dVerse — Prosery — Bad Girls

I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night
–from “When We Sing of Might,” by Kimberly Blaeser

I pick one up at the runaway shelter. Another from her granny’s house. One from court-approved fictive kin’s house. The one picked up from the detention center is pale, with dark circles under her eyes.

Wednesday is equine therapy day for the girls. For an hour each week they learn baby steps in trust – tentative seeds, sprinkled with prayers.

I pick them up and drop them off in a different order. A different girl gets my time either as the first or the last. They color blanks in their living stories that paper reports always leave so many gaps in. They splash details in a matter-of-fact manner that sear into my grey.

Later, I sip hot rooibos-peppermint tea, light white sage incense, then furl into my bedtime cocoon. I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night as I drift into sleep.

[144 words]

My prosery today is a composite of memories from my old job as a juvenile probation officer.  Their lives, their stories will never be forgotten.

image link

I am today’s host at dVerse’ Prosery. I say:
Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to incorporate the above quote into a piece of prose. This can be either flash fiction, nonfiction, or creative nonfiction, but it must be prose! Not prose poetry, and not a poem. And it must be no longer than 144 words, not including the title. (It does not have to be exactly 144 words, but it can’t exceed 144 words.)

87 Comments Add yours

  1. Ingrid says:

    It’s impossible to imagine the pain they must have gone through. ‘baby steps in trust – tentative seeds, sprinkled with prayers’ is probably the most anyone could hope to offer them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I appreciate your kindness and sensitivity to their situations, Ingrid. Thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Their stories must haunt you. The transition to the comfort of the narrator’s situation is poignant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you for your sensitive comment, Jane.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul says:

    Great prose Lisa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Paul!

      Like

  4. merrildsmith says:

    Oh, those poor kids, and how kind you were to them. Baby steps in trust. This one really hits, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Merril, so many of the kids seemed as if they had had little if any kindness given to them. It breaks my heart thinking about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. merrildsmith says:

        It is so heartbreaking.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The stories they tell and the stories you never know. I can’t imagine, yet I can, because we all have ours. Poignant write.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Dale says:

    I could feel this in my gut, Lisa. Baby steps indeed. A life no child should have to live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Dale, thank you for your thoughtful comment. No, they shouldn’t 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dale says:

        You wrote it so well. And no, they shouldn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Gillena Cox says:

    Luv the “hot rooibos-peppermint tea, light white sage incense,” at bedtime

    Happy you dropped by to read mine

    Much💜love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Glad you like it, Gillena, would you care for a cup? My pleasure to read your holiday poem ❤

      Like

  7. Glenn A. Buttkus says:

    Terrific piece of prose. You and I were on similar tracts it seems. I used the homeless as inspiration. Your prose smacks of authenticity for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Glenn, thank you very much. The homeless around here stay pretty much out of sight, but I’m guessing they are much more visible in your area. That said, there are always a few unfortunates they find frozen to death every winter 😦

      Like

  8. calmkate says:

    you did that sentence real justice, too many have deprived lives and I am grateful when they meet a kind hearted worker like yourself!

    After years of such frontline work in child protection, juvenile delinquency, foster care and adoption my poetry erupted. It was my cathartic outlet … take care of yourself Lisa. Their stories leave bruises on us as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      ❤ Kate I know you have a seasoned spirit but didn't know you also did frontline work. It explains a lot. Thank you, my friend, you're right, they do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. calmkate says:

        for years, they flew me around the state doing the worst cases ….

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Sunra Rainz says:

    This is beautifully described, Lisa. A matter-of-fact appraisal of one’s day and yet underscored with compassion. I love how your kindness to them is followed by kindness to yourself and then finished so seamlessly with the quoted line ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Sunra, your feedback and praise are much appreciated. Thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sunra Rainz says:

        You are most welcome, Lisa ☀️

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Bill says:

    Well done, Lisa. I thought I recognized something there.
    My first job out of college was as a juvenile prosthion officer. Oh what fun (he says sarcastically). I lasted almost a whole year. I need to write some of those stories (repressed memories), for sure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Oh really! You can gather a lot of stories from almost a year. I did it for almost 18 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A very thought-provoking prompt Lisa for us all! Your prosery accurately tells the story. I particularly liked – ‘They splash details in a matter-of-fact manner that sear into my grey.’ Patterned and purple splashes for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Carol, thank you very much. I finally figured out a way to “log in” where your blog is and comment on one of your poems.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. memadtwo says:

    Too many of us are able to look the other way, to blame the victim. It’s no wonder those lives continue to haunt you. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This was a very pleasant reading for me, I enjoyed your piece a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Christopher, thank you, am glad you found it pleasant to read.

      Like

  14. K.Hartless says:

    Such a gift to be able to show them a different kind of care and love. I realize my prosery is similar, in a way. Thank you for hosting this week, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Karen, sometimes acceptance that you can do only a little makes it very difficult but if you can plant tiny seeds that may one day germinate… Will be visiting the poetry trail in just a minute. My pleasure to host ❤

      Like

  15. Sadje says:

    Beautifully written Li. What memories you must have had of those days and the kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      A million memories, Sadje. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Great and compassionate story, Lisa. You certainly haven’t lost any of your talent during your recent break! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Christian, thank you!

      Like

  17. Suzanne says:

    This is a very powerful piece of writing. It brings home the difficulties the girls faced without having to go into details or disclose secrets. It’s very effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Suzanne, thank you very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. lifelessons says:

    Everyone did such great and varied versions of this prompt. Yours is wonderful, Lisa. I think this is, overall, the most clever use of prompts by everyone I’ve read so far. Makes me want to rewrite mine…Really well done, Lisa and I can tell you were great at your job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Judy, I am loving everything I’m reading coming out of this prompt. Thank you very much. You are very welcome to add another prosery to the prompt. I think OLN is the only time we are restricted to one. Heading to the poetry trail in a second to read what you wrote. Thank you very much, Judy, I tried and I cared.

      Like

  19. rothpoetry says:

    A great story Lisa. I really liked the part of the printed file sheets not telling the whole story. That must have been quite a job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Dwight. It was by far the most difficult job I ever did, but it was also one where I knew how important it was. We always looked for “small movements” and we cherished them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rothpoetry says:

        I can imagine! Thanks for being there for them.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    That had to be a tough, rewarding, and disappointing job…all rolled into one.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Perfect description, Max.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. Carrying those harrowing stories with you! You have a large, generous heart, Li. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Punam, I don’t have a choice. Thank you very much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree but not everyone expands their heart to accommodate others’ pain. You are welcome. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  22. i felt the weight and the permanent mark they left you, each of them. this is poignant, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Rosemarie thank you. I’m glad their stories have also touched your heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Ain Starlingsson, forestbathing hermit says:

    Your story brought a great sadness in me. I don’t want to sound too naive, but it really hits. In fact I find it hard to find the right words…such a powerful story you wrote…and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ain, what astounds me yet is that despite the horrific circumstances many/most of them had experienced, their will to survive continued to burn bright. You are very welcome.

      Like

  24. Ron Rowland says:

    Tough job, but it seems you performed it well, and wrote about it pretty good too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ron, I did the best I could with who I am. I always treated the kids with respect and caring, even when I was busting their chops lol. They knew where it was coming from. I could write volumes. Maybe one day I will.

      Like

  25. Misky says:

    Sliding off the tracks doesn’t make for a girl bad. Children have a whole lifetime ahead of them to get back on track. I suspect you have what it takes to help them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Misky, the title is a hook to pull the reader in, similar to the title of Oliver Stone’s movie title, “Natural Born Killers,” which is about two spree killers who were turned into monsters by their horrific childhoods. That said, many are able to move beyond their childhood traumas but many suffer lingering effects (check this out: https://vancouveremdrtherapy.com/ace-adverse-childhood-experiences-score/) ) throughout adulthood. What I’m trying to say is that these girls are not bad at all, they are trauma victims. Sorry if I wasn’t clear about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. What hanunting memories you have from your working life Lisa. You have expressed it so beautifully here and I can feel they weight of their sad stories in your carefully chosen words. 😢💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Christine, thank you very much for your comment. ❤

      Like

  27. robtkistner says:

    My fate, what a heart you have Lisa — what positive energy … bravo to you my friend. I lived with each summer full of strangers who quickly became friends, as my adoptive father would collect several orphans to join us on our fishing trips to our island in Canada. He did this until they finally closed St. Joseph Infant Home & Orphanage in Cincinnati, Ohio. After that, he would drive to collect and return those for the weekly Boy Scout meeting — boys he’d stayed in touch with in their foster homes, whom he’d enlisted into our local Assumption Parish Boy Scout troop in Mt Healthy, OH.. I never realized what a hero he was for doing so for those number of years. He just made it feel like “that is what you do”. I never realized, until recent years, what a coward I have been for never having done this in the years I was able. My solace is that for years, I did coach both of my son’s football and baseball teams, and my daughter’s soccer teams. Love your sharing here my fridnf! 🙂✌🏼❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Rob, your dad was what I call an “angel with skin.” He did right by you and it sounds like there were many other orphans (in one sense or another) that he took under his paternal wing. You know you don’t have to feel like a coward for not doing as he did. You survived and are a loving grandfather to your grandson, which is victory and success, believe it. MANY HUGS TO YOU my Friend ❤

      Like

  28. lillian says:

    I love your response here. These words “they learn baby steps in trust – tentative seeds, sprinkled with prayers.” are so very special. Thankful for people who devote their time to help girls, boys, men, women, all people who need extra care to survive and cope with this world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Lillian. I am thankful for them also.

      Like

  29. Awwww… Lisa – you’re so sweet. This is so touching!


    David

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks much, David.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Helen Dehner says:

    It is caring, responsive, empathetic folks like you who make such a difference in young adults’ lives. Cheers to you … having read your poetry for a while now, your prose today does not surprise me, it reinforces what i ‘know” you to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Helen, you just made my day. Thank you, dear heart. ❤

      Like

  31. Lamittan Minsah says:

    Must have been such a tough task at hand, it’s obvious even from the story. You must have put on a tough skin and persevering heart. Painful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Lamittan, being what I would call a surrogate parent to these needy kids was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

      Like

      1. Lamittan Minsah says:

        I could tell it was, dear. May blessings come your way for the good heart you had while at it.

        Liked by 1 person

  32. Tarot of the Missing says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I grew up in a house full of foster kids so I can appreciate it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you. Were you one of the foster kids? Or were your parents foster parents? I still admire the foster parents who were committed to giving the kids a chance to heal and feel cared for.

      Like

      1. Tarot of the Missing says:

        My mom took in foster kids from the time I was about ten years old. She was a single mom and a teacher. Sometimes we had as many as five at one time so it got rough at times. She took specialized kids, which in our state meant they came from the worst or the worst backgrounds. It was heartbreaking to see what they went through. The stories they told me were horrific. But we just tried to show them love and do whatever we could while they were there to help them. Some were violent though and there wasn’t much we could do there unfortunately. I’m an adult now and am still in touch with some of the girls.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          I know it couldn’t have been easy for your mom or you, as so many of the kids are so used to rejection that they often do things subconsciously to keep that pattern going. Safety is one of the biggest challenges I always saw with foster homes, keeping everyone safe. That and making sure foster parents have the training to understand the dynamics of the damaged child and not give up on them right away. Thank you very much for sharing your information from the insider’s view of foster care. I’m happy you stay in touch with the girls who have now grown up. Hope they are doing well. (You too!)

          Liked by 1 person

  33. Reena Saxena says:

    They color blanks in their living stories that paper reports always leave so many gaps in.

    This line can be a prompt line by itself – to spark many more stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Reena, I have to agree with you there. Feel free to use it in one of your prompts. Thank you very much.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          You’re very welcome.

          Liked by 1 person

  34. This is a powerful piece. It’s fascinating to read about your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks very much.

      Like

  35. wow Lisa, this is so touching!! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Cindy, thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. indeed!! 💖💖💖

        Liked by 1 person

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