Authors: Beth Goobie
Copyright Â© 2003 Beth Goobie
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and
retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in
writing from the publisher.
National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data
Goobie, Beth, 1959 â
Who owns Kelly Paddik? / Beth Goobie.
I. Title. II. Series.
PS8563.O8326W56 2003 jC813'.54 C2002-911413-6
First published in the United States, 2003
Library of Congress Control Number:
: After attempting suicide, Kelly Paddik is sent to a
“secure facility.” As she tries to find a way out she has to come to
terms with her memories of abuse.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for
its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the
Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry
Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and
the British Columbia Arts Council.
Cover design: Christine Toller
Cover photography: Eyewire
Printed and bound in Canada
05 04 03 â¢ 5 4 3 2 1
Orca Book Publishers
1030 North Park Street
Victoria, BC Canada
IN THE UNITED STATES:
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468
Custer, WA USA
for the young women who
spend a time at Marymound
I sat in the car next to my social worker and stared out the window. We were out of the downtown area now, driving up Main Street into Winnipeg's north end. The car passed store after store, then a McDonald's. A woman at a bus stop stared straight at me, then looked away with nothing on her face. That was what it was like when you were a kid in the system. So many people looking right through you with polite nothingness on their faces. It always made me wonder if the
nothingness came from them or me.
I'm fifteen years old and I'm being driven to a lockup
. The thought kept pounding through my head. Outside the car, yellow leaves blew down the street like sadness, like freedom. The car turned off Main Street and passed a row of houses. At the end of the street stood a huge black iron gate. It was like something out of a horror movie. The car drove through the gate into a parking lot. Ahead of us was a tall, very old brick building. The sign out front said: MARY-MOUND SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.
Two days ago I'd been here for a meeting, but this time I was here to stay. As the car got close to the front door, I saw the wires in the windows. Wire run through glass makes windows harder to smash and climb out. That means you can't get out â you're stuck wherever you are until someone decides to let you out.
I wasn't even inside yet, and I could feel the walls moving in on me. Waves of panic rose up my throat, and I felt as if I was drowning. I couldn't let them do this to me,
Pushing open the car door, I dug my feet into the ground and took off for the gate. I could hear my social worker yelling, but then a huge
roaring filled my ears. At the parking lot entrance, the horror movie gate still stood open, waiting for me.
I had to get away
â that was all I could think about. The gate grew and grew, and then I was through it and out in the street. Everything in me pulled together and began to run, as fast as my heart was beating, faster.
Then I heard feet pounding after me. They were gorilla feet â loud and heavy. I didn't have to look back to know they were a man's. He was right behind me, and I gave up then because men are stronger and meaner than girls. I know that if I know anything. I stopped running and felt the air stand still around me. I was gasping, trying to catch my breath as I watched the street run away without me. The man's hand touched my arm â not too heavy, but there.
“I'll give you a minute to catch your breath,” he said.
I didn't say anything. He stood there panting, waiting for me to stop breathing so hard. I wouldn't look at him, just stared down the street and pretended his hand wasn't on my arm. Finally he said, “Kelly, I'm Jim. I think we'll head back now.”
We walked back in silence. I kept kicking
at leaves and watching my feet.
, I thought as we walked through the gate. When we got to the car, my social worker glared at me.
“That wasn't very smart, Kelly Paddik.”
I tried to look at her as if I'd never seen her before and couldn't care less. Inside, though, I was crying â crying in my hands and stomach and legs.
I looked away from my social worker's face, and then I saw the woman standing beside her. Even though she wasn't wearing a headdress, I could tell right away that she was a nun. Her uniform was a light brown, and there was a small cross on her chest. Seeing a nun scared me so bad I thought my knees and elbows were going to come apart. It's just that in stories and movies there are always nuns in places like this. That's how you know you're locked up for good.
“Hello, Kelly. I'm Sister Mary.” She was so short, the top of her head came to my shoulders. And she was old â grandmother old. If all the staff in here were like this, I could run away easy. This started to cheer me up, until I remembered Jim.
“C'mon in and I'll show you your room,” Sister Mary said.
Just like hotel service
, I thought.
Jim followed close behind to make sure I didn't make a run for it again. I felt as if I was wearing him like a body glove. He probably thought of himself as my bodyguard â just a nice guy keeping Kelly Paddik away from all the bad stuff. So if he was so nice, then why was he making my hands sweat and my heart pound? I wanted to turn around and shove him, hard.
Before I could, Sister Mary opened the front door and we stepped inside the building. It seemed very dark after the bright sunshine and the yellow flyaway leaves. From somewhere nearby, I could hear girls' voices. We went down a long hall and through a locked door. Then we climbed two flights of stairs. I was watching the old nun, waiting to see if she would fall over from all this exercise. But she wasn't even breathing hard. Maybe she worked out and lifted weights.
When we got to the top of the stairs, we turned down another hall. On my left I could see an office with a large window run through with wire. I guess the staff thought they needed somewhere safe to hide out. Ahead of us there was a big room with sofas, a TV, and a kitchen area. On
both sides of this room were five doors.
One girl per room
, I thought.
That makes ten girls
Sister Mary led me to the middle door on the left. She unlocked the door and said, “The girls in this unit are twelve to seventeen years old, Kelly. I'm the supervisor. Anytime you want to talk to me about anything, just let one of the staff know. This is your room.”
I walked into the narrow room after her, followed by Jim. It really was small â one sneeze would fill the place right up. Honestly, four or five steps would take you across it. And there was no place to hide anything, unless you stuck it in the heating vent. As I thought about this, Jim put my suitcase on the bed. Then he opened it and started going through my stuff. I could feel my anger rising in a huge wave. But I got it under control. You have to do that in these places â sit tight on everything you feel. If you don't, you lose it and you're locked up longer. I always sit tight on my anger and sadness and don't let any of it show. It ends up feeling as if I'm sitting on myself â as if I've got this big bum parked on my head. But if it means I'll get out faster, that's all that matters.
“I don't have a bomb in there,” I muttered.
“I'm sorry, Kelly. We have to do this,” Jim said. Then he held up my pet rock. It was a hunk of granite I'd picked up off a beach somewhere and decided to love. Stupid, I know. I called it “Family” and talked to it when no one else was around. My pet rock was a great listener. At least it never interrupted.
“We're going to have to keep this in the office,” said Jim.
“But that's my pet rock. I need it in my room with me,” I said.
Jim shook his head. “It's one of the rules. You can't keep anything that could be used as a weapon in your room.”
rock, not a
rock,” I argued. I needed that rock. I told it everything.
“Sorry, Kelly. You'll get it back when you leave. Why don't you unpack now?” said Jim. Then he and Sister Mary left to go talk to my social worker.
I stood looking at the room they'd given me. There was hardly any furniture â just a dresser, a desk, and a bed. Then I saw the window, with wires run through it like all the others.
I leaned my face against the cool glass and stared out. I started to get cross-eyed staring
at the wires. Outside, I could see a long hall that connected this building to a school. That had to be the way the girls got to classes. Beyond the school was a huge, fenced-in yard.
They don't even let you out when you go to school
, I thought.
I'd never believed this could happen to me â that I'd get locked up. I'd always wanted to be a normal kid in a normal family like everyone else. Somehow I'd gotten trapped in a life I didn't want. How had it turned out like this? How had I gotten to be some freak that they had to lock up?
I sat down on the bed next to my suitcase. The one thing I was glad about was that it was October. That meant I could wear long sleeves and no one could see the skin on my arm. Last week I'd cut my left wrist with broken glass. I was living in a group home then, where it's easier to get hold of what you need. I'd stolen a Coke from a staff person and smashed the bottle. I'd wanted everything to end then, but I'd messed up. So here I was, alive and locked up.
When the staff took me to the hospital, they told me that I was a “danger to myself and to others.” Then they told me they were sending me to a place with more staff to help me work things out. That's the big sob story about how I
got here, with wires on my window and a suitcase to unpack.
I stared at the stuff in my suitcase. I could feel Jim's fingerprints all over it. In fact, I felt as if his fingerprints were crawling all over
. Slowly I took out my socks and underwear and put them in the dresser. The most important stuff I didn't unpack, because you couldn't see it. That was the stuff I kept deep inside me. Only my pet rock heard about those secrets. I'd had them for as long as I could remember â memories of home, things my dad did to me at night when Mom was asleep.
I worked so hard, all the time, to forget those things. Those memories made my body feel thick, heavy and hard to move. When I thought about what went on at home, I got so scared I couldn't breathe. Sometimes, if I made myself move or run fast, I could get away from it for a while. When I was a little kid, I used to play a game. I would start at one end of the street and run until I was tired. I would pretend I could go so fast I could leave everything bad behind me. Like a small bird, I would fly up and away from my body forever. Too bad forever doesn't last very long.
In here, in this place, there was nowhere to run. I stood at my window and watched yellow leaves blow through the huge iron gate and out into the street. The leaves blurred together as the tears started.
Don't cry, Kelly
, I told myself.
It doesn't help, so don't bother. Just figure out how to get out of this place as fast as you can
I decided that the first chance I had, I would take off. In the meantime, things would go easier if I pretended that I wanted to be here. So I hung my shirts and jeans in the closet, then looked at the last few things in my suitcase. On the top of a small pile sat an envelope with pictures of my family in it. I hadn't looked at them in a long time. Underneath were some notebooks full of writing.