No Family for Christmas

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Chapter 13: Ashlyn Revival
(by NativeRose, added on 20 April 2009 02:32 AM)

It was the last day before Christmas break. While all of the children lived in this place, they still needed a break from school. The Ashlyn girls weren't looking forward to ten days of Becky's crap. Melody didn't know how much longer she would be able to put up with Becky's treatment. She sighed as she entered the dormitory. Tomorrow was the anniversary of her mother's death. When Mrs. Donne had been "in charge," she always let the children structure tough days a little differently. She made sure she was aware of the things these young people were dealing with, and teachers and residential staff were always reminded. That way, students wouldn't be reprimanded for leaving classes, and Chandra always made sure she was available during those difficult times. What would it be like this year? Becky certainly wouldn't care about what was going on in Melody's life. Maybe Kalila, Jada and Liyana could help the younger ones tomorrow so she would be free to...

She unsuccessfully tried to shove the thoughts aside as she opened the door to find most of the girls with snacks in hand.
"It's all going to work out," Jamillah whispered to Melody as she passed. Wow, that girl was articulate! If she could tell that melody was troubled...but she didn't have time to ponder this any longer, for a new face emerged from the group. It was only then that Melody noticed Amy, the residence life director.
"Becky is no longer working with us, so I would like to--"
"Good! That stupid, disgusting blob of a--" Patricia interrupted Amy.
"Patricia! That will be enough!" Amy reprimanded. "i would like you all to meet Sierra. She will be starting tomorrow, but she wanted to come today to meet all of you."
melody could tell right away that this woman would be completely different than Becky. Thank you, God, she prayed silently as she watched Sierra's interactions.

Sierra had met with all of the relevant staff: Mackenzie the nurse, Miss Canterbury the elementary school teacher, Alanna the preschool teacher, Laurel, the middle school teacher, chandra the counselor, Scott in Baker Hall and Noah the new high school teacher. They all seemed to genuinely care for these students, all except for that woman who had just resigned. It was a good thing; Sierra could see why Becky had made all the girls miserable. Now as she stood surveying all of her charges, she wondered just what it would take to reach these girls. She looked at a black girl of about thirteen who was listening intently to a white second-grader and a Native american preschooler. This is quite a diverse bunch. She didn't linger on the bewildering group for long. She remembered Laurel Donne, that black girl's teacher, saying that the anniversary of her mother's death was approaching. If she wasn't mistaken, it would be the next day. She knew all about what it was like to be bounced around from one home to another, and then to enter the foster care system... Melody did an outstanding job concealing her pain as she interacted with the other young girls, but Sierra could tell there were a few people who knew what was really going on. She saw Kalila, Jada and that boy, Gabriel, frequently look at her. They would waqtch her intently, and Sierra instinctively knew these were the people Melody could call true friends. It was by God's design that she should start work tomorrow. She had been told that Melody was more of a mother to these girls than Becky could ever hope to be. Melody shouldn't have to handle that job tomorrow, so it was just the right time for Sierra to begin. How like God to orchestrate something like that to shower His needy child with grace!

Sierra offered to go to the cafeteria with the girls that evening. She noted that Melody had brought her walker with her. Someone had said she had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or something. She was too young to have to worry about something like that, but she bore it admirably and didn't let her pain show. Just as before, the three attentive friends seemed to know just what was going on without Melody saying a thing. As Sierra circulated around the dining room, she saw Gabriel put a plate of food before Melody. Sierra turned from that group and walked across the room toward the latest arrival. She was told that Rowena had arrived just two weeks before Sierra's arrival. Rowena was clearly terrified, and why not? she remembered something that Kalila had said: Becky only added to Rowena's fears. Sierra could tell, however, that Rowena let some people in: Melody, Brennan and Kalila. Once again, Sierra surveyed the crowd. Gabriel appeared to be helping Melody cut something. Kalila sat at another table with Jason, Janae and Camille. Just as in Brynn's art therapy session, Jason was quite beligerent for a five-year-old, but Kalila seemed to be working well with him. Brennan was sitting nearby with two toddlers and an infant from Baker Hall. Jada worked beside him, feeding anna. Sierra heard shrieks of laughter and looked around to see Brynn making funny faces at Emmalee and Sarie as she coaxed them to eat. It seemed to Sierra that this group was full of light. They came together out of the pain of their lives to become a family--the only family any of these children had left after those in their own homes were violently wrenched away. Sierra prayed that she would be able to help bring vitality back into this group and to infuse life where Becky had brought destruction.

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