Gianna is a story teller and she loves telling stories. Children, especially, loved to hear her stories. Adults loved for her to babysit because she was good to the children. The children loved for her to babysit because they loved her stories.
What they didn't know about Gianna was that she came from a very abusive family. As a means to escape from her suffering, she wrote stories. She stayed in her room most of the time because by “not being seen nor heard” she endured less abuse. At least she suffered less physical and mental abuse from her mother.
She could not escape the abuse from her father, his sneaking into her room in the middle of the night, placing his hand over her mouth so she couldn't make a sound, and do what men do. (The only reason she knew this was because he was a man so it must be so). The alcohol on his breath made Gianna sick. She would have to choke back her gagging reflex so she wouldn't vomit and die choking on the vomit. She kept her eyes tightly closed so the tears couldn't escape, until it was safe for them to. After he finished, he would take his hand and make the motion of slitting her throat. Gianna got the message. He would leave her room and then, she could let the tears escape, silently trickling down her cheeks onto her pillow.
She couldn't tell her mother anyway because she would just beat her and tell her she was a liar with a mind of a “whore.”
She couldn't tell her sister because her sister was always trying to get her into trouble with her parents.
She couldn't tell her little brothers, because well, they were just too little.
So Gianna wrote stories. When she finished a story, she would place it in a box under her bed, but way back in the back so no one could find it.
She would attend school with bruises always somewhere on her body. When the teachers asked her about the bruises, she would make something up. She came into school so many times with bruises, that she was either a really clumsy kid or she was being beaten.
Her teachers started asking her more and more questions and Gianna was getting more and more afraid that they wouldn't believe her and her mother would get in trouble. The teachers knew that something terrible was wrong with Gianna, something terrible that was eating her from the inside out. She often came to school each day in the same dress and each day the dress was dirtier and dirtier. Her hair was often uncombed. Her eyes were always looking down and she wouldn't look at anyone in their eyes. The sorrow inside her screamed like a cat caught in the jaws of a coyote. But her lips were silent. Completely silent…until she told the children stories.
Her English teacher, Mrs. Shockley, started taking a special interest in Gianna. She noticed that she liked to write and was very good at it. She would ask her to stay after class and help her in her room. She would talk to Gianna like she was a friend, and not just student. She would let her help her grade class papers (not her class papers, of course).
She and Gianna became friends and Gianna would open up a little more each day. Mrs. Shockley never grilled her about her home life. She would ask questions about her home life and then pretend she was satisfied with the answer Gianna gave her. This pleased Gianna, because Mrs. Shockley would accept her answers and not try and force her to tell her more. She loved her mother even though her mother was mean to her and would hit her with a large stick and sometimes a leather strap. She didn't want to tell her about what her father did because she was too afraid (and too embarrassed).
One day she and Mrs. Shockley were talking and Gianna started telling her about her stories. She told her about them being in a box underneath her bed. Mrs. Shockley pretended that she was mildly interested and told Gianna, “I would love to read them sometime Gianna.”
For several weeks, Gianna would continue going to Mrs. Shockley's room after school was to help her clean the white boards, change the bulletin boards when necessary and grade papers. They would visit with one another as they both went about their work.
After about a month, Gianna came to class with a shoulder bag. Inside the shoulder bag were all of her stories. She kept the bag very close to her side. She trusted Mrs. Shockley now. She wanted Mrs. Shockley to read her stories.
Promptly after school was out, Gianna went to Mrs. Shockley's class to help her. She cleaned the white board, she helped grade some papers, and when it was time for her to leave, while Mrs. Shockley was in the restroom, she put the bag on her desk and walked home.
The next morning, the principal called her to her office. Gianna was frightened. She didn't know what she had done wrong to get into trouble. She was trembling as she entered her office and her mind was racing trying to track down what she might have done that was wrong. To her surprise, the principal was there along with her teacher, Mrs. Shockley and they were both smiling at her.
The principal excitedly told her, “Gianna, Mrs. Shockley has shared with me the stories you have written and I was so impressed that I thought you should enter one of your stories in the state's “Story Day” Contest. If you win, you will be flown to the capital and will get to meet the governor of this state. Plus you will be awarded a scholarship.
Gianna was so relieved that she wasn't in trouble. She was also happy that Mrs. Shockley and the principal liked her stories.
The principal added, “Gianna, Mrs. Shockley would like for you to move in with her and her husband for awhile so you could work on a story for the contest.”
Gianna was shocked. “I don't know if I can do that. I don't know if my parents will let me do that.”
Mrs Shockley spoke up, “It's all okay Gianna, it has all been taken care of. It is okay for you to move in with me for awhile.”
Gianna was so happy she didn't know what to do. She couldn't believe that she wouldn't have to be beaten by her mother, bullied by her sister, and raped by her father.
Mrs Shockley also told her, “You don't even need to go home and get your things, that has already been taken care of.”
Gianna wanted to jump up and down with joy, but of course she didn't, that would make her look stupid.
As they climbed into Mrs. Shockley's car to go to her home, Gianna didn't know that two policemen were at her house arresting her mother and her father and putting her siblings into foster care.
Things were going to change for Gianna.