Who Am I?

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I’ve been mentally raped of my existence. Memory banks wiped clean on the brow of blood, sweat and tears…many tears. A hope for a brighter tomorrow prevailed; and for the cost of my existence.

I am you? Or wait, is it that I’ve become you; a hybrid of right and wrong. I damn sure ain’t me. I have no idea who I’m supposed to be.

At the end of the day, I miss what I never knew. Perhaps that is the greatest pain of all.

Hope’s Burden

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“Ms. McClearn, is Chlamydia curable?”

Astonished I looked at Hope, my 8th grade student that hadn’t been in class for the past week. It took a while for me to respond but I did. “Yea…it is.”

On one hand I hoped she explain her reasons for asking, but on the other hand I hoped she didn’t. State tests were approaching and I was nervous that such talk could open the floor for more questions that I could get in trouble for answering.

Silence filled the air, only for a moment, before Hope leaned over and whispered in my ear.

“Oh. My dad gave me Chlamydia.”

Naturally I look at her to see if she was kidding. If this was true I had to report it to the authorities immediately.

“Are you joking?” I asked, just for reassurance.

“I’m serious,” she reassured.

“Where is your father now?”

“In jail.”

“How long ago did this happen?”

“He raped me when I was younger.” She responded.

I admired the strength she brought to class, when she decided to come to class. But even more so, I wanted to take her in and ensure that no one would ever touch her in that way again.

“Does your mother know?” I asked, trying to remember if I met her mother at a parent-teacher conference. It didn’t take long for me to remember that I was still waiting on a call back regarding Hope’s attendance last week.

“Yea, she knows.” Hope replied. “But she didn’t know until after it happened.”

“Wow.” I responded. It probably wasn’t the best response but it was a real response.

“It’s okay now Ms. McClearn.”

“So you’re Chlamydia is cured?” I asked, worried about her health.

“Yea, they took care of it when it happened.” She said. “But that’s why I don’t come to school.”

“Because of what happened to you?”

“No, because school is boring.”

“Your mother hasn’t called me back regarding your attendance last week. What’s up with that?”

“She don’t care. She feels guilty about what happened, so she lets me do whatever I want.” She replied.

Her response was almost a cry for help, but on the other hand she knew that help meant she will not have the same freedom.

The following week, Hope got in a fight with a young boy. Her mother had to come to the school to meet with the principal on the matter. Naturally when I saw her mother, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk to her about Hope’s attendance.

“Do you know that Hope wasn’t in school last week?” I asked her mother.

“I know,” she shamefully replied. “I keep telling her she should go to school, but she won’t listen.”

Hope’s mother’s eyes never met mine. Instead they were planted on the ground.

“I’m trying to help her out, but I need you to help me.”I said. This time I added a hint of sarcasm to my tone.

“I know.” She responded as Hope walked beside her smiling and whispering I told you so. That was the second time my heart ached for Hope.

Doomed to fail the 8th grade for the fourth time, the system pushed Hope through to the ninth grade; just as they had done for so many others. Before they pushed her through I begged for them to send a referral for her to go to a military school down the street – a request that would’ve improved Hope’s future dramatically, and one that Hope was determined to see happen. The request was turned down because Hope had a poor attendance record. That was the 3rd time my heart ached for Hope. Furthermore, I realized Hope’s mother wasn’t the only one that didn’t care.

I wanted to write about Hope today because her story was on my mind. I wish I could’ve done more for her. It is my hope that today she is doing well.

*This is a true story but the name of my student was masked to protect her privacy.*