I went through this phase in high school where I wanted to be a badass. See, I love going on adventures, and it just so happened that the girl I sat next to in geography (when we went to class) was in a gang. My step brother, Carlos, had given me plenty of warnings to stay away from this girl, because he knew her older sister, who had been arrested and sent to a juvenile prison when they were in high school. But I never really paid much attention to Carlos, or anyone else for that matter. I happened to like Sonia, even if no one else did. And besides, there was nothing wrong with being in a gang. It was really just a group of friends hanging together and having fun, right?
Umm… right. So maybe I started to see Carlos’s point after it was too late. See, Sonia’s boyfriend, Omar, was 19 and took care of his grandpa, dealing drugs on the side (and taking them, too). Omar’s older brother lived with them, too, but wasn’t around much. He was a bit higher up on the gang hierarchy, so dealt with a lot of the political stuff (I never really understood it that well to be honest). But it meant that there was loads of drama at Omar’s house, so that’s where we spent most of our time.
The first time I realized I should have listened to Carlos was when there was “baby’s momma drama.” Omar’s friend was a jealous douchebag, and took out his insecurity by vandalizing the car of this guy who had supposedly slept with his girlfriend. Well, that guy and his friends weren’t too thrilled about this… because they came over to Omar’s house to jump Omar and his friend. There was blood all over the place and one of the guys had a gun but Sonia and I managed to escape out the backdoor and call the cops before anything legit bad happened. As I was running down the street, shaking with fear, I knew that maybe this lifestyle wasn’t for me. But somehow the adrenaline kept me going back.
A few weeks later, I was hanging out over there again when something else terrible happened. Sonia, Omar and I were just minding our own business when there was a pounding on the door and the police demanding to be let in. Omar asked for a warrant and the guys began kicking the door. Well, then things got a little chaotic, people started yelling and hiding and there were a lot of guns. I just stood there with my hands in the air, somewhat using the sofa as a body shield in case anyone started shooting.
They dragged us all out of the house, and Omar and his brother seemed pretty beat up. Sonia began crying when she saw them in handcuffs and tried to run towards them, but an officer held her back. They had concluded that Omar’s family were here on expired visas, and they’d all be deported… and they’d also found drugs, but Omar’s brother claimed to be his… so Sonia and I were free to leave.
But since we were both minors, they didn’t trust us to leave without a parent or guardian. I knew my mom would have a heart attack if I called her to come get me. But if I made up a little fib about my parents being out of town… Carlos wouldn’t freak out *too* much!
Yeah, right. When he arrived to Omar’s house, I thought he was going to kill me! He was so angry and started yelling at me in Spanish and then spoke with the officers for a moment before hauling me off to the car.
“Hey! Ouch! Carlos!” I said. “I called you so I wouldn’t be in trouble!!”
“Have you lost your mind?!” he shouted, opening the car door for me and practically shoving me inside, still shouting as he walked around to his side. “You could have been killed! What the hell are you doing hanging out with these people?!”
“Carlos, chill out. I’ve totally learned my lesson!! I will never ever ever ever do this again. This was enough of a warning. Please don’t be mad. I promise I won’t do it again.”
He was still fuming with anger but somehow my adorable angel face and pathetic puppy eyes swayed him to soften up. He sighed and said, “Hermanita, you’ve gotta start being more careful.”
“I know, Carlos. I will. I promise. I was so scared today.” A tear fell down my cheek and I reached in for a hug, trying to steady my breathing. I really was scared! This really was an emotional experience for me.
“It’s all over now,” he said. “Please stop hanging out with these people. If you keep playing with fire like this, you’re going to get burned…”
And I figured when he said burned, he meant something like my bottom getting burned!!
So I tried to stop hanging out with Sonia. But she was so lonely without her boyfriend, she just wanted to hang low. We only went to the movies sometimes, or the mall. Occasionally I went with her to visit Omar in jail, and just sat in the waiting room while she made mushy conversations with him and promised to find him a good lawyer (which we all knew was a load of crap). And eventually, Sonia began to move on from Omar and hooked up with this other guy, who was also in a gang, but not the same one as Omar. This, apparently, posed a problem in the gang world.
But for some reason I decided to hang out with Sonia and this guy and causing more drama for myself. Because eventually Omar caught word that Sonia was with someone else, and he called her a million times trying to find out what her problem was, but she wouldn’t answer anymore. She was over him and (according to her) he needed to get over her. I suppose he got tired of her ignoring him, so he talked to a friend (and fellow gang member) who did him the favor of approaching Sonia and me one afternoon.
“My boy’s been lookin’ for you,” he said, getting all up in our personal space so that he was as intimidating as possible. And believe me… he was intimidating! He wasn’t too tall, but he had evidently spent a lot of his time working out, and had a few tattoos to show loyalty to his gang. Oh, and he was super hott… which I only thought for a brief moment as he grabbed my friend by the hair. He spat at her in Spanish, calling her a slut and telling her that if she kept it up, she’d be the cause of a fight between the two gangs, and she didn’t want that, did she? Of course she didn’t.
He looked in my direction and I subconsciously took a step backwards, out of his reach.
“You two behave now,” he said, and smirked, letting go of Sonia’s hair and patting her on the head before turning off and leaving.
I was dumbfounded. “What the actual fuck,” I said.
Sonia had tears streaming down her face and she gave me this pathetic look and said, “what do I do?”
“You have to break up with him!” I said. Of course I would go with the most rational statement. But Sonia wanted nothing of this foreign thing called rationality.
“But I love him!” she claimed.
I didn’t point out that just two weeks ago she “loved” Omar. I just stood there and listened to her whine about how tough of a decision this was going to be.
That should have been the last chance I gave her. But when she called me a couple of days later, and I was in the mood for procrastinating the big history paper I had to write, I knew that her drama would be much more entertaining than my current plans. I couldn’t help it! I’m addicted to adrenaline.
I slipped out of the house almost unnoticed — my mom and Carlos were working and Juan was distracted watching soccer with his buddies in the living room. Sonia lived only a couple of blocks over and her boyfriend was a short bus ride away. Within no time, we were at his house, munching on the bag of Skittles we’d just lifted from the convenience store. Sonia and her boyfriend and his friends lit up a blunt and I tried it a little, wanting to be cool, but not really sure how to effectively smoke yet. Then we walked with him to the liquor store because they wanted some more whiskey.
Sonia and I were promptly kicked out of the liquor store, so we just stood around outside, waiting for them to come out. That’s when I saw that hott guy again. The scary muscle-y one who’d threatened us a few days before! And this time, he was with some friends.
I didn’t know where to go… but I really didn’t want to be a part of this! They didn’t really give me a choice though. They circled around us, closing us in. I tried to squeeze through a couple of the guys as they shouted insults at my friend, but it didn’t work.
“Please, let me go!” I begged.
One guy spit on Sonia and another slapped her across the face. I saw a fist forming in front of my face and my heart stopped and everything started happening in slow motion — I ducked at the same time a full bottle of Corona was swung at the guy’s head and knocked him flat on the ground.
The details are fuzzy, but there was a lot of swearing and kicking and from out of nowhere I was knocked into the wall and hit my head and WHAM… became unconscious.
When I woke up, I was in an ambulance with an oxygen mask over my face and a neck brace keeping me from turning my head. There were a lot of people fussing over me, checking my pulse and all that jazz. They asked me questions, checked my eyes, and told me that my step-father was going to meet us at the hospital. I was so disoriented and didn’t know what was going on, just wanted to go to sleep, but they kept talking to me and keeping me awake. I wondered what had happened, if anyone else was going to the hospital, if anyone was getting deported… but I couldn’t talk. The oxygen mask was making it too hard. And my head was throbbing…
Juan was waiting outside when the ambulance arrived. He talked to the paramedics while they wheeled me inside. My neck was starting to hurt because of the stupid brace it was in. And why were all of these people making such a big fuss? Juan looked like he even had a tear in his eyes…
I ended up being okay, just a slight concussion and a big scare. My mom worked at the hospital ER where they’d taken me, so she was around now, and even Carlos came in from work to make sure I was okay. I felt like such an idiot. Especially when Mom and Juan walked outside for a minute and left Carlos in there with me alone.
“I’m sorry…” I told him.
“You promised me, Danielle,” he said, shaking his head. I didn’t like him calling me my full first name like that. I preferred being his hermanita.
“I’m sorry,” I said again, this time in a pleading voice. “I really am. I had no idea this was going to happen!”
He cackled a loud, “HAH!” and gave me a look that made my stomach churn. “You just had issues with this kid a few weeks ago! Remember when I came and picked you up? And we talked about how you should stop hanging out with her?”
“Yes, I know, but…” But what? I didn’t have anything to say. He was right. Dammit, I should’ve listened to him. Like always.
“This is so disappointing, hermanita,” he said. “You’re smarter than to get mixed up in this shit. And if Dad doesn’t give you a good spanking, I will.”
I squirmed. “You c-can’t do that!”
“I’m your brother, and it’s also my job to protect you! I can’t stand to see you doing something so stupid! You could get yourself killed!”
I scooted away as he got loud with me, whining like a little girl. “But Carlos!”
“But nothing. Obviously a spanking is the only thing that will get through to you,” he said, and I blushed because the nurse was walking in. But he continued anyway: “We tried the promises last time. So this time, well, you know what’s coming.” He backed away for a second to let the nurse take my temperature again. She gave me a sympathetic look and I wondered if she, too, had been in the same situation as me before. Not even healed from a concussion and already being promised more pain!
“Your vitals look good!” the nurse said in a chirpy voice and handed me a cup of pills. “This is for the headache,” she said.
I nodded and took the medicine from her.
“Your mom is signing the paperwork now to release you, but take it easy for a few days. No more fights or…” she looked up at Carlos, “spankings or anything.”
I blushed again and nodded. “Thanks…” I muttered.
She patted my knee and walked out.
Carlos and I stared at the tv for a few minutes, finally hearing the sounds of my mom and Juan’s chatter. They were getting closer and closer and finally arrived in my room.
“Ready to go home?” my mom asked, mustering up a quick smile.
“Yeah,” I said weakly.
“Easy getting off the bed!” she said as I half-hopped down. Of course it made me dizzy and I had to close my eyes to regain my balance. “Go home and get some rest,” she said. “You’re excused from school tomorrow, so we’ll talk about this more when I get home from work.”
“Ok, Mom,” I answered, looking at Juan who held out a hand to help me get moving. I reached out to him and we all walked together to the ER exit.
“Be careful,” she told Juan and gave him a kiss. “And you, too,” she told me, kissing my forehead, then said goodbye to Carlos, too, kissing him on the cheek.
A pit was forming in my stomach. A big pit of guilt.
I rode home with Juan, low Ranchero music in the background. Neither of us said much. He asked how I was feeling and how much I remembered, but otherwise we didn’t speak.
Carlos didn’t say anything either when I got home. But I didn’t really care. I was exhausted. I trudged off to my room and barely stripped off my clothing and put on a nightshirt before I fell onto my bed. I reached down underneath it and pulled out my big teddy bear. Yes, I still sleep with my teddy sometimes… when I’m really upset. And this was a very upsetting moment for me… I felt no shame in seeking comfort in the inanimate object.
I didn’t wake up until the next morning around 9am. I wasn’t sure what day it was, since the sun was so high up I figured it must be the weekend and wondered why I’d waken up so early during the weekend. I tried to remember the last thing that’d happened before going to sleep and all of a sudden it all came rushing over me. I’d sorta almost died. Yeah. Not good.
I found a pair of old gym shorts to put on and stumbled to the living room. Carlos was sitting in there on his laptop, typing away.
“Hey,” I said.
He looked up at me. “Oh, hey. How’re you feeling?”
I nodded. “Okay. My head still kinda hurts. And I’m still not sure what happened.” My stomach growled. “And I’m hungry.”
He managed to smile, in spite of whatever anger he was feeling towards me. “Want some eggs and tortillas?”
He sat his laptop on the table and we went to the kitchen, I heating the tortillas on the stove and he scrambling eggs. “So…” I began.
“You were really lucky. There was a guard there who saw the whole thing and called the police… so they were able to make it before things got too out of hand.” He paused, pointing to one of the cabinets. “Get a plate?” I flipped the tortillas over and then reached up for a couple of plates, one for the eggs and one for the tortillas. “Sonia was in the hospital, too. She was beat up pretty bad. Concussion and broken nose. But fortunately she wasn’t that bad either.” He tossed the eggs onto the plate and turned off his side of the stove, and I did the same with the tortillas, then we took them to the table and sat down.
“What about the guys?” I asked, taking a tortilla and scooping egg inside of it.
“Well, most of them were arrested.”
“Are they okay?”
He nodded. “I guess so. I mean, except that they’re all in jail now and their families are probably worried sick about them.”
I tried not to take that comment personally. “But they didn’t have to go to the hospital?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure a few of them were taken away in ambulances, but they’re all in jail now.”
I took a drink of my orange juice and looked up at my brother. “Where’s Mom?”
“She’s on her way home. She’s stopping by the grocery store on her way and visiting a friend.”
I nodded, still eating. “Is Juan mad at me?”
Carlos thought about that for a moment. “I’m not sure. He wouldn’t talk to me about it.”
That didn’t sound very good. “Did Mom seem mad to you?”
“She seemed more worried than mad. I’m sure it was tough for her seeing her daughter in the emergency room. You know. That’s gotta be tough. Imagining what could’ve happened to you…”
Yeah… Imagining what could’ve happened. That was tough even on me. “I was so stupid,” I admitted.
He didn’t argue with me, just said, “I love you, hermanita.”
I nodded and sighed, taking my last bite of food, and said, “love you, too, bro.”
A couple of days later, I was healed enough to finally get the talk. I’d missed two days of school and then took the weekend to make up missed work. Sunday evening, while I was in the middle of an annoying algebra problem, I heard a knock on the door. Juan poked his head in.
“Honey, your mother and I want to talk to you,” he said.
I’d known this was coming, and part of me was relieved to have an excuse to stop doing homework. And I was hoping that a talk would mean things would get less awkward around here… that my mom would stop being short and snappy with me, that Juan would stop ignoring me, and that Carlos would stop giving me pitiful looks.
I followed my step dad into the living room where my mom was seated on the couch. She stood up upon my arrival and said, “have a seat.”
Ugh, I hated having to sit in front of them. It made me feel so small. But since I’d gotten to be my mom’s height, she preferred yelling at me while I was sitting. It gave her an advantage over me. It reminded me where my place was.
And thus the lecture started. My mom wanted to know everything about Sonia. She wanted to know about all of the things I did with her and all the people we hung out with and how often we were together. I had to stretch the truth a little bit in some places, because I didn’t want my mom to know all the exact details, but gave her enough information so that she would be satisfied.
“Do you even REALIZE what kind of danger you’re putting yourself in?” she shrieked.
“Yes, Mom, I’m sorry… I–“
“Sorry, Danielle? Sorry!! You could’ve gotten yourself killed! Do you even realize that there are kids your age who are killed all the time for making stupid decisions like you did?”
“Yes, honey, your decisions weren’t entirely rational,” Juan added.
“I thought I raised you better than this!” Mom yelled. “You are smart enough to know not to hang out with gang bangers!”
“I just wasn’t thinking–” I stammered.
“Well you better do a better job thinking next time!” she said.
“What your mother is trying to say, Danielle,” Juan butted in, putting a comforting arm around my mother, “is that we worry about you. You are making bad choices, which tells us that we need to keep a better eye on you to make sure you are doing the things you need to do.”
“But, Juan, I–“
My mom cut me off: “To make sure that you’re not hanging out with bad influences like Sonia, who do drugs and hang out in gangs! Seriously, Danielle! What was going through that head of yours!”
“I’m not going to do it again… I learned my lesson!”
“Even so,” Juan said, squeezing my mother’s shoulder to calm her down. “We cannot trust you right now. This is too serious, Young Lady. You will maybe hate us for a little while, but we have a responsibility to ensure your well-being.”
“From now on,” Mom interjected, “we want to know where you’re going and who you’ll be with at all times. We will drive you there and pick you up. And no more hanging out with this Sonia girl!”
“Also, we talked to the social worker at your school, and she told us about this mentoring program we’re going to get you enrolled in,” Juan said.
“I don’t want a stupid mentor! I don’t want you guys to run my life! I made a mistake and I’m sorryyyyyy!” I howled, now crying loudly and burying my face in my hands. This wasn’t fair… this couldn’t be happening! How could things have gone so wrong? How could I have done something so bad? My life was over!
“Honey,” Juan said, kneeling in front of me and making me look him in the eyes. “We’re only doing this because we’re worried and we care about you. You will gain our trust back, but for now this is necessary, okay?”
Tears were still falling and I was sniffling like crazy. I tried to wipe my eyes but just kept crying so gave up. Juan just still stared deep into my eyes, now tucking a lock of wet hair behind my ears. “Juan,” I choked. “Please…”
He shook his head solemnly. “Not this time, mija.”
I looked up at my mom whose arms were folded, but her face had softened a little. I could see that she also was on the verge of tears and I tried to imagine for a moment what she was going through, but it just didn’t work. My life being ruined seemed so much more important.
Juan spoke again. “And so that you have a concrete reminder of what will happen if you are hanging out with the wrong crowd again or participating in dangerous activities, you will be getting a spanking.”
“Noooooooo,” I cried, what little composure I had regained was lost once again. “Pleaseeeeee noooooooo!” I begged. First my life was ruined, and second I was going to be spanked? So so so not fair!
Juan let me cry into my hands again and I just sat like that for a little while, rocking back and forth. I knew I didn’t have a choice… Juan didn’t spank me often, but when he’d made up his mind that I deserved it, I wasn’t going to get out of it. My mom usually didn’t mind giving me a few swats here and there, but her spankings were never like my step dad’s. Juan only spanked me when I’d done something really bad… something that deserved an embarrassing and painful punishment.
He was patient. He waited for me to stop crying like a baby and to peek up at him again through teary eyes. My final attempt was a whispered “Please!”
But he shook his head. “You know that you’ve earned this one, mija.” He paused and I said nothing, so he said, “go to your room and wait. I will be there in a few minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” I said and took a deep breath in and dried my eyes. I stood up and walked past Juan, then my mom who stopped me.
“Hey,” she said, and then gave me a hug. “I just worry about you, sweetie,” she said. “I see kids your age getting mixed up with the wrong people all the time. I never dreamed…” she began, choking on a sob. “I never imagined that you would do something like that.” She paused, swallowing down the tears so she could finish her lecture. “I’m just so thankful that you weren’t as badly injured as your friend…” She then grasped me in a hug, giving up on holding in her cries, and just let it all out on me. I felt my neck become wet with her tears. “I love you so much!” she sobbed.
“Love you too, Mom,” I answered, trying not to set myself into a similar crying fit.
She finally released me and I finished the trek to my room. And then I waited, and waited, and waited. The house was so quiet… Carlos had taken Alex (our little half-brother) to McDonald’s and the park… and without the two of them around terrorizing the dog or playing catch… it just felt eerie.
Then I heard Juan’s footsteps. I pulled my knees to my chest and rested my forehead on my legs. My heart was pounding. I couldn’t help but think about the last spanking I’d gotten from Juan… the loud cracking sound of the leather meeting bare skin. The way I cried out after each lash. The redness that didn’t fade for a full day.
Juan pushed my door open without knocking, then shut it behind him. I didn’t look at him, just picked at a loose string in my comforter. He sat down next to me.
“Mija, do you understand why you are going to be spanked today?”
I shrugged, feeling my cheeks get warm with embarrassment.
He put a finger under my chin and lifted it up so that I was forced to look into his eyes. “Tell me, Danielle. Why are you going to be spanked today?”
“Because I pick bad friends.”
He let go of my chin and pondered that answer. “Mija, your mother and I care about you very much. We want what is best for you, and we want to make sure that you are always safe. What you did the other night was one of the most dangerous and stupid things that I have heard of.” He added in a lower voice: “And Carlos told me that he has warned you about Sonia before.”
I felt a butterfly in my tummy as I looked up at my step dad. “What?”
He nodded. “We are a family, we stick together, and we are here to help each other grow. Your brother was just looking out for you. He tried to help you make an informed decision, but you didn’t listen.”
I squirmed. “But… Juan… I just… wanted to have fun…”
“Really, Danielle? With a girl who uses drugs and dates guys who end up in prison? Whose family are all in gangs? Is that really who you want to be associated with?”
I looked down at the floor again and shrugged.
“I expect more out of you than this, Young Lady. I’m very disappointed.”
That really stung. So much that I felt a tear start to slip down my cheek. “I’m sorry, Juan. I’m sorry for not being more careful. I’m sorry for not listening to Carlos.”
He patted my knee. “We can’t let this happen again, okay mija?”
I nodded and he stood up, putting my pillows in the middle of my bed.
“You know the drill…” he said.
I placed myself over the pillows, leaving my sweat pants in place. I’d hoped that maybe he’d just leave them this time, save me from some of the embarrassment, but of course he didn’t. I guess I didn’t really deserve much modesty after the way I’d behaved. So yeah, he pulled them down to my knees and my panties right along with them.
I buried my face into my blankets, clasping my hands together in front of me as if I was praying. I didn’t want to see him taking his belt off, but I heard it anyway. Heard the jangling of the buckle, as he folded it over and lifted it high in the air then WHAAAAAP!!! landed it right down on my bare bottom. I yelped, trying to stay in position as he rained down the next one, and the next. They kept coming, one by one, a steady pace.
“Danielle, I expect you to be more responsible and careful than this, do you understand?” he scolded over the belt lashes.
“Oowwwww, ayyyyyyy, yes sirrrr!” I howled, feeling the leather biting into my sitspots. “I’ll be gooooooood!” I promised him.
“I hope so,” he answered, speeding up the pace now. I began kicking and sobbing like a baby, unable to keep my hands clasped before me. It didn’t matter, though. Juan moved in and grabbed them, pinning them against my back as he kept the spanking up.
“Pleaseeee!” I begged. “I’m sorryyyy!! Ooowwwwiiiiiieeesssss!”
“I don’t want to EVER have to have this discussion with you again, Young Lady,” he said firmly, adding a lash to each of my thighs that made me squeal. “Do you understand?”
“Yes sir yes sir yes sir!”
He gave me a few final blows and stopped, letting go of my wrists. My hands immediately flew to my throbbing bottom. It was so hot and achy… I knew it must be a bright shade of red by now! There was no way that I’d be able to sit comfortably the next day in class.
Juan sat down beside me and scooped me into his arms, and I just fell into a hug (still rubbing my bottom). Sobbing and hiccuping, I managed to apologize once again and promise to never do anything so stupid ever in my life. He just tried to calm me down, talking to me in a soft voice and grabbing a few tissues to help me dry my tears. “Te quiero, mija.”
“I love you, too,” I said.
He kissed my forehead and I dried my final tears, still rubbing my bottom but replacing my pants and panties anyway. “Apologize to your mother,” he told me, giving me a final hug before opening my door and shooing me away.
And I did just that, hobbling to the living room where my mom sat, half watching tv, half staring into space. “Mom…” I said, sniffling and wiping my face with the back of my hand. “I’m sorry…” Then she held out her arms and I fell into a hug with her, rolling my eyes at the fact that she was crying, but feeling content at the same time. I guess because I knew that at least my parents cared enough to be there for me… and that was a lot more than I could say about Sonia’s parents…