Life Unscripted: Short Stories of Everyday Women
Excerpt from "Life is a Journey."
I have seen Chanelle around plenty of times before I knew her as Chanelle. As I drove to the hospital before the start of my shift I would see Chanelle walking the streets. She cat walked up and down Chestnut Street with provocative attire, the allure of sex and forbidden fantasies to men and maybe even women. Occasionally I would see her ass sticking out of a car window before I would actually see her face. She got pretty up close and personal with the Johns before their exchange of money that was going to allow them a few moments of pleasure. What a dangerous way to live, I would think to myself each time she disappeared into another vehicle. She was a normal face in my daily route to work and I often wondered about my own sister.
11:00 p.m. Friday Night
The third shift nurse due to relieve me was running late and I was asked to stay and help out. The patient that night in Triage C was Chanelle. That pretty face of hers now resembled that of a horror movie. She was badly beaten and her left eye was the size of a golf ball. A big knot on her forehead made her seem a bit alien. Her short hair hung wildly around her face. An inch long gash across her eyebrows exposed pink and white flesh underneath dried blood. Still the same fearless soul stared at me unphased by the punishment just handed to her. I became curious of the person in front of me. What circumstances in her life made her turn tricks for a living? But the matter at hand was, who did this to her and does she want to press any charges? We were one of the first witnesses for the police and to victims of violent crimes. It was my duty to make sure the victim and law enforcement got what they needed.
Chanelle gave one word answers throughout the entire interview. She was uninterested, bored, and even a little anxious to leave. I still neglected to see the signs of anger. I can only judge someone by my own actions and emotions and I would be extremely pissed off at that point if I was beaten and had to wear that battle scar. I can tell she was a different breed. She seemed to be numb to her circumstances. I wondered at that point does she know what normalcy feels like. I want to understand her. I am pretty sure that there’s someone out there who cares for her well being, safety, and happiness? It must be a lonely world without any caring soul.
Throughout the night she rejected my friendly talks. I tried to direct her to a safe shelter just in case she was worried about returning to her home or if there is a home at all? I suggested resources for her and even offered my assistance if she needed it. She gave me an icy blank stare but she was never disrespectful or verbally argumentative. After the doctor stitched her up and the police left, I went to issue her discharge instructions. Chanelle had her eyes closed. It was the first sign of vulnerability she displayed all night. She adjusted herself as quickly as possible as she heard me entering the room. The weariness of the night has finally shown on her face. She looked a lot older than her eighteen years of life. At eighteen I was busting my butt at a third shift waitressing job to pay for college and yet Chanelle was walking the dangerous streets and dealing with the most perverted of all life forms. A sudden sadness came over me when I realized that she will be heading back to that life.
I thought of my sister.
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