Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Breaking Point- Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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He became more withdrawn somehow, and he would barely speak.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.


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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Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Breaking Point- Chapter 3

Chapter 3

A few more weeks passed and my twelfth birthday had come and gone. They took me to a place called Boblo, and I had my first boat ride. The boat took us to an island that had an amusement park and we had a blast. Mr. Epps brought us cotton candy and gave us money to play the games. Mrs. Epps doted on Chad and nit-picked me as usual. I really couldn't understand what her problem was, but she seemed to have a real problem with me ever since the day she demanded that I not tuck Chad in anymore. But, I had fun in spite of her.

Our home life was pretty bleak while Mr. Epps was at work, because he was the one who liked to do things. When he was away, all Mrs. Epps did was sleep, drink wine, cuddle Chad, and pick on me.

It was, "Marion, do this. Marion, do that.” or “Chad come here and give Mommy a kiss. Oh Chad, this or that." It was really sickening. It was like she was competing with me. And the weird thing was that Chad was different somehow. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was there just the same. I would ask him what was wrong and he would just say nothing.

Finally it became time to enroll in school. We would be attending the Detroit Public Schools. We were tested for placement and Chad would attend Walker Elementary for first grade (he would be six in November) and I would go to Jefferson Middle School for sixth grade. Classes were to begin the following week.

As I was leaving the counseling office with Mrs. Epps and my new counselor, to take a tour of the school to see where my classes would be, that's when I met him for the first time. His name was Marshall Washington and he was beautiful. I was only twelve, but I swear that when he looked at me and smiled for the first time, I thought my heart would break. He had hazel eyes and light brown curly hair.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," I replied. All of a sudden my mouth became very dry.

"I'm Marshall, are you new?" he asked.

"Yes." I said. Then we just stood there with him staring at me and me staring at the ground.

"Come along, Marion," said Mrs. Epps.

"Uh...I have to go," I stuttered.

"Well it was nice meeting you," he said, as he walked into the office.

I don't remember a thing about the tour that I got that day because I swear I could not get that boy's face out of my head. I was not one that could be considered boy crazy; hell, I had never even paid attention to any boy other than to fight before. But this was different and it came out of nowhere. I was really hoping that I would see him again or maybe he would even be in one of my classes. Only time would reveal and classes were only a few days away.

On the drive home, I was still day dreaming in my own little world when all of a sudden I felt my brother tugging on my arm.


"Yes, Chad, dang calm down!" I snapped, as I snatched my arm away.

"You watch your tone, young lady," she said to me. "Chad, mommy will take you to the park. Would you like that?"

He shrunk down in his seat and poked his lip out.

"I'll take him, Mrs. Epps, he likes for me to play tag with him."

She looked into the rear view mirror and saw Chad's expression and said, "Very well, I suppose."

So when we got home, Chad jumped out of the car and grabbed my hand and I took him to the park. While I was spinning him on the merry-go-round, I asked him why he didn't want Mrs. Epps to take him and he just looked down at the ground.

"Chad, do you hear me talking to you?" I asked in my grown up voice.

"I wanted you to bring me that's why," he said.

"Is that all?" I asked.


"Ok, then. Are you excited about your new school?" I asked trying to change the subject.

"No," he said, "I don't like school. The other kids always make fun of me."

"Well, you tell them little bastards that if they mess with you, then your sister will come up there and whoop all their asses. Ok?"

He smiled at that and said, "Ok."

When we got home about an hour later Mr. and Mrs. Epps were sitting in the living room. He had just gotten home from work and she was sipping on her wine, as usual.

"Hey, kids," he greeted us with a big smile, "how would you like to go out for dinner tonight?"

"No," said Mrs. Epps, "we are not going anywhere. I cooked dinner and we are not going to waste good money when we have food right here."

Mr. Epps just looked away in an effort to avoid causing her to get upset.

"Mike and Chad, you boys go ahead and wash up for dinner and Marion and I will get everything ready," she said.

"Come along, Marion and you can set the table."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, as I followed her into the kitchen.

I went directly to the silverware drawer and started to gather up what I needed and when I turned around-

WHAM! She slapped me right across my face and the silverware went flying everywhere. I looked up at her with tears in my eyes.

"Don't you ever do that to me again!" she said in a menacing voice. "How dare you try to override me with Chad! You don't think I see what you are doing? Trying to come between me and my son? I am his mother now, so you'd better start acting like it and this is the last time that we are going to have this discussion!"

Clearly this bitch had lost her mind. My natural reaction was to ball up my fist and just start swinging, but I was really scared of what might happen next. This woman was crazy. She had really lost her mind!

"Are we clear?" she asked.

I just stared at her.

"Good," she said and continued to fix dinner as if nothing happened.

Somehow I made it through dinner and then went up to my room. As I sat on the bed, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I told myself that maybe she was just having a bad day, and not to think anything of it but I knew that wasn't the case. I made a promise to myself right then and there to just bide my time, do what she said and try not to make her angry, because I had no clue what this woman was capable of.

On the brighter side of things, I was starting school next week and with any luck Marshall Washington would be in one of my classes. That thought alone was enough to spark hope in my heart.

Somehow I made it through the weekend, and finally the first day of school was here.

"Come on, Chad!" I yelled up the stairs, "we're going to miss the bus!"

"I don't wanna go!" He screamed back at me.

I stomped up the stairs and pushed his door open only to find him sitting on his bed, with his arms folded across his little chest and tears streaming down his cheeks.

"You'd better get dressed and come on! Why are you crying?" I asked. I was really irritated that he was taking so long.

"I ain't going to first grade and you can't make me," he stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh, yeah?" I asked, as I started toward him, but then I thought better of it and decided to take a more diplomatic approach.

"I wonder what all those kids are gonna say when they see you playing outside and don't see you at school? They’re gonna come up to you and ask you why you don't go to school and you'll have to tell them that you're a big baby. What a shame."

"I AM NOT A BABY!" he yelled.

"I know that, but how will they know if you don't go to school and show them you're a big boy?" I asked, with fake wonder in my voice.

By that time he was off the bed and pulling his pants on.

"I'm not no baby," he said again, as he finished getting dressed.

"Ok, I'll be downstairs waiting for you."

By the time I ran downstairs and grabbed our lunches and my backpack, he was waiting for me at the front door. We had just made it to the bus stop a few minutes before it pulled up. Chad and I found a seat and when we got to the school I walked him to his class and then I ran next door to the middle school.

I found my homeroom class with no problem, and as I walked in, I couldn't help but notice how many of the other girls were pointing and snickering at me. My clothes, although a million times better than what I used to wear, still were not the name brand stylish clothes that most of the other girls were wearing.

"Nice shoes," said a light skinned girl with shoulder length black hair, "I'm guessing K-Mart blue light special?"

"No," I replied coolly, "your mamma's closest."

She just rolled her eyes and I continued on to my seat. I was pissed but I was determined not to get in trouble on the first day of school. Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Don't pay her no mind," the voice said, "Crystal is just a rich little black girl, who doesn't get enough attention from her daddy."

"Shut up, Marshall!" The girl shot back.

My heartbeat sped up immediately, and I had to remember to breathe evenly. I turned around and there he was; Marshall Washington looking as handsome as ever.

"I don't remember getting your name," he said.

"Mm..Marion," I stuttered.

"Welcome to Jefferson, Marion, and don't let these jealous hoes around here get to you," he whispered.

"Thanks," I said and turned to face the front in an attempt to keep him from seeing me blush.

After that, the rest of the day seemed to fly by. I continued to get icy glares from Crystal and the other girls in her clique but I didn't care. If they kept it up, her and all of her bitches would be collecting their teeth in a shiny container. I had a very low tolerance for people trying to bully me, even at the age of twelve. There was very little in this world that I was afraid of, and girls my age was not one of them.

I collected my homework and bookbag from my locker and made my way to the elementary campus to pick up my brother.

"Hey, Marion, wait up!"

I turned around and Marshall was running across the grass to catch up with me.

"Do you mind if I walk you home?" he asked.

"If you want to," I said and shrugged my shoulders to try to act like I wasn't pressed one way or the other. Inside I was doing cartwheels.

"Good, I'll save you a seat on the bus," he called, as he ran off to the bus parking lot.

I found Chad and almost ripped his arm out of the socket because I was practically dragging him to get the bus. By the time the bus pulled up to our stop, Chad had already made himself Marshall's best buddy. The whole ride home, Marshall listened patiently to Chad ramble on about his day at school. He even asked him questions to make him feel important. I was very impressed.

When the bus finally got to our stop, I asked him, "Why weren't you on the bus this morning?"

"My mom had to drop me off this morning because I had a doctor appointment," he replied.


"I like your brother, he's a smart kid,"

"He's ok as far as little brothers go. I wouldn't trade 'em," I said, as I tried to suppress a grin.

"So, where do you live?" he asked.

"On Archdale," I responded. "Where do you stay?"

"Right around the block, on Parker. Where are you from?" he asked.

I was silent for a moment. Did I want to tell him the truth, or make up some elaborate fairytale existence? I decided that it was best to tell the truth, especially since Chad was right there. He was bound to blurt out the facts, if he heard me telling anything other than that.

"I am from Detroit, but I used to stay at the orphanage on the other side of town. Our parents were killed in a car accident."

"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that," he said sincerely.

"It's ok. It's not like we're missing out on anything. Our parents weren’t the most loving," I told him. I was kind of embarrassed to say it out loud, but it was the truth.

After about ten minutes, we came to our house. In that time I had already made up my mind that this guy was special. Even though he was only twelve, he seemed more mature than the other guys my age at the orphanage.

"Well, this is our stop. I guess I'll see you around"

"Yep, I'll come by and pick you guys up tomorrow. Bye, Chad!" he called, as he began to jog down the street.

I don't think I even touched the ground as I went up the porch steps. We walked into the house and I didn't even take my coat off good before Chad was yelling, "Marion has a boyfriend," at the top of his lungs.

"Shut up, brat!" I said, as I tried to grab him before Mrs. Epps could hear the racket. But I was too late.

"What's going on in here?" she inquired.

"Marion has a BOYFRIEND," Chad taunted in a sing-a-song tone.

"Is that so?" she said, with one eyebrow raised.

"No, ma'am," I replied nervously, "I made a new friend at school and his name is Marshall."

"He walked us home! I like him!" Chad happily volunteered.

"That's wonderful, sweetie," she said and she bent down to give him a hug and a kiss.

"Now, Marion, I won't tolerate any mess do you understand? This boy better just be a friend. I won't have no sluts livin' in my house, you get me."

"Yes, ma'am," I said as I tried to hold back my anger. I simply picked up my bookbag and made my way upstairs. The whole way up I was running through my mind all of the different things I could have said to her; like where to go and how to get there. I was really starting to hate her. My only saving grace was Mr. Epps, who really seemed to care about me and Chad, but he was always working. It made me sick sometimes because I was always worried and feeling like I had to watch my back.

I went to bed that night and prayed for God to watch over me and help me to stay out of her way.

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The Breaking Point- Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Today was the big day, and I just lay in the bed dreading the events to come. I rolled over to take a peek at Chad in the next bed and he was still sound asleep. I crept out of the bed and went into the bathroom to wash my face. As I looked into the mirror, I said a quick prayer and asked God to please let this be a good thing, and to please protect me and my little brother. We hadn’t asked for much, so I didn’t think it was an unreasonable request to put in.

After I finished getting dressed, I woke Chad up and made him wash up and get dressed. Once we were both ready we went downstairs for breakfast. As we sat down at the table to eat, we received numerous glares from the other children, who were jealous that we had potential parents and they didn’t. I didn’t care.

We barely had a chance to finish our food, before Ms. Tinsley came in to let us know that the Epps’ had arrived. She led us to her office where they were waiting and as she ushered us in she said, “Mr. & Mrs. Epps, I would like you to meet Marion and Chad.”

“We are so happy to meet you, Marion and Chad,” said Mrs. Epps with a big smile on her face.

“Yes,” Mr. Epps chimed in, “we sure are pleased to meet you both.”

“Thank you,” I replied uneasily.

“Well, I will leave you all to talk and get to know each other better,” said Ms. Tinsley.

I took Chad’s hand and led him to the leather couch on the other side of the room and sat down. All four of us just sat uncomfortably, until finally I was unable to stand it any longer.

“Why do you want us?” I wanted to know.

“Well,” Mrs. Epps began, “We are not able to have children of our own and we have always wanted children to love. We have a great big house and no one to share it with.”

“Oh,” I said staring at the floor.

“Marion,” she began, “I can tell that you take very good care of your little brother.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You are both very lucky to have each other. We would love to have the chance to give you the life that you deserve,” she said, as she walked over and knelt down in front of us, “I know all about the loss of your parents and we just want to give you something in return for giving us a chance to share in your lives, “ she continued, as she hugged Chad and kissed his cheek.

That was the first of many lies to come, but hell, she had me convinced. In spite of myself I felt a flicker of hope ignite in my heart. I looked over at Chad and he was so enthralled in her words and promises that his little face just lit up. At that moment, I made up my mind to give them a chance.

We talked a little more and before we knew it Ms. Tinsley had returned to see what would become of our little meeting.

“So, how are we doing in here?” she asked.

“Fine, just fine. I think we’re going to have ourselves a little family,” said Mr. Epps happily.

“That’s wonderful,” said Ms. Tinsley, as she clapped her hands together, “Marion is that ok?”

“Yes,” I said.

And that was that. It took less than two weeks for the paperwork to get finalized and we were out of there. It was a little less than two months until my twelfth birthday in September and I felt very optimistic about my new future. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

We moved in with the Epps’ in the middle of July. The first six weeks were more than I could have imagined they would be. First off, the house was a big colonial style brick home on the upper scale side of Detroit. I found out that Mr. Epps was a foreman at the Ford Motor plant, and Mrs. Epps was a domestic engineer (as she liked to call it; a house wife is what I liked to call it.) Apparently, Mr. Epps made more than enough to provide a comfortable living for the both of them.

Chad and I both got our own rooms, which were right across the hall from each other. That would take some getting used to because we had never slept in separate rooms before. Granted, it would be a nice change for me to have some privacy, but I knew it would take some time for him to get used to it.

Then, they took us shopping for school clothes at the K-Mart. You could have hit us in the head with a sack of nickels and we wouldn’t have noticed we were so happy. We had never been shopping for ourselves before for brand new clothes that were in style, or so we thought. All we ever got were Salvation Army hand-me-downs from our parents and state issued essentials at the orphanage.

After a full day of shopping, Chad and I were exhausted. It was late when we got home and Chad was getting sleepy. So, I went in his room to get him situated like I usually did when Mrs. Epps came in suddenly and bumped me aside, so that she could tuck Chad into bed.

“Alright now, baby, don’t you worry about anything. Mommy is here now and everything is ok,” she crooned, as she kissed him goodnight.

I wanted to cuss her out so bad, but instead I bit my tongue so hard that I almost bit it off. She was trippin- hard. I didn’t say a word, I just stood there fuming as I watched her cuddle my brother like he was a love-starved puppy.

After she was done, she got up and ushered me out of the room and into the hallway. Then once she closed the door, she turned to me with a smile on her face and said, “Marion, you don’t have to worry about tucking Chad in anymore. I’m his mother now and I can take care of all that, ok?”

“But…” I began.

“Good. Goodnight, sweetheart,” she said as she hugged me and then trotted off down the hall to her bedroom.

I just stood there and fumed. I was pissed and I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. My first thought was to grab Chad and get the hell out of there. I had been taking care of Chad all his life and I wasn’t about to turn that responsibility over to a complete stranger, who I was starting to suspect was just a little off her rocker. Then I calmed myself down and tried to think rationally.

“Maybe it’s not so bad…I’m too old to be tucking my brother in anyway,” I told myself, but I wasn’t really convinced.

And then again maybe I was really over reacting. I chose to go with that thought because I didn’t want to believe that I had made anything but a good decision for my brother and me to come here. So I pushed it out of my mind and went to sleep in my new bed. I would learn soon enough, that my first instinct was usually the correct one.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Breaking Point- Chapter 1

Chapter 1

"And so my story begins," Marion said.

When I was eleven years old, my brother Chad and I were sent to an orphanage after both of our parents were killed in a car accident. We didn't have any close relatives that were willing to take us in, and our parents moved around so much that they never had a chance to make any friends, who would be willing to step in and take on that type of responsibility. So off to the orphanage we went; it was as simple as that.

My brother was five at that time, and even before the time of my parents passing, he was my sunshine. I loved my brother more than life. We only had each other. Our parents were not the loving or doting parents that some children are lucky to be blessed with. My mother was, you may as well say, a harlot and my father was a flat out drunk. So, I ended up with the responsibility of taking care of my brother all of the time anyway, since they were always partying.

I would be the one to feed him, read him stories, and tuck him in at night. In his eyes our mother was just a figure who passed through to rest everyday. I was his Sissy.

The orphanage in and of itself wasn't really that bad. We ate three square meals a day and had a warm place to sleep at night. Other than the fact I had to whoop a little ass every now and then, to show the other girls that I wasn't just a pretty face, it was ok. Most days me and Chad would keep to ourselves and I would just do my best to keep him entertained.

Then it happened. The Epps' came into the picture and little did we know that our lives would take an unexpected turn for the worse.

Michael and Janelle Epps were not able to have children of their own, so they wanted to be foster parents. They were a great looking couple. He was well over six feet tall with a muscular build and she was about five-foot-seven with shoulder length brown hair.

When they walked in, the head mistress gave them a tour of the facility and all while they were walking through, Mr. Epps had his eye on me the whole time. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me and I tried not to pay him any attention but I was very uncomfortable all of a sudden, so I took Chad to our room to play a board game.

A week or so went by and the head mistress called me into her office and told me to have a seat. I sat down apprehensively, as she closed the door and I tried to figure out what she could possibly want with me. I tried very hard to be invisible because I figured if nobody noticed me, then they would just leave me and my brother alone.

"Marion, I have some very good news for you," she began and paused long enough for me to start squirming uncomfortably in my seat. "There is a nice couple that wants to take you in."

"Why...I mean, that's ok. I'm fine right here," I said nervously.

"Why, Marion, don't you want to have parents and a nice home to live in? I thought this would make you happy. Do you know how many kids in this place would love to have this opportunity?" she asked.

"No," I said, "and what about Chad? I ain't going nowhere without my brother."

"That goes without saying, Marion. They want to take you and your brother, and I apologize for not being clear about that," she said gently.

"I don't want to upset you, I thought you would be happy. Could we at least set up a meeting, and then you can make your decision from there. Ok?"

"I guess," I replied.

"Good. I'll set up a meeting for the day after next, how's that?" she asked.

"Fine, I guess," I said. I was very unsure of myself.

That night I couldn't sleep. I was torn between wanting a storybook family and not wanting to be disappointed. I already had parents and as far as I was concerned, I did just fine without any. At the same time, I wanted a mother for me, and a father for Chad. I could see myself going to the big shopping malls with a mom that lavished me with expensive gifts and a dad who would take Chad to little league games. I guess I owed it to him, to at least give it a shot.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year's Gift

Hello Everyone,

For 2008, I have decided to give free previews each week for five chapters of The Breaking Point, As Told By the Other Woman, and my new novel Beautiful Rage which will be released in February. If you like what you read, please visit my website at and receive a 10% discount on your purchase and free shipping just for mentioning this blog! So for the next few weeks, sit back and enjoy!

The Breaking Point


"I.D. please", the security guard said dryly as she looked over my paper work.

I slid my driver's license and reporter I.D. through the glass opening, and proceeded through the metal detector. After making it through successfully without setting off the alarm, I was ushered to the holding cell so that I could be escorted into the visiting chambers.

I was on assignment at Wayne County Women's Correctional Facility to interview Marion Hayes, who was sentenced to life in prison after brutally murdering her husband. I had to admit that initially I was a little bitter at the fact I had been given this story, because to be honest, it seemed pretty mundane. But, for some reason the Woman's Lib Magazine, for which I was a reporter, just had to have the story. You hear about women offing their husbands all the time for infidelity and domestic abuse. But, the further I dug into this case, the more intriguing it became.

I was very anxious to get in there and start the interview. By the time I had finished going through all of the security procedures and was escorted into the visiting room, Marion was seated at the table with her hands in her lap.

There are no words to describe my astonishment when I beheld the woman sitting in front of me. Even in the prison issued blue jumper she wore, she was a stunningly beautiful woman. At just a glance, you could see that she was a woman of strength and pride just from her posture. Her face held a certain hardness that was very intimidating, and her eyes gleamed with wisdom of life experiences.

I took a deep breath as I approached the table and extended my hand to introduce myself.

"Ms. Hayes, I am Vanessa Jackson," I began, "and I am very pleased to meet you. I would also like to thank you for granting me this interview."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Jackson," she replied, as she lifted her hands slightly to acknowledge my gesture and to show that she was not able to shake my hand because chain linked handcuffs prevented her from doing so.

"Before we begin, I wanted to ask why you granted this interview to Woman's Lib after so long? They have been trying to get to you for a very long time,” I asked.

She looked earnestly at me and simply stated, "Well, sometimes you just need to get things off your chest, ya know?"

"Yes," I said, "I do know. Well, where shall we begin?" I asked, as I laid my tape recorder on the table.

"The beginning is always best," she responded sadly.