Mia’s Story

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Ours isn’t your typical love story.  I was a victim of human sex trafficking and he’s an FBI agent.  My name is Mia and I’m 28 years old.  I was 18 when I ran away from home.  I was having problems with my mother who always made me feel like I was no good and that she was sorry that she had me.  And my father who was hardly around and when he was, he fought with my mother and ignored me.

Life at home was hell and sometimes I just wished it was a nightmare and that I would wake up in a different house and with different parents–people who loved and cared about me.  It got to the point that I knew that if I didn’t leave, I would kill myself.  One night after my parents had gone to bed, I grabbed my knapsack and sneaked out of the house.  I had some money which I took from my mother’s purse and my father’s wallet.  I didn’t have time to count the amount but it looked like it would last me for a while.

It lasted for a couple of weeks and then I was broke.  I had no idea of what to do.  I had no where to go.  I refused to go back home.  I called other family members but they hung up when they knew that it was me.  I was too ashamed to call my friends.  So, I decided that may be I should find a job at McDonald’s or some other fast food place.  It was better than staying on the streets or going to a homeless shelter.

I stood there trying to figure out where the nearest MacDonald’s was when a really cute guy came up to me.  He had the most incredible blue eyes and an amazing smile.  “Hi,” he said.  “Are you lost?”

“I’m trying to find a McDonald’s,” I explained.  “I’m looking for a job.”

“I see.  It just so happens that I work at a restaurant just around the corner and the manager is looking to hire a cashier.  Are you interested?”

My expression brightened.  “Of course!  I’ve worked as a cashier before.”

“Good.  I’m heading there now so I can introduce you to the manager.”

“Okay.”

“What’s your name?”

“Mia.”

“I’m Joe.”  He held out his hand.

She smiled and shook it.  “Nice to meet you, Joe.”

We headed in the direction of the Space Needle.  I promised myself that one day I would visit it.  As we walked we talked.  He was so charming and easygoing.  I found myself hoping that he didn’t have a girlfriend.  About ten minutes later, we stopped in front of a restaurant.  It was packed.  He pushed the door open for me to enter.  The smell of fried food assailed me and reminded me that I was hungry.

As if he read my mind, he asked, “Are you hungry?”

I nodded.  “I haven’t eaten all day.”

He took me by the elbow and led me down a long corridor and into a room.  “Sit here while I go and get something for you to eat.”

I sat down, grateful for his kindness and to be able to sit down after being on my feet for so long.  Fading light streamed through the windows.  The sun would be setting soon.  I hoped that Joe was right about his manager and that he would hire me.  It would be so cool working there with Joe.  I was feeling a little hot so I removed my jacket.  I pulled my hair back into a ponytail.  I was about to get up and walk over to the window and look out when Joe came in carrying a tray with a burger, fries and a soft drink.  He set them down on the table.  My mouth was watering.  “Thanks, Joe.”

He smiled.  “No problem.  When you’re finished just come to the front where the cashier is and I’ll be there.”

“Thanks.”  I waited until he left before I wolfed down the burger and fries.  They were sooo good.  I drank the Ginger-ale.  It was nice and cold.  I was half-way through it when I started to feel dizzy.  The room started to spin and I squeezed my eyes shut.  When I opened them again, I was in another room and there was a strange man standing over me.  Was this the manager?  Had I passed out or something?  Did I eat too fast?  All sorts of questions whirled around in my mind.  My head was pounding but at least the room wasn’t spinning and the dizziness was gone.  I tried to sit up but the man pushed me down.  Panicking, I cried out but he put something over my nose and mouth and everything went black.res

When I regained consciousness I was alone and I realized that I was lying on a bed.  I managed to sit up and I screamed when I saw that I was wearing red lingerie.  How did I end up here?  Who removed my clothes?  Where are my clothes?  I looked wildly about the room for my clothes.  I tried to get out of the bed but the door opened and Joe came in.  He grabbed me and tried to force me to lie back down.  I struggled wildly and he struck me.  I was so shocked that I fell back against the pillows.  Joe looked like a different person.  His eyes were cold and his expression impassive.  “You’re not going anywhere,” he muttered.  “You’re going to be here for a long time.”

“Where am I?” I asked, tears streaming down my face.  “Who are you and why are you doing this to me?”

“I don’t have time to answer your questions.”

“What is this place?  Why have you brought me here?”

“You wanted a job, remember?  Well, here you are.”

I struggled to get up.  “You told me that it was a cashier’s job at your restaurant.”

“You’re far too pretty to be a cashier.  You will make more money on your back.”

Then, it hit me.  He was forcing me into prostitution.  I felt sick.  I clawed at him until he clamped his hand over my nose and mouth.  Everything went black again.  I don’t know how long I was out but when I came to, I heard Joe say to someone, “She’s all yours.  I broke her in for you and she’s nicely cleaned up.  Remember to wear a rubber.  We practice safe sex here.  She’s no use to me if she gets pregnant and I’m not to spend my hard earned money on an abortion.”

I heard the door open and close.  Then silence.  I opened my eyes and I saw a man leaning over me.  I felt his hot breath on my face.  I struggled to get up but I couldn’t move.  Then, I realize that he was on top of me.  I pushed at him but it was no use.  I lay there helpless while he raped me.

When it was over, he got off me and I heard him moving about the room as he got dressed.  Then, I heard the door open and close.  I lay there for a long time, too terrified to move or make a sound.  Then, I pushed myself up and got up from the bed.  I put on the lingerie bottom which was lying on the floor and stumbled towards the closed door.  It was a washroom.  I felt for the switch and flicked it on.  I went over to the mirror and stared at my reflection.  I didn’t recognize myself.  My eyes were puffy, my jaw was bruised from where Joe struck me and my left shoulder had a bruise as well.  I turned on the tap and splashed water on my face.  I had to get out of there.  I went to the window and opened it.  I pushed my head out.  Outside was a fire escape.  I raised the window higher and climbed onto the ledge.  I reached out and pulled myself onto the fire escape.  I made my way down to the street below and ran as fast as I could.

When I was as far away from that place as possible, I flagged a cab down and when it stopped, I begged the driver to take me to the nearest hospital.  When I got there I went straight to Emergency and told the triage person what happened to me.  I was ushered into a room where I was told to wait.  Minutes later a nurse came in and asked me “Did anyone you worked for or lived with trick or force you into doing anything you did not want to do?” and other questions.  Then, she left and returned.  She asked me to get undressed so that I could be examined and left.  After the examination, I was given a gown.  I sat at the edge of the bed and waited.

The nurse who examined me came in and told me that I was a victim of sex trafficking.  There was evidence of forced penetration and bruising on my wrists as if I were restrained.  She asked if there was anyone I needed to call or somewhere to stay.  I shook my head.  I was in a daze.  I still couldn’t believe what had happened to me.  I had fallen for a pair of blue eyes and a charming smile.  The nurse told me that the hospital would help me with housing, transportation and any necessities I may need.  That was a real load off my shoulders.  I spent the night in the hospital.  I had trouble falling asleep because every time I closed my eyes I saw either Joe’s or that strange man’s face.  And I was afraid that I would wake up and find myself back in that room.

The next day, I was visited by two FBI agents who wanted to question me.  One was an older man with sandy colored hair, sharp eyes and a portly gait.  The other was tall, dark and very handsome.  The older one asked most of the questions and was very quick and direct.  Then, the other one said, “You were lucky to get out of there alive.  You did the right thing coming here.”

“I hope you catch Joe,” I said.  “I wish I knew the other man’s name.”

“It would be very helpful if you can give their descriptions to our artist,” he replied.

“I can,” I assured them tightly.  “I will never forget their faces.”

“Thank you, Miss Bautista,” the older one said.  “We will be in touch.  Good-day.”  He left the room.

The other one lingered for a moment.  “Good-day, Miss Bautista.”

“Good-day, Agent Fowler.”  I watched him leave.

I left the hospital that afternoon and was placed in Catalyst at Straley House where I can stay for 18 months while I work with my case manager to get connected to school and employment, and transition into permanent housing.   It turned out to be a really nice place.  I met a lot of great people.  My case manager, Rita was a tremendous help and support for me.  Before leaving home, I had graduated from high-school with honors but I hadn’t applied to any university.  After my ordeal in Seattle, I decided that I would move to another city in Washington.  I googled the best cities there and chose Spokane.  I applied to Gonzaga University and was accepted.

Before I left to go to live on campus, I received a visit from Agent Fowler who informed me that thanks to my descriptions Joe Cartwright and his cohorts were arrested.   The man who raped me was a prominent businessman who was a regular client.  Joe was a pimp and his victims included under-aged girls.  It turned out that Mr. Murphy had no clue about Joe’s nefarious business dealings.  Joe had used Mr. Murphy’s job posting to gain my trust.  I was very grateful to Agents Fowler and Benson for investigating and catching those monsters.  I hope that they will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.  I told Agent Fowler that I was moving to Spokane.  He smiled and shook my hand.  “I wish you all the best, Miss Bautista.”

As I watched him leave, I found myself hoping that I would see him again.  Years later, I did.  I had graduated from Gonzaga University and was working as a Youth Program Assistant which I loved.  I was on my way to lunch when I saw someone walking in front of me.  From the back he looked very familiar and then I realized who it was.  I quickened my pace until I was right behind him and I called out, “Agent Fowler.”

He stopped and turned to face me.  I could see that he recognized me.  Smiling, he held out his hand.  “Miss Bautista.  It’s good to see you.”

“I didn’t think I would run into you.  What are you doing in Spokane?”

“I’m here for my nephew’s wedding which is tomorrow.”

“Did you fly or drive?”

“I flew.  I didn’t feel like spending over four hours behind the wheel. Are you heading somewhere?”

“I was on my way to lunch.”

“Do you mind if I tag along?”

“I could do with the company.  There’s a bistro right up the road.  They serve the best comfort food.”

“Sounds good.”

We walked to the bistro.  Over local beef and regional fresh fish, we talked.  When it was time for me to head back to the office, he came with me.  As we stood outside the building, he asked me to have dinner with him.  I gladly accepted.  After that first dinner, we made arrangements to see each other again.  He spent the week in Spokane before he flew back.  We had a long distance relationship and saw each other in the summer, at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  Then, one day when we were Riverfront Park, he told me that he was moving to the FBI office in Spokane.

I stared up at him.  “Why?” I asked.  I was thrilled, of course but taken aback.

He reached for my hands, his expression serious as his eyes met mine.  “I want to be where you are, Mia,” he said quietly.

I swallowed hard, my heart was racing now.  “Why?”

“Simple, I love you.”

“I love you too, Nathan.  And I’m happy that you’re moving to Spokane.”

He leaned over and kissed me.  I felt my head explode.  We drew apart several minutes later and holding hands, we continued our walk.  The following spring, he moved to Spokane and following a very short engagement, we got married in September.  The attendees were Rita, my case manager, my friends from Catalyst, my co-workers and his FBI friends and family.  My parents weren’t there because I didn’t invite them.  They are a painful part of my past which I want to forget.

Ten years have passed since my ordeal and what thing that I have learned from it is that “Our pain can be turned into purpose”  This March, I started a support group for former sex and human trafficking victims.

While Mia’s story is fiction, it is real for many.  Trafficking of any kind is an evil that must be wiped out and those responsible for it must be brought to justice.  Check out this video for a grim glimpse into the world of child sex trafficking and what is being done to save victims.

Here is a list of non-profit organizations fighting against Human Trafficking:

Let’s work together to stop trafficking and exploitation.  Let’s fight for freedom.

Sources:  FBI Video; Nurse.com; Nurse.org; FBI; YouthCare; Yelp

It’s Time

You said it wasn’t your intent to hurt me but you did.

You said it wouldn’t happen again.  But it did.

You promised that things would get better but they haven’t.

You swore you would change but you haven’t.

I love you but there’s a limit to what I can take.

I said that I would never leave you but it’s time I did.

By the time you come home, I will be gone.

Please don’t try to find me.  It’s really over this time.

 

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This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Intent.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

It’s How You Respond

Transitions themselves are not the issue, but how well you respond to their challenges Jim George

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Image by Dreamstime

What transition are you going through today?  Getting old is a big one.  You’re not as agile and flexible as before.  You ache in parts of your body you didn’t even know existed.  It’s important to be active.  Exercise is key.  And you have to deal with those annoying things called eye floaters.  It’s bad enough that you have to wear two pairs of glasses—one for reading and one for distance or bifocals and then to have to deal with black things in your eye…It’s possible to grow old gracefully but it takes effort and patience.

For a lot of women, it’s hard to go from being married to being divorced.  My mother seemed to adjust fairly well but I remember that there were times when she expressed regret about the end of her marriage.  She never remarried.  My father remarried once.  It’s hard for the kids too because they lose one parent when the marriage is over.  They are raised by one and see the other at appointed times.  When your parents divorce, it’s like your entire world is falling apart.  For years I felt as if my father had abandoned me but when I was older and wiser, I was thankful that he didn’t stay with my mother for my sake.  I wouldn’t have wanted him to be unhappy on my account.

Transitioning from high-school to college or university can be a tough one.  For me, it was hard not being with my friends.  We all went to different colleges.  I was a bit of a loner on campus.  I didn’t join any clubs or socialize much.  I had one or two friends.  I was more immersed in my studies.  I worked hard and studied a lot.  I had great professors whose remarks on my papers were very encouraging.  I took my Major in Journalism and Minor in Art History.  And I graduated Cum Laude.  After leaving college, I had to find a job.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything in my field but I never let that discourage me.  Over the years, I have worked at different companies and have been fortunate to meet lots of wonderful people.

Going from being a single woman to being a family woman has been the biggest change of all.  Before I met the love of my life, my life comprised of home, work and church.  I loved going to church.  There I worshipped and fellow-shipped with terrific people who shared my faith.  They were like my second family.  I was involved in different ministries and was part of the choir.

I enjoyed doing community outreach such as visiting homeless shelters for women and youth and a senior’s home.  But in private, I prayed to God for a godly man.  And years later, I met him on a bus.  He spoke to me, I invited him to my church and the rest is history.  We have a son.  I regret not having two children but I’m thankful that God blessed with me one and my mother with her only grandchild.  Before she died, she enjoyed eleven years of his life.

Transition can be hard, challenging but it can also be rewarding.  It just depends on how we handle it.  In my case, it is God who has helped me through each life change.  This year when I lost both of my parents within months of each, it was God’s loving presence and Jesus’ promise, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” which held me together.  My two sisters and I aren’t alone.  We have the Lord and we have each other.

Like me, you don’t have to go through any transition alone.  Your families, friends or faith can be your anchor.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Transition.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Source:  Blue Letter Bible

Do it

Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it – Chuck Palahniuk

Change is a good thing–sometimes.  It takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone and follow your dreams wherever they take you.  You will have the naysayers and doubters on the side lines giving you all sorts of reasons why change isn’t good but it’s up to you if you will let them discourage you.  Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and not because you feel pressured or want to prove something.  If you believe that it’s time for a change, do it.  Don’t allow fear, doubt or what other people say to stop you.

You will know if the change you are making is the right one.  There will be a sense of peace and purpose.  One of my co-workers decided to pack up, leave Toronto and move to Omaha to be with her boyfriend.  She had no reservations because she believed that she was doing what was best for her.

If it’s a career change you are thinking of making, figure out what you want to do before you quit your job.  You can enroll in night school courses.  Once you have found a job in your new career, you can quit your current one and pat yourself on the back for taking a leap of faith.

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This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Change.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Sources:  Brainy Quote; Ms. Career Girl; Toronto School District Board

Co-Workers Turned Couple

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He glanced up from his computer and realized that Shantel and he were the only ones in the office.  Everyone else had left.  It was Friday.  Most people left either minutes before or exactly at five.  And it was summer.  People wanted to enjoy the nice weather.

He wasn’t in any rush to get home.  All he did when he was there was watch television, play the stereo, read or spend hours on his laptop.  After living most of his life on a farm, it took a while to get used to living in the city.  In spite of the hustle and bustle and all that the city had to offer, his was a very boring life.  He didn’t have a girlfriend and he wasn’t interested in dating, at least that was before Shantel came on the scene.

Two years ago, she joined the company when Ruth who had been working there for over fifteen years, decided to move back to Toronto.  He was sorry to see her go because she was like an older sister to him.  However, when he saw her replacement, he was bowled over.  She was beautiful!  He was tongue-tied and couldn’t help staring when Ruth introduced them.

Shantel was quiet and reserved like him and they got along very well.  Some times they had lunch and took the subway together.  They learned a lot about each other.  He was relieved to find out that she was single like him.  They shared a lot in common and had similar tastes.  Sometimes, they went to the park to have lunch and after work, they went to the shopping mall or the library to browse before hopping on the train.

It wasn’t long before he started to develop feelings for her and he wanted so badly to ask her out but he was afraid of rejection and ruining their friendship.  He watched her now as she sat at her desk.  She glanced up and caught him looking at her.  She got up and went over.  She looked amazing in the purple dress which ended just above her knees.  What lovely legs she had…Realizing that he was staring, he turned away, his face red.

“Are you working late?” she asked.

He looked up.  “I wasn’t planning to,” he replied.  “What about you?”

“No.  I’m ready to leave when you are.”

“Okay.  I’ll be ready in five minutes.”

“I’ll go and get ready.”  She smiled at him before walking away.

He switched off his computer and quickly cleared his desk.  Grabbing his jacket, he went over to her desk where she was waiting for him.  They walked to the elevator.  On the ride down, she turned to him.  “Are you doing anything tomorrow evening?” she asked.

He shook his head.  “No.”

“Well, I was wondering if you would to have dinner at my place.”

His heart began to beat faster.  “I would love to, Shantel.” 

“I’ve wanted to ask you that for a long time but just couldn’t work up the courage until now.”

His eyes darkened on her face and he reached for her hand.  “And I’ve wanted to ask you out so many times but was afraid to.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand.  “I’m glad to know that we both feel the same way and that we’re finally reached this stage in our relationship.  No more hiding or pretending…”  Her voice trailed off as his lips found hers and moved ever so gently, like a caress, making her catch her breath.

When they exited the elevator, they were smiling and holding hands.  They were a couple now.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Farm.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

More Than Friends

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When I saw you today, I had to let you know how much your friendship has meant to me, especially these last couple of months.  Losing both of my parents within months of each other has been hell for me.  I couldn’t have made it through this nightmare if it hadn’t been for you.  You’re presence has been like a balm to me, comforting and strengthening me.  It will take a while for me to process losing two incredible people but knowing that you’re just a phone call away helps.

When I saw you today, I wanted to tell you how beautiful you looked and how seeing you brightened my day.  Your lovely smile makes my heart beat faster and whenever we hug, I don’t want to let go.  We have been friends since we were in high-school but I have secretly been in love with you and wish that one day I would have to courage to tell you.  I don’t date anymore because I always that the woman was you.  Whenever you talk about a guy you’re dating, I smile and listen but it hurts inside because I wish I were him.

I’m sitting here in the park, watching the ducks in the pond, wishing that you were here with me.  I take out my cell and look at the display.  I want to call you—just to talk but you’re probably busy.  Sighing, I’m about to slip it back into the breast pocket of my jacket when it rings.  My heart skips a beat when I see the number.

“Hello, Brittany.”

“Hello, Chase.  What are you doing?”

“I’m sitting on a bench in Central Park watching the ducks.”

You laughed.  “You and I used to do that a lot.”

“Yes.  We used to like hanging out here after school.”

“And you used to walk me home.”

“Yes.  I wanted to make sure that you were safe.”

“You were always looking out for me.”

“Yes.”  I wanted to say, that’s because you meant the world to me.  You still do. 

“Chase, this afternoon when I ran into you, I wanted to tell you something but didn’t have to guts to do it.”

My heart was racing now.  “Is that why you’re calling now?”

“Yes.  It’s easier for me to do it over the phone than in person.”

Dread filled me.  “Tell me what it is.”

“Chase, I don’t want us to be friends anymore.”

My heart sank.  “I was afraid that you were going to say that.”

“No,” you replied, “you don’t understand.  I’m handling this all wrong.  What I meant to say is that I don’t want us to be just friends any more.  I want us to be more.”

My grip on my cell tightened.  “You do?”

“Yes.  Today when I saw you I wanted to tell you how I feel but I got cold feet.”

“How do you feel, Brittany?”

“I’m in love with you, Chase.  I have been since my first year at high-school.”

I swallowed hard.  “You have no idea how happy I am to hear this.  Brittany, I’ve wanted to tell you that I love you for such a long time but I was afraid to because I didn’t know how you felt and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin our friendship.”

“Oh, Chase, all these years we’ve wasted not telling each other how we really feel.”

I got up from the bench.  “Let’s not think about the years we’ve wasted,” I said.  “We have the present and the future.”

“Do you have any plans for this evening?”

“No.  And even if I did I would cancel them.”

“Come over to my place at seven for dinner and…”

It was the “and” which made me blush.  “I’ll be there for seven,” I told you.

“Good.  I’ll see you then.”

“I’ll bring the wine.”

“Bring your appetite too.  I hope you have a big one.”

I could feel my face grow red.  “I do,” I assured you.

You laughed and ended the call.

I glanced at my watch.  It was a quarter to six.  I left the park and hurried to my flat which was a ten minute walk from there.  I could hear the birds chirping.  Did they sense how ecstatic I was?  Perhaps they did.

 

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Balm.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

 

No Sale

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PHOTO PROMPT © Ceayr

 

“Mother, you can’t be serious,” Matt exclaimed.

“I’m dead serious, Matt.  I’m going to sell the house.  It’s too big for me.  All of you kids have moved out and have your own families.  I’m going into a retirement home so it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep the house.  I’ve gotten some very good offers for it.”

“Mother, you can’t sell our home.”

“Matt, I’ve made up my mind.  Now, I’m going for a walk.”

After she was gone, he paced the room.  He had to stop her from selling the house. His life depended on it.

100 Words

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.