If I wanted to escape this life, I had to do it myself. But it didn't work out quite that way. A porcelain doll, they called me. At the same time, I discovered another source of power-the strength of my own body. As I grew into adolescence, the couples who picked me from the home changed. A teacher signed me up for track-and-field, hoping it would help me get close to other children. With that realization, the fear slipped away. Succeeding at school would mean acceptance into university, which would mean a degree, which would mean a career, which would mean the kind of life my social workers and foster families assumed was beyond me. It meant staying and surviving.
I remember hearing myself start to whimper, a five-year-old, crouched by the side of the road, staring into my father's eyes, whimpering because it was so dark and there was no one coming to help, whimpering because my mother was back in the crushed car, not moving, and my father was lying here in the dirt, not answering me, not holding me, not comforting me, not helping my mother get out of the car, and there was blood, so much blood, and broken glass everywhere, and it was so dark and so cold and no one was coming to help. As I grew older, I began to see them for what they were, not all-powerful bogeymen who slipped into my room at night, but weak creatures terrified of rejection and exposure. After my parents died, the only person who tried to claim me was my mother's best friend and she was refused on the grounds that she was unmarried. They took their doll home and started their perfect life. By the time I was midway through high school I was lifting weights and working out daily. A teacher signed me up for track-and-field, hoping it would help me get close to other children. They could touch me, but they couldn't touch me, not the me who lay beyond my body. Succeeding at school would mean acceptance into university, which would mean a degree, which would mean a career, which would mean the kind of life my social workers and foster families assumed was beyond me. I don't know how I got on the side of the road. As I grew into adolescence, the couples who picked me from the home changed. I'd been seat belted in, but must have crawled out after the accident. At the same time, I discovered another source of power-the strength of my own body. I became the favored choice of male predators who were looking for a very special kind of child. However, I only spent a couple of weeks in the children's home before I was snatched up by the first couple who saw me. Their precious doll sat in a chair all day and never opened her mouth, then at night-every night-she screamed until dawn. It was no longer the wife who chose me but the husband, picking up on my childish beauty and my fear. All I remember is sitting in the gravel beside my father's bloodied body, shaking him, talking to him, pleading with him to answer and not understanding why he didn't, knowing only that my father always answered, never ignored me, but all he did now was stare at me, eyes wide and unblinking. I wouldn't let myself be angry at them, wouldn't let myself waste time and effort better spent elsewhere. I can still see them, kneeling before me, oooing and ahhhing about what a beautiful child I was. My foster father wasn't touching me by then. I wasn't anyone's idea of a victim by then. It meant staying and surviving. If I had any extended family, I never heard of them. So I went from one foster family to the next, always taken by the ones utterly charmed by my face and utterly incapable of handling my scarred psyche. With that realization, the fear slipped away. Ironically, it was through these monsters that I first found my strength.
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