To fast forward a bit, the school year flew by. I had managed to make a few friends at school and so did Chad. He was to the point where he didn’t dread going everyday. He even had a new best friend named David. That was it, just David- no last name. That was great because he was six now and it was high time that he started to interact with kids his own age and not be sitting up under me all the time.
In the mean time, my home life continued to be my hell-on-earth but my time outside of home couldn’t have been better. Marshall and I became best friends and it seemed like we grew closer every day. We saw each other daily. He was so intriguing to me because he was always able to make me feel good. He made me laugh when I wanted to hate everyone. He taught me how to see a brighter side of things, and how to open up and trust people on some level. I often wondered why he was so intent to hang with me on a regular basis, but I was really glad that he did.
The summer was filled with us playing flag football with the neighborhood kids, swimming at the rec center, and playing basketball. Sometimes we would just sit on my porch and talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. My free time was filled with so much Marshall that I barely noticed the gradual change that was taking place in Chad.
He became more withdrawn somehow, and he would barely speak. All he wanted to do was sit in the house and watch television or play by himself. I couldn’t even convince him to play with David when he would come over. I just shrugged it off, because lets face it, I was almost thirteen and I had my own problems of Mrs. Epps and puberty to deal with.
Puberty; which was a huge problem to say the least. I had never had a female role model to sit me down and explain the facts of life to me. All I knew was what we learned in Sex Ed at school, and that information was very basic and non-specific to say the least. So, when I started my period I almost lost my mind.
I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. It was the middle of July and Marshall and I were having a deep discussion about why we needed to go to college.
“I’m not going to college,” I stated matter-of-factly.
“You have to go to college if you want to get a good job,” he retorted.
“That’s not true,” I said, “there are plenty of people who never went to college and do just fine.”
“Like who?” he asked.
“Mr. Epps,” I said without hesitation. “He didn’t go to college and he has a good job and he makes good money and has a nice house.”
“He makes factory money and will never do better than what he is doing right now. Don’t you want to get out of Detroit and live in a mansion with fancy cars and all that? I ain’t settlin’ for no job on an assembly line, working twelve hours a day putting seatbelts in cars,” he said indignantly.
“I ain’t goin’ to school any longer than necessary, and that’s a fact,” I shot back.
“Well, my wife has to go to college and since I plan on marrying you, you better go or my plans are ruined,” he said staring at me intently.
My mouth went dry and I was speechless. All I could do was stare him in the eye and wonder what it would be like to be his wife. Marshall was already thirteen and his thinking pattern was that of someone way older. I couldn’t believe that he was already thinking that far ahead about his future and even more shockingly, it included me.
As I started to respond, it happened. I felt a big patch of wetness between my legs and I snapped my mouth shut. My face must have drained of all color, because Marshall looked startled and said, “Marion, are you ok?”
Without saying a word I just jumped up and ran in the house like a bat out of hell. I made a mad dash for the bathroom, shut the door, and locked it. I just stood there for about a minute and tried to figure out what was going on. I walked over to the toilet and pulled down my shorts and sat down. I looked down and there it was in all it’s glory- I had started my period. I was horrified and scared. I didn’t know what to do, because I didn’t have anything to stop it and I was not about to tell Mrs. Epps.
Finally, I kicked off my shorts and panties and went to the linen closet, which thankfully was in the bathroom, and sought out the feminine hygiene products. God was on my side this time, because I found them right away. Then I picked up my soiled underwear and tried to rinse the blood out, but to no avail because I didn’t know the first thing about how to get a stain out. I then went to the door and checked to see if anyone was around. The coast was clear, so I ran to my room and put on a clean pair of panties and stuck the pad in them. Fortunately, I did not go through to my shorts, so I wouldn’t have to worry about Mrs. Epps noticing that I had changed my clothes. Once I had all my clothing in order, I picked up the soiled underwear, wrapped them up in paper towel, and tossed them in the garbage can in my room.
I had no idea what to do at that point. There was no way I was going back outside to face Marshall, and I had just made a complete fool out of myself. He was probably never going to speak to me again. He tells me that he wants to marry me when we grow up, and then I turn tail and run? I would never be able to look him in the face again. I was so ashamed. I snuck downstairs and peeked out the window to see if he was still there and he was gone. A wave of relief and regret swept over me, as I headed upstairs to see what Chad was up to.
He was in the den watching his eternal cartoons when I walked in.
“Whatcha watchin’?” I asked.
“Nothin,” he replied.
“Is it good?” I pressed.
“I don’t know,” he said.
I walked over and turned off the TV. “Chad, what is wrong with you?”
“What do you care? You don’t even spend time with me anymore,” he spat.
“I’m sorry, squirt,” I said sadly. At that point, I realized that was why he was so different lately.
“Hey, you wanna go to the park?” I asked, with hopes of cheering him up.
“No thanks,” he replied dryly, “can I finish watching my show now?”
“Sure,” I said, “Chad, I am sorry. I will do better I promise.”
“Ok,” he said simply and continued to stare blankly at the television.
Later that night after I had done the dishes, I was in my room reading and Mrs. Epps walked in.
“You little shitty whore-” she said menacingly, “What have you been up to?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked startled by her actions. I guess at this point nothing should have surprised me but I was scared.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” she hissed walking closer to me, “I knew you’ve been messing around with that boy, but now I have proof.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about…I swear I haven’t done anything,” I cried.
“You lying little bitch!” she screamed, as she lunged at me and grabbed my face.
I grabbed her hand and tried to push it away but she was very strong in her anger. There was something in her hand, but she had my face restrained so that I couldn’t look down to see what it was. By this time she was on my bed sitting on top of me with her nails digging into my face and her face hovering over mine. Her breath reeked of alcohol.
“Then what is this, huh?” she screamed, as she held my soiled underwear up to my face.
“I-I…” I was stuttering because I didn’t know what to say. I was horrified. I could not grasp what was happening. She was trying to insinuate that I was having sex, and I was trying to tell her that I had just started my period.
“I told you! NO MESSING AROUND IN MY HOUSE! Now you will eat this shit!” she screamed.
My brain shut down and instinct took over as she tried to shove those nasty panties in my mouth. I got a sudden surge of strength in my frenzied state of terror and I somehow managed to push her off of me. The blow caught her off guard and she fell off the bed.
I didn’t stop to see what she was doing, I just ran out of the room and down the stairs as fast as I could. By that time she had recovered and was fast on my heels.
“Don’t you run from me!” she yelled.
By this time, Chad had come out to see what the commotion was about and when he saw me running and crying he immediately ran to my aide.
“Sissy, what’s wrong?” he cried throwing himself around my waist. I hugged him close and tried to calm him down as was my natural instinct.
“Chad, we have to go,” I said as calmly as I could, while dragging myself and him toward the door.
Just as my hand closed around the doorknob I felt it turn from the other side. I jerked my hand back as the door opened and Mrs. Epps continued to make her descent down the stairs. At that exact moment Mr. Epps walked through the door.
I threw myself into him and cried, “Help me please!”
“Janelle, what the hell is going on here?” he asked, as he tried to keep himself and me from falling.
“Stay out of this Michael, I have to teach this little slut a lesson!” she said crazily.
“What?” he asked clearly confused about the situation he had walked in on.
By this time, I was sobbing uncontrollably as I tried to explain, “Sssh…she tried to make me…e-e-e…eat and I d-d..didn’t do anything.”
“She’s lying, Michael, and she must be punished!”
“Now, Janelle, you wait! Just calm down a minute!” he said.
“No…” she began.
“Shut up!” he barked.
Then he looked at me, wiped the tears from my eyes, and led me to the chair in the foyer and said, “Now, Marion, tell me what is going on here?”
I took a deep breath to calm myself and finally I was able to speak. “She thinks I’m having sex, but I just started my period. I didn’t want to tell her because she already hates me, so I just handled it on my own. I didn’t know what to do so I threw my soiled underwear in the garbage.”
Mrs. Epps gasped and sat down on the steps with her hands over her face and began to cry.
“I’m so sorry,” she cried.
“Don’t you worry about a thing. We’ll get you all situated with that, ok?” he said tenderly, as he handed me a tissue to wipe my eyes.
As I sat and tried to pull myself together, he walked over to Mrs. Epps and said in a low tone, “Upstairs, now.”
She could tell that he meant business and got her ass up them stairs in a hurry. While they went upstairs to handle their business, Chad came over and hugged me.
“She’s a bad lady,” he said sobbing on my shoulder.
“It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks that,” I said hugging him back.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I drifted in and out hearing the Epp’s argue about us in their room. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I knew that Mr. Epps was letting her have it, and I was glad. I was really hoping that he would knock some sense into her.
Then my thoughts drifted back to Marshall and I wondered how I would ever face him again. Not only that, what would happen after tonight? Mrs. Epps was a loose cannon and I was starting to fear for my personal well-being.
Finally, at about two a.m. I got up to go the bathroom. On my way down the hall I saw that Chad’s bedroom light was on. I stopped to see what he was still doing up and I heard Mrs. Epp’s talking to him in a cajoling manner. I put my ear to the door to listen.
“Come on Chad, just let mommy see. I won’t hurt you. You know I would never hurt you…” she crooned.
I opened the door slightly and saw her sitting on Chad’s bed, with his covers pulled back, and his pajama bottoms pulled down. He had his hands over his eyes and his head was shaking violently back and forth and he was crying, “Please no, not again. I don’t want you to.”
I didn’t need to hear anything more; I snapped. I mean I could literally hear the crack in my brain. I swung the door open and leaped on her with the fury of a mad woman.
“DON’T YOU TOUCH HIM YOU BITCH!” I screamed.
She was not prepared for my attack and once again I could smell the liquor on her breath. To this day I am not sure that factor would have mattered anyway, but nevertheless, I tried to kill Janelle Epps that night. I swung at her with every ounce of anger and hatred I had in me. I punched, I bit, and I kicked. When that got old, I picked up one of Chad’s toys (don’t remember what it was) and hit her with that. I had put up with her shit for over a year and I would be damned if she was going to be messing with my six year old brother. Not as long as there was breath in my body.
I don’t know how long it was before Mr. Epps was finally able to pull me off of her, but when the ambulance arrived she was barely breathing. She was rushed to the hospital and I told the cops everything. It was about 24 hours later that she regained consciousness and was brought up on charges of child molestation.
Needless to say, we were removed from the Epps’ home and sent right back to the orphanage, which was just fine by me.
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