ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the March 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] librarygeek. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] fyreharper. This poem belongs to the Danso & Family thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem deals with some intense material. The warnings are spoilers; highlight to read them. Hadyn is a survivor of child abuse, so extra alert to that kind of issue. She notices clues that make her suspect that her classmate Adriel might be abused. So Hadyn has to scrape up her courage to tell someone. It is scary and creepy. Plus Adriel gets mad at Hadyn for a while. It all works out in the end, though, and the environment is generally supportive. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your headspace before deciding if this is something you want to read.


"The Shadow of His Hand"


Hadyn enjoyed art class.

Unlike math or reading, it wasn't
something you could flunk;
as long as you gave it a good try,
you got credit for the work.

You didn't have to study for it,
either, just pay attention in class
and follow along as best you could.

Mrs. Oswego said that art was about
having fun and making pretty things,
not about worrying over whether
your thing was any good.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Oswego gave
everyone big messy sticks of charcoal
that you could wrap your whole hand
around, and sheets of paper that
covered your entire desk.

She set out a big timer that
changed colors and played music.

"Today we're going to practice
speed sketching," she said.
"Everyone pick a partner so you
can take turns posing and drawing.
When it's your turn to pose,
make a fun shape with your body.
When it's your turn to draw,
use big swoopy lines to catch
your partner's pose -- and work fast,
because you'll only have two minutes!"

Hadyn teamed up with her friend Adriel
who was sitting right beside her.

For the first shape, Hadyn stretched
her feet apart, leaned forward over
her right knee, and clasped her hands
above her head in the Warrior Pose.

It was her favorite from the Sun Salute
set that she learned in her yoga class.
Hadyn liked yoga because it helped her
to relax and concentrate. She thought
it would be fun to have a picture.

Adriel's picture was mostly a triangle
but Hadyn thought it was pretty good
for something drawn in the two minutes
before the timer lit up and jingled.

Then it was Adriel's turn to pose;
she tried to do the splits standing up,
but only managed to hike one leg
onto her desk and grab her ankle,
which was still pretty neat.

Her skirt rode up, showing off
the pink shorties under her red skirt
and a dark smudge of bruise
right at the top of her thigh.

Hadyn's hand moved without thinking
to follow the lines of Adriel's pose,
but her mind was on those bruises.

Only after the timer sang out did she
realize they were shaped like a handprint.

"Hey, Adriel, are you okay?" Hadyn said,
lowering her voice. "I saw your ..."
She fluttered a finger at Adriel's leg.

The other girl scowled, mood changing in
one of those lightning shifts that Hadyn
hated. "Just leave it!" she snapped.

"Okay," Hadyn said, but it wasn't.

Even as she took up the Tree Pose,
tucking her right foot onto her left thigh
and reaching her arms overhead, she
could not stop wondering who had left
the shadow of his hand on Adriel's skin.

Maybe Hadyn had been mistaken,
and it wasn't really what it looked like,
but she kept remembering and it bugged her.

After the class ended, while everyone else
was putting away their art supplies,
Hadyn watched Mrs. Oswego.

She wore the circle-S necklace that
Hadyn's therapist had explained meant
someone who was a survivor and would
help other people who had been
touched in really bad ways.

The swing of the silver pendant was
captivating as it bounced against
her black-and-white blouse.

Finally Hadyn scraped up her courage
enough to tug on Mrs. Oswego's sleeve
and whisper, "Remember when you said
that we could come to you if we needed help?"

"Yes, of course," said Mrs. Oswego.
"What's wrong, Hadyn? You seem
worried about something."

"When we were doing poses,
Adriel's skirt went up, and I saw ..."
Hadyn paused to take a deep breath,
"... it kind of looked like maybe somebody
might have grabbed her by the legs."

"That doesn't sound very good,"
said Mrs. Oswego. "I'll talk with Adriel
and see if she'll tell me what happened.
Then if anything bad is going on,
I'll find someone to fix it."

"Thanks," Hadyn said, and
hurried to pack up her art things.

After school, Hannah pulled her aside
and said gently, "Your art teacher called.
She said you saw something upsetting in
class today and might need to talk about it."

"Yeah, I guess," Hadyn said.
She hated talking about sex things
and she was starting to think that
this might be one of those.

Slowly she pulled out the page
with all the speed sketches of Adriel.

Hadyn's finger traced over the line of
Adriel's thigh, smudging the soft charcoal
so that it looked like bruises again.

"I thought a friend might be hurt,"
Hadyn said, "so I told Mrs. Oswego
and she said she'd take care of it,
but I still don't feel very good."

"What doesn't feel good about that?"
Hannah asked, rubbing Hadyn's back.

Sometimes Hadyn didn't like
being touched, but today
she just wanted a hug.

When she leaned in and wrapped her arms
around Hannah, it took only a moment
for Hannah to squeeze her too.

"I feel like I should've done more,"
Hadyn said. "I mean, it's kind of chicken
to get somebody else to fix things. Adriel
is my friend. I should have done it."

"No, you did everything exactly right,"
Hannah said firmly. "Always tell
a grownup about the big scary things,
because it's our job to deal with that stuff --
and Hadyn, this could be very big and scary.
What you did was really brave. It takes
a lot of courage to speak up when you
might not even be sure what you saw."

"I guess so," Hadyn said.

"I know so," Hannah said.
"Come on now, I have lots of
friends who are superheroes --
don't you think I know something
heroic when I see it?"

Hadyn blushed and hid her face
in Hannah's soft skirt.

She didn't think of herself as a superhera.

The next day, Adriel wouldn't talk to Hadyn --
wouldn't even look at her -- and that made her
feel all alone. Maybe she shouldn't have said
anything, or at least warned Adriel first.

Hadyn sighed and stayed out of
Adriel's way for the next few days,
hoping the other girl would forgive her.

Worse things had happened to Hadyn,
after all, and she'd survived.

It was Monday when Adriel came up
behind Hadyn and squeezed so hard that
it yeeped the air right out of her.

"Thank you," Adriel said. "Mrs. Oswego
didn't say who told but it had to be you.
She got some people to come say that
Mom's new boyfriend can't visit anymore
because he was so mean to me. At first
I was kind of upset you told but now I'm glad."

"Then I'm glad too," Hadyn said,
and hugged her back.

"Will you show me those wacky poses
you were doing in art class last week?"
Adriel asked. "I'd like to try them."

"Sure, I can show you," Hadyn said,
"but don't think that you can do
the fancy ones just like that.
It took me a long time to learn
them in my yoga class."

"I don't care about that,"
Adriel said. "I just want
to watch you be awesome."

"I can do that," Hadyn said,
and she did.

* * *

Notes:

Adriel Deis -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and curly brown hair to her shoulders. She lives in Onion City, attending the same school as Hadyn. Adriel was abused by her mother's boyfriend, but Hadyn noticed and reported it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Easygoing, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Fast Reader
Poor (-2) Abuse Survivor

Lorraine Oswego -- She has pinkish-fair skin, brown eyes, and short blonde hair. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse who was later revictimized by a boyfriend in high school, and now she wears the sowilo rune to show that she's willing to help other survivors of sexual violence. Lorraine is happily married with two daughters. She teaches art in Onion City at the school where Hadyn goes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Artist, Good (+2) Citizen Responder, Good (+2) Hand-Eye Coordination, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Teacher
Poor (-2) Migraines

* * *

Art class is important for developing many skills. Here are some fun lessons for elementary art.

Charcoal drawing is easy to learn, although challenging to master. This medium is wild and exuberant, making its advantages similar to those of messy play. Studio charcoal offers big sticks and a charcoal set provides variety.

A colorful timer that makes fun sounds is an easy way to organize activities.

Gesture drawing and speed sketching teach how to recognize large-scale shapes and lines of motion. This way an artist can capture a fleeting scene in a few swift lines, and then take time to refine the drawing further.

Yoga provides many physical and mental benefits. Here is one example of Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salutation. Learn how to do the Warrior I pose and the Sun Salute. The Standing Bound Split is one version of a vertical split.

Shorties are form-fitting underwear, typically made from cotton or spandex, with short legs so they can't slip and 'peekaboo' private parts like regular panties can. That makes them popular for wearing under skirts. Soups sometimes wear dexflan shorties to avoid 'wardrobe malfunction' incidents.

See the Tree Pose in yoga.

Child abuse can leave warning signs of physical or sexual mistreatment. Children often attempt to hide abuse and may become frightened or angry if it is revealed, for various reasons. There are tips for children on handling abuse, what to do if a friend is being abused, talking with an abused child, and comforting a friend who has been sexually molested.

Courage is a virtue of facing difficult challenges, comprised of several aspects. It is one of the fundamental heroic traits.

Disagreements with friends are unpleasant, but a natural part of human relationships, for children as well as adults. Parents can help teach kids what to do after falling out with a friend.

YAY

Date: 2015-04-25 03:18 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Thank you for posting this. Thank you especially for sketching the bare details of an alarming situation.

Since the resolution is quick, I'm actually hopeful you'll touch upon this in another poem, with later elements. It's very, very rare to find stories which include both abuse which isn't shown as both extreme and permanently damaging. It's treated rather like alcoholism in that respect-- a one drink lapse is "the same as" a three-day bender.

Even with one incident, there are effects, but they don't have to be permanent, or soul-crushing. I'm most definitely not making light of the situation; I'm happy to see a gentle treatment of the problem.

Re: YAY

Date: 2015-04-25 08:45 pm (UTC)
lb_lee: A happy little brain with a bandage on it, surrounded by a circle and the words LB Lee. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lb_lee
Problem is when someone cannot control their temper, even when they try to. Or their penis, in this case.

I will point out that abusers like to portray their abuse as something they can't control, when in actually they CAN control it but CHOOSE not to. Adults who sexually attack children in particular go to a lot of straits to insure that their victims can't escape and will be dismissed if they tell.

--Rogan

Re: YAY

Date: 2015-09-24 02:52 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Apparently there's a support group online for pedophiles who don't want to hurt children. They're trying to control it, and help each other control it.

Re: YAY

Date: 2015-09-24 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That's good to hear. They deserve to get some help.

I hope they're finding better techniques than the "pray away the gay" conversion therapy though.

Re: YAY

Date: 2017-05-10 12:20 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>Plus which, there is the cycle of abuse to consider. Anywhere from 35% to 75% of abusers had been abused as children. Around 30%-40% of abuse survivors go on to commit abuse themselves. What's rarely noticed is that a majority of survivors successfully break the cycle and treat other people gently. What I would like to explore more is how they make that break, so we can improve the odds.<<

Well, in my case, it's that I didn't want anybody else to go thru what I did.

It may have also helped that I managed to build an internal "model" of my abuser and use it to figure out in advance how she'd react to things. So I could put the right "spin" on stuff if I couldn't avoid it.

Didn't always work, but it helped.

Alas, that seemed to have stunted my ability to figure *other* people out...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-25 04:33 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I love this! Must remember to prompt for more Hadyn.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-26 05:24 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
YAY! Nice ending. I'm hoping, this being T-America, that Adriel's mum is getting *help*, and not just meddling officials?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-30 08:13 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I agree with Hannah. Hadyn is a hera for seeing something wrong and taking action -- the appropriate action -- to fix it. People who see something wrong and turn away because they "don't want to get involved" are part of what's wrong with our current culture.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-01 10:12 pm (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
Yaaayyy Hadyn, and yay for help that *actually helps*!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-25 04:10 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Inter alia, love this!: "it yeeped the air right out of her."

Yay!

Date: 2015-04-25 04:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I try to catch those moments when a character's word choice really reveals their personality, age, culture, etc. :D This one was fun.

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