You're Still You © 2003

This story was inspired by a song. The first time I heard this song I knew this story. I make no claims of authorship for the lyrics and I make no representations for the lyricist, composer or performing artists. This story is from my imagination solely. I'm sure they have different stories for its creation. One version of this song can be found at the web site of the tenor Josh Groban. It is track three on the music page. If you haven't heard it, you might want to listen before you read.

You're Still You

Through the darkness,

I can see your light

And you will always shine

And I can feel your heart in mine

Your face I've memorized

I idolize just you

lyrics L Chapman

The touch. That glorious feel; your hand touching me.

I feel you brush my hair off of my face. I feel you gently touch my cheek. I struggle up from sleep to twist and catch your lips as they always next caress me. The fire your fingers send through me; the love I know they carry. I struggle with the bedsheet, how the hell can I get it out of the way? Why don't I feel your legs, your thighs? I want so to rest my head against your chest. Your face is smiling, I can see it there before me. Why can't I touch your lips? I want you so beside me. I want you so inside me. I want to never leave our bed. Your hand, it grabs my shoulder. I touch you now. I groan my need to you.

Your hand clasps me hard and shakes; not a sweet caress. I open my eyes and darkness floods my soul. It's not you. It's the Fat Bitch; the one who owns me now. Oh God... I hope I didn't call your name. God, please, I pray I didn't talk!

I smell her foul and death-filled smoker's breath, the shriveled slit between her legs, the putrid smell of fat and sick and never had a dick inside her cunt. The other cunt so near my face now opening to spew forth her verbal shit. Oh God, please? I didn't say your name.

"Wakies time! Big goings on today. Are we already for our shower? Want to look our best now don't we?"

I groan again, this time I groan my pain. 'Wakies time?' What does she think, I'm four? 'Ready for our shower?' Does she think she's going to get to shower with me? Just let her try; I'll scream so loud they'll hear me clear outside. Stupid, putrid, seeping cunt, I bet she doesn't even know it's for holding in a dick. I bet she thinks she's got it just because she's lucky. I hate her smell. I hate her stupid wakies! I hate her, I hate her, I hate her. Let me go back and dream ...

"Come on then, up and at 'em!"

I groan again and think I better at least sit up. If I look like I'm moving maybe she'll go away. God, if she pulls off the blanket she'll see my raging boner. Bet that would make her gasp. No, she probably doesn't even know about them. Just move enough, rub my eyes, mumble something unintelligible. God how I loved to greet the morning with your kiss and hear you say "I love you." I bet she only loves her cigarettes, maybe her cat: I bet it can't stand her either.

Thank God she's gone, I stumble to the bathroom. I stand and try to make my dick point down at the bowl. Shit, who gives a fuck! This God Damn place! I let my pee rip up and out and spatter off the wall. I turn and see the mirror. God, I see you just behind me frowning at my anger. Your face, it haunts me with your love, your sadness that I can't control myself. I grab a towel and quickly wipe my pee away and try to make it up. The mirror sends your smile: I turn to claim a kiss and you're not there.

I sob my anger at the floor. I run into the shower; the water driving off my head, I wash the tears away. I feel you touch my back and start to massage my straining tenseness. You nudge me and I get the soap, I lather up my hair. My eyes are shut, I run my hands against the places that you touch. My cheeks, my shoulders, down my arms: you always make me feel so strong. My pits, my chest, my straining nips: you always make me feel so weak. I groan to think your hand across my stomach. Delve a tiny tickle in my belly button. Take my dick and softly pry it from where it bangs against my body. Stroke and stretch and make my legs collapse. My balls a whirling, dancing Fred and Ginger, so eager for your hand. I watched them dance on TCM, he glowed, he loved to move his body so! He had to be so absofuckinglutely hard, how could they keep it from showing on his pants? You'd take me then and like a morning glory, I'd burst my flower open. The pollen of my life would spurt out on your chest. I felt the pulsing in my hand. I spilt and swirled and sank down to the drain, you weren't there to catch me.

I cried until I smelt her knocking on the door.

"God!" I scream. "Give a guy a minute!"

"Eggsies soon, don't take too long!"

'Eggsies!' Shit! I bet she bleeds like a stuck pig and never made an egg inside that disgusting body.

I hear you gently click your tongue; a soft and quiet way to tell me to back off, grow up, control myself, assess the situation, quit flying off the cuff. Those phases you first taught me seemed so stupid then, you guided me beyond so much within my anger and suddenly I controlled the fight. I owned the world around me. I looked and found the weakest spot where I could pass and rise above the blazing white hot redness in my head.

I heard you click your tongue.

I rubbed my hair violently dry, I spurred the anger from my fingers into the towel. I must look, I must watch, I must find the weakness now, you depend on it.

I look up to

Everything you are

In my eyes you do no wrong

I've loved you for so long

and after all you've said and done

you're still you

We walked up the ancient steps. I refused to take her hand! The bitch actually thought somehow to comfort me. I needed nothing that she had, I needed nothing she could show, I needed nothing but to see your face.

Three massive tables, bigger than the lunchroom ones at school, the school you used to take me too, not that room inside the prison that she owns. Our school; a real place, in real life, real kids, real anger, real learning, real play and at the end of day real love. This table on the right sent a chill into my bones. She made me sit in the center seat. I looked across at the pulpit or whatever it is called. It seemed the word of God would surely fall down from the top of all that wood.

A sniveling blue and wrinkled suit slinks into the chair beside me. Great! Fetid bitch and slimy queen. If he tries to touch me I will scream. He grins a greasy leering grin. I bet he came right from his car, the boys down on the boulevard twenty dollars richer. He reaches out his hand to shake. Between the deadfish sweaty palm and limp wrist grip I miss his name but hear him say he is my court appointed lawyer. Shit, if this is my team I don't want to play. Can you imagine? These two would not even be picked last; they would have to slink away assigned by default to teams who wouldn't even admit that they existed. My stomach tries to jump against my mouth, I grab it and try to hold it back.

Blue Queen follows the motion of my hand, but his eyes don't stop at my navel. I feel them rake between my legs. I feel him turn on some perverted x-ray. I feel him lay my jeans open trying to see what kind of undies I was wearing. I feel him try and see my dick and balls. Damn hormones betray my mind. They respond to his leering gaze. My dick pushes against the buttons in the denim. I feel the pressure pushing at the front, I feel the waistband straining to give a bit in back. I think I'll die, then I hear your gentle tongue click. God Damn! You're right! This may be a weakness to exploit. I think of him as you. My dick jumps another inch. I hear him suck in breath. I reach my hand below my writhing stomach and brush across the upper button. I feel him tense, I smell his wimpy prick begin to leak. I reach beneath the button and readjust my dick. He gasps out loud as I move it to the side and let the pressure of the swollen head pop out more against the single layer of the denim. This is almost fun! My stomach relaxes in direct proportion to his mounting excitement. I clench my butt, my dick dances in my pants, he pants in his imagined dance. I turn to Fat Bitch and as I ask to use the bathroom, I slip my other hand into my pocket and actually play a bit of pool for him. She says okay, I turn to rise while facing him, my package about a half a foot from his dribbling lips. I briefly clutch my raging boner to show it off to him. I think he creams his pants. God Damn it, he didn't follow! I thought sure I had landed our ticket out of here.

I came back to find another suit sitting at the end of my table. This one gray and pressed and perfect. Dark blonde hair, piercing eyes, I saw him look at the others and dismiss them with a glance. He looked up at me, I almost melted when he simply nodded, winked one eye and mumbled "Hi." Maybe my team had a chance after all.

Then a black suit lugs a giant briefcase to the center table. He spills a pile of paper across its slick and shiny surface. He struggles to get it somewhat under control.

The massive doors open once again, the whole room seems to hold its breath. A stunning silver suit strides to the table on the left. Shit that's what they call Shark Skin! God, he commands the room as if he always owned it. I feel Blue Queen actually quake, Fat Bitch exudes a stream of rotting odors. Gray suit grins and stands and walks across to shake the Silver hand. They say something to each other, the handshake includes a hand upon the upper arms. Gray grins and winks at me again as he returns to his seat at my table. My stomach flips again, this time with a flickering of hope.

You walk past me

I can feel your pain

Time changes everything

One truth always stays the same

You're still you

After all, you're still you

The room Silver commanded seemed as ancient as the stone polished in its floor. Beneath my chair a small depression, like that under the swing at school. The marks of the endless string of hopes and hopelessness scuffed from thousands and thousands of feet. My own swung in nervous sympathy to the all the others who had sat here too. I touched the table and found the marks of tens of scores of fingernails scratched frantic underneath. I heard you tap your watch, the sign for me to breathe. I breathe, I breathe, you bring me back from rising panic.

A part of the paneling off to my right opens. I see a dingy dark corridor behind it's tiny opening. I hear a clicking of metal, then suddenly my heart skips a beat. You step out behind a deputy. Another follows and you walk across the full width of the room massaging at your wrists. You don't look at me, I can't take my eyes off you. Somehow as you pass I know I must be strong. I must stand so tall and proud. I must hold every bit of anger, every bit of pain, every bit of love so tight inside. I must never let Blue Queen see me vulnerable. I must make you proud. I must be as strong as you when you held me when we met. I must gather the strength from every embrace and every kiss and every shouting match where I tried to pummel you with words and fists but you just let them all flow through and offered your love back. I must see each coming moment with exacting clarity. I must practice every skill of listening and watching and focusing that you had ever tried to teach me. I must beat Fat Bitch at her cutesies game, I must play Blue Queen as the deadfish he is upon the boulevard. I must hope that Gray and Silver could spill some light against the Black.

"All Rise!" Fat bitch touched my arm. I jumped and quickly tore my eyes away from you.

A bunch of legal mumbo jumbo about who was who and some judge's name and the words "preliminary hearing" filtered into my brain. God! Didn't preliminary mean like the first? Would there be even more? I had to focus, I had to somehow make this the last. I had to! Another morning like this and I knew I would simply disappear: disapparate without the benefit of flue powder. Frozen without a look at basilisk. Subsumed into the spider's woods. What I would give for a bit of Harry's courage that you read to me. What a love I had for you; more than Harry's love for Hagrid. I had to make you safe.

Black suit calls a doctor to the front. Shit! This is just like Perry Mason! He sits in that chair after they make him swear to tell the truth. I realize he's the guy who checked me out that night at the hospital. He was kind of nice, but tired and going crazy with all the shouting and stuff going on. Just now he met my eyes and gave a little smile. Black asked him a bunch of questions, basically about when he saw me and why I was there. He told them about the skateboard accident and the stitches. He told them you had been there and were very concerned and scared that I was all right. He went through the x-rays and even put them up on a screen. He pointed to the broken leg and broken arm and said they looked as though they had happened many years ago. Funny he had never asked me. I knew exactly when the bastard had bounced me off the wall. I still remember exploding in all that pain. I had hurt for weeks, but he would never take me to the doctor. In fact this stupid scrape across my knee was the first time I had ever seen a doctor. You were so scared that I was hurt. Now they were trying to hurt you instead.

Silver asks the doctor if he knew how those bones had broken, who had hurt me.

He answered no.

Silver asked if there was any indication of recent abuse or neglect.

Again he answered no.

Black shuffled a bunch of paper until the judge finally asked him if we were going on today. He muttered a bit and called up the teacher from her school. Fuck! I knew he was a plant! I'd refused to say a thing except to answer math problems and stuff. He swore to tell the truth. Like right! Bastard hid the truth from me! Black told the judge that Silver stipulated to the expert nature of the witness. The judge looked at Silver who nodded he agreed. Black asked the liar about me and how I seemed to act. He basically said something big and long and full of words that made no sense. He must have talked a half an hour. Damn! I don't think I had ever said a dozen words to him. What the fuck was all this spewing now about.

Silver asked it so I understood.

Did I misbehave at school?


Had he read my other school records?


Did I ever cause a problem?



"About six years ago."

"Six years?"


"No problems since?"

"Well, no."

Did I pose a threat to other students?

A long winded bunch of shit cut off by Silver in mid word.

Yes or No, did I pose a threat to other students?

"Well, no."

Had I said anything about being abused?

Another bunch of shit this time stopped by the judge.

"Well, no."

Fat bitch shook her head and gave teacher a dirty look as he stepped down from the chair.

Blue Queen I think had been asleep. At least he wasn't perving on my dick, of course it was shriveled up and tight with all my tension. Damn, I think my balls had sucked back up into my body!

Black called someone from the back, a woman I had never seen before.

Black asked her if she was my Social Worker.


Had she assessed my case in light of my recent hospital visit?


Did she arrange my placement at the home.

Yes, it had been so sudden and unexpected she had seen to it personally. It was the best place to put an abused child like me.

Silver cleared his throat and said, "Objection"

The judge waved him aside and said it was a preliminary hearing, he'd allow a little latitude.

Latitude? What the fuck? Now they were talking about globes and shit. I focused on the chair. I thought I'd kill her with my looks. This bitch had sold me to the fat one. Let me get her by herself a moment in a room, she be sorry she had ever heard my name!

Black sat down and Silver came to stand almost right in front of me. I couldn't see the bitch.

What color was my hair?

"Pardon me?"

Black jumped up from his chair, "Objection!" he shouted out.

The judge grinned and said, "I think latitude goes both ways Mr. Prosecutor? Answer the question please."

"Uh, black, I think."

Silver didn't move. How many years had she been my social worker? Please feel free to consult the notes.

She fumbled with a folder in her hands. "About seven years."

Does it surprise you to note your client is a blonde?

"Oh, well I have so many I get them all confused."

When was the last time she had seen me personally?

"Uh, about six years ago."

"Six years? Surely you mean six days?"

"Uh, no, The notes say I visited the shelter where he was six years ago."

"Do those notes say you saw and talked to him?"

"Uh, no, it says I spoke with the Shelter Supervisor."

"So you have never seen or spoken to your client personally?"

"Uh, well, no, I guess I haven't."

"What do the notes say happened with this boy after your visit to the shelter?"

"Uh, well they don't really say anything."

"Six years of notes say nothing?" Silver asked the judge more than the bitch up on the chair.

"Uh, well, they say his sister died and that he was assigned to a group home."

"And the group home notes? What do they say?"

"Well, there aren't any it seems."

"No notes?" Silver asked Black this time. I watched as Black shrunk inside his suit.

"Uh, no it seems the boy never got to the group home."

"And what about the search for him? The Police report? The followup Social Services contacts to his neighbors and his school and friends?"

"Uh, well I guess we didn't notice. I have a lot of cases and I guess I just thought he was happy at the group home?"

"I see, six years a client, a child not even ten years old is missing, but you guess you were too busy to even notice."

Silver looked at me and reaching out he tousled my blond hair. I hated that from anyone but you. Somehow though I knew I should smile up at him. "I hope you manage to notice him sitting here in the courtroom now. I'm sorry your honor, I withdraw that remark." He turned and looked a dagger of his own right at the heart of Black.

The bitch was dismissed and fluttered with her papers spilling everything out of the file as she stepped down from the chair. Fat Bitch moved to help her pick up the mess. Gray made some slight motion with his hand and Fat Bitch quickly sat back down and left the mess for the social worker to pick up alone. She fled red faced and flustered from the room.

I look up to

Everything you are

In my eyes you do no wrong

And I believe in you

Although you never asked me to

Black said something to the judge about a hostile witness and permission to ask hard questions. The judge told him to be careful but to continue. Suddenly the deputy was calling out my name. I jumped. Blue Queen touched my arm and I felt the cold chill of death. Fat Bitch actually patted me on the thigh. I shrank away, it felt like I'd been pushed down in the mud. My Perfect Gray just looked at me and smiled and winked again.

Somehow I stumbled from the table to the chair up on stand. That story you read me? Now I think I knew how Little John had felt up on the gallows waiting for Robin Hood to make a daring rescue. I looked around; you wouldn't meet my eye. Nobody would look at me. I shriveled up and then I saw the slightest nod and smile sent to me by Gray. I took a giant breath and like you taught me deep inside my anger, I centered on my love for you: I had to do this right. God I was such a fuck-up when we met. Please don't let me fuck-up now. If anything, my balls jumped into my throat.

The deputy made me raise my hand and promise to tell the truth. The truth about your love was all I held, even though you wouldn't look up from your hands upon the table. Your hands! I saw it then! The sign you made! The thumbs touching on your middle fingers. Your pointing fingers touching each other above the palms. The ring fingers touching on the heels of your thumbs and pinkies standing pointing at your heart. The mudra you had shown me of the everlasting universal love. I put my right hand out palm facing to my chest, and just before I sat down in the chair I touched the railing with the fingertips, as close as I could get to touching all the power in the Earth. My heart was bursting with the flow of strength you sent me through the ground.

Black asked me my name and age.

"My name is Peter Collingsworth, I'll be 16 next week."

"Your Honor ...." Black started.

But I cut him off, "No, your honor," I turned quickly to the judge. "I'm sorry, my name is Peter Cossairt. I haven't said it though for years. I'm sorry."

"That's okay son. Good for you for telling the truth so quickly." He looked at Black like well, what now?

Where did I live?

"I don't know the address sir. I live in the home of the lady sitting over there." I pointed at Fat Bitch.

"Your honor..." Black whined again.

"Well, I think you'll find he told the truth, Mr. Prosecutor? You had better ask your questions a little more carefully. Please continue."

"I meant where did you live before you went to the group home this week."

"Well, when I was little I lived with my mother and father in Laramie. Then we moved here and he started drinking and stuff. I can't remember the addresses, we moved around a lot. Then he got really drunk and threw me against the wall one day. Mom took us to the shelter but that didn't work too good. We lived in the car for one summer, just moving around..."

"Your honor please?..." Black interrupted.

The judge actually laughed. "You asked him about before, I'd say he's giving you exactly what you asked."

Black turned his red face to me, "Look. Did you ever live with the man over there who abducted you?"

Silver jumped up to his feet, but before he could even open his mouth the judge was barking mad at Black. "Mr. Prosecutor! If you can't ask a proper question we will stop this proceeding right now!"

Black, I think, almost pissed his pants. "Yes sir!" He cringed, he turned to me and with a syrupy sneer asked, "Peter, have you ever lived with anyone else in this room?"

"Yes sir, my Dad over there." I pointed across at you, I hoped you'd see my fingers curled in a mudra of Understanding. I saw you had changed yours into Calm.

"Your honor, let the record show he pointed at the defendant and register the possible perjury."

I looked confused up at the judge. "It's okay son. Why did you call that man your dad?"

"Well, he's been my Dad now since my sister died and my mother disappeared."

The judge nodded like he understood. Turning to Black he said, "I think we'll let that stand and allow him to refer to people as he is comfortable, okay?" I could tell it wasn't really a question. You sometimes asked me in a tone like that and I KNEW the answer before you were even finished!

"Okay, you've lived with 'your dad' for six years now. When was the last time that he hit you?"

I saw Silver jump up again, but I had already said, "Last month."

Silver's eyes shot from me to you. Fat Bitch gasped over at our table. Black quickly said, "Tell me about that time."

Here it goes, all or nothing, could I make them understand? "Well, me and some friends stopped at Walmart on the way home from school. We didn't really have any money and we were just goofing around. When we left one of the guys pulled a box of candy out of his shirt. We ate it and laughed. When I got home, Dad saw the wrapper in my pocket and asked where it had come from. I told him Johnny had stolen it, but that I hadn't and didn't even know he had. He asked me if I ate some? When I said yes, he looked at me so sad and I realized that made me a thief too, because I knew Johnny hadn't paid for it. I told him I was sorry and if he would take me to the store I'd pay the manager and apologize. Dad took me and stood by while I told the manager what had happened and paid for the candy. The manager was nice and shook my hand, Dad took me home and told me he was proud of me, but that didn't erase the stealing. I cried and asked him to spank me so he wouldn't be mad at me. He told me he wasn't mad. I begged him to spank me and get it over with. He told me he thought I had learned my lesson, but I cried and begged him not to hate me. He promised he'd never hate me and gave me ten spankings to prove it. Ouch, they hurt too! But I deserved it."

The judge looked over at Silver standing there, "Did you wish to say something?"

Silver thought a moment then smiled and said, "No sir," and sat back down.

Black seemed flustered and poked around again inside his papers. Just as the judge cleared his throat, Black walked over and asked me if I'd ever been in any trouble. I took a deep breath and thought about how to do this. I had to turn their thoughts upside down. I knew what they wanted me to say. How could I make sure I got their attention and then burst the bubble. I owed you so much, I had to make this perfect.

"Well, right after my sister died I was really mad. My mom disappeared at the shelter one day and the people made me get out like everyone else in the morning. I didn't have anywhere to go and I was frightened. Somehow I went to school and got in a fight with the other kids. Everybody was mad. I didn't know what to do, so I just ran away. I think I had a fight with everybody I met for a long time. Then I met my Dad and he wouldn't fight. He'd just hold me until I was so tired of struggling I'd go to sleep."

"So he held you against your will?"

"What's that mean? Against my will?" I asked up at the judge.

"It means he wouldn't let you go and made you stay even when you didn't want to."

"Oh, then no, he never held me against my will. Sometimes, a lot of times really, he held me against my anger. Somehow he'd always hold me long enough I'd calm down. Then we could talk about why I was mad. He always made me feel better when he held me. Then he started teaching me how to use my body."

I saw Fat Bitch reach across the table and grab Blue Queen's deadfish hand. Gray looked up at me frowning like he wanted to ask a question. Silver seemed to read your hands in the sign for Peace and stay quiet in his seat.

"Use your body? How do mean that? What did you use your body for?"

"You know, to feel good. Things to really try and give me pleasure." Fat Bitch again, I could smell her clear across the room, she must be leaking like a faucet inside those disgusting pantsies. Maybe she did know about cocks after all; maybe she wanted one inside too.

"I learned things for controlling my anger. I was always mad. Dad taught me how to take a deep breath and hold it and allow my body to settle down and taste the oxygen. I thought that was funny at first, but you know, you can really taste the oxygen in a deep breath." I took a giant breath and held it in. I felt the judge take one too. I let it out and continued, "Or he taught me to hold my hands together and close my eyes and count to ten and think of the best thing in the world. I'd always think of him holding me. Sometimes when I was really mad I learned to take my left hand and put on my heart and use my right hand to pinch my arm. The sudden pinch would make me think if I really wanted to hurt myself or someone else. I used to pinch myself a lot! But I never hit anybody again."

"What else did he make you do?"

"Well I have to eat my vegetables, but not Brussels sprouts, they make me throw up, so I don't have to eat them. I have to do my homework and clean up my room. On Saturday I have to help in the yard."

"Do you have to do things you don't want to do?"

"Sure! I have to do the dishes three nights a week. I hate doing dishes! I'd rather do my algebra homework."

"How about things with him. Does he make you do things with him?"

"Well yeah, like in my bedroom." Blue Queen must have dribbled goo inside he sat up so quick to listen. " I have to help fold the sheets and blankets, they're too big for one person. We go to ball games and do the grocery shopping and ..."

Black flung up his hands and stomped over to his seat. "Your witness!" he said in a voice I heard you use a long time ago when I'd get all mad at nothing.

Silver walked slowly over to me. "Did your Dad make you change your name at school?"

"No, they still call me Cossairt, but I never use it. I'm Peter Collingsworth inside my head."

"Did your Dad try to keep you away from doctors or the dentist? When you got hurt did he make you hide and tough it out?"

"No. I'd never been to the dentist before living with him. He makes me go and everything. I had to get a filling and they polished me teeth, see?" I grinned up at the judge. "I don't need braces though. The orthodontist said so!"

"Do you know? Does he pay cash for those visits or does he use insurance?"

"Insurance. I have a card in my wallet in case I'm hurt and he's not right there."

"Oh, can I see the card?"

"Your honor..." Black began to whine.

"Sit down Mr. Prosecutor, you started with the history questions!"

I gave the card to Silver. He held it out to the judge. "You'll notice it is coverage in the name of Peter Cossairt, your honor."

I saw the judge glance at the card and scratch his head. He crooked his finger at Gray. For the first time he got up. He came over and looked at the card. Then he handed it back to me with another quiet little wink.

Silver looked at you and looked at me, smiled and then turned to the judge, "No further questions, your honor."

The judge told me I did a good job being truthful and that I could go back to my seat. I stumbled off the platform and your head jerked up, but you wouldn't look me in the eye. I made it somehow back to my chair.

I will remember you,

And what life put you through.

And in this cruel and lonely world

I found one love.

You're still you.

The judge looked at Black, "Well Mr. Prosecutor. What's next?"

"Uh," Black fumbled with his papers. "Uh, the Prosecution rests."

"Good idea!" the judge intoned and turned to Silver, "Anything you wish to say?"

Silver rose and looked over at my table. He met my eyes and looked to Gray then turned to face the judge. "Your honor, I move for dismissal. There is no evidence of either abduction or abuse. Mr. Collingsworth enrolled Peter under his real name at the same school where Social Services seems to have lost him for six years. He kept insurance in his real name with the largest insurance company in the state. He never denied the boy medical or dental treatment." Silver walked over to my table and moved around behind me. He put one hand on my shoulder and looked sternly at Fat Bitch. "Social Services seems to have a shown a stunning disregard for the loss of a nine year old child and if Mr. Collingsworth had not sought immediate and necessary hospital services they might still think this "black" haired boy is happy in a group home they actually closed four years ago." He tousled my hair again when he said black. "Peter tells a story of a loving parent who, horror of horrors, makes him clean his room, do the dishes and take responsibility for his actions. Something I think the prosecution and Social Services could learn from."

I held my breath and clasped my left arm to my chest. I started pinching on my arm. I was so tense I thought I'd burst.

"I agree. Case dismissed. Mr. Collingsworth you are free to go. I suggest that the prosecutor look to Social Services for the next charges of abuse and neglect." The judge banged his gavel on the desk.

I wanted so to jump up and run across the room, but Gray, the traitor, was standing at my back and kept my chair against the table. You finally looked up and met my eyes. I saw the love, I saw the pain, I saw the tears, I saw the pride you sent me flashing across the room. Then Gray had me by the shoulder and pushed me toward that dingy little door inside the paneling. Fat Bitch's hideous stench hurried right behind me. I reached out my hand to touch you across all time.

Your hand sent me the mudra of Eternal Love, then Courage. I struggled as they closed the door and I was swallowed by the system.

I cried that you were free, yet I'd never feel you hold me one more time.

After all, you're still you.