New Memoir Tuesday! This weeks challenge was; Tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in your life that you are proud of. Your word limit is 700 words.
On the wall at the Portland Women’s Crisis line were charts of two different multiple personalities that called the line regularly. One of these women, whose chart extended to over 17 different personalities, had a five-year-old self that would call us nightly and if you worked at the line long enough, you knew the name of L.T’s stuffed animals and could set the clock by her goodnight call.
This particular night around midnight, we got call from one of the hospital emergency rooms asking us to transport a deaf rape victim to one of the women’s shelters. I took two green volunteers and piled them into my 1978 peach mustang to pick her up. We gathered her from the emergency room and in her hand she was white-knuckle clutching a manila envelope talisman full of discharge papers. We made her as comfortable we could in the backseat and headed off into the not very well-lit Oregon countryside for the hour-long drive.
When we arrived at the farmhouse turned shelter, I sent the two volunteers to check her in and waited outside smoking a well deserved cigarette thinking that they would be back by the time I was done. But with each inhale and flare the scent of trouble thickened. When finally down to the filter, I admitted that something was wrong and headed inside, finding both volunteers looking stricken.
“She doesn’t want to stay,” one tells me, “she wants us to drop her off at a corner downtown.”
“Well, we can’t do that. Let me talk to her.”
She’s sitting on a chair in the intake office, and has moved it so she’s facing the door. She tells me what she wants, and I explain that we do transports from danger not to danger, and I try to figure out why this corner. As we are writing back and forth my instincts begin to tingle and the hair starts to stand up on my arms. I walk behind her and snap my fingers, her head jerks and the entire language of her body changes. She slides down to the floor until she’s kneeling, she looks up at me and says,“I recognize your voice!”
“Hello, L.T. How are you tonight?” I ask.
“Are you going to take me home now?”
“Can you tell me where that is?”
She tells me the same corner that Alice was trying to get us to take her to.
“L.T. can you show me what’s in the envelope?”
She opens it and spills in onto her lap. Stuffed among her discharge papers are drawings of some of the things that had been done to her. She was the child of parents involved in a cult and had been ritually abused from the time she was less than a year old. Some of the papers are covered in different handwritings and I struggle to keep the tears from my eyes as I only just begin to grasp all that she has survived.
“What are we going to do?” asks one of the volunteers sotto voce.
“We’re going to take her home, to the only place that is hers.”
I try to keep LT chatting during the drive, because this is a personality that I know, but she switches several times including to a sulky nine-year-old with a potty mouth and a penchant for kicking the back of my seat. When we arrive, L.T takes back over. She won’t let me walk her in, but promises to wave from her window once inside. As I am waiting, I look at the greenies, they are pale, exhausted and terrified.
“It isn’t always like this,” I say.
They turn their disbelieving eyes to me and I know they won’t be back. Helping people on this level isn’t for everyone and it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. L.T’s light flicks on and she waves to me. I see that under her right arm she has one of the many stuffed animals that we discuss nightly. I wave back and drive off knowing that I am uniquely strong and that tomorrow I will do it all over again.