Occasionally in my free time, I write short stories for fun. When I started playing Kawata Shoujo, I was truly inspired. I've sort of begun a little piece of writing, but it's still in its infancy. So I was wondering, does anyone else like to write as well? Have you been inspired by KS? Anyone feel like busting out their writing chops? I think it'd be cool to see some of your literature.
This is something that I wrote a while ago before KS for a school project, but I thought it would fit here:
(This is supposed to be a news article.) On December 24th, 2006, Francine Harris, 14, took her own life. She was a victim of bullying, as well as an abusive father. She overdosed on several syringes of heroin that had belonged to her father, and her body was found by him on the morning after.
Her death was almost forgotten by everyone in the community of Westbrook, New Jersey. Hardly anyone in Westbrook High School even realized that she was gone.
“She didn’t really hang out with others that much,” says a senior studying at the high school, “As far as I know, she didn’t have any friends at all.”
Another student, Marcella Boston, has a different perspective towards Francis’ situation. “Almost every day, I saw her being harassed. It happened everywhere and anywhere. In the cafeteria, at her locker, in the classrooms, just anywhere that bullies could confront her.”
“I always felt terrible inside when that happened. I was afraid to stand up for her,” added Boston, “But Helen Cutting was different. She always stood up for Francine when someone tried to mess with her. Helen didn’t even seem to care about how other people thought of her. And it was when Francine was with Helen, that you really saw her shine. Only then did she seem genuinely happy. In that way, I really envy Helen for having the strength to stand up like that.”
Whenever Francine was seen in Westbrook, she was almost always with Helen. People described them like two peas in a pod, sister and sister.
However, in the summer of 2006, Helen’s family moved away, as her father lost his job, and she had to be sent away to her grandmother’s home.
Unbeknownst to the majority of people around Francine, her father took part in drug abuse. After Emma Harris, Francine’s mother, passed away in 2002, Garry Harris, Francine’s father, fell into a deep depression and turned to illegal substances to dull his grief. Shortly after he began using drugs, evidence of abuse arose in the Harris household. Up until 2006, Westbrook Children’s Services received 3 reports of abuse from the household, all of which were eventually denied with no consequences.
“Francine stayed over at the Cuttings’ house almost every day,” Warren Frost, a neighbor of the Cuttings told us, “I knew that she and Helen were good friends, but it seemed a little odd to me that Francine never stayed home to eat with her own family.”
As time went on, it became apparent that Francine’s situation was becoming more and more dire. Some days of the week, Francine would even sleep outside to escape her often hostile father. Even at school, Francine’s change in behavior was obvious.
“After Helen left, Francine was never the same,” says Boston, “She just didn’t seems alive any more. Every day, she would sit at her lunch table alone, right next to Helen’s old seat. Even when the bullies came to insult and harass her, she just went on with what she was doing, almost as if there was nothing going on. At least before, she would have had an emotional response, but now, she just seemed like she didn’t care at all.”
On Christmas Eve of 2006, Francine took a few syringes of her father’s heroin, and intentionally overdosed on them. There was no note. No post on Myspace or Facebook. Nothing. She just seemed to have lost her will to live.
But, life went on as usual. Besides a short obituary written in the paper, she was almost completely forgotten. Her father went on with his drug abuse after the short funeral ceremony, and most of the students at Westbrook High say that it took a month or two to actually realize that Francine was gone.
However, the Cutting family didn’t react so quietly. In the memory of Francine Harris, the family began the Violet Bow Foundation, dedicated to combat teen depression and suicide. The name itself was a reference to Francine’s favorite bow that she would wear almost every day, a gift from her late mother.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” says Donna Cutting, Helen’s mother, “We couldn’t just let this happen.Francine was always with us, even on family trips and vacations. She was almost like one of the family. No, that’s not right. She was a member of our family. Even though her death was tragic, we knew that the pain wasn’t over. We knew that there were still thousands of teens in the U.S. who were suffering from the same problems.”
Donna did have her doubts though. “It was hard at first. Me and my husband were facing tough times, and he didn’t have a job. But, Helen kept pushing for it. She just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Eventually, when an employer heard about what we were doing, he immediately hired my husband, and even began to sponsor our campaign. It turns out, my husbands employer had actually lost his mother to suicide. When you look around, I think that a lot of Americans can say that they’ve been affected by suicide. We knew that this issue was serious, and that it needed to be solved.”
Today, the Violet Bow Foundation has raised tens of thousands of dollars towards suicide awareness and prevention. It spreads across 10 states across the East Coast and Midwest.
“We’ve come a long way, but we still have work to do,” says a volunteer working at a Violet Bow Foundation fundraiser, “There are still kids in this country that need our help. And until we meet their needs, we can’t stop fighting.”
“You know, it’s really surprising to see how far we’ve come,” says Helen Cutting, now 19. “I never thought that it would go this far. When I started the Violet Bow foundation with my family, I was doing it to honor of Francine. It was to make sure that her death was not in vain. And in some ways, it’s still that way. But, since then, I’ve begun to see the truth. This isn’t just about Francine. This is about all the teens in America that don’t know where to turn or who to talk to. This foundation is here for those kids.” Helen Cutting wipes a tear from her face and collects herself. “I’m sure that Francine would’ve been proud of how far we’ve come too.”
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