Break Free Chapter 7

Posted on 7:21 AM | By Biki Honko | In

"Umm, that feels so good..."  A hand was soothing my forehead.  If only I could get my eyes open to see who was touching me.

"Shhh, Soah, you are safe now.  Relax now and just rest."  Dave leaned over and ghosted a kiss on her forehead.

 "Are you sure I can't hold her?  I hate that she is laying on the sidewalk, in the dirt.  Where in the hell is the ambulance?"  Dave looked up at George, clearly expecting answers from him.

"Yes!  By the large stand of trees.  Goodbye!"  George shut his phone for the first time in 25 minutes.  "Here they are!  Finally!"

"Soah?  Can you talk to me?"

A voice I didn't know was talking to me.  "Y.....yes......"   Prying my eyes open, every thing is so blurry, so hard to think.  Seeing a kind face leaning down, smiling at me.  A face I don't know.

"Hi there.  My name is Sam.  I am going to help you now.  Can you tell me your name?"

"Soah...my name is Soah"

"Soah?  I need a last name, honey.  Can you tell me how old you are?"

"Helms.  I am 15."

"Soah, we are here to help you.  We want you to lay still for right now, ok?"

"Ok."

The paramedics jumped to work.  Temperature, 102.8.  Blood pressure.  When Sam went to wrap the cuff around Soah's arm a high pitched whine broke from her lips,  "Hurts!  I'm sorry!  Please...  Sorry.....p.please hurts."

Dave jumped forward, and started stroking her forehead again,  "Shh,  shh,  Soah it's ok.  They are trying to help you, ok?"  Tears started running down Dave's face, against his best efforts to hold them back.

"Son?  We need you to move back.  We know you are trying to help, by keeping her calm.  But, we need some room here to work."  Dave slowly got to his feet and walked into Kevin's arms.  Kevin held out a hand for Morgan to hold.  Morgan looked surprised, and shook his head no.

"Let me look before we try the cuff again.  Ok, Soah?"  Sam carefully pulled her shirt sleeve up, revealing a large burn on her arm.  Sam looked over at Tyler, "I think the best course of action is to transport her to the hospital for further evaluation.  What do you think?"

Tyler carefully pulled up the hem of her tee shirt, revealing bruises, and cuts.  As he pulled her shirt up higher he saw a large burn on her back that was clearly made by an iron.  Shock filled his face before he quickly schooled it away.  "Yes, I believe it would be best to transport her immediately.  Let's get her loaded up now."  Tyler got up and rolled the stretcher over to Soah, dropped it down to the lowest level to ease moving her.

With everything ready Sam said, "Soah?  Honey?  This is going to hurt.  We will be as careful as possible, but it will still hurt."

"Can't you give her something first for her pain, before you move her?"  George was badly shaken by what he had seen.  He took Kevin's hand, and gripped it tightly.  Taking comfort as well as giving it.

"Sir, without knowing the full extent of her injuries, anything that we give her could prove to be dangerous.  We will be starting an I.V. line in the ambulance.   She will not be getting any pain meds until she has a full work up.  I know it seems harsh, but we will be as gentle as possible."  Sam nodded at Tyler, and as they lifted Soah, she began to sob.  "Soah, you are doing good, honey.  We are going to have to turn you over."  As they laid Soah on her back a scream ripped from her throat, and mercifully she passed out.  Sam and Tyler quickly secured her to the stretcher, covered her with a blanket, lifted the stretcher so they could push it down the sidewalk to the ambulance.

"Which hospital are you taking her to?" George's voice was choked with tears.

"Saint Vincent's" answered Tyler as he helped push the stretcher down the sidewalk.  A moan broke from Soah, as she came to.

"Let's go guys.  It will be a while until we can see her, if we can see her.  But I know that I don't want to leave her there alone.  What did Tom say?  Is he going to meet us at the hospital?"  George let go of Kevin's hand and began to follow the paramedics.

"Yeah, but he needs to know which one she is being taken to.  Dad?  Would you call Cami?  I would like for her to be there with us, with you.  Please?  I mean, she is going to be my new mom, right?  If she is family, then she should be here."  Kevin linked fingers with Dave and began to follow his dad.

Morgan was facing away from everyone, looking at the trees as if he had never seen a tree in his life, tears leaking from his eyes.  Not following, not coming, unable to move, unable to believe what he had seen under Soah's shirt.  Why would anyone do that to their own kid?  How could anyone do that to another person?  Lost in his thoughts, he didn't hear George come up behind him, "Morgan?" George wrapped his arms around him, hugging him tightly.  "I am a helluva lot older than you, and it is tearing my heart out.  I know it is ripping you to shreds.  There is no way we will ever be able to understand how or why her parents could do this to their child.  Would you rather not come to the hospital with us?  We understand if it is to much for you."

"No, I can't go home without knowing if she will be ok.  I need to go.  I have to be there."  Morgan wiped the tears from his face, turned and hugged George tightly, "I'm sorry for breaking down like this."

"Morgan!  Didn't you see the three of us crying?  Did you see how close Sam was to tears?  Do not try to play the tough guy with me.  I know you have a marshmallow heart, and that is one of the reasons Kevin and I love you so much.  Let's go.  I need to call Tom Briggs back and tell him where they are taking her."\

"Tom?  Yeah, they are taking her to St. Vincent's.  She is in horrible condition.  No, I don't think she is in danger of dying, unless it is from an infection.  Hey, Tom?  Could we discuss this after I get to the hospital? Yeah, I am very upset, and just need to get the boys and me to the hospital.  Ok, see you there."

"Soah, honey?  We are here at the hospital.  You only have to be brave a little more, ok?"

"Ok.  I can't remember your name.  I'm sorry."

"No worries about forgetting my name.  Sam, my name is Sam.  Here we go, big breath in baby, it will hurt moving you again.  We will try to be careful."  Sam and Tyler pulled the stretcher out thru the doors and lowered it to the ground.  When the stretcher jerked as it lifted to pushing height, Soah let out a loud cry, and began to sob again.

"I know baby, I know.  You are being so brave.  We need you to keep being brave for just a little while longer."

As they wheeled the stretcher into the emergency room several nurses came up to get the information Tyler had gathered on Soah's condition.  They wheeled her into an exam room, and lifted her off the stretcher onto the bed, causing Soah to cry out in pain.

Sam came up and carefully brushed Soah's hair from her eyes.  "I am going now Soah. Don't worry, these nice ladies will take good care of you."

"No!  Please don't leave me here.  Please, please could you stay with me, please?  I'm scared, please stay Sam, please?"

Sam looked up as the doctor walked into the room.  "Well Doc? Would it be alright for me to stay?" Dr. Bob Pressler had a smooth face with a ruddy complexion, and a shock of snow white hair.  He had started building a tummy the last few years, but still looked full of vim and vigor, and most were surprised that he would turn 65 this year.

"Could I speak to you for a minute in the hallway?" Doctor Pressler had been briefed on the condition of his newest patient, but wanted to speak to one of the E.M.T.'s.

Sam Jenkins turned back to Soah, smiling at her, his brown eyes twinkling.  "Soah honey, the doc man needs to see me, I will be right back, ok?"

"What's up?"

"Your report said we need to contact the police.  Did your patient tell you that she was a victim of child abuse?  Why does she want you to stay with her?"

"Yes, you need to get the police down here now.  No, she didn't say what had happened to her, but she has been burned with a iron on her back.  Doesn't sound like an accident to me, taken with all of her other injuries that we saw.  The reason she wants me to stay with her, is that she is alone and scared, and I was nice to her.  Sounds like a good enough reason to me.  My sift ended 15 minutes ago, so I can stay."

Dr. Pressler looked at Sam, trying to get a feel for who he was.  He guessed he was around 45, trim built, and ebony skinned.  And without a doubt in his mind about Sam, a very compassionate man.

"I think you are right on the money.  It would help her to have someone she feels she can trust to help her through this.  Sorry about the third degree."

"No worries doc.  Let's get back to her.  I don't want to leave her alone if I don't have to."

"Sam?  You have a daughter about her age, right?"

"Yes.  All I want to do right now, is rush home and give her the biggest hug of her life.  But, I need to hold this wee girl, and try to show her that there are some people she can trust.  I want to prove that to her, that she can trust me."

"Hey baby girl, I'm back!  Did ya miss me?"  Sam walked up to Soah, taking her hand, and brushing her cheek with his other hand.

"Yeah I did."  Tears began to leak from her eyes again.  And she started to sniffle.

Sam was doing his damnedest to keep Soah focused on him, while the nurses and the doctor were getting things ready.  He looked up and saw they were ready to begin the exam.  "Baby girl, you are not going to like this, but the only way they can see what is wrong with you is to cut your clothing off.  They will cover you up as they cut them off, but you just give them never no mind, ok?"

"Soah, I am Dr. Pressler.  I will try to be as gentle as possible when I examine you."

The nurses began cutting off her shorts and underwear, and then her shirt. In several areas the clothing was adhered to her skin and had to be soaked off.  Tears flowed continuously down Soah's face, pooling in her ears.  Sam had seen a great deal of hurt in his 20 years of being an ambulance E.M.T., but he was not prepared for what he saw as her clothing was removed.  Stick thin, no extra meat on her at all.  She was covered in bruises, both old and new. Livid finger shaped bruises around the base of her neck.  Long thin cuts that could only have been caused by being whipped.  Sam whispered sweet words into her tear filled ears, brushing her cheek, holding her hand.  Holding back his own tears, his own rage at what her parents had done to her.

"Soah, you are doing great.  We are almost done getting your clothing removed.  Next will be needing to roll you over."  As more of Soah was exposed to him, Dr. Pressler became angrier and angrier that anyone could treat any living being this way.  But, to do this to your own child!

"Soah honey, they are ready to roll you over.  I will not be lying to you, this is going to hurt.  They are going to do it really quick like, and get it over as quickly as possible.  Are you ready, baby girl?"

"....yes..."

Soah was quickly flipped over, causing her as little pain as possible.  The nurses continued working to remove all of her clothing.  As her back and butt was uncovered, the mood of the room changed.  Her back, butt and upper thighs, was a swollen infected mess of burns, cuts and bruises.  Anger had flowed into hatred, sadness, and disbelief of what this child had lived thru.  Soah could no longer look at Sam due to her position, and that was a good thing.  His deep brown eyes were blazing with hatred for her parents.  Forcing himself to continue to gently stroke her, to croon a soft song into her ear, trying to do the only thing he could think of to help her.

"Soah do you remember the name of your doctor?  We need to see if you are allergic to any antibiotics."  Dr. Pressler had to fight to keep his voice even and calm.

"I haven't ever been to the doctor before."

"We need to give you antibiotics, get you hydrated, you also need nutrients in your system.  When was the last time you ate?"

".....um, when I ate with Morgan, Kevin and Dave.  But, time is kinda fuzzy for me now, and I can't think of when that was."

"There are four men, sitting in the waiting room, worrying about you.  Soah, would you like for me to tell them how you are?  Would you like to see them?"

"No!  I don't want anyone else to see me naked!"

Dr. Pressler chuckled, "We will make sure you are covered before they can see you.  Talli will wash and clean your back.  I need to get your paperwork started so we can admit you.  You will be our visitor for a few days.  Be back in a few."

Dr. Pressler walked down the hall hoping that one of those men in the waiting room could shed some light on her life.  Hopefully, one of them would be there with her and Sam when the police came to talk to her.  She is going to need all the support she can get.  As he rounded the corner, and came into view, six heads snapped up hoping the new comer was for them.

"Hello!  I am Dr. Pressler, are any of you waiting here for Soah Helms?"

George leaped from his seat, "Yes!  We are all waiting for news.  I am George Gardner, my son Kevin.  Dave Li.  Morgan Davidson, Cami Winston, and Tom Briggs.  How is she?"

"Let's go into a conference room."

"Excuse me, do you know what happened to her bag she came in with?  Because I think most of what you want to know will be in her book."  Dave felt guilty allowing someone else to read her book, but he knew she needed all the help she can get.

"In her book?"

"Yeah, it is what she calls her diary.  From what I read, it is her best friend.  This feels so wrong for me to tell you about her book. But I want her to be happy, and if she is mad at me later for allowing someone else to know about her book, I don't care."

"I will find her bag and have it brought to the conference room.  I think she will understand that you are just trying to help her."  Bob Pressler looked at the young man walking next to him.  She found a good friend here, he truly cares for her, he thought.

" I need some general information from you.  Do any of you know her address, or her parents names?  Oh, I asked her when the last time she ate, and she said with you boys.  Can you tell me when that was?"

Morgan choked and tears sprang into his eyes, "She hasn't eaten since she was with us?  That was four days ago!  Shit!  No wonder she is skin and bones.  How is Soah doing, really?  Don't beat around the bush, we have been stewing over what to do for 3 days now."

"What do you mean, stewing over what to do?  And for how she is doing, I can't give you specifics, but will tell you, baring any unforeseen complications, she should make a complete recovery.  However, it is her mental state I am more concerned with."

The boys all looked at each other, trying to decide who would tell what they knew about Soah.  Dave took a shaky  breath, saying "I guess it will be me."

"Dave, son, let me tell Dr. Pressler what we know.  If I leave something important out, jump in and correct me."

"Thanks Dad.  I am not sure I can even hear it again, much less tell it."  Dave took Kevin's hand, giving him a watery smile.  Kevin pulled his chair closer to Dave, and shot a glance at the doctor.

"Is this going to be a problem with you?" Nodding with his head at their linked hands.

"None at all.  Who am I to judge the people who apparently are the only people who care for this poor girl.  George could you please begin?"

George filled in what little they knew.  The boys at one time or another all jumped in with details that George either left out or did not know.  Bob was impressed with how dedicated they were to a girl they barely knew.

"Dr. Pressler, I know we were introduced earlier, but I would like to explain why I am here.  I am Tom Briggs, an attorney, and am representing George.  He would like to file for emergency temporary custody.  None of us want to see this girl in foster care.  Her road back is going to be hard enough without going into the system. When the police arrive, please let me know, as I need to speak to them.  We have already talked to the child protective services, they are also on the way here, and I have all of the paper work needed for our end ready for them to complete and file.  If we have our way, at the end of today, George will have control of Soah, and you can speak freely about her care to him."

A tap was heard on the door, it was opened by an by a lady who was carrying Soah's bag.  Dave jumped to his feet and took it from her, with a quick thanks.  "I felt so guilty for having intruded into her personal thoughts that day when I snooped in her purse and read bits of her book.  But, when I read what she wrote, it was so hard to take her home and let her out of my car. What she wrote was not meant for others to read.  Will it help keep her out of her parents house?  Or will her injuries do that alone, and her book not make that much of a difference?  I hate having read her very personal words, and the idea of others reading her thoughts when they could be kept private bothers me."

"Dave, every piece of evidence will not only help keep Soah's parents away from her, but it could send them to prison with a much longer sentence.  It could also help the doctors work with her.  I understand your reluctance to share her words with others.  But, it is the best weapon we have against her parents right now. She is not going to be able to effectually help the police due to her medical treatments.  Am I right Dr. Pressler, after she has been fully checked over, she will be given large doses of pain meds?"

As Bob had opened his mouth to answer, his pager tweeted.  Pulling it from his pocket, he read the message, and got to his feet.  "I need to go, the nurses are finished cleaning Soah up, and the dermatologist has arrived in emergency.  I will keep you abreast of her condition."
  

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