Teachers saw the possibilities in Thomas. From the first day he entered the classroom, he was enthusiastic about learning everything there was to learn.
His mother had always taken pride in the way he looked. His father wore vests, and collared shirts, Thomas wanted to wear them too. When she heard the children would be reading from their primer on Friday, she was as excited as Thomas but nervous too.
Had he sufficiently learned to read after three months?
She thought he was bright, but she was his mother. After all, he was only 6.
She began to have thoughts of her own mother’s words:
Summer is freedom for a child. Your school vacation begins.
No more homework, no more tests, and no more uniforms. I attended
Catholic school, wearing shorts and t-shirts was a respite from formality.
My family lived in an area of three-story brownstones in Brooklyn, N.Y. Pools weren’t anywhere in my neighborhood. There was a pool within a twenty-five minute bus ride. We never went there.
Sunday was our beach day in the summer. My father loved the beach.
Despite our no school discipline, he had a routine we had to follow.
We still attended mass on Saturday.
Sunday, we’d awake at 6:00 a.m., get dressed, grab our towels, pails, and shovels and be in the car at 7:00 a.m. It was an hour’s drive to Staten Island on a ferry. It was such fun to get out of the car and lean on the railing, feeling the ocean’s mist on my face.
Once we arrived at the beach, we all had items to carry to the water’s edge. My father cooked potato salad and fried chicken the night before.He was a cook in the army. He enjoyed cooking on the weekends. I was learning how to cook from him at age 5.
My task at the beach was to take care of my younger disabled brother. He was five years old, and I was ten. I’d collect shells with him and build things in the sand.
One Sunday, my father decided to teach all of us to swim. We watched him from the shore. He looked like a dolphin. I was apprehensive even though it looked like fun. It was my turn. He picked me up and took me way, way out. Eventually, he dropped me in the water.
Gurgle, Gurgle, Gurgle,
I swallowed water, flailed my arms, and thought I would drown.
After an eternity, my father picked me back up and walked me to shore. I cried and cried and cried. I was inconsolable. I never went in the water again. The sandy seashore was my safe place from that day forward.
I never did learn to swim, but I do doggie paddle in my pool. Many have tried to teach me, but my fear still lingers from that day. When my children could walk, I took them for swimming lessons. They’re all great swimmers, and one is Red Cross certified. I knew how much they would enjoy the beach, pool, and boating if they learned how to swim.
He wonders if she’s unhappy with the long stem red roses. The florist had assured him that all women loved red roses.
She seems deep in thought.
He was hoping for a big smile and the touch of her soft hand on his. Instead, I’m feeling the Cabernet slide down my tightly muscled throat. Dating is difficult, but meeting for the first time in person instead of on Face Time felt awkward.
Ruby wondered if he could feel her angst.
She loathed her name. She was tired of being told it was an intense color. The only thing she felt strongly about was her angry resentment for her mother. She was a prostitute who wore ruby red colors because the men she accompanied prized the color, especially on her curvy body.
Was this a joke my mother played on me?
The name Ruby means nothing to me. It’s the color of blood, a sign of death. A death I would take pleasure in if it just happened to her by chance.
Yes, red long-stemmed roses from Randolph would have been lovely if she didn’t hate the color.
Smiling, she squeezes Randolph’s hand. “Thank you for the lovely flowers. You shouldn’t have”.
*****Trafficking Leaves Both Visible and Invisible Scars
Trafficked women and girls encounter high rates of physical and sexual violence, including homicide and torture, psychological abuse, horrific work and living conditions, and extreme deprivation while in transit.
Serious mental health problems result from trafficking, including anxiety, depression, self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideation and suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorders and complex PTSD.