My cell phone is my lifeline during work. Sometimes I wish it weren't. Bad news can reach out just as easily as any other kind.
I know a family. I won't tell you who or how I know them. There'll be no names. It's about the only protection I can offer at this point. There's a Dad and a Mom, never married, not living together. An older brother, upper teens, and a younger half-sister, perhaps 12, live with Mom. We'll call the brother Icky, just because that's how I personally feel about him. We'll call the girl Lulu, absolutely nothing like her real name.
I know one of the adults fairly well, have met the other at least once in some social setting or other. I have met both kids through the years, Lulu more than Icky. That's only part of the reason I tend to favor Lulu more than Icky. Several years ago, Icky was removed from the home and put into some kind of program to help stop him from molesting his sister again. I'm not sure how well it worked. Nobody said. But Icky was returned to the home. Lulu apparently wasn't consulted, and she started to act out when he returned. The family discussed the need for discipline for her. I assumed it was because she didn't feel safe, but nobody asked me. And I didn't have the close kind of relationship where I could butt in and ask either Lulu or either of her parents, not to mention Child Protective Services or whoever they are these days, whether bringing Icky back into the same home was a good idea, particularly for Lulu.
Lulu is just past that awkward stage at the end of childhood when the cuteness of babyhood is past and the self is molding into something still unknown. The features are ready to take on their final forms about the time puberty hits, and the most recent photo I'd seen of Lulu showed her here at this new stage, where the change was so sharp I didn't recognize her. This was definitely a teenager! And now past awkward, becoming quite attractive.
I got the call late this afternoon. Last night Icky had a friend over. I'll call him Nasty. He's 19. The way I heard it, the two played video games until it was so late that Icky fell asleep. Nasty took advantage of the situation to go down the hall and rape Lulu! Nasty is now in jail and Lulu is staying with a grandmother.
I want to ask all the wrong kinds of questions, the ones that start, "Why the HELL did/didn't they..." and have a hundred different endings, the kind of questions that do no good. Not now. I heard the rape kit won't be done until tomorrow. Seems stupid to me. I don't know if anybody thought to provide the morning after pill, or if the family is somehow religious in the way that forbids that, regardless of the possible cost to Lulu. I want to somehow gain the kind of knees that wouldn't hurt me more than Nasty if I went down to that jail and aimed a few swift kicks where they'd do the most good - from my point of view, anyway. I want to take Icky and shake him into telling just how much he and his friend talked about Lulu in the wrong sort of way, targeting her for the attack. I want Nasty to spend time behind bars with the kind of cellmates who believe in doing unto others as they did unto children. It won't help Lulu but it might ease that newly hollow spot that cries out for vengeance.
I want to run over to Lulu and fold her in my arms and offer whatever comfort that's worth, even though I know right now she might not even want to be touched by anybody, much less somebody she knows as little as she does me. I feel so outside, even after having been brought inside. I want to rage and scream and kick and swing out and cry at the helplessness, at not being able to protect this little one, just like my not being able to protect my own little one so many years ago, or at not having anyone to protect me even more years ago. We join a long chain, we women, miles wide and millennia old, and it's all so wrong and feels so immutable. And I just want the impossible.