As Celeste sat in her new home listening to the soft rhythmic fall of the rain on the manhole cover she thought of that old damp basement from her childhood and regretted not running away sooner. “I should have been braver!”, she thought to herself.
But, looking around and thinking back over her journey, could she have really survived at a younger age? Yes, that basement was horrible and she sat terrified year after horrible year, but… Was she only able to find an escape option because she was ready to handle what was next?
Sometimes, sitting on the damp basement floor, Celeste would hear a celebration upstairs. There was always a lot of cheering and commotion as a new child came to the foster home. That first month would be feasts and hugs so the caseworker would see a happy home.
Despite what looked like a loving foster home upstairs, there was no heat in the damp basement. Now, Celeste did have to admit it never got hot or cold down there. Just.damp.always. 💦 Damp all the way into her bones. Always a clammy feeling. No shower for all those years and then sitting in the damp on top of it.. just yuck… 😝
One summer day Celeste got up the courage to explore the basement a bit.. first she eyed it… slowly scoping out each item around her, aware she’d seen it all thousands of times in the years (how many?) since she’d been locked down there.
Slowly, over the next few days, Celeste began to explore, crawling slowly, silently, carefully from her usual spot. The sun shone brightly against, and almost through, the rose bush and the dirty window giving just enough light for a glimmer of hope and a bit of girlish mischief.
First one corner then the next, she crawled then wandered. She’d never really been told she had to just sit in the one spot but had been terrified to move. Sitting there leaning on the little wall supporting the stairs had been how she’d lived. .. sitting and waiting.. for the next bowl of table scraps.. for the next screaming ‘parent’ to come barreling down the stairs belt in hand..
But, now, she felt a bit of freedom as she poked around in the endless piles of junk and odd tidbits. Wandering back to sit by the stairs as she could smell lunch cooking and hear the new children hustling to the table she noticed a door under the stairs! Very quietly she turned the knob … it was unlocked! She pulled gently praying it would be blessedly silent..
And behind it?
In the glimmer of the dappling sunlight Celeste could see piles of books!! 📚
Quietly she closed the door and returned to sit by the steps and wait for her lunch..