As I write this my daughter has not seen or heard from her best friend in three months. If you’ve ever been around tween age girls you know this is a life time. There are many tears. Many, many tears.
Sunshine did not move away. Nor is she mad at my daughter. I miss her too. I miss how I could leave those two girls in my house and not worry. About how they’d make and decorate cupcakes together. Share plans to leave this one horse town. How they’d dance around in my daughter’s bedroom. Do each other’s hair. Make plans. Go swim in the lake or dip in Indian Falls.
Sunshine is nowhere to be seen. She’s missed every town festival. She’s never at the town pool. It’s as if she’s disappeared.
We live in Plumas County. A small county of 20,000 people. We live in Indian Valley which has roughly 2K. We live in Greenville which has about 900. Sunshine lives with her grandfather and her sister in a hamlet that doesn’t have even 20. She lives a good half hour drive from our house, deep in Genesee Valley. She has no phone. No internet. No way to connect to her friends and the outside world. She is 15. He has taken this all away from her.
That’s the sort of thing you can get away with doing to a young woman up here. Child Protective Services know. The county knows. Social Services know. The police know. We all know her guardian. Her grandfather is a pissed off arrested development type that went full freak out when he learned his granddaughter had a girlfriend and confiscated her phone and read endless texts between the two girls about sex, about weed. About the things first love in small town northern California.
It’s not really about sex or weed though. We live in weed country. And he had no problem with creepy straight boys trying to overtake her.
We all know that isolation from one’s friends and family is a sign of domestic violence and abuse. It’s even on flyers on the inside of bathroom stall in pubic women’s restrooms up here. We give lip service up here with grants from the state that says yes, we’re doing something about this and we’re doing something about teen suicide attempts. And we aren’t going to be assholes to gay youth.
But Sunshine is locked away from us–no different than a princess locked in a tower with a dragon guarding it below. Waiting for the day someone valiant enough breaks through the prickly vines and slays the dragon and saves the girl.
My daughter misses her. She’s also a bit incredulous thinking the adults and teens around her are heartless jerks for not keeping constant vigil. For not keeping this egregious miscarriage of justice alive in the minds of everyone. I tell her her friends do miss her but probably feel helpless. This is , afterall, an era of helplessness in front of an endless barrage of affronts to women, people of color, LGBTQ, the environment. We are after all in the Trump era of hate and neglect.
That tower grows taller. Sunshine I imagine is growing weary or worse yet–not growing at all. Stunted by the dull blow cuts of small minds and small towns.
Among us. Who will do it? Who will defy the good old boy network of the status quo? Who will stand up to this man that would rather her spirit die than soar? Would rather a dead granddaughter than a gay one?
I think of the road into where she lives. There’s no way to approach the house without him seeing, without him raging–this man the county has decided is fit to raise children though his own had to be raised without him.
I light candles for her. I pray. I pray her spirit remains alive and strong and that his anger and fear and hatred and abuse and violence are no match for the determined spirit. She’s 15. She could have 3 more years of this incarceration at home.
He forbid her to go to school and forced her on independent study. This is a child who wanted to be a lawyer someday. She once had perfect grades. Participated in 4-H. He’s taken away school, friends, her extended family. And our county does nothing.
If this resonates with you? Email Social Services. Help convey to them that condoning and granting an abuser the power over a frail 15 year old condemns her, not saves her. We here are sickened. Let her know the world is watching.
And we miss our Sunshine. My daughter misses her best friend. All this unnecessary darkness because one bitter man cannot see the light.