Flammable Kittens : A Short Story by Bonnielynn A child survives a horrific foster care experience
Flammable Kittens a Short Story by Bonnielynn
I don't often write about my time spent in Foster Care because I seldom think of it on a daily basis. I have never been a person who carries too much faith in the belief that we need to carry our pasts into our future. I always knew as a child my life would one day be my own and I would then control what happened. I can remember just singing and dancing or pretending I was on a pirate ship bound for a distant place. My mother did her best to keep me entertained in my performance goals by having the Saturday shows starting me and she would play the music I would sing along to. My Grand Mary sitting in the front row with her glass of ale and Uncle Bill her second husband who she said " the love of my huge life Bonnie girl". My family was a mixture of first generation Scottish people with Irish blood, married to an Englishman sort of crowd. I loved to perform and I was fortunate to be encouraged at home by my mum who had purchased hundreds of records for me to listen to so I could dance. I had been home from Foster Care almost two years and was almost myself again with the love and support of my mother and grandfather. I forgot much of what I had learned prior to entering Foster Care and had to learn math and spelling over as if I had never learned. It was hard for my mother as I would not speak of what happened to me as I could not tell her I had seen her cry the day my father left and I swore I would never do that to her. I would not speak nor let anyone close to me I was not mean I just moved away and would not embrace anyone. I went to live with Grand Mary my Irish great grandmother who had named me Bonnielynn as my mother could not give me the attention I required she had five other children to raise. She used to cry " Bonnielynn what did they do to you?" I would just look back at her. They took me to doctors who assured them I had not been molested but I needed counseling to overcome the abuse I had hidden inside my mind. I would go to the doctors office sitting on a big chair with my torn keds on looking at my hands as he asked questions I would not answer, I knew he would tell my mother. He would gently suggest what had happened to me as if probing? I thought him strange and decided early on I would tell him lies as that is what he deserved. I was confident he was just another person to harm me, I sat quietly thinking about baseball. The doctor told my mother it would take time but to try and let me have as much of a normal routine as possible. I was in third grade and subject to the ridicule of the kids because I said very little. I did not mind being teased but if anyone mentioned my mother ? I went for them at recess and daily I was in the principal's office with a note pinned to my coat as we had no phone. After a while they just left the safety pin on my coat as I would had the note over to my mother after school she would gasp " Bonnie girl again?" I would just nod and take my place on the "time out " chair . I would watch my mother cook dinner and listen to her advice which I never took as I fought because they made fun of her and I could never tell her , so I just nodded . She sent me to live with Grand Mary who could dedicate more time to me tearfully saying " I just don't know what to do with her all she does is fight " I thought not true I play a pretty mean first base looking down at my toes that came out of my sneakers. So with one swoop I went to stay with Grand Mary and Uncle Bill who still drove like he lived in London. I would laugh and giggle as I rolled around the back seat of his car listening to the horns and curses of other drivers, as would yell back at them , " you rotters ", and continue on as if he was completely faultless. I liked Uncle bill but he never really said much except " yes Mary and no Mary " I guess Grand Mary spoke enough for both of us. I stayed in the spare room and Grand Mary had rag dolls sent over from Scotland and gave them to me to care for saying " please don't scrub them up like you have that poor Mr Teddy he has no fur left" . We would read every night and practice spelling, as slowly I started to let people sit closer to me and Grand Mary could put her arm around me.
Here is what happened to me the first day in Foster care and why I would not let anyone I loved close.
That day was a typical Michigan fall day cool and colder at night but the snow had yet to start falling and I waited for it desperately wanting to build ice houses. It was the last day of my weekend stay with my paternal grandfather and I spent the day playing in the huge barn with the baby kittens. They were barn kittens who my grandfather said " they kill the rats" matter of factly. He was a tall thin man who had left Germany to start a life here in America and he viewed the animals on his farm as workers . He has six german shepherds that guarded his huge farm known as "the homestead" but they were not raised as pets, and they stood along side my grandfather as he spoke and with a snap of his finger they ran off to run the parameter of the farm. I never tried to pet these dogs and I never saw my grandfather pet them either I was happy with the baby kittens who I had lined up on a bench to watch me dance and sing. But it was time to leave and I put two of the kittens in my coat pocket one a black kitten with yellow green eyes and the other a black and white tiny kitten as I could not think to leave them . I hugged and kissed them telling them " be quiet or grandfather will make me take you back to the barn" they just blinked at me. I patted my pockets as grandfather drove me home as I spent some weekends with him and I adored him, he greeted my mother as I ran out of the truck not wanting the kittens discovered . He had always liked my mother and said " my son is the biggest disappointment of my life" and I would nod and say " mine too grandfather", he would laugh. My mother invited him in wiping her hands on her apron and he declined respectfully and waved at me as he drove away. My mother knelt down looking into my face, " Bonnie girl what are you up to?" and just then the black kitten stuck his head out of my coat pocket and said "meow" , I pushed him back in, too late. My mother laughed and pulled the kitten out and the white/black kitten popped out, she laughed harder. I stood there waiting to be told to go sit on my time out bench but she hugged me and said, " they need some milk and a bath if we are to keep them" my heart just was so thankful as I skipped ahead towards the house. We had very little but I did not know it and I ate dinner giving the kittens tiny portions and we all prayed for my father, well they did I mouthed the words. After bath time we all drifted asleep in living room the kittens layed next to me . It was some time late in the night when the door was busted in by the police and child protective services who were there to take us from our mother, there was yelling and screaming. I was confused and frightened as my mother's screams filled my ears as I climbed off the sofa I ran to her. Apparently someone complained that we were not well cared for as they thrust the papers in my mother's face and we had no phone she could not get her family's help. I stood there hugging my mother as they collected my brothers and sisters, I kicked at the police and hung on for life. I thought , " if I was bigger you would not be so brave", and I heard them say grab that little red head before she lands a good one. I was yanked from my mother and set on the couch told to put my coat on and I did as instructed . I heard the baby kittens crying and I impulsively put them in my coat pockets, I did not know I would not return home two years later . We were placed in a big van everyone crying except me I was trying to figure out how to escape like a good pirate would, I looked up and saw one of the police looking at me. He glared " you better sit down little tough girl" , I slid back into my seat as we drove off I heard my mother crying and was so confused. Everyone got out of the van as we stopped by a huge house with lots of lights on except me I was told to sit down apparently there was not enough room in the warm house for me? My siblings just looked at me terror stricken as I drove off with the police and family protection team. We drove a long while and finally stopped at a small run down farm and as they opened the van door it smelled like cows and urine. They walked me into the tiny kitchen and I looked at who was to be my foster mother she was scraggly with yellow blonde hair and smoked cigarettes I felt dizzy. I was told to go lay down on the hard leather sofa and fell into a fitful sleep of dreams of screaming and crying. I was not given a blanket or pillow so my neck was sore the next early morning and I pulled the baby kittens out of my coat to pet them. They were hungry and started to cry loudly as I tried to sooth them the door opened up and they demanded the kittens from me. I refused and looked back at them my eye narrowed prepared to fight them, and they understood that so their voices changed to nice sweetness promised me to care for the kittens. I knew the kittens needed to eat so I gave them over I felt my heart drop as I was truly alone. We had a small breakfast and I was allowed to go outside to play and as I walked along the gravel path littered with goose feathers I was approached by a teenager of 13 years in age. He towered over me and smiled I remember he had yellow teeth and he said he was their son and in charge of me ? He pulled my coat and asked " do you want to see your kittens?" I looked up and nodded following him to a clearing that had a huge barrel on pegs a fire was still smoldering as he pushed me towards it, " look inside your kittens are in there" , I felt sick as I approached the barrel. I peered inside and could see the remains of both baby kittens and I became mortally afraid . The monster came up alongside putting his hand on my neck " see those kittens I burned them alive and I will kill your mother and anyone you love if you ever tell anyone about this place" , I knew he meant it and why not he had just killed the baby kittens . I felt something switch off inside my head, like ? A blank sheet and I knew terror as I stood with a monster who had proven he would kill, I thought of my mother and how good she was, I believed him . I did not have time to grieve for the kittens as I knew my life was in real danger and I feared greatly for my mother. I blamed myself for the kittens death as if I had not put them in my pocket they would still be alive. I knew I had to be quiet like a tiny mouse so no one would get mad enough to go harm my mother, as little kids believe adults and why they are abused with no one knowing.
Two years later I am sitting on the couch with Grand Mary thinking its ok to let her love me that monster won't get her and slowly as time passed I felt safer and started to open up more. I never told my family and why I trust animals over people sometimes, and shelter my heart until I know you are not a monster too.