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I wake up at the same time everyday, with the same routine. The same morning dew and the same dreading voice of the ones near me. My foster sisters and I hear the loud three bells in the morning, and by the third one, we must all be standing. The sun is on the east side of the building, poking through our old, ripped curtains. The grey walls and metal bed frames reflect the glimpse of sunlight, and the smell of baguettes from the downstairs bakery creep through the broken cracks in the window. Mr. Ed, our foster caretaker, walks in our crammed room at precisely 7:01, to make sure all of the girls are all awake, to start our chores. I start with fluffing the pillow case, then work down to the feet of the bed to tuck in the corners of our thin sheet of cloth we receive as our blanket. We then get five minutes to get ready in our bathroom made for 2, for the 7 of us. We all wear the same white dress, and have to have our hair slicked back with our hair tied. After we are done, we all walk down the slippery wooden steps to prepare all of our cleaning supplies. We clean the house everyday to wipe away every piece of dust, even though the house is already striped of any germs possible. The house holds 5 rooms, one which we are not allowed to enter unless it is our “special time with Mr. Ed.” We don’t speak of those times.
The metal clock hits 11, and we finish all of our chore work. We get an hour to play and eat lunch that we all prepare; unless it is “our day.” When it is “our day”, we spend our lunch time with Mr. Ed. We all dread these days but we try to forget about it. It happens once a week for all 7 girls for one hour. My days are Tuesdays. I came into this foster home 4 years ago, and I took the place of the previous girl who got kicked out of the house for trying to expose Mr. Ed to his boss. She is the reason why we keep our mouths shut, and forget our one hour a week. Although, even though I’ve been here for 4 years, I still am not used to it. How do I ever get used to being raped?
208 weeks have passed since I’ve been here and everytime only gets harder for me. If I cry, I am punished, and I am treated like a useless being. Every night, I lay in bed awake and think of a way to find justice for the girls, but I am scared. I’ve planned multiple strategies of exposing him, but what if he finds out it was me? What will he do to me? This is the problem. Many girls like me in foster homes deal with abuse, rape, and harassment but feel belittled to the point of giving up. They fear being punished, or higher authorities not believing them. Although, this problem is in a lot of different parts of foster care, we either get sent to a non-suitable home with corrupt parents or to a foster home with destructive caretakers. I face the same problem because I cannot talk about the situation with the other girls, or else he will find out. We are all here to save ourselves, but I still care to fight for justice. I know exactly how I want to do it, but I’m waiting for the right time.
It’s been a month since I was heavily thinking about the situation, but the time has come. Our monthly meeting with the board came around and I was ready. I sat in my seat trembling, with sweaty fingers waiting for the right time to say anything. My cold metal seat turned warm and the moment the head director said, “Is there any problems you guys have been facing,” I stood up. The time was here. I bursted out, “WE NEED TO LEAVE, Mr. Ed is raping us.” The board members all at once stared me, sitting in pure silence. Then, my foster sisters started vocalizing their stories. They all spoke along with me to spread what was happening in the house for years. I was surprised since we all were scared of punishment, similar to what happened to the other girl. Although, we all stood alongside and knew if things went south, we would all have to suffer together. The board sat in their desks with blank stares, speechless of the news. They looked at us as if we were telling a made up story, until they finally kicked us out of the room. Mr. Ed was coming down the hall to get us and we were fearful of him finding out what we had said. Although a few minutes passed and we all start walking down the hallway, towards the parking lot, until the door opened. The head director called out to Mr. Ed to enter the room while we waited outside. The girls and I were scared so we ran down the stair and waited in the main lobby just in case we needed to run away from his anger.
30 minutes passed and we all locked hands together waiting for the repercussions we would have to face after trying to fight for some justice. We heard the elevator bell “ding” and all were surprised to see Mr. Ed in handcuffs, being escorted by the police. He stared at each one of us as he passed by and entered the back of the police car. It was the best moment yet. We looked at each other and hugged like never before. We don’t know what the future has for us or what may come with the next foster home, but at least we started and finished this obstacle together.