The little, freckled-face girl with the sad green eyes looked up at the man and women who were hoping to take her home as their foster child. Shawna had lived a tough life for one so young, having been “in the system” for much of her young life. Her father had abandoned her and her mother shortly after she was born. Her mother overdosed on meth when Shawna was just three.
She’d been in the custody of Child Protective Services for nearly three years and was living in a group home. It was all she really knew and she wasn’t sure how she felt about being removed from the group home and into a house with strangers.
They seemed nice enough. The woman was pretty and looked kind. The man, well, he seemed nice. And the lady from CPS said that the couple had a lovely home and would be ideal foster parents.
Within a week the couple came back to the group home and loaded Shawna and her few belongings into their car and drove her to a mansion that she thought must belong to a princess.
Once inside, the housekeeper showed Shawna to her very own room with a large bed and a closet full of clothing. She even had her own private bathroom and a separate playroom with dolls and toys.
Shawna thought she had died and gone to heaven. The cook prepared delicious meals and the housekeeper saw to her every need. Her foster parents hired a nanny to educate her and to be her companion. She never imagined that people actually lived this way except in fairytales.
Her foster parents were very nice to her and she couldn’t believe how fortunate she was to have been chosen by them. She felt like a real-life princess.
Every night at bedtime her foster father would come into her room and read her a story. He was very kind and gentle and she cuddled up next to him when he read to her. Sometimes he would stroke her long, red hair as he read. Sometimes he would caress her cheek. There were times when he would gently massage her shoulders.
So it wasn’t that unusual when one night he asked if she would remove her nightie so that he could rub her back. His fingers felt good on her skin and she enjoyed the sensation. After a little while he stopped, and just as had done every other night, he kissed her goodnight on her cheek, tucked her in, and left her room.
But then, a few hours later, she felt her foster father crawl into her bed and get under the covers with her. He asked her if she had enjoyed it when he rubbed her back earlier in the evening and she told him that she had. Then he asked if she’d like him to rub her some more. She said she was tired, but he insisted, telling her that it would make her feel really good and help her sleep after he left. So she said okay.
As she had earlier when he’d rubbed her back, she enjoyed his touch. But then his hands started caressing her private area and she couldn’t help but see his arousal. She told him that she was tired and asked him to stop, but he would not. He asked her if she liked living in their home and when she said yes, he told her that if she wanted to continue living there, she would do as he said. He also warned her that if she told anyone — his wife, the housekeeper, the nanny, the cook, or the woman from Child Protective Services — what they were doing, he would send her back to the group home.
One day, after her foster father’s nocturnal visits had been going on for a few weeks, Shawna told her foster mother about what was going on. But her foster mother accused Shawna of lying and told her that little girls who make up stories were bad girls and deserved to be sent back to live in a group home. So Shawna said nothing more to her foster mother or to anyone else for that matter. And the nightly visits from her foster father continued.
The little, freckled-face girl with the sad green eyes no longer thought that she had died and gone to heaven. Instead, she felt that she had somehow landed in a hell on earth.
Written for Photo Challenge #205 on Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Photo credit: Ryn-Sweet-Surreal.