend me, the only one to not care if he was seen with me or not. Although for some reason, no one hated Ace, instead they were always around him, guys and girls tried to persuade him just like they had with Matteo. But, Ace he didn’t care, he was nice to them and hung out with them just because of formality but he never left, and I fell even harder for him. I became blind for him.
Everything seemed well, but just like any boy, Ace wasn’t immune to a girl’s charm, to a seductive smile, he had hormones and when he met Ashlynn he was mesmerized just like I was with him. I guess I had never grabbed his attention in that way. I was an eighth grader with the body of a child. I had acne, my face wasn’t pretty. I wore run down clothes that were too big for me. Ashlynn was the opposite of me, she had c-cup boobs, a big ass, her face clear, shiny and soft blonde hair, full lips, and expensive clothes that hugged every part of her body, and he had caught her attention. Ace was a good boy but wasn’t immune to Ashlynn and his hormones got the best of him.
Ashlynn provoked him all the time, and it wasn’t long until they started dating. Ace was still my friend and protected me but it wasn’t the same. He was slowly letting my hand go. Ashlynn had been one of the main girls who had always hated me and abused me. Every time me and Ace were together she would come and steal him away. She slowly molded him into someone else. A rumour went around that they finally had sex, and Ace was ecstatic like any guy his age. So he followed her around like a lost puppy, he did everything she wanted, and Ashlynn made him take advantage of me. I did their homework. I vouched for them, took any responsibility for any of their mistakes. I was in love with Ace and couldn’t let him go despite the fact that I knew he was using me. Ace wasn’t the same boy from Chicago. I became their pet and a little after Ace didn’t need the pressure of Ashlynn to mistreat me, his personality changed. While he was with Ashlynn he cheated on her with other girls, he began to smoke and drink. One day he told me he had a project he needed me to work on becuase he needed to turn it in for English class. Something was off though, his eyes were red and his pupils were dilated. I knew I shouldn’t have gone home with him but I only nodded in reply.
We walked a few blocks to his house, his parents weren’t home and he took me to his room. I began to get uneasy and asked for the project. He didn’t say anything and instead locked the door. He walked towards me I ran for the door. He was too fast, strong and he grabbed me by my hair and threw me on his bed. I screamed and he covered my mouth with his hand. I thrashed under him and he punched me. I was knocked out cold.
I awoke hours later, on the cold ground of an abandoned building. I was naked and sore. There were bruises on my body. Ace, I would later find out that along with many others, had their way with me in the same building I was now lying in. I looked for my clothes, put them on and ran home, never looking back. As I entered the front door and shut it. I collapsed to the floor and sobbed uncontrollably. That night I began cutting myself. Each cut was like a drug, for a moment the pain my body felt, as I slid the blade across my skin released me from my emotional pain. I lived for that second of relief, of numbness, so I did it all the time. I couldn’t control the pain I felt on the inside, the things that had ocurred to me, but I could control this, my physical pain and it gave me a newfound sense of control of myself even if it was a bad one.
Weeks later, she had found a boyfriend and her desperation for a man in her bed, had made her bring him home to live with us. The asshole was an alcoholic and abused her. I didn’t feel bad for her, she deserved it. I felt something I had never felt before, satisfaction. It was then that I understood, I liked seeing her suffer, it was almost a little taste of what she had done to me. But then he told her that if she’d let him have his way with me, it would get better for her. She had no issue handing me over, she didn’t care about me and now that her well-being was in play any good feeling towards me became non-existent. He raped me whenever he could, he’d hit me, call me a whore.
I couldn’t take it anymore. Him along with school, the guys and girls, her, him, it all accumulated. I could no longer deal with it. I got tired. I was done. I didn’t want to deal with this world, with anyone, anymore. There was no hope for me. Cutting wasn’t helping anymore. Nothing was working anymore. Then it came to me, the only solution for me, the only thing that could set me free me was death. So, I did it. I locked myself in the bathroom, and turned on the faucet. Grabbed my blade and sat in the tub. Without hesitation, I brought the blade to my skin and placed it on my wrist where my veins thumped underneath, I applied pressure and slid it across, deep and quicly. I was ready. I didn’t know why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Slowly I began to fade away, my eyes fluttered close and I embraced deaths’ eternal sleep. I had finally found peace.
I woke up 3 weeks later in a hospital room, with machines hooked up to me. For better or for worse I hadn’t died. I had been stuck in a coma. Soon after my release, I was transferred to a long-term mental facility in Florida. The doctor had informed the police of suspect of abuse and rape. The police decided to investigate and found out all of the horrible things her and her boyfriend had done to me. Both of them went to jail, where they were sentenced to three life sentences. I was 14 and so was to be turned into foster care since I had no other relatives. I stayed in the facility for over a year. The care was intensive and it helped a lot. I had doctors that genuinely cared and they helped me cope with everything I felt. My social worker and me got along very well, she really cared and felt sorry for me. She worked ardously to find a good family for me that would adopt me permanently so I wouldn’t go into foster care, since the system was filled with almost the same abuses I had already experienced. Even she knew the system was shit. She worked to give me a new identity, the police and her thought it was best for me, to leave my past behind and start fresh. My new name was Camila Rose.
She found the McLarens, and while I was hesitant I hoped for the best. I was introduced to them and they seemed to be very nice people but people keep up appearances very well so my relationship with them was hard at first. By the time I was released I trusted them enough. The day of my release came and it was time to go home with the McLarens. They told me they had two children, a 16 year old boy, Nathan and a 15 year old girl the same age as me, Kasey. The ride in the car was silent, I just looked out the window, watching the scenery of Miami, Florida. It was different, beautiful, much more vivid than the one in Los Angeles, California had been or maybe my life had dulled the love for LA. The car stopped at a huge iron gate, Thomas put the code in and the gates opened. Their home was enormous, it was a three-story mansion with beautiful gardens. My social worker had mentioned them being wealthy but I hadn’t payed it any mind. Thomas opened my door and grabbed my bag from the trunk to which he handed to a maid. Riley gently placed her hands on my shoulders, and I couldn’t help but flinch. She looked at me with understanding eyes and I assured her it was okay. This transition wouldn’t be easy for me.
Over the course of the years until now, Thomas and Riley have done the best to welcome me into their family. They have given me everything. Kasey and Nathan treat me like I’m their real sister. Thomas and Riley were the parents I never had a chance to experience. I was hesitant that things would go wrong for me again but they didn’t. Finally I was being compensated for so much pain. I learned the maning of family, we had movie nights, we travelled, we played games, we were like a real family. They made my recovery so much easier and I learned to love them all. For once I felt happy and at ease.
At 16 I began school again, this time things were different though. Kasey and Nathan helped me accomodate myself. Kasey and Riley became my personal stylists. I had wardrobes full of brand clothes, makeup, and my life with them had helped me heal not only emotionally but also physically. My appearance changed, my health changed, I had a healthy glow to my tan skin, my teeth were now straight and white thanks to the McLarens. My face cleared up, I had full rosy lips and my latina curves presented themselves, I didn’t grow much in height but I was happy being 5′4". Sometimes, after Riley and Kasey would doll me up and teach me how to dress and do my makeup, I would observe myself in the mirror and couldn’t believe the person looking back at me was actually me. I looked so different,I was nothing like the old me. No hint of abuse showed. Now I only carried it in the inside. My exterior screamed rich girl and I began to fit right in with the McLaren’s status. We attended galas and high class parties. Kasey and Nathan took me to parties. Slowly I became careless and free, I lived the life of a spoiled teenager. I got drunk, danced, slept with other rich kids. I had boys dropping at my feet. Shopping became my new hobby. I drove expensive cars. I learned every trick. I appreciated every moment of my new life. Slowly I blended in and along with my newfound identity, my personality changed.
A year later, Thomas was getting transferred to LA because of a deal he had managed to close and we would need to move to LA, California, back to my hometown where everything started. Out of all the places, LA was the designated place. The McLarens felt sorry, they knew it was gonna be hard.
But I was no longer weak, I became strong. I swore on my life and on the McLarens that I would never let someone abuse me ever again. I couldn’t trust nor love no one other than my new family. Trust and love had brought me my worst of experiences. No one would ever take adavnatage of me. I didn’t become oblivious to the chaos that was laying dormant in my heart, or the tornado flushing in my head. Or the hurricane wheezing around my lungs, the scorching heat in my stomach. The frustratation of many years, hovered in my mind, the taste of posion lingered in my mouth, ever present. For years there has been so much wrong with me. So, I took this as a sign of fate. I vowed to myself that if I ever were to lay foot back in LA I would make every single person who ever hurt me, suffer just like I did. I would get revenge on them. I had everything planned. I had let my pain go but in its place came rage. They will be crawling on their knees, pleading for forgiveness. Now looking at myself in the mirror I no longer bowed my head, or felt shame but looked proudly and smirked. I wasted so many damn years of my life on people who weren’t worth shit. LA you better get ready. You know what they say “Karma is a bitch,” but not even Karma is as big of bitch as I have become.