After All, No Means No

girl in yellow and blue paisley print top
woman in blue bikini sitting on brown sand

( Advanced Level )

For the past twenty seven years, Phoebe Miller has been the voice for many youths. Currently on her desk she has three cases all involving young females that have proven a bit more difficult.

Lewisville and its people seem to look at life a little differently. Whether it is due to naivety or not caring, she is unsure. Maybe it’s the idealism that kids will be kids.

She was told not to get too emotionally involved and leave her work at work but this wasn’t an easy task. She found herself thinking of their dilemmas and hearing their voices on her drive to and from work.

Thankfully, her husband Craig, was a patient man. He knew when to give her space. When she was ready he was always there to lend an ear. She adored him for this.

Memorial day weekend was coming. Only one more day at the office and then four wonderful days off. She knew it wouldn’t be completely off. She would take these files home with her to work on.

Thursday came and Phoebe gathered the three files on her way out of the office. She told her coworkers to have a relaxing four days and headed out the door to home.

Craig had prepared a quick dinner for the two of them and they sat drinking a glass of white wine together in front of the bay window in their living room. This was their favorite spot.

They chose this little house in the outskirts of the city to be in nature. To have a place to unwind from the daily hassles of city working.

On Friday morning Craig had taken their dog out with him for his morning run and Phoebe found herself sitting at her desk, in the den, thumbing through those files.

She sipped on her coffee and wondered why parents teach their daughters how to say no to unwanted advances but they do not teach their sons to respect this word.

An hour passed and Craig returned home. Phoebe was deep in thought and hadn’t noticed he stood watching her. “Honey?” She startled and looked his way then smiled.

“Sorry, I was deep in thought about these girls. I need to find a solution to help them.

I am always here to listen.” her husband said as he left to have his morning shower.

Breakfast was eaten in silence and dishes were cleared. Phoebe returned to the den. Craig gave her some time then he entered. “ Maybe you need another’s perspective on these. You want me to listen?”

She let out a sigh and agreed. If she was to enjoy the remaining days of her long weekend she needed to finish these cases.

Phoebe never used names when she discussed cases with her husband but he always knew the right things to advise.

I have three delicate cases all involving females and the people involved are from prestigious people in the community. This is what makes it a bit more difficult. It is a fine line to walk.”

“Case number one involves a sweet six year old girl. She along with three other girls are being bothered by a male classmate who will not take no for an answer to his unwanted kisses.”

“Sounds innocent enough but some parents are pulling their daughters out of this school since the staff will not do anything about it. This young boy’s father is a doctor.”

Case number two is a thirteen year old female in middle school. Not only is she being bullied by her peers, the boys are harassing her due to her early development. She is raised in a single parent household and it hasn’t been easy for her mother. She cannot afford a lot. The boys in question, again, are from well to do families.”

And the last case is that of a first year college student. She will be eighteen in four months. Until then she still falls under my jurisdiction.”

She is experiencing advances from boys on the basketball team. They have even gone so far as to follow her to her dorm. Making gestures and comments. One of the boy’s father is an alumni of the college and another is the son of the police chief.”

“Craig, I do not know exactly what to do. If I do one thing I cause a lot of trouble for the school and the parents of these boys. It may cause backlash to the girls. If I chose to ignore them then I let the girls down.”

Craig sat there absorbing every word his wife spoke. Phoebe looked at him waiting to hear his viewpoint. Hoping his wisdom would make things more clear for her.

He continued to sip on his coffee and deep in his thoughts. “One thing you are overlooking, my love. I want you to take out the fact that these boys are from prominent families and what do you have?”

“You have boys that are trouble. Maybe nothing will happen to the youngest girl but you never know what or if anything could happen to the other two.”

Boys can be unpredictable at that age. Especially if their friends are bidding them to keep going. I want you to take one factor out of the equation. Their family status. Then I think you can make a clear choice with the outcome.”

He added,” One more important thing is to educate the educators. Maybe suggest a class or seminar to let all young people know the consequences that may occur if they continue their actions.”

Phoebe looked at her husband and whispered, “Thank you.” She knew asking for his advice was going to be helpful. She did just this.

In each file she wrote her recommendations. Whether it was for a temporary suspension or an expulsion from the facility. After all, no means no. Her duty was to these girls regardless.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Why is it that parents focus on their daughters when it comes to unwanted advances? Boys need to be taught when a girls says no this means no. Consequences will be inevitable.

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naivety – noun: innocence or unsophisticated

idealism – noun: the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically

kids will be kids -idiomatic: You cannot expect children to act like adults

task– noun: work or assignment

dilemmas – noun: a difficult situation or problem

lend an ear – phrase: listen sympathetically or attentively

adored – verb: love and respect

bay window – noun: a window built to project outward from an outside wall

unwind – verb: relax

hassles – noun: irritating inconveniences

unwanted – adjective: not desired

perspective – noun: a point of view

delicate – adjective: fragile

prestigious – adjective: having high status

innocent – adjective: naïve

peers – noun: someone equal to your level

harassing noun: the action of subjecting someone to aggressive pressure or intimidation

jurisdiction – noun: power to make legal decisions and judgments

gestures – noun: a movement of part of the body to express an idea or meaning

alumni – noun: a graduate or former student

backlash – noun: adverse reaction

absorbing – adjective: soaking up or listening carefully with what is said

prominent – adjective: important or famous

unpredictable – adjective: not able to be predicted

bidding – noun: the ordering or requesting of someone to do something

factor out of the equation– idiom: exclude something or keep it from being incorporated into something

status – noun: the social, professional, or standing of someone

consequences – noun: result or effect of an action

recommendations -noun: a suggestion

suspension – noun: temporary prevention from continuing school

expulsion – noun: permanent process of forcing someone to leave a school

regardless – adverb: despite the circumstances

Question ( s ):

Do you think someone should be treated differently regarding laws or rules just because of their families position in society?

When Life Is Unfair

( Intermediate Level )

Mark had spent most of his life behind bars. His life was quickly taken away from him when he was twenty – one years old. Now at forty – two, he lives free.

If only he could rewind his life to that night he would. The night his life stopped. The night he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Every Friday, after a long week at work, he would go to the local pub near work. He would meet up with a few coworkers, drink a few beers and shoot darts. It was a great way to relax after a long stressful week.

One particular Friday, he remembers, his life and how he knew it, had changed. Something terrible occurred. A fight broke out. In the end, two men were injured and one lay on the floor clinging to life. The police and ambulance were called.

Mark had tried to help the one who was seriously injured. He knew he was one of the regulars at the pub. He had seen him there almost every Friday. As for the other two men, this was the first time he had seen them.

Once the paramedics arrived he let them take over. His work shirt and hands were stained with blood. He drifted over to the bar and began wiping his hands off with a few bar napkins. He was still at the bar when the police arrived.

Eyewitnesses gave their statements. Somehow, Mark had become the number one suspect. He tried desperately to tell the police he was just trying to help and this was a mistake. He was not part of the incident.

As for the three men, two of them were treated at the hospital then sent to the county jail. The other, who was seriously injured, had died on his way to the hospital. All the circumstantial evidence pointed to Mark. And so his fate was sealed.

He consistently told the judge, “It wasn’t me.” His words fell on deaf ears. The twelve jurors had found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. His life changed with one simple word. Guilty.

Mark spent twenty – one years behind prison bars, and now he walks free. His release came as a surprise to him. All the turn-key said to him, ” After new evidence presents itself in your case, you are to be released immediately. On behalf of our State’ we offer our deepest apologies.”

He remembers the day he walked out of prison. He looked up into the sky and felt the warmth of the sun on his face. He had fresh air. The smell of the cell no longer tainted his nostrils.

He didn’t want to stay bitter about what had happened. Instead, he felt he should regain his life back as best as he could.

He needed to find a cheap hotel where he could wash the feeling of the prison off of him. After he cleaned himself up he would find some type of permanent living arrangements.

More than a month has passed since his release. Somehow, he needed to find his path. When life stopped for him, the world outside continued forward. The city had changed. Where would he go? What would he do?

The State had given him a compensation check for his wrongful conviction. He was annoyed by this offering. It would not bring twenty – one years of his life back. He knew, though, he could use this money to get back on the right track.

Finding a job turned out to be very difficult. It seemed every application for employment had the question that asked, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime and found guilty?”

He never had the opportunity to explain the situation. He was never called for an interview. He thought about just writing no as his answer to this question but he was an honest person even after everything he went through.

Mark used his money wisely. He lived in a simply furnished studio apartment. His mother had passed while he was incarcerated so he didn’t have other family members in his city.

Even though he missed out on a lot of living he wanted to get the most out of the rest of his life. He, still, was unsure which direction he should go until one night he was watching the news on the television.

The newscaster spoke,” In a recent fourteen – month investigation of the city’s prison system, documents show that many of the prisons had not prepared their inmates for life on the outside. The money allocated for rehabilitation was not used for this purpose.”

Those inmates who were close to being released should receive training and classes to help them integrate into society once released. There has been a recent increase of repeat offenders going back into the system. The Governor has requested a complete breakdown of the expenses…

Mark turned the television off. The breaking news continued but he had heard enough. He knew at that moment what he was supposed to do. He knew how difficult it was for him to adjust to living on the outside. Now, he wants to help other inmates.

In the next few months, Mark had a lot of planning to do. Who could help? What did he need? Since his lifestyle was simple he had some money left from the compensation check. Now, he could put it to good use.

After sixteen months of meetings, planning, and construction Cecelia’s Halfway House was ready to open its doors. Within a week he would receive his first, newly released, group of inmates.

Many people had volunteered to help him start his journey. A journey he knew would be difficult at times but he wanted to help make a difference and give every inmate a fighting chance to regain a normal life.

He named the halfway house after his mom. It was his way of commemorating her and thanking her for instilling the values she had given him.

When life is unfair, you need to move forward and forget the past and help others along the way.” This was his Momma Cecelia’s way.

Written by: Angel

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circumstantial evidence – noun: evidence of facts that the court can draw conclusions from

deaf ears – idiom: to fail to be heard

guilty – adjective: charged with a crime

turn-key -noun: keeper of the keys in a prison; a jailer who presides over inmates

tainted – verb: contaminated or polluted

bitter – adjective: angry, hurt, or resentful 

feeling – noun: emotional state

compensation– noun: money awarded to someone as a gesture for loss

back on the right track – idiom: to move in the right direction

convicted – noun: proof that a person is guilty 

incarcerated – verb: imprisoned or confined

newscaster – noun: a person who reads broadcast news stories

allocated – verb: distribute

integrate – verb: live, coexist and be as one

adjust – verb: to achieve the desired fit, appearance, or result

halfway house – noun: an institute for people with criminal backgrounds to learn the necessary skills to re-integrate into society

commemorating – verb: show respect

Question ( s ):

Has this situation ( wrongfully convicted ) happened in your city or country?

What are your thoughts regarding Mark paying it forward and helping other released inmates adjust to life on the outside?