I’ve been mulling something over for the past couple of weeks. Each night when I go to bed, I’ve had the same thoughts. I’m not sure what started me thinking about the words “For Five Days”, but I keep thinking those words over and over. It seems as though I’ve been measuring everything in 5-day increments for a while and that length of time is just trying to tell me something. And I know that when I start repeatedly thinking the same thing – there’s a reason for it. And I don’t let it go until I have the answer. Finally, the other night I woke up from a deep sleep and I knew the answer. I knew what the five days meant and why that was so significant to me.
When I began my blog, I had a destination in mind. I knew the incident that I was going to have to talk about at some point, but wasn’t really sure if I would ever be able to do it. Is it time? Do I dare? Do I need to? Is it just too much? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I’m going to try it. This may never get posted, or it may be a long time from now when I’m able to post, but I’m going to begin the story.
This story is about a young girl – someone I’ve known all my life. She had a rough beginning – lots of problems filled her days. Alcoholic, abusive father. Alcoholic mother who was abused by the father. She had sisters who for some reason were spared the abuse. Of course, they had to witness the abuse from the father, but luckily, never were the recipients. Then, there was the young girl. I never quite understood why she was the “chosen” one — the one child to receive the awful hate-filled verbal abuse, the painful physical abuse that included broken ribs, a concussion, and the many jabs and slaps and punches. There is a reason she was chosen, but one that only the abuser knows. In her mind, she was never smart enough, never good enough, never deserving. In the beginning, she just took it. Soon, she began to believe that she deserved it. She wasn’t quite sure why, but she knew she deserved it. So, she did nothing.
But, that’s not entirely true. Even from an early age, she learned how to disassociate when things got bad. One of her finest feats was that she learned to fly. When things got really, really bad, she just closed her eyes, stretched out her arms, and she flew away. Oh, the places she would visit! She learned to love the mountains that she had never seen in real life, but had read about in so many books. She would soar like an eagle, looking down on the world. It was always full of normal people who lived in normal houses, and who were happy. The mamas and the daddies loved the children and played with them. This little girl would fly above them, watching with her eagle eyes, and she would wish that she could live that life. Life as that eagle allowed her to be mighty and wise and all-seeing. It allowed her to live in a world where things were good and beautiful and caring. And then, she would have to land again, into the home where she was never good enough. This went on for several years and she finally began to wonder why she had to accept that. She slowly began to fight back – only with words, of course, but it was a way for her to fight.
And then, she reached the age where she discovered boys (or maybe the boys discovered her. Whatever!) Some of these boys treated her as though she did matter – that she was smart, funny, and worthy. And that was all it took. When she was with them, she was just a normal girl, like all her other friends. And it was good. She had found a way to be accepted. She was so busy in her personal life trying to hide the truth of her abuse from her friends that she jumped at the chance to be normal and to experience what she thought was love. (Of course, it wasn’t, but since she had never experienced real love before, she did not know the difference.) When she was finally allowed to date, a whole new world opened up for her. Boys were fun. They treated her like she mattered. And it was good.
Then, came along one boy in particular. Her father had never been really gung-ho with her dating at all, but this boy? No way was his daughter going to date this boy! He did not approve of his father’s line of work so there was no way HIS daughter was going to date THIS boy! And let me tell you, there were some knock-down, drag out fights about his opinion of this boy and his father. There were even some broken ribs involved, but since she had finally begun to revolt when he laid down the law, she decided that she was just not going to pay him any attention. She was going to see this boy, no matter what it took. And it took quite a bit of scheming at times. It finally reached a point where the girl knew that she really didn’t care for this boy as much as she should, based upon all the trouble it was causing, but her father WAS NOT going to win this fight! No way! She and the boy would “go steady” for a while and then he’d spy another cute thing and it would be over. And then, he’d be back. And then, they’d be over again. And then, he’d be back. She was always willing to take him back because she KNEW that her father disapproved. And she was bound and determined that she was going to win! No matter what it took!
And then, she met a knight in shining armor. He was kind. He was sweet. He had a wonderful family. He was pretty darn cute. He had a heart of gold. And most importantly, he cared for her. He really did. And he didn’t mind letting others know how he felt about her. AND, her father approved of this knight in shining armor. Wholeheartedly approved! So things were good. Or so she thought. However, her father was quick to remind her every chance he got that it would never last, that soon the boy would see that she wasn’t good enough for him and he would leave her. But, the knight didn’t leave. And things were good. For a while.
Boy #1 still contacted her, still tried to see her, but she was determined to do things the right way. She stayed away. Until there was a tragedy in Boy #1’s life. It was terrible and she did feel badly for him, but he was the past. Her knight was her future. And then……..her knight told her that she needed to see Boy #1 to tell him how sorry she was for the tragedy. She didn’t want to. She was afraid to, but her knight told her that it was the right thing to do. Damn doing the right thing! So, he picked her up for school one morning, but didn’t head to the school. When she asked where they were going, he said he was taking her to Boy #1’s house so she could be there for him. What a terrible, awful thing for him to do. But, he was determined. So, she went. He said he’d pick her back up when it was time for school to be out. She spent the day with Boy #1 and his family and in a way, her knight had been right. It was the “right” thing to do, but oh, it was such a “wrong” thing to do, also. She thought that after that day, things would go back to normal with her knight and they did for a while.
Then Boy #1 started calling and calling and calling and she fell for his sweet lines and began to see him again. At this point, things got really confusing for her. Her father was constantly telling her that her knight was too good for her, that they’d never last, and that she didn’t deserve anyone as good as a knight. While he was yelling these words in her ear, Boy #1 was whispering his sweet nothings in her other ear. And her knight was on the sidelines, still professing his love and devotion. She had had 16 years of being told that she was not good enough and in her young, foolish heart she believed it. She finally reached a point with her father that if he was so determined that she was “no good”, she’d show him what “no good” was. She was tired of trying to please him and never being good enough. If he was so set in his opinion of Boy #1, she decided that she was going to hurt her father just as much as he was hurting her. So, she totally gave in to Boy #1. Whatever happened would happen and her father was going to get what He deserved. But, in the end, it was the young girl who was hurt the most.
It was now the end of January of her junior year of high school and it was apparent to her that there was a problem. She had broken it off with Boy #1 and was dating her knight again. How she was going to fix this, she had no idea. Perhaps if she just ignored it, it would go away. By the next month, she knew it was not going to go away. What to do? What to do? She went to Boy #1 and told him of the problem and sure enough, he said it was her problem, not his. He told her that he had just bought a new car and that in order to solve the problem, he would have to sell his car and there was no way he was going to do that! Yep, those were his exact words. It was either his car or fix the problem. He chose the car. She was devastated. But, she still was not going to tell. How could she? She said nothing to her knight.
Secrets in a small town have a way of not staying secret. This young girl got called into the Counselor’s office one day and she was asked if there was anything she wanted to talk about. Talk about? Nope! Not a thing. The next week, she was called back. Still nothing to talk about. This went on for several weeks and the counselor was not going to give up. Week after week, she’d call the young girl in and week after week, the young girl would deny that there was anything wrong. Finally, the counselor came right out and asked that terrible, awful question. Are you pregnant? “Good Lord, no. Do you think I’d be sitting here alive if I were? You know my father.” Time was ticking away. February. March. April. Still not going to tell. Don’t know how she thought she was going to solve the problem, but she wasn’t going to tell. Then, her knight told her that he’d heard something. Oh, God, what was she going to do now? At first, she denied it even to him, but sometime in May, she finally cracked. He asked her what she was going to do. She had no idea, but it was her problem and nobody else’s. The counselor was still on her so to try to throw everyone off, the young girl signed up to take Trig during summer school. The counselor told her that was a foolish thing to do since they both knew that she wasn’t going to be able to go to summer school. “Watch me” was her reply. And she was there for Trig each and every day. She would go to school in the mornings and then go to work at her father’s store in the afternoons. Still hiding the ever-growing fact that something was wrong.
When the young girl thinks of the counselor now, she is grateful for the concern shown to her. She so wanted to open up to the counselor, but knew that if she did, there would be no stopping. All kinds of hell would be brought out and the young girl knew she could not do that. So, she did not tell.
Boy #1 was still denying any responsibility for anything.
August came around and summer school was over so the young girl was working all day at her father’s store. The knight was still asking her every day what “they” were going to do. She reminded him again and again and again that there was no “they” and that whatever was going to be done had to be done by her. She still had no clue as to what she was going to do – she just knew that SHE WASN’T TELLING. Or so she thought.
There was talk at her house about going shopping for school clothes since school would be starting in a few weeks, but she kept putting that off. One day, during the third week of August she was sitting at her desk in the store office and the knight’s mother walked in the door. No problem. Probably just wants to pay their bill. But, she asked the young girl’s mother if she could “borrow” the young girl for a few minutes. Panic! Panic! Panic! As they walked out of the store, the woman said that she and her husband would like to talk to her for a few minutes. Panic! Panic! Panic! As she got in the back seat of their car, her heart was beating about a million miles a minute and she was sweating like a boar hog in the south Georgia sun. As she sat there, a million thoughts ran through her mind and she knew that she was fixing to catch hell. But, she was wrong. As the knight’s mother turned around to face her, she reached back and patted the young girl’s arm and said, “The knight told us last night that you are pregnant and that the baby is his and that y’all are getting married.” You could have knocked the young girl over with a feather. How in the hell could he have told his parents that? He knows damn good and well that this is NOT his child. How could he have done that without even talking to her about it? What does he think he’s doing? While all these thoughts were rushing through her mind, the woman said, “So, we have gone by to see the preacher and the wedding is set for next Friday.” Wedding? WHAT WEDDING? Surely she’s not talking about the young girl! The woman said a lot more things that the young girl missed because she was busy trying to figure out just what in the hell was going on and how she was going to handle this. And then, the woman said, “I assume you have not told your parents.” I reckon not. They are the LAST people in the world that she had planned to tell. “Don’t worry. We are going to tell them. We will handle everything.” She walked the young girl back into the store and asked the girl’s mother to find the father and to go home. She said that they would be there in 30 minutes to talk to them. And then, the woman walked out. The young girl’s mother sat there just staring at the young girl for a few minutes before getting up and walking out into the store. The young girl’s father stopped at the office door and just stared at her before walking out of the store with his wife.
As soon as they left, the young girl got on the phone and found her knight and asked him just what in the hell he had thought he was doing. Very calmly, he said, “I fixed things. I’ll see you in a little while.” I’ll speed things up a bit here. The next few days were torture. Of course, there was the expected yelling and screaming and yelling some more at home, but the young girl’s father was just as shocked as the young girl was. The knight had stood up to the father and told him that he was going to accept it and that that was all there was to it. The young girl spent those days with a tortured mind. How could she do this? How could she not? Did she love the knight? She truly believed she did. Was it fair to the knight? Of course not. Was he backing down? Not an inch. So the days ticked by. The father was now not speaking at all to the young girl and as much as she cherished the silence, that silence was just as torturous as the yelling. The young girl and her parents had spent an evening out at the knight’s home talking about how things were going to be handled. The one thing that the young girl got out of all this was that she was being left out of the loop. Nobody, not even the knight, had asked her if this was what she wanted. I assume they all thought that this was the only option. It seemed as though it was. But, the truth was weighing heavily on her heart. She couldn’t do this to her knight. It wasn’t his baby. He knew it wasn’t. And from a couple of the remarks made by his mother, the young girl was sure that she knew it, too.
Finally, two days before the upcoming wedding festivities, it had to end. It wasn’t fair. She couldn’t do it. When they sat down to talk, it was evident that even her knight knew that it was not the solution. He was still insistent, but believed the young girl when she said that she would tell her father the truth if made to go through with the wedding. And even the knight knew what that would mean. So, they went to the young girl’s father and said that plans were cancelled. It was that simple. And he walked out the door. The girl just received cold stares from the father. The mother was crying. The young girl was crying. The father was just staring.
The next morning, the girl got up, got dressed, and went to work. The mother came in to work and the father was missing in action. The mother claimed that she didn’t know where he was. Around noon, he walked into the office and told the young girl to come with him. They got in the car and drove home. When they got there, he told the young girl to go in and pack a bag. “For what,” she asked. “Where am I going?” He just repeated, “Go pack a bag and come back out here.” So she did. They got in the car and drove down the highway. He spoke NOT ONE SINGLE WORD. She barely shut up. She continuously asked where they were going and he said NOTHING. As they hit I-20, it became apparent that they were heading for Atlanta, but she could get nothing out of him. Complete silence. Finally, they got off the interstate and began driving somewhere where she had no clue as to where they were. They reached a long, winding, paved driveway and turned in. A ways down the driveway was a large curved iron sign over the drive that read “Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers.” She now had her answer. They drove up in front of a large building and he finally spoke. “Get out.” She wondered why he wasn’t turning off the engine as she got her bag from the back seat. Then, she knew why. As she shut the door, he drove off. He just drove off. Not a word. Just drove off. And left her standing there. Suitcase in hand. She had no idea where she was or what she was supposed to do. Finally, she walked to the door and knocked. A lady came to the door and said, “Welcome. We’ve been expecting you.” Through conversation, the young girl learned that while her father had been missing that morning, he had driven to Chamblee and made arrangements for her. Then he drove home, got her, and drove back to let her out. And then he just drove off again. And that, my friends, is how the young girl’s father fixed that problem.
It was now the first week of September and the young girl should be home starting her senior year of high school. Instead, she was at a home for unwed mothers. She tried calling home every day for the first week and was never able to speak to either of her parents. Finally, after about 10 days, her mother accepted the collect charges and spoke to her. She could hear the pain in her mother’s voice and the young girl prayed that the mother was not receiving the wrath that the father was certainly feeling. The Home itself wasn’t bad. The people were nice and kind. They were not judgmental. She went to school during the mornings, only having two classes that she needed to take in order to graduate. She spent the afternoons reading, or crafting, or writing letters. Once a week, they were taken to a nearby strip mall where they could pick up needed toiletries or whatever. Her father had been kind enough to leave $25 on her account so that she could have a bit a spending money on these trips. Since she was now eight months pregnant, she was taken into Atlanta once a week to see a doctor. (She had only seen a doctor one time during the pregnancy and that was after her parents had been told. Her mom had taken her out of town to see a doctor and wham, a neighbor’s daughter was the doctor’s nurse. The young girl could not help but giggle over that one.)
Her regular doctor’s appointment was scheduled for October 3rd. She was told that in two days, they would bring her back to the hospital and they would induce labor. She was told that she would spend 5 days in the hospital and then be returned to the Home. She would spend one week there and then would leave. During this time, the young girl’s father was still not speaking to her, but she was told by her mother that they had made arrangements with some family friends who now lived in the Atlanta area for her to stay with them upon her release. They would bring her car to Atlanta so that she would have a way to drive to the Home each day until December when she would complete her studies and would earn her high school diploma. The next day was their scheduled trip to the store and she bought an Instamatic camera and hid it in her bag to take to the hospital. The young girl was told to call home after the birth to let them know how things went.
Early on October 5th, she was driven to Crawford Long Hospital and labor was induced. She knew no one. She had no idea what was going to happen, but she knew she was alone. And she was scared. Sometime later that afternoon, she awoke in her hospital bed and a nurse came in to tell her that she had given birth to a baby boy and that they would be bringing him in to see her shortly. What a beautiful baby he was. He had her dark skin and dark hair and he was precious. For each of the five days that she was in the hospital, they brought her sweet son into her room for the majority of the day. The young girl was allowed to feed him, change him, take secret pictures, and love him. For five days, she had someone she could truly love. Someone who did not judge her. Someone who loved her. Someone she could take care of. And then the five days were up. They brought him in that last morning and told her that he’d be leaving before noon for his new foster home. A woman came in and said that she was from the adoption agency and that she’d be handling the adoption. She said that she had spoken with the young girl’s father and that they had set up a date for her to sign the adoption papers. Up until this point, the young girl had done her best to not think about this part. As they took him out of the room that last time, she broke down. They had taken away the only thing in her life that meant anything to her. And he was being given away. And it was her fault. It was all her fault. She received a letter from the case worker a couple of weeks later and was told that they had had to change formula for the baby, but that he was doing fine. She said that an adoption was in the works. The young girl never heard anything else. Seven days after giving birth, the young girl turned 17. She stayed at the Home for a week and then went to the home of family friends to live. She had very little contact with anyone at her home.
Two weeks later, her parents came to the home of the people she was living with and picked her up to go into downtown Atlanta to the adoption agency. She was told by the case worker that it looked as though the adoption would go through the court system within the next couple of weeks. Once again, the father said NOTHING to her. It had been the first time the young girl had seen him since he had put her out at the Home and driven away. There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but no words would come out. Not once did he ask about his first grandchild. Not once did he mention the fact that it was a boy – he had always wanted a boy. Now he had one in the family and he was forcing her to give him away. It was probably better that neither of them spoke to each other that day. The papers were signed and the young girl was taken back to the home of the family friends. She had no idea that perhaps she should have had a choice in the matter. But, it was too late now. Upon arriving at the friends’ house, she got out. The father drove off.
So many months ago, the young girl had decided to do whatever she could to hurt her father as he had hurt her. She was determined to make him feel pain. She wondered that afternoon, after signing those papers, if he was finally hurting. She hoped that he was. She prayed that he was. But, he never mentioned it again to her.
But, for five days –five glorious days – she had had a beautiful son. He was perfect. She was truly in love with this precious baby. She loved on him, cuddled him, sang to him, fed him, changed his diapers, and prayed that somehow he could feel the love she had for him. For five days, she was content. For five days, she had someone to love. For five days, she was happy.
And then he was gone.
You might wonder how I know this young girl’s story so well. Did she tell me of this time in her life? Did she tell me her thoughts, her feelings, her hopes, her dreams? Did she confess her guilt to me? No, she didn’t. You see, I know this story so well because I was that young girl. This is my story. This is what has haunted me for all these years and still haunts me to this day. I have prayed each and every day for my sweet son and for the loving family who adopted him. God Bless them.
Allen Lee Mains
October 5, 1966
6 lb. 14 1/2 oz.
19 1/2 inches
About eight years ago, I started the process of trying to find my son. I have filled out the oodles of papers and registered with the state so that if he ever tries to find his birth mother, I will be on record. I have never heard a word. I don’t know what that means. I have no idea how he is, where he is, or if he is even alive. I don’t know if I will ever know any of these things, but I pray that I will someday know something. I pray that he has had a good life. I pray that he has been healthy and happy. I pray that he has loved the family who adopted him. I pray that he can somehow, someday understand why he was placed for adoption. Maybe one day, I’ll get a call or a letter. Until then, I have only those five days to remember.
At some point after I moved back to my hometown, I ran into Boy #1 and we spoke briefly. He still would not admit that the child had been his, but he did say that we had both been young and foolish. I guess that is as close as I’ll ever get to an admission that the child was his. And I’m OK with that. I wondered for many years why I didn’t hate him. I mean, I feel like I should have. Isn’t that how the story goes? Young girl. Boy takes advantage of her. She gets pregnant. He denies that the baby is his. She gives the baby up for adoption and then she hates him for the rest of her life. At least, that’s how it goes in all the movies, right? But, for some reason, I didn’t feel that hatred. I tried to. I pretended that I did. But, in reality, I didn’t hate him. And I could never figure out why I didn’t. But, through many years of therapy, I have come to realize that I was as much at fault as he was in the whole situation. He didn’t love me. I didn’t love him. I knew that. I was a young, foolish, stupid girl who fell for his sweet lines and he used me. That was wrong. But, I also used him as a way to hurt my father. I guess that made it all even. And while Dad never admitted it, I believe that I was successful at hurting him. If he had any heart at all, he had to have been hurt (and I choose to believe that somewhere buried deep inside all the hate and meanness, he had a heart.) I did find out many years later that Dad was told who the father had been and he never mentioned it to me.
As for my knight in shining armor — he went his separate way and is now married and has a beautiful family. I am happy for him. He deserves nothing but the best that life has to offer. He has a good heart and he tried his best to “save” me and I’ll forever be grateful for that. His wife and his children are blessed to have him. May God Bless him always and in all ways.
I often wonder how things could have been or would have been different if I had not believed all the lies that my father told me throughout my years at home. I wonder what it was about him that made it possible for him to never love me. I wonder if there was a reason for all his abuse. I wonder a lot of things. The majority of them, I will never have an answer for.
I do know one thing. And if I never know anything else, I know that for five glorious days his name was Allen and I was his mother. Those five days will never change.