BARBIE, All Saints Church, pt.III
Barbie, part III of VI
"It’s your stop, Dumbo," sneered the third grade boy sitting behind her as he slapped both of his palms against the back of the green vinyl seat she was sitting in.
Barbie’s hands started perspiring, just as they always did. She brushed her long, straggly, brown bangs in front of her grey eyes, seeing the world through a lame, protective shield. Her mother had demanded she wear a dress that day. As Barbie stepped off the bus she felt raw and exposed.
Staring at the green Ford sedan in the dirt driveway, the panic slammed her heart into her eleven year-old chest. Her ears pounded with the excess of blood mixed with oxygen flooding her brain. She watched the yellow living room drapery move slightly.
Then, she knew.
Taking a deep breath, Barbie clenched the strap of her pink Princess Barbie book bag. She began running. She ran down her side of the street. Then, darted across the street into the neighbor’s backyard. She heard dogs barking, but it didn’t concern her. She kept running, until she spotted the tall pale wheat field. Barbie had named it her, "field of oasis." She scrurried across the street and burrowed deep into the wheat. Stomping on the wheat in every direction, she flattened down a big enough area to sit. Barbie took out her wristwatch she kept in her Princess Barbie book bag. Her mom wasn’t due home for another two hours.
This had become Barbie’s after school ritual since her mother’s new boyfriend had moved in. Barbie’s mother had explained things were going to change. Although, her mother had made it seem like all their lives would suddenly, magically become a fairytale, nothing could be more further from the truth.
Barbie avoided her childhood home as much as possible for another three years. She would only remain home, if her mother, or fifteen year-old brother was home. But, even then she kept a wary eye.
Then, June thirteenth came. School vacation was another week away. Barbie had asked everyone she knew if they would hire her for a summer job. They were polite, but said no,. They all told her in their various ways that fourteen year-olds should be playing, not working. Barbie tried to find girlfriends, but no one seemed to want her as a friend. Barbie was sure they knew her secret.
Barbie was in her bedroom, with the door locked and a chair against the door, barricading her in. She heard the gravel crunching in the driveway. She didn’t have to look. She knew the green Ford sedan was in the driveway. Barbie grabbed the pre-packed satchel, flung open the window over her bed, and shimmied out.
Barbie had a plan. She took off running, not looking back.
An hour later, Barbie hot, thirsty and exhausted saw the whiteness of the First Presbyterian Church where Father Charles preached every Sunday. She tried not to cry when she found the doors were locked. Father Charles had said his doors were always open, even to the worst sinners, she thought, stifling the cries that longed to shout out to the warm summer night. She had come so far. Barbie went around to the back, certain the Father wouldn’t mind.
As dusk turned into night, Barbie sat on the back steps of the First Presbyterian Church. She was pulling blades of grass out of the dirt. Then, digging a hole with her finger, she replanted the blade in another spot. A long stream of fluorescent yellow light caught Barbie’s attention as it bounced along off the trees on the side of the First Presbyterian Church.
A police officer appeared, shining a light in Barbie’s eyes. The police officer told Barbie she was trespassing and would be spending several summer vacations in juvenile detention. Barbie grew frightened. The police officer shoved Barbie in the back of his patrol car as she cried.
At the police station, Barbie’s mother and her boyfriend appeared. Barbie’s mother screamed and yelled the entire ride home. Barbie had to go before a judge in August, who would decide what to do with Barbie.
Barbie was so frightened that night, she forgot to lock her bedroom door and slide the chair against the door.
The click of the door echoed in Barbie’s ears as she watched a yellow sliver of light grow wider.
The palm of his large hand covered her mouth and nose as he pressed her head deep into her pillow. His other hand, pulling at her underwear. It was impossible to bite him. It was impossible to kick him. It was impossible to hurt him. Barbie had tried many times, before.
Two days later, Barbie was on the streets. She had stolen twenty bucks from her useless brother’s hidden stash and ninety bucks from her mother’s paycheck. She paid the bus fare for a one-way ticket to the nearest city, surprised no one questioned her about her age. She watched Kittson, Minnesota with a population of 5,000 disappear from the bus window.
Barbie was on the streets at the age of fourteen. She took the bright, orange ribbon her grandmother had wrapped around her birthday present when she was seven, tied her bangs back away from her face, and her grey, steely eyes never looked back.
Four years later, the bitter North Dakota winds forced Barb into a public library. Barb grabbed a book, wondering if she could still read. She ignored the librarian with indignance coloring her face. Father Patrick stood in front of her fifteen minutes later.