The concept sits heavy on her numb mind as she drives home. The steering wheel is cold under her fingertips as she realizes she is driving much too slow for the highway. It’s November so the skies are gray and the air is crisp. Her heater is blowing out cold air.
In the last eight months, she has been bitten, bled on, witness to countless blowjobs, turned corners to find young boys fucking each other ruthlessly, had blood, mucus, and semen hurled at her body, and found a girl, bloody and barely breathing, after she hacked at her young wrists with the top of a Mountain Dew can.
None of this rattles our ingénue.
Exploring the grooves in the faux leather that covers the steering wheel with her stiff, frozen fingertips, she suddenly finds herself rattled. Vulnerable. Scared.
Two weeks paid vacation.
She began her career as a social worker thinking she could change the world. Three years later, she is overworked, underpaid, hardly making rent, and has a compulsion for drinking that is becoming unmanageable.
When the young boy first came into her facility, he barely left an impression. The program was filled with children and teenagers who were sex offenders, rapists, molesters, and murderers. No one was safe from their twisted minds and bodies, not even animals. The courts ordered these lost souls to stay at the facility because their compulsions left their families unsafe. Violence, rape, and hypersexuality were everyday occurrences despite the best efforts of the staff. This kid doesn’t stand a chance – she thought to herself.
Within two days, she noticed the other kids, the much bigger kids, the much stronger kids, avoiding the new unassuming loner. When she asks around, the other kids are quiet, know nothing, don’t want to talk about it.
Two weeks paid vacation.
Part of her job is to have the children discuss their desires. Draw them. Explain why some of them are not appropriate. Within the first week, the new boy makes a lasting impression.
During her daily group therapy sessions, the quiet boy raises his hand. With a smirk, he looks directly into her eyes; his gaze makes her shudder before he even opens his mouth. He reveals a drawing of her car with her license plate number on it. Scribbled below it: her address.
He goes on to explain his other drawings. This is him shoving his dick into her mouth until tears drip from her chin, she vomits, chokes, and dies. Here, he’s put wooden spoons and spatulas into her pussy while he holds a pillow over her head. In this one, he’s tied her up with a noose around her neck, he tightens it, and he fucks her until she stops breathing. He is 14 years old.
The world turns soft; her eyes can only focus on the license plate number and address crudely written in purple crayon.
For these violent dreams, she is given two weeks paid vacation.
The boy is transferred to another facility. She returns to work. No one mentions the matter again. Her co-workers never ask if she is okay; they never come to her at lunch to see if she is handling it well. In this job, this 9-5, this reality that houses the underbelly of society that people don’t want you to know exists, the only thing that can be done to survive is to forget.
Three weeks later, she quits her job without giving proper notice and moves out of state.
She’s not a social worker anymore. She’s cut all her ties to that world. In her mind, she’s not even a memory in such a surreal game she once played. She’s allowed herself to be forgotten.
She tells herself she’s the happiest she’s ever been. She smiles and explores the grooves covering her faux leather steering wheel.
Katie Marven is a queer writer and a poet living in New York.