Captive – A Prologue (by Lainie Gallagher)

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I’ve known today’s guest blogger for almost as long as I’ve been blogging. She had another blog back then, but decided to start a new one because many of her friends and family read her other blog and she felt she couldn’t write as openly and honestly there. I get that. You’ll get that too after you read the following post. She’s written her own bio, so I won’t say much about her except that she’s an exceptional writer, she makes me smile and that I bloggy love her!

Here’s Lainie:

I am a follower of Christ, the wife of David, a teacher to middle schoolers, and the adoptive mommy to an ornery feline, and I do try to keep them in that order! Reading and writing are my two favorite things, and I hate all things domestic, except children. (I guess whatever kids God blesses me with will live in a messy home and eat grilled cheese sandwiches!) I feel called to write the story God gave me, and I pray that whomever He brings to read it will see Him and not me.

Captive – A Prologue

They lied. Are they supposed to do that? Aren’t they supposed to serve and to protect? Well, if you call drippy pizza and oldish card games “service,” then I guess they served me well. If you call taking away my family “protection,” then they shone as saviors. I wouldn’t have called it that, though. They lied.

It began with a knock. Actually, it could have been the doorbell. I don’t recall exactly, since I was engrossed in erasing my mess in the kitchen after making hamburger patties. My secret recipe yielded the most coveted burgers in the family, so the job always fell to me. Although I knew that the mothers were simply exploiting child labor and relishing an evening off, I still felt special for it. Specialness had become a stranger in those days, along with any positive interaction with my mother or grandmother. This was in large part due to the mounting evidence that they knew absolutely nothing. They knew me least of all. So, I enjoyed burger nights, as long as no one hovered or asked me annoying questions during the process.

Lost in my own pressing thoughts, very little could distract me. The meaty aroma creeping into every corner of the cramped kitchen scarcely caught my attention. I ignored some irrelevant statement—or was it a question?—from my old mother’s old mother. Scrubbing and cleaning and contemplating great things, I wished away the mothers in my life.

The knock at the door—or was it the doorbell?—jolted me out of my grandiose plans. It matters little how the intruders announced their presence; it’s what came after that really matters.

No one came to the door—ever. And I knew from years of experience with my mother that if someone actually did come to the door, then no one answered it—ever. The thing to do is mute the television and stare intently through the peeky hole until they leave. If they leave, you turn up the volume and resume life. If they don’t leave, well, then you should seriously consider the back door. Someone would leave eventually; there would be no meeting between intruder and inhabitant.

My grandmother was different. She didn’t know how to live like we did. To her, mommies and daddies stayed together. Knocks at the door signaled unexpected opportunities to chat with a friend while exchanging a cup of sugar for a smiling promise to share the goodies. Needless to say, my grandmother didn’t hesitate to go to the door. She walked effortlessly and without concern, as though the knock—or doorbell—physically drew her trusting hand to the doorknob beyond her control. I threw the towel on the counter, watching and shaking my head in complete disbelief of her naiveté. She disappeared stupidly into the entryway, but I can’t deny that I crept around the corner to see what menace might be lurking.

I’ll never forget the first thing I saw, or, rather, I should say “things.” Even though the door instantly exposed us and them, I really didn’t notice the people right away. Instead, I noticed the things—the things that meant everything. They meant my world crashing down around me. They meant imprisonment—they meant devastation—they meant tears—they meant danger—they meant insecurity. Cold and gleaming, they meant the loss of life as we all knew it.

Handcuffs.

And my mother was standing inside them. My strong, defiant, tragic mother was inside of them and she made no attempt to get out. After all of our escapes, after all of our near-misses, she wasn’t even trying!

What do I do? How do I get out? I stepped back incredulously. We’ve never experienced a situation quite like this; the cops have never been quite this close. But, we can do this. They have guns, but we can do this. Think. Look in her eyes. Is there a plan? Is she sending me a secret message? What is she trying to say?

Her eyes revealed only resignation and sorrow. They whispered pity. My mother felt sorry for me. The years of running, hiding, and lying had completely exhausted her, but I never saw it until that moment. More than that, however, I couldn’t get past the obvious sorrow on my behalf. She wished I didn’t see what I saw, and she prayed that what was about to happen wouldn’t.

They entered, sat, argued, discussed, reassured, directed, planned, explained. Sitting in my grandmother’s informal living room on Central Avenue, two uniforms and two mothers made plans about my tomorrow.

I heard only fragments of what those four said in that room that night, for I was still planning my escape. Whether the mothers would make their escape or not, I would. I thought about my escape as I obediently packed my bags. I thought about my escape as my mother lifted her tired, handcuffed arms up over my head to give me one last, tearful, pitiful, awkward hug—the one that must hold me over for many years.

Entering the wide open, seeing crouched men wearing black, aiming guns, and surrounding the house, I abandoned all plans of escape. Not knowing what else to do, I numbly pulled my body into the designated squad car. Defiantly extinguishing sudden tears, I watched the uniforms direct my mommy into another car, worlds away. It was no use. I was only twelve, and the men did have guns after all.

I didn’t know where they took my mother. Well I knew, but I didn’t know a precise location and I had trouble seeing it in my head. Stripes? Orange jumpsuits? Chains? Humiliating initiations? Maybe. I bet she didn’t even have walls around her toilet. I bet she thought about me the whole time. On second thought, maybe she was planning her escape. That sounds a lot like her.

As for me, I stayed in limbo at the city police department for endless hours. The uniforms had names and gave me food. They let me call friends to explain the inexplicable. They showed me my horribly inaccurate—and completely ugly—age-enhanced photograph. As we talked, they promised me I would not have to stay with my pedophilic father that night. They understood the reason for our fugitive way of life.

I couldn’t bear the thought of experiencing everything my mother had warned me about. She had always expressed her thankfulness that I didn’t remember. Chatting with these friendly men, I felt my own sense of thankfulness because it looked like I’d never have to worry about it, even now. They confided in me that pending paperwork would let me stay with my grandmother under a sort of “house arrest” until everything could be straightened out. I relaxed and felt better. These cops—the people we had spent my life outwitting and outrunning—were actually going to help me.

Well, they lied, and I revisited plans of escape.

This is my story.

To read more from Lainie Gallagher, visit her at his blog Life is Good and follow her on twitter at @LainieGallagher

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