After the shower, we put on our clean clothes. We followed the woman downstairs and over to the first building we had entered originally. We walked into a huge room filled with long tables and rows of chairs. Children of all ages stood in back of them, waiting for a prayer to be said. When it was done, every one sat down to eat a hearty meal. I never saw so much food before. I started to finally feel the weight of the confusion, sadness, loneliness, and fear. I sat in silence looking at the food. I started to eat and gagged on it. Homesickness washed over me in waves. My parents had their own issues and they were abusive and neglectful, but I still missed them. Bad parents were better than no parents at all. At least they were familiar, and I knew what to expect from them. In this place, I did not know who to trust or who to fear.
It was quiet in the dinning hall. The children focused on eating. I was told to finish my meal or sit there until I completed it. I tried to eat the cottage cheese, but the texture made me throw up in my plate. The woman got up from the table and stood over me. She made me finish eating the whole plate. She called me “disgusting.” For a moment in time, I felt raw, ugly hate towards her.
After eating, we were taken back to the dormitories. My siblings and I were placed on a chore list. Mine was to clean the bathrooms. I was shown the steps to take in cleaning them appropriately. While cleaning them, I leaned against the cool whiteness of the bath tub, hugging it with my body while tears fell on the inanimate object. I was finally alone. There was silence and a sense of peace inside me.
That night, while every one around me slept, I got up and looked out the window. I saw the moon and heard the dogs bark. I felt caged in, imprisoned within the walls of the institution. I missed the freedom to roam. I missed the outdoors. In my mind’s eye, I saw me as a wolf running across the ground outside.
The next day I attended the school across the street. At recess, the children yelled words at me. They called me a bastard. They shouted I didn’t have parents, that I wasn’t lovable. The words stung, but I hid the pain they caused. I persevered and I kept moving forward into the future. (To be continued in Part Four.)