Log In

Home > Miscellaneous > Sonuachara > Chapter 4

Sonuachara Chapter 4

Zoe and Trina were separated as soon as they walked into the House; Zoe was put in with the younger children. It was heartbreaking, as always, but it wasn't Zoe's first time there, so she did her best to simply make them comfortable.

When she met back up with Trina at the end of the shift, Trina was visibly unhappy. Zoe brushed a few bits of construction paper off of her jacket as she slid into the seat.

"Not what you expected?" she asked, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.

Trina dropped into the drivers seat and slammed the door. "I volunteered to work with kids, not to do fucking paperwork."

"What'd you do?" Zoe's voice suddenly took on a horrified tone. "You didn't let them know you could type, did you?"

"They know now, but that isn't why they did it." Trina looked disgusted. "They don't think I could handle being around the kids. They figure they'll let the 'princess' get her credits in the office, that way she doesn't have to see anything that upsets her."

"Mmm," Zoe said noncommittally. "Got you typing up case studies? They may just be seeing how you react, first."

Trina sighed. "That wasn't my opinion, Zoe. That was almost a direct quote. The director didn't realize her office door wasn't closed all the way."

"Ah. Well. She can be a bit... difficult," Zoe said.

"This is not what I wanted to spend my time doing," Trina said. "I've gotta figure out a way around it."

"Hmm. Well, if you really want to do the dirty work, just stick close to me tomorrow. Come right in with me, someone will be having a crisis, and any available hands will be put to work. After that, too late to move you."

Trina looked at her for a second and then grinned. "I think I like you. You're devious."

"Yeah, sure," Zoe said. "Say that after you've changed a few dozen diapers. I'm in with the little kids, and that includes babies."

Trina laughed. "I've done diapers before. Okay, it's been a few years, but I have."

"Not like this," Zoe said quietly, her face grim.

"Oh?"

She shook her head. "The babies... some of them, the lucky ones, are just abandoned. But even they're pitiful. Thin little things, so tiny you're afraid to touch them for fear their little bones'll just snap. The others... bruises are bad enough, but have you ever seen a diaper rash so bad that there's hardly any skin left because the poor thing was left in a shitty diaper in a hot car for hours and hours? Just one big, oozing blister, and you try to be gentle and clean them off, and the skin just tears no matter how careful you are, and then they cry and you know you're hurting them—"

Trina reached over, touching Zoe's hand. "No. I haven't." She swallowed. "Thanks for warning me. But I'll still help out. That's why I 'm here."

Zoe stared over the door, out at the passing cars. "It's not always that bad. But you've got to remember... these kids wouldn't be here if anyone wanted them, if anyone gave a damn whether they lived or died. They're not like normal kids. There's so much pain."

"I care," Trina said. "I give a damn."

Zoe smiled. "Yeah. Maybe you do. But there's not a hell of a lot you can do. That's the problem... the people who care can't help enough. And the people who could help, don't care."

"I know." Trina sighed. "I mean, I could give money to the House, but would it do any good?"

"No, not really. Keep it running. Enough money, and it'd make it a nice place, maybe, if it didn't get eaten up by bureaucracy. But the government makes the calls as to how things are run. And there's not a lot of room for change."

Trina nodded. "Yeah. Maybe Mom or Dad could pull some strings and make some changes... for a while. But how long would it last?"

"Nothing lasts forever," Zoe said. "But... well, trying is still the only right thing a person can do. Because maybe it helps. And maybe it's enough help, at least sometimes. So it's worth it. And at worst, it's a little less pain in the world."

Trina nodded thoughtfully. "Point. I'll talk to Dad tonight and see what he can do."

"It's a good cause," Zoe said. "A real need."

"Yeah." Trina was quiet for a second. "Hey. Listen. Do you need to go home tonight? Or, rather, do you want to go home tonight? Cause if you'd rather not, I might have something for you."

Zoe hesitated. "I'd best. George'll be home tonight, and I try to be there when he is. Jack won't be a problem, don't worry about it. I can handle his sort, easy."

"Okay. Next time you need a place to stay, though, let me know. I realized this weekend that I know the perfect thing for you," Trina said.

Zoe smiled without humor. "And what's that?"

"Well, look," Trina said. "My grandparents built our house, right? Back when you had servants and servants' quarters. We don't have servants, but the quarters are still there. Dad even had them remodeled a few years ago, I'm not sure why, but they've got air-conditioning, water, everything. It's a totally empty building sitting off on one side of the yard. If you want someplace to stay, there's no problem with you staying there, and you can ride in to school with me in the morning." She shrugged. "You don't have to, but it's not like it'd cost us anything if you did, so you don't have to worry about that."

"Mmm," Zoe said. "If he had them remodeled, it was probably for a reason."

"I know. But they never get used except when... I... have a slumber party. And he had them remodeled right after I started having slumber parties." Trina grinned. "I think I see a connection here. I start having slumber parties where we're up until dawn, and all of the sudden the servants' quarters— conveniently detached from the house— get remodeled so the parties can happen there."

Zoe laughed. "Well, that's a good reason, I guess. But still, someone in there would use resources that it doesn't for them to be empty. Water, electricity, that sort of thing."

"Zoe, that's not going to be enough to notice. Seriously. It's a hell of a lot less water and electricity than we use at my parties, I'm sure, since there's only one of you."

"Mmm. I'll think about it," Zoe said. "But even if it cost nothing, it'd risk getting you in trouble."

"Why?" Trina asked, puzzled.

"Ah, for inviting a vagrant to crash in your parents house?" Zoe asked.

Trina shrugged. "I'll tell them one of my friends needs a place to crash. I've actually done that once or twice when one of my other friends was fighting really badly with their parents. That way their parents knew they were okay, and they had a couple of days to calm down."

Zoe frowned. "No. That won't work. Sometimes, if I need to run, I need to be sure I won't be found. Can't risk crashing somewhere they'll call the wardens to 'let them know I'm okay'. Can't do it.

Trina hesitated. "Look. I promise, my folks understand needing to not be found, okay? If you don't want anyone to know, then nobody will know, and if anyone comes looking for you, they haven't seen you in a while."

"You actually believe that?" Zoe asked, her face showing utter skepticism.

Trina a looked at her, dead earnest. "I know that, okay, Zoe? They'd never turn you in."

Zoe looked at her sympathetically, but didn't say anything.

"I'm serious. If you'd killed someone or something, and they thought it was wrong, they might kick you out, but they wouldn't turn you in. You don't do that in my family," Trina said.

"Maybe so," Zoe said, looking away. "Still best not to push things."

"I'm not gonna push," Trina said. "But if you ever need someplace to stay, let me know."

"We'll see," Zoe said. "I've got things pretty much covered. Don't worry about me."

"Okay," Trina said.

Following Zoe's directions led Trina to decent-looking house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood.

"See you tomorrow," she said as she pulled up to the curb.

"Yeah," Zoe said, tucking some bills between the seat cushions. "Night." She grabbed her bag and headed for the house.


The next afternoon, Trina followed Zoe straight into the infants' room. As usual, there was a crisis, and they were both put to work at once. Trina was clearly shaken by the things she saw, and very careful and gentle with the babies. Surprisingly, as she worked with them, the infants seemed calmer. Even the ones in pain quieted down and seemed less upset.

The director didn't appear to be happy with Trina working with the babies, but obviously realized there wasn't much she could do, and Trina did seem to be good with them, so nothing was said.

When their shift was over, however, Trina collapsed in her seat in the car and just sat there, shaking.

"Hey," Zoe said, patting Trina's hand gently. "You did well."

Trina took a deep, shuddering breath. "How can people do that?"

Zoe's eyes went cold and dark. "They're not people. They're monsters. But people let them get away with it."

"They shouldn't."

Zoe leaned against the door, sighing. "They do. No one gives a damn, as long as they don't have to see it."

Trina shook her head. "It's not just that. We don't know. I didn't know. I mean, I knew that this sort of thing happens, but I didn't know."

"That's because it's too ugly for people like you," Zoe said. "So they hide it. They put them in crowded houses on the very edges of town and put a fence around it, so that 'decent' people don't see the bruises on them when they play outside. They'll place a kid with anyone who wants to draw the pitiful-ass stipend, and think they've done good work, without bothering to check and see that their precious 'saviour' has spent the money on drugs and is pimping the kid out for more. Hey, no one's complaining, so it must be okay. And if the kid complains, well, you all know how imaginative kids are, right?"

Trina's jaw clenched, and she swallowed, obviously sick. "Gods. That's horrible."

"Yeah, well," Zoe said. "That's life."

"It shouldn't be."

"A lot of things shouldn't be," Zoe said. "But it is."

Trina sighed. "Someone should do something."

"No one can," Zoe said. "If enough people do something, maybe... but they won't. Things like this... they don't change. You can only help them, one at a time, and hope it does something."

Trina sighed again. "I guess so. But I'm going to do what I can."

"That's all anyone can do," Zoe said. "Drop me by the mall, wouldja? Got stuff to do tonight."

"Sure," Trina nodded, then hesitated. "If you aren't planning on going home tonight..."

Zoe shook her head. "I don't know yet what I'm planning."

"Okay. The offer's open, though."

"I'll keep that in mind," Zoe said.

"Okay. Hey, hold on a second." Trina dug around in her purse, pulling out a business card and handing it to Zoe, who took it curiously.

"Mmm?"

"If you need to get ahold of me, it's got my cell and home numbers."

Zoe laughed, shaking her head, and tucked the card in a pocket. "Trying to be my social worker, Trina? You need a bad suit and some brown roots on that hair to pull that one off."

"Please," Trina laughed. "My hair is all natural, and I do not own a bad suit."

"So you can't be a social worker," Zoe said. "I think they also have to carry a few rolls of Tums and bite their nails."

Trina looked down at her perfectly manicured nails and shuddered. "No. Absolutely not." She looked up at Zoe and smiled. "I guess I'll have to settle for being your friend, then."

"Mmm. Not sure what that requires. Illegal drugs, maybe." She pointed. "Entrance by the bookstore is good."

Trina laughed, pulling up in front of the entrance. "I doubt it. See you tomorrow."

Zoe hopped out, giving a casual wave. "See ya."