My father had gotten very angry at me for not taking out the trash one day and found me sitting in the family room with my feet up on the coffee table watching the Simpson's, much as I'm doing right this very second. He tucked the toe of his boot under my knee and shoved hard. Some would say he had kicked me. At the time, I said he had kicked me. He honestly didn't. Then he picked me up off of the couch by my ponytail. He then threw me to the floor by it, not intending for me to land on the rock mantle of the fireplace, but indeed that is where I collapsed.
My knee was swollen the following day. I sat in my English class massaging it during the teachers lecture. The girl that sat next to me in class asked me what was wrong. I'd never talked to her before other than asking her once what the teacher had said about hyperbolas for my notes. For some odd reason I decided to tell her everything. I even embellished a bit to make the story more interesting. The next thing I knew, I was being rushed to Tirzah Tolman's house that day after school and the Police had taken a full report on everything.
It was only a week before my 17th birthday when all of this happened. Without planning, without warning, I was suddenly thrust into another home, all because I told the Police that I didn't want to leave home. They took it as a sign that I was afraid of my parents. When I told them my Father didn't hurt me, that I had been stupid and kicked a post the day before trying to show off my martial arts training, they didn't believe me. My leg had been fully extended before I made contact with the post and I felt a pain screaming through my leg, radiating out from my knee like thousands of needles covered in acid and fire. That night when my father pushed my legs off of the coffee table with the toe of his boot, he had no idea that I was already in severe pain. I had done it to myself. The Police thought I was singing the familiar tune of a tumble down the stairs when I told them all about it. I was looked at by them like a kid that had told a story of walking into a door handle with his eye.
Tirzah's family was amazing. She had two sisters that just adored me right off the bat. Both of her parents were teachers and were under the same impression as the Police. I decided just to not talk about what had happened. I was tired of people looking at me with sympathy like I was a pathetic child afraid of the world and all it had to offer. I finally just shut up about it all together and stopped trying to defend my family.
I was given a list of chores. The bathroom downstairs was my responsibility to clean twice a week from top to bottom and spot clean every day. I would sweep the floor in the kitchen on the even days, and on the odd days I would vacuum the living room. Tirzah and I traded off for these chores, while her two little sisters, still in grade school, had the simple chores of cleaning their rooms, clearing off the dinner table, and sweeping the front porch daily. Everyone in the family pitched in. We even gathered each night to read a passage of the Bible. For the first time in two years, I felt like I was a part of something, like I was a part of a family.
When my birthday came, every member in the family had gifts for me. Tirzah gave me a beautiful purse / backpack in black faux leather. I fell in love with it the second I saw it. Her sister Rebecca gave me a candle. It was a Cinnamon Apple candle to be more precise. To this day a Cinnamon Apple candle reminds me of that birthday and of Tirzah's family. I was there such a short time and truly grew to love every one of them.
The Police came by only a few days later and told me that they were sending me home. Their investigation had turned up no results. They told the Tolman family that I had "made everything up" and I needed to go home. They actually apologized to the Tolman's, telling them that it was a shame they had to put up with me for so long over something that I had clearly made up. Tirzah never spoke to me again - but for two weeks, I didn't just have a sister, but three sisters and a real family.
I often think about Tirzah and wonder where she is. I hope her sisters lived up to their brilliant potential. I wish Tirzah all the good things life has to offer. She was such a kind girl to take in a relative stranger when she thought I was in trouble. May she never loose that divine spark and the desire to help others. She, and her entire family, were wonderful.