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Chapter 9

“Mrs. Perkins, we’ll handle it from here,” the woman said, ushering Lilly inside.

“Let me know if you need anything, Priscilla,” Mrs. Perkins said, as Lilly was all but dragged inside the house. The door closed before she could even reply.

“Priscilla, you’re going to have a bit of a transition in our home, but it is necessary. We know the world is full of evil, and the Lord has called us to help cleanse it, through the children we bring to him,” the woman said. Lilly was becoming very uncomfortable, the more the woman talked, and she hadn’t said that much.

Being led into a large bedroom, there were three sets of bunk beds. Only one appeared unused.

“That bunk is yours,” the woman said, then physically turned her to the front wall of the bedroom, “That is your desk, where all of your schoolwork and bible study is done,” she said.

Lilly just stood there, not sure what to do. After a short pause, the woman said, “Put your belongings away, now.”

Rather than start trouble so soon, she did as she was told. When she was done, the woman watching the entire time, she sat on her bed. It had already been a little late when Mrs. Perkins got her from the rehab center, and she was tired.

“Tomorrow morning, we will begin chores, after breakfast. Breakfast is at 7:30. It is your responsibility to be on time, or not eat,” the woman said. Lilly was asleep before any other kids came in.

The next morning, Lilly made sure she was up, but whoever shared the room with her was already gone. Finding her way to the dining room, she was fed at a separate table, and not the same food. What she ate wasn’t even very good, but it was edible. They then put her to work, cleaning the bedroom she was staying in. After several hours, cleaning already clean areas, she sat down, tired.

“It is not nap time,” the woman said, looking at Lilly with a stern expression. Lilly hadn’t realized she’d walked in.

“How the hell would I know when ‘nap time’ might be?” Lilly couldn’t stop herself from saying. She was done cleaning stuff that was already spotless. The woman walked over to her and slapped her hard across the cheek.

Before Lilly could say anything else, the woman said,” How dare you be disrespectful to me, or anyone in this house. Disrespect will be met with discipline. According to the law, you should be stoned for it, but we’re going to be lenient, since you don’t yet know better,” she said.

Rather than get in any more trouble, Lilly just sat there, looking at the woman. She knew the woman saw her anger, but there was a protracted silence.

“Come meet the rest of the family,” the woman finally said, her voice actually sounding almost kind.

As she turned, Lilly stood up and followed her deeper into the house. It was a deceptively big place, considering how small it had looked from the front.

She was led into a family room, where there were several sofas, all filled with a collection of kids. The kids ranged in age from about 6 to maybe 17. Lilly wasn’t great at guessing ages, though.

For the next 30 minutes, each kid introduced themselves, giving some small statement about what they did for the family and the Lord. Lilly didn’t pay attention to any of it, even their names. She was too angry from being hit.

“I am Cornelius Lassiter, and you’ve met my wife, Belinda. You will refer to us as mother and father,” he said. Lilly had no intention of referring to them with those names. They hadn’t earned them.

“May I use your phone?” she asked.

“No, you may not,” he said. She started to turn around, but before she could move, Belinda grabbed her by the shoulders and held her.

“You have not been dismissed,” Belinda said.

“Since you don’t know the rules, I will tell you them,” Cornelius began.

“First, you will show absolute respect to everyone, with no exceptions. Failure to be properly respectful will be met with discipline. Once you have been properly brought up, the discipline will not be needed, but will be more severe. You will only be allowed out under strict supervision, with the only exception being for school. Your clothing,” he said, eyeing her up and down, “Is definitely not acceptable, and will be addressed.”

That’s when she noticed that every girl was wearing clothing similar to what Belinda had on. She knew she wasn’t going to dress like that, not for long, anyway.

Before she realized what was happening, she found herself lying over his knees. She was absolutely shocked as Belinda pulled her sweatpants off. Cornelius began hitting her with a belt, not caring exactly where it hit, and he did it many times, before finally dropping her on the floor.

“You’re a bastard!” she screamed, finding herself back on his legs, being hit again. When this second round finally ended, she didn’t say a word. She didn’t try to stand up, either.

“Mother, may I take her to get proper clothes, and try and show her the proper way?” the oldest looking girl asked.

“By all means, Zephira,” Belinda replied. The girl helped her up, Lilly offering no resistance. She grabbed her sweat pants as she walked out, though.

“If you keep quiet, and do what you’re told, it’s not so bad,” Zephira said, once they were out of the room.

“I’m not staying here,” Lilly said.

“You can’t leave. You’ll get in all kinds of trouble, if you try,” she said.

“Watch me,” Lilly replied.

After getting new clothes for her, which Lilly simply refused to wear, she found herself in a small closet. It was pitch black, and she wasn’t given any food, or anything else.

After screaming for a while, she let her mind go out, wanting any kind of mental stimulation she could find. She quickly made contact with the family’s three dogs. Although they weren’t human, they kept her sane, giving her some small amount of interaction. By the time she was finally released, she was emotionally spent, but not broken, like they wanted.

I might not be able to write in you much for a while. These people don’t give me much time to myself. I’ve been kept in a dark closet a lot, and haven’t eaten much since going in there. They hit me a lot, too. This is my first time out in

“Priscilla, you will be kept out of school this week,” Belinda said. Lilly had just heard her coming in time to put her journal away.

She almost asked why, but didn’t need to. She knew why. They were afraid of her running away, or trying to contact her caseworker. Eventually, they’d have to let her out, though.

“You’re going to be taught the true faith, now, by Samuel,” she said, and led Lilly to a room that looked like a Sunday school room.

“Priscilla,” Samuel said, when she walked in. She remained silent.

“You don’t know about God, not really. You might have been taught some about Him, but probably by heretics, who know nothing. We’ll teach you about God, the way He really is, and what He expects from us. The first thing is obedience. You are to always be obedient to your elders, including older children,” he said. The more he spoke, the madder she got. This definitely wasn’t what she’d learned while with the Bazemores. She started tuning him out, her mind still connected to the family dogs.

“You are not listening to me, which is disrespectful,” he said, and grabbed her roughly, throwing her over his knees. He then shoved her skirt up, and started spanking her with his bare hand.

“You are a wicked girl,” he said, over and over, as he spanked her.

“You’re an asshole!” she screamed.

Eventually, she was shoved back in the little closet. She had no idea how long she was in there, but eventually, she was let out again, and the entire situation repeated itself. She couldn’t make her mind focus on what anyone tried to teach her. In the entire time she’d been there, she hadn’t been given any food since that first breakfast, and she was pretty sure she’d been there at least a day. She’d only been given a tiny bit of water.

Sorry about that, but someone was coming, and I was put back in the closet again. They hit me a lot before putting me back in. They always do. They keep telling me how I’m a horrible sinner, and I’m despicable and a wicked girl. Tell me something I don’t know. Idiots!! Samuel, the oldest son, I think he’s actually their real son, he seems to hang around me more than the rest of them, other than maybe Zephira, the oldest girl, and now he’s been put in charge of teaching me the Bible. This isn’t the way I learned this stuff with Sherri and Leonard. I think I like what Sherri and Leonard taught me better. This stuff is really nutso.

At some point in her torture, she was taken to the dining room, where the entire family was seated around the table. Again, she was taken to a small table apart from the family.

“Until you are worthy to eat with the family, you will be separate. You are nothing but a dog, and will be treated as such. Your meal is dirty food, not fit for human consumption,” Cornelius said.

A bowl was placed in front of her, with what she was pretty sure was canned dog food. In a moment of extreme pique, she grabbed a handful of it and very deliberately tossed it at the largest pot on the table. For once, her luck was better than normal, and not only did it go into that pot, but the two on each side of it as well.

“Shove it up your ass!” she screamed. Cornelius grabbed her in a choke hold, and dragged her, unable to breath back to the closet. Opening the door with his free hand, he threw her in. She slammed against the back wall, knocking her senseless for a moment. She smiled, though, as the door slammed shut.

The next time she was brought to the dinner table, the pots were covered, making her smile ever so slightly. Again, the same message was given to her, and a bowl of dog food was placed on her little table. The problem she had was that she was so hungry, she actually wanted to eat the dog food.

She had a bigger problem though. They’d made her so mad she couldn’t hold herself back. Waiting for the moment they opened the pots, she again tossed her food. Toss isn’t quite accurate, though. It was with the speed of a fastball, making whatever was inside splash out. This time, she only got the main pot, but that was good enough for her.

This time, Cornelius got up and grabbed her, but instead of taking her back to the closet, he shoved her skirt down. Throwing her over his knees, he grabbed a wooden paddle type thing and started beating her. When he’d finally beat her enough, she was shoved back in the closet. Sitting was a struggle for her since she’d been spanked so much, and the closet was too small to lay down.

She had no idea how long she’d been there, but she hadn’t really eaten, she hadn’t had much water, and she hadn’t bathed or brushed her teeth. Time was blurring for her, since she hadn’t seen the outside since arriving, and the windows were so well covered she couldn’t tell what time of day it was.

When she was again released from the closet, although she was worn down, she was angry. However, the one that released her wasn’t who she expected. It was the six year old girl, and she looked worried.

“I was told to let you out,” she said, before Lilly could say or do anything.

“Why you?,” Lilly asked.

“I was told that if you misbehaved, I’d get punished, because I’m such a low, desp-it-i-bull person,” she said.

“You are not, and if you get punished because of something I do, then it’s them that are low and despicable,” Lilly told her, but that threat worried her.

“It’s time for school, and they said if you do anything at school, I’ll get punished, really bad,” she said, and Lilly saw tears in the girl’s eyes. Then she thought, had it really been over a week, already?

“I’ll be good,” Lilly promised her. With her promise, the girl smiled up at her, than hugged her.

“Thank you,” she said. Then she said, “My name’s Abigail, but I like to be called Abby.”

“I’m Priscilla, but I like to be called Lilly,” she replied.

“Let’s go to school. I think we go to the same school, and we’re close enough to walk,” Abby said.

“Really?” Lilly asked, a little surprised at that.

“Yeah,” Abby replied.

“Let me get ready,” Lilly said, and ran to where her stuff was. Without any serious thought, she grabbed some of her clothes, stuffing them in her backpack, then headed to where Abby was waiting in the foyer. She considered changing on the way, but didn’t want to alarm Abby, too much, and she was pretty sure no one would notice her, anyway. No one did, these days. She was actually surprised she still had her clothes.

Once they got to school, Abby having held her hand the entire way, they parted. Abby gave her a strong hug before darting into the school. Lilly smiled at the girl’s back, then made her way to the nearest bathroom, where she quickly changed. Sure, her clothes weren’t the best, but they were a lot better than the long denim skirt, and button up shirt her new family required.

When she got to her math class, she was given another surprise. Mrs. Lewis came to her, leading her into the hall, and said, “Priscilla, your foster parents have asked that you be removed from my class, and I believe from Mr. Kale’s reading class. You’re also being sent back to Mrs. Townsend’s class, as of tomorrow.”

“Why?” Lilly couldn’t help asking, her eyes tearing up.

“They said you’re too emotionally unstable right now, and think the lighter workload would be better for you,” she said.

“That’s bullshit!” Lilly couldn’t help from saying. Mrs. Lewis’ eyebrows shot up with Lilly’s outburst. “I was bored in that class. They’re learning stuff I already know. This isn’t fair,” she said, then ran to the bathroom. Unfortunately, her outburst reinforced the excuse they’d used to dumb down her learning.

“Priscilla, although you have emotional issues, and your outburst actually reinforces their assessment, I believe that taking you out of the advanced classes is a bad decision. In spite of you being sent to a rehab facility, you still did my work and did it very well. So, here’s what I’ll do for you,” she said, and waited. Knowing Mrs. Lewis was about to offer her something, she opened the stall door and came out.

“That’s better,” Mrs. Lewis said, then continued, “I’ll let you keep the text book, and continue giving you the assignments, so you can keep up with pre-Algebra. You won’t be able to attend, and there’s nothing I can do about that, so it’ll be up to you to teach yourself, but of all of my students, I think you’re the most capable. I also can’t do anything about the rest of it. However, being that you will be ahead of your class, use any extra time you have to work on my assignments and continue doing what Mr. Kale would’ve had you doing. You can do that on your own, if you want. The question is, do you want to?” she said.

“Thank you,” Lilly said, and hugged her. It was a reaction that was completely unorthodox for Lilly, and although Mrs. Lewis didn’t know her very well, she knew it was unusual.

“If at any time your grades start falling, I’ll end this arrangement. Do you understand?” Mrs. Lewis asked, once Lilly pulled away.

“Yes, ma’am,” Lilly replied.

“Mrs. Townsend is in agreement with me on this, so you will turn in my assignments to her, but we have to keep it quiet. Both of us can get in trouble if anyone finds out. She’ll count this as your math in her class, but you still have to do her math, as well,” she said.

“Thank you, Mrs. Lewis,” Lilly said, and smiled.

“You have a beautiful smile, Priscilla,” Mrs. Lewis said. The smile disappeared, and Lilly lowered her face, embarrassed.

That afternoon, Lilly was still simmering over being removed from the advanced classes. Sure, Mrs. Lewis had made it better, but it still wasn’t good.

“Abby, come here,” Lilly heard, as the two walked in the house. Although she hadn’t done anything wrong, that she knew of, she was worried. She didn’t want Abby getting punished because of her.

“You are a sinner, and let your new sister sin,” she heard, followed by the sound of slapping and Abby screaming in pain. Lilly ran into the room to see Abby, her skirt gone, laying over Cornelius’ legs. He was hitting her very hard, leaving red splotches with every smack.

“I didn’t do anything,” Lilly screamed.

“You wore the clothes of a sinner, and a harlot,” he said, and kept hitting.

“You’re evil,” she told him. With that, he stood up, carrying Abby like a sack of potatoes. With Lilly following, he tossed Abby in the closet, hard.

“You are evil, the spawn of the devil,” he said, leaning toward her. “You have caused your sister to be punished because of your wicked ways. She will pay for your sins,” he said.

He walked away, then stopped, and turned back to face Lilly. He said, “We will bring you to the light, one way or the other. Your sinful ways will end, and I am the hand of God, to make it so.”

For the rest of the school year, Lilly wore the clothes they gave her, even at school. She managed to keep up in pre-Algebra, although it was hard. She’d slowed down on doing what Mr. Kale would’ve had her doing, but only a little. Her grades dropped a little, but not enough for Mrs. Lewis to put a halt to the arrangement.

Her final grade report had only the second and third Bs she’d ever had. That was in the reading and writing, and her social studies, which she’d struggled with more than she expected, and her social studies. Reading, other than the Bible, was difficult. The family wouldn’t let her read anything else, which made the reading for school all the more difficult, thus the B in it. Social Studies, she simply didn’t care much about, and again, wasn’t allowed to read much.

As summer began, the only thing letting her maintain her identity was her connection to the family’s dogs, along with birds. She was scared of it, so she limited what she did, but it helped her. They’d stopped punishing Abby for the things she did, but both of them spent a lot of time in the closet.

“Priscilla, you are going to resume lessons with Samuel,” Belinda told her, as soon as school was over.

Lilly had long since stopped resisting, no matter whether she liked it or not. When she went to the school room, as she thought of it, Samuel was waiting, smiling.

“I am glad to have you back, Priscilla. I thought I was going to lose you, but you’re turning into a nice helpmeet,” he said, his eyes riveted on her. He creeped her out, but she didn’t know why.

“Today’s lesson will be on the requirements of the wife, in a marriage,” he began. What he taught seemed weird, and creeped her out more than she already was. A lot of it had to do with the wife being obedient to the husband, something she had no concern with at that point.

“You listened well, Priscilla,” he said, as the lesson ended. “If you continue as you have been, you will make a fine wife,” he added, then drew her to him, and kissed her on the forehead. He then wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. She never returned the hug, her arms just hanging limply by her sides.

The lessons continued for weeks, always focused on obedience and similar topics. She knew what they were trying to do, but it was only making her angry, at least as angry as she was able to become anymore. Her will was beginning to break, and she knew it.

It’s been awhile since I last wrote in you. I’m beginning to think what they say might be good, but it’s hard to think. I wish I had some time to think about what they teach me, but I always have something to do, or I’m being punished for something, or there’s more lessons on sin. Samuel keeps telling me about what a bride, or wife is supposed to do, and how she is supposed to do what her husband tells her, and all this stuff. I guess, maybe he’s right, but why is he telling me all this stuff? Everything is so weird and I can’t think. I know they have three dogs. Their dogs have been keeping me from going completely crazy.

“Today’s lesson,” he began, toward the middle of summer, “Will be on the wedding ceremony, and what is expected of you.”

“Why are you teaching me about marriage, and what the bride does and all of that stuff?” she asked.

“Because your time of being a bride is coming, and you need to be ready,” he said.

“I might not get married,” she said.

“Come, sit with me,” he said, and rather than the table she normally sat at, he led her to the couch. As they sat, he placed his hand on her leg, making sure it went inside the split in the skirt. His hand on her bare leg made her shiver. He smiled at her.

“You are going to be my bride,” he said. With no reply from her, he helped her up and walked her to dinner.

“You’re so lucky to be getting married to Samuel,” Abby said very quietly, when Lilly sat at the table.

“Marriage is beautiful,” Zephira said, having heard Abby’s comment.

“It is,” Abby agreed.

Today I was told I would marry Samuel soon. Although I should be totally disgusted with the thought of marrying him, they keep telling me it’s a good thing. That it’s beautiful. Is it? I don’t know. Maybe it is. Even Abby said it is, and she’s only 6. Maybe it is. They stopped punishing me as much. Now, they punish Abby when I do something wrong. They still put me in the closet a lot, though. I’m trying to be good, so they don’t punish Abby. She’s only a little girl, and shouldn’t get my punishment, which I deserve. I really am a bad person, and a sinner.

For the next couple weeks, Samuel continued teaching her about marriage, the role of the wife and her requirement to be properly obedient. He also started hugging her more and more, even holding her hand at times. For her part, Lilly became completely docile, her mind unable to think much beyond what they told her.

“Priscilla, I understand you prefer to be called Lilly. That is a very pretty name,” Samuel said. Lilly gave him a kind of half smile, but said nothing.

“Today, we are going to consummate our marriage, as is my right as your husband,” he said. She didn’t know what that word meant, as well read as she was. Seeing her confusion, he explained, “We are going to do what married couples do, and make a baby.”

For the first time in weeks, her mind actually engaged. At first there was the incredible surprise, then there was an explosion of anger.

“Like hell!” she said, unable to stop her mouth. At the same time, she grabbed his hand, trying to remove it. He’d put his hand inside her skirt, on her upper thigh. He was too much stronger, though, and held her down. On top of her, he kissed her on the mouth, at the same time, grabbing her butt with both hands. Continuing to hold her down, he unbuttoned her skirt, and forced her legs apart, his left leg planted between them. Her right leg was still between his legs, though.

“Get off me!” she screamed. Just then, his legs moved just enough, and she lifted her knee in desperation. She made contact, and he rolled off of her, landing on the floor.

“You’ll be punished,” he groaned, but couldn’t get up.

She jumped up, and ran out. Rather than going to her room, she went outside, her first time outside since school ended. The rest of the family had gotten ahead of her, though, and were blocking the gate. Without any ideas what else to do, she let her mind go out, and call for help. The three dogs came instantly, having bonded with her over the last several months.

At first, they were unsure what to do, torn between the family and her, but her bond was strong enough that it finally overcame that of the family. The dogs growled at anyone that tried to come near her. Thinking they could control the dogs, Samuel and the other two boys charged her.

She grabbed the gate, throwing it open as the dogs defended her. Outside, she ran, not bothering to close the gate. Knowing the area well, she ran to the school. Although school was out, she hoped there’d be someone there.

Running inside, she called out, “Help!”

She was in luck. It was only a moment before the school secretary came out of a back hallway.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, running to Lilly.

“My foster family said they’re going to make me marry Samuel, and he put his hands on me, and on my butt and I didn’t like it, and he kissed me,” she said, tears in her eyes. The secretary then noticed her unbuttoned skirt.

“Oh, sweetheart, come in here, and let’s call the police. Alright?” she said, leading Lilly into the office. Once she had Lilly seated, and settled, she went to the desk and called the police. In no time, police were there asking her lots of questions, and a short time after that, Mrs. Perkins was there, as well.

“Priscilla,” she began, and the look on her face told her things were about to get bad. “Did you know your foster family was trying to adopt you?” she asked, and Lilly shook her head.

“Interesting,” Mrs. Perkins replied, then left for a while. When she returned, she had a very unpleasant look. Lilly was very familiar with that look.

“Do you have anything to tell me?” Mrs. Perkins asked.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said, unable to stop the tears that burst from her.

“The police have found drugs in your belongings,” Mrs. Perkins said.

“Every time I tell someone something bad that’s happening to me, I get in trouble!” she yelled, and ran out, before anyone could catch her. For the first time in many months, she went to Horace.

When she got there, she ran straight into him, burying her face in his thick clothing. She hadn’t even been sure he’d be there.

“I’ve been wondering what happened to you,” he said, rubbing her back. “What’s wrong?” he asked, once he was able to look at her.

“They wanted me to marry their son, and he touched me, and kissed me, and they hit me a lot and put me in a closet. It was horrible,” she said, again clinging to him. She was shaking, and curled up on his lap, even though she had gotten a little big for it.

“Lilly, my sweet Lilly,” he said, holding her tightly.

“And now Mrs. Perkins said they found drugs in my stuff, so I’m going to go to jail,” she said.

“You won’t go to jail. I can get you off that,” he promised.

“Are you sure?” she asked, pulling away, her face red and tear streaked.

“Not 100 percent, but pretty sure,” he said, pulling her back to him and holding her tight. “You need to return to your caseworker, and see what they’ve got on you. I’ll do my best to protect you,” he said.

Walking back through the park, she knew his promise meant nothing, but she appreciated it. He always made her feel better, no matter what trouble she was facing. He always made her face it head on, too.

As expected, Lilly found herself in rehab again, but she wasn’t sent to a detention facility. As a matter of fact, no charges were filed against her for the drugs they’d found in her belongings.

Samuel touched me, where he shouldn’t, and tried to take my skirt off. He said he was doing it because we were about to be married and it was his right as my husband. He kissed me and touched me, all over. He hurt me, but I got away from him and ran away. Their dogs helped me. I think Samuel was bitten and maybe someone else, but I don’t know, and I don’t care. I hope it wasn’t Abby, and she’s okay. She was totally one of them, but she was sweet. She was just a little girl. Did I do the right thing? I don’t know if I messed up. I always mess up, so I probably did.

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