Welcome to Brook Haven Ranch! We are a 18+ premium role playing community set in Trader's Bend, Montana. Our concept is the culmination of twenty years of plotting and planning. We feature a rich, developed program in which many troubled characters thrive. Our community is one of the best on jcink and we look forward to you becoming a part of it!
Healing Horses & Troubled Teens since 1995
Not every teenager has the benefit of growing up in a loving, happy home. Some are victims of abuse, neglect, a system that shuffles them from foster home to foster home. Brook Haven Ranch was established in 1995 as a refuge for abused and neglected horses -- and teenagers who needed a second chance in life and the opportunity to become something more than society expects of them.
TW: child trafficking, child prostitution, pedophilia, death of a parent, involvement with cps, child abuse, systemic abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, body dysphoria, body dysmorphia, self abuse, anger management issues, sexual abuse, incest, child pornography
Full Name: toby jael andrews
Nickname/Alias: toby, tj
Date of Birth: november 26th
Current Age: 14
User Group: trailblazer
Eye Color: very dark blue
Hair Color: black
Weight: 86 lbs
Scars or Marks:
at the time of arrival:
a long welt across both of her shoulders running deep. will later scar
deep cut across the backs of both thighs. may later scar
thin cut scars on inner thighs
thin cut scars on tops and sides of breasts
deep, raised scar across both buttocks
narrow, long, raised scar at the back of her neck going into her hairline
Tattoos or Piercings none
Face Claim: christina ricci
MBTI Type: esfp
Likes: painting, art, the smell of acrylic paints, new canvases, murals, museums, art galleries, hard rock music, nick cave and the bad sees, crows and other corvids, celtic mythology, studying paganism, practicing magic, pagan ritual, countryside, england, ireland, horses, english horseback riding, the smell of hay, long walks, the smell of food cooking, preparing food, siamese cats, dogs in general, big horses, trail rides, being near animals, having her own space, art studios, natural sunlight, watercolors by the lake, being near water, long skirts, layered clothing, cool weather, bonfires, being with friends, being trusted, people who like her, school, attending classes, studying, james, winning, praise, cuddling, affection from men, not having to be afraid, the idea of getting adopted, fantasy, unicorns, watercolors, ideas, sharing ideas, listening to stories, making up stories in her head, long skirts
Dislikes: alcohol, having to eat food, being diagnosed with an eating disorder, needles, being weighed, her father, foster care, being bounced from home to home, being beaten, getting in trouble, younger children, female authorities, being told what to do, being pushed around, being dyslexic, not being able to read, bullies, people who push her around, long term foster placements that don't work out, being locked away, people who humiliate her, being made to wear a uniform, not being allowed to wear skirts, being on somebody else's schedule, isolation, being separated from people when she wants to be around them, being forced to socialize when she doesn't want to, being pushed around by women, being overlooked for younger children
Strengths: artistically gifted (prodigy), exceptional math skills, both-brained, affectionate (with the right people), intelligent, loving, quick learner, bright, eager to please (under the right circumstances), protective of people she cares about, strong (emotionally and physically), generous, kind-hearted, deep thinker, gentle with animals, good communication (when she wants to), excellent self-identification of emotions
Weaknesses: poor body image, angry, trouble with female authority figures, aggressive, dislikes younger children, wounded by foster care experiences, distrustful, triggered by potential abuse situations, sex-repulsed, distrustful of people in authority, struggles with dyslexia, can be violent, tends to fight rather than submit, submissive, phlegmatic to melancholy, troubled, poor social skills, struggles with food, left handed
Fears: being sent back to her father, her father, heavy leather belts, being forced to consume food, getting fat, her own breasts, suffocating in her sleep, being tied down, being forced to perform sexual acts, large groups of men, radio static, alcohol (and its effects, but the alcohol itself is also a fear), needles, weigh-ins, food
Aspirations: to support herself off of her art income alone, to get into a situation where she can get away from her father, to be adopted by somebody who actually loves her, to meet a boyfriend who doesn't expect sex from her
Divergence: anoexia nervosa, major depression, complex post traumatic stress disorder, possible borderline personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder
Risk Factors: being forced into confined spaces with the opposite sex, being touched against her will, corporal punishment
Likely Triggers: food being placed in front of her, being in a confined space with a man, people towering over her, wide belts
Current Treatment: none
Brook Haven Referral
Referred by: faith carson, social worker
Referred for: toby has been in and out of foster homes for the past four years, and has repeatedly been returned to her sexually and physically abusive father due to failures in the system. faith was called on an emergency basis about concerns that a foster father was beating toby, and arrived in time to find that her right shoulder was dislocated and she'd been beaten across the upper back and shoulders with a belt, she was brought to brook haven as an emergency placement
History of abuse: toby's father physically abused her, then began to sell her body to his friends for the purposes of sex. she has been repeatedly verbally abused and has experienced psychological abuse as well
Problem Areas: toby is deep in the throes of anorexia nervosa, and she doesn't want help right now. she has a bad attitude toward female authority figures in particular
Romantic Orientation: heteroromantic
Sexual Orientation: sex-repulsed asexual
Relationship Status: dating
Significant Other: james gordon
Education: sixth grade
Dream Job: professional artist/illustrator, museum curator, or gallery owner
Home Town: london, england
Preferred Riding Style: english
Disciplines: show jumping
Riding Strengths: gentle with the horse, soft hands, strong feet, good position
Riding Weaknesses: physically weak, can give the horse too much head, doesn't always apply pressure when needed
# Early Works of Toby Andrews
The following are descriptions of the early works of the artist, Toby Jael Andrews, which were recently discovered. The artist has given a brief history of the time period in which she drew or painted the work.
Stick Figure Family
crayon on paper
3 years old
penhurst, kent, uk
The page is covered in color, from the top to the bottom of the paper, with no more white showing. Three figures grace its center, a tall figure with long pants that are perhaps a bit too wide for the waist and a smiling face with big eyes; A shorter figure with a triangle for a dress and an allusion to breasts that are more square than curves. Long yellow lines come down from her head, an indication of blonde hair while a black stripe covers the head of the taller figure -- short black hair. Between them and in front is a shorter figure, drawn over their bodies with the burgeoning skill of a child: Long, black hair in an awkward shape that's hard to figure out, no clothing, but a big smile. It's the one part of the picture that appears unfinished.
Behind the family there is a garden of flowers, grass, a fence. The house is to the side of the family, the small one (a child, probably a girl) the only figure that smiles. Smoke billows out of the chimney, a juvenile representation in a dark grey that puffs up into the white clouds in a blue sky. It might be summer in the drawing, but the cottage is cozy.
Toby's earliest memories are of the cottage, a small home in the Kent countryside where she grew up with her parents. The home was small, with only two bedrooms and heated with wood and coal even during the coldest months. Some of her happiest memories of England are of snuggling her body down between her mother and her father on the settee, watching the fire burn and telling stories about their days. Her family touched one another frequently, her parents holding hands behind her on the back of the furniture, her body nestled between theirs.
Her parents gazed at one another frequently, a look that Toby would come to associate with intense romantic love. Their eyes met, and they would gaze for seconds, sometimes a whole minute, at a time. Sometimes they would kiss over the top of her head and she would make a face (though she secretly enjoyed it, because loving one another felt to Toby a lot like loving her).
It was a happy life. They spent most of their time together, an insular family that spent little time with the people around them. The neighbors were close, though not so close that they could hear every sound coming from the cottages to the East and West of their little home. When Toby played in the garden, it was a real English garden, complete with flowers and stone paths and bees. How she loved the bees! Sometimes she would wave to the neighbors over the gate, but they didn't look at one another the way that her parents gazed at one another, and they were quick to avert their gaze from her when she spoke to them.
Home life was happy in those early memories.
Garden in Color
colored pencil on paper
5 years old
penhurst, kent, uk
Color covers every surface of the page. No negative space shows at all. It is covered with tiny drawings of flowers, each one a different color from the others. Their stems entwine with one another, and at the top of the page -- a clumsy attempt at perspective -- there is a white picket fence. There are no creatures in the drawing at all, no humans and no animals. It is the only painting of its type in the entire book of drawings.
Many of the flowers are different types of lilies. They come in various shapes and sizes, all colors of the rainbow. There are irises too, and a spray of violets in the bottom right hand corner, a surprise among a splash of orange and yellow and white pencil on white paper. The pencil marks are thick, leaving a waxy texture to the page, and the hand that drew these was heavy, perhaps a bit clumsy yet with youth. The flowers are quite well drawn, defined, but the artist is still growing. They do not yet look as though they could be plucked from the page.
Toby started school when she was five years old, and her eye for artistic detail caught the attention of one of her teachers. It was the first time that her parents were informed that she was in any way remarkable. Up to that point, they had never contemplated that she might be particularly intelligent, or that her drawings were ahead of the curve for a child her age. The teacher pointed out to them the way that she chose her colors and drew her lines, and that her eye for perspective was advanced for her age. It wasn't perfect, but it was growing.
Her father insisted in enrolling her in art classes, and she quickly showed a firm grasp of concepts that many older students had yet to understand. The teacher enjoyed her presence, her company, and her work, and found Toby an engaging child who chattered away and told lovely stories about her home in Kent and how much she enjoyed playing in the garden.
This was, however, the first time that an adult became concerned with Toby's isolation. Though she chattered frequently and had a lot to say about a variety of topics, the teacher grew concerned that Toby spent too little time with other children her own age (outside of school, that is). Her relationship with her parents was clearly strong, and when the teacher spoke to Jack and Lily, it was obvious that they loved her -- and one another -- as much as she loved them. They seemed a good couple, though perhaps lonely, and the teacher encouraged them to get Toby around other children so that she could explore the real world more.
They dismissed her as an art teacher, and their family remained as insular as ever. Stories told by the fireplace would become a memory that Toby would cling to long into the years to come.
The First Unicorn
tempera paint on paper
6 years old
penhurst, kent, uk
The paint is smudged, perhaps clumsy, or the design of a left-handed student with a right-handed teacher. At the edges the paper curls up and it buckles in the middle, ill suited for the medium. Perhaps the artist used too much paint, or the brush was wet from cleaning. It has obviously been made by a child, colors bleeding into one another, but the subject is clear. At the center of the painting stands an animal with four legs, a tail, and a horn extending from the middle of its head. Although the animal is rudimentary, the animal is clearly one of myth: a unicorn.
The artist has focused her attention on the animal. It stands out against the background of grass (green at the bottom of the page) and sky (blue at the top). There are no clouds in the sky, and only one tree, to the left of the animal on the paper. There are no flowers in this picture, and less color than previous drawings by the same artist. If you look closely, you might see the wax beneath the paint, an attempt at some color with pencils that seems to have been abandoned.
It is the first painting, but it will not be the last from this artist.
Toby's mother gave her the paints a week before her father made the announcement that they would be moving to the United States. Neither of her parents told her the details, though she understood that her father had accepted a job offer and that there would be more money for some of the things that she wanted. Her mother promised her that this would mean a better life for them.
Her parents couldn't have prepared her for the culture shock of her new country. Two weeks after the announcement, Toby and her parents arrived in North Carolina, a place as different from Kent as Toby could imagine. The small, rented house her parents had procured had only a small lawn, not the garden in which she had played previously. She spent most of her time crying.
The one constant in Toby's life was the love that her parents showered on her. School was different; Her art classes were different; Her friends had a different accent than she did; There was no garden to play in; She had to study American history so that the family could apply for citizenship. Toby didn't like her new country immediately, and so she spent the hours she cried painting with her new paints. They were simple "poster paints" that she used to color heavy-duty paper with images of flowers and grass and mythical horses with wings or horns.
America was an adjustment period for Toby.
The First Story
tempera paint on paper
8 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
The colors in this piece are light, making good use of negative space for the first time. It is less heavy handed than previous pieces in the portfolio, the page flatter, the paint drier. The young artist has made use of a variety of colors ranging from pale to bold. A close look reveals where colors were mixed to create different shades.
On the whole the paintings demonstrate considerable skill for an eight year old. The figures -- a dragon and a princess in one painting, a dragon and a prince in the second, and a prince and a princess in the third -- are discernible from one another and easily recognized by the viewer. Care has been taken with the facial expressions. The prince is bold and daring, the dragon dangerous, the princess fearless. These paintings tell a story when placed side by side with one another, and the characters (though customary), are complete.
The artist has learned to use paint to tell a story.
This painting shows improvement over the previous painting, though there are marks of discomfort around the edges and the signature is heavy handed at the corner. Though the princess is blonde, she has dark eyes, and the prince appears as though he might be angry with someone. The princess herself, perhaps?
Toby adjusted slowly. She enjoyed school, and she enjoyed the art classes that her parents provided for her. They made sure that she always had paints and the paper on which she painted, though neither of her parents understood her art the way that her teachers did. Her teachers (both her art teachers and her school teachers) liked her, though by the time that she was eight years old they had detected a problem with her reading.
She was halfway through her second grade year when she was diagnosed with severe dyslexia, a learning disability that required her to receive extra instruction in school. Single words frustrated her, and she lacked the fluency that the educational system in the United States expected of her. Her parents encouraged her at home, and they spent hours every night reading stories together. Toby enjoyed fairy tales the most, even from a young age. But what meant the most to her was that while everything outside their home changed, the life inside of it went on as it always had.
Toby sat between her parents on the settee while they read her stories from a big book of fairy tales. Her father's arm went behind her on the couch to embrace her mother, and her mother put her arm around Toby's shoulders. As a family, they were as close as they had ever been.
The First Blackness
tempera paint on paper
9 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
The page curls at the corners, buckles in the center like boils rising on the flesh. The artist was heavy handed with the black paint, sweeping it on with bold strokes that go from one edge to the next. If you look closely you will see the brush strokes, the evidence of a broader brush than necessary, the anger in the strokes as they were made. In some places the paint has washed away, droplets of water (or perhaps tears) spilled on the page. This has taken no skill, yet it has been included, a significant marker in the artist's life.
Drops of red have been splashed across the page with a smaller brush. There are no strokes to them, merely paint spilled from the tip of a brush without regard to the places where it might land. These drops nearly cover the washed out marks, but there are enough to leave evidence of more than anger. This page represents sadness, anger, and a mixture of emotions that a nine-year-old artist shouldn't be capable of identifying, let alone appreciating.
It is beautiful in its anger, complete and complex, the ridges and blisters a part of the artwork itself. There is nothing missing here: This is a statement.
Toby's mother died suddenly when she was nine years old. Neither she nor her father were prepared for the sudden loss, the removal of this important person from their lives. She learned the word "aneurysm" too early in life, and had to understand what it meant. By the time she attended the funeral Toby was capable of describing what it was, and that it was something that had been building in her mother's brain for some time. If someone asked how her mother died, she stood, stoic, and recited the words back to them -- an artery in her mother's brain had enlarged due to the thinning of the arterial wall.
She was nine years old. She didn't know what all of the words meant. What she knew was that those words were the reason that her mother was no longer with her.
Anger came first, the sheer hatred that Toby felt for her mother for leaving her behind. The last words they'd spoken to one another were the fated "I love you" and she should have been happy with that. She knew she should have been happy with that. But her mother was gone, and Toby didn't know how she could go on through her life without her mother and the story time before bed.
When she tried to snuggle up to her father's side, he pushed her away with a gruff grunt. Things had changed forever in the Andrews home.
The Black-Haired Rapunzel
photo of acrylic on canvas
9 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
It is the first photo of a painting, the first painting on canvas, but it will not be the last. The next several entries are also photographs of paintings on canvas.
The painting portrays a woman in a tower, her long, carefully painted braid trailing down the height of the wall and trailing in a coil on the ground at its foot. She stares off into the distance, her elbow resting on the ledge of her window. There is a pensive expression on her face, a touch of sadness. Her skin is pale against her dark hair, her lips red and pursed in contemplation.
There is no prince in this painting, no dragon to threaten the princess. She is alone with her thoughts, lonely in her isolation. The painting offers no evidence of her captor, only Rapunzel alone in her tower.
If you look closely, the painting might surprise you. The brush strokes are small and precise. The hand is steady and careful, and the detail remarkable. The artist has made use of the negative space on the canvas this time, demonstrating an increase in skill compared to the previous paintings in the portfolio.
The last thing that Toby's mother left her before she died was a series of nine canvases in varying sizes and a set of acrylic paints. In the months that followed her mother's death, her father withdrew more and more. He refused her when she attempted to cuddle next to him on the settee, and soon it was a bottle of beer in his hand every evening instead of a cup of tea.
Toby learned how to make macaroni and cheese out of a box. She learned how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. How to tolerate cereal as an adequate option for supper. She ate what was in the cupboards, and learned how to miss meals at school when her father forgot to give her money for her school lunch.
The one constant in her life was gone -- her relationship with her parents. School was a reprieve, but it was difficult, and she had to come home eventually. Toby spent the majority of her time between her mother's death and the first time in her bedroom, painting on the easel that her mother had provided for her ninth birthday.
Then the paintings started to disappear. She would find the photographs years later, and only then would she understand. Her father had taken the paintings, photographed them, and used the internet to sell them for a profit. The paintings brought in money that they needed without her mother to fill in the gaps.
In the meantime, the papers finally arrived. Toby and Jack Andrews -- along with Lily Andrews -- were officially American citizens.
Her father beat her for the first time two days later, as though the fear of deportation had fallen away and left in its place nothing but the anger his wife's death had left him to deal with. He was careful. The bruises were hidden under the places that her clothing would cover.
Fairy Tale Triptych
photograph of acrylic on wood
9 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
It is the first work on wood, a triptych (the first of what will soon become many). The theme is familiar: A dragon with a princess, a prince with a dragon, and then the prince with the princess. Only in this story, the princess is furious with the prince. It isn't clear whether the dragon was her friend, but it is obvious from the expression on her face that she is furious with the prince. His hair is dark, hers is blonde. This princess is not the artist, but her mother.
The brush strokes are heavy. There is anger here. Negative space has been left out of the piece altogether: Each section of wood has been covered with acrylic paint, leaving nothing to the imagination. The greens are bright and lush, pure pigment undiluted by water or lighter colors. It is bright, and the anger is in the hardness of the lines, the firmness of the brush strokes.
It's a beautiful painting, the story complete and complex, fully realized on the wood with the hand of an experienced artist and the imagination of a child. The detail is evident even in the photograph, as is the anger of the artist.
In the middle of Toby's tenth year, her father lost his job. He'd been drinking too much, late for too many shifts, slacking in his duties on the job. Toby didn't find out for two weeks, though it seemed strange that he was home from work before she came home from school.
He was no longer able to purchase her canvases to replace the ones that she'd painted and that he'd sold. What he earned from her paintings went to alcohol, and it left her to be creative with her choices of media. She turned to salvage, working with the materials that she had available to paint on. Wood filled in the gap between canvases, and the first triptych sold quickly.
It was the first story that she told, the shift from the prince protecting the princess to the princess wanting something that was different. The dream of her early childhood was gone, and things were changing in ways that she couldn't understand.
The food dried up. Without a job, as a new citizen, her father didn't have the resources for food. He drank his calories, and he had little energy to think about his daughter. Toby grew accustomed to being hungry. She picked at scraps at school and took advantage of the food that her father did bring into the house.
She wasn't yet ten the first time that her father brought a man to the house. If she'd just do what she was told, he said, he'd make sure that she got a good meal. It would be easy, he said. She only had to take off her clothes and lay back on the old mattress in the guest bedroom. If she'd just do what the man asked her to do, they'd eat well for a week. It would be easy, he said.
And if she didn't cooperate, he'd beat her.
photograph of acrylic on canvas
10 years old
raleigh, north carolina, usa
The canvas is a mess of emotion that you can feel just looking at the photograph. Close inspection reveals the pencil lines drawn straight onto the canvas before the paint was applied, and the strokes are rapid, fearful, angry. Two figures face off in a joust, a man and a woman on horseback, defined by the shape of their bodies beneath the armor. The woman wears a cape that flows out behind her as she rides.
The artist has done a remarkable job of defining the horses. They are clear, the focus of the story. In contrast, the riders are blurred, their faces obscured. Both are dark haired, but they are expressionless, distinguished only by the cape and their shapes. They could be anyone, or anything. Perhaps they are emotions that ride toward one another in a great clash.
For the first time the real skill of the artist shows. Emotion is evident, but the painting is clear, precise, controlled. This is what collectors refer to as "art." It is the best piece in the portfolio to date, and the one that will, in later years, be among the most collectible. People will one day scramble to obtain this piece, as it is a turning point in the life of the artist.
After the first time, the men came three or four times a week to sweat and grunt and fill her belly with their seed. They were heedless to her cries of pain and disgust. She was a body, a tool, a toy, a thing and nothing more. Their weight was crushing, and yet she continues to do as she is told. Without her, the family would have starved. Her father stressed that she must work to eat. If she didn't do what he has asked, there wouldn't be any food.
The paintings continued to go missing. Every three or four weeks they were gone, taken from her closet where she hid them. She could no longer look at the stories that she had created because her father took them from her. And she resented him for doing it, too, hated him for taking away the thing that mattered the most to her.
He began to return the canvases when he began to sell her body. It wasn't the same money that he'd made while he was working in programming, but it was enough for them to get by. The cupboards weren't full, but they were full enough for the time being.
Toby began to miss school. It started the morning after her father brought three men in a single night, and soon she missed a day or two every week, unable to drag herself out of bed, or her father too hung over to pull her out of bed and get her off to the bus. She wanted to go if it meant avoiding her father, but some days she just wasn't up for it.
Barely ten years old, and the battle within Toby was just beginning.
photo of acrylic on canvas
10 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
The fourth and final photograph in the portfolio is of a small painting of a black horse standing at the edge of a river. It is painted with a light hand, the brush strokes barely visible in the paint in the photograph. Every inch of canvas has been covered with paint, though the horse is the only darkness in the painting. Surrounding it, the colors are vibrant and bold, in the painting's distance, muted and hollow in the near parts of the painting.
There is sadness in this work, a sense of something that has changed or has lost. The horse faces away from the viewer, looking across the river as though something hopeful remains on the other side of it, but there is no motion from the horse; Only in the river.
It is evident that the flowers in the foreground are dying. They droop, their faces turned down to the ground instead of up toward the sky and the sun. Their colors are muted, faded, but not dark. Sadness is evident, and the painting is an emotional portrayal of something lost, something changed.
The first time that child protective services arrived at the Andrews House, it was because Toby had missed too much school. Wanting to be "thorough," the social worker inspected the house from top to bottom. She found the lack of abundant, nutritious food in the cabinets unusual, and of course she found Toby's father drunk at the time of the inspection.
"For the safety of the child" she removed Toby to a foster home while the investigation could continue.
Toby settled into the foster home within the first three days.
The "parents" were a couple in their mid-forties who had two teenage children of their own, plus a seven year old foster daughter and a three year-old foster son. The mother (who insisted that Toby called her "June") made supper every night and had it on the table at five thirty sharp. Everyone sat down together with plates that matched and place mats beneath them. They drank water and milk from real glasses, and everyone got the opportunity to talk about their day.
Toby and her foster siblings all had chores that were appropriate for their ages. She set the table and cleared it afterward, then helped with the dishes with the seven-year-old little girl. For the first time since her mother died, she felt that she was part of a family. They laughed together, they played together, and they did their chores together.
Then, one day a couple came to pick the three year old up from the house after school. They were young people who would visit with him once a week for the next four weeks. After a month, June packed up his things and he went to live with them. June explained to Toby and the seven year old foster sister (Erica) that this was "adoption" and that the little boy hadn't had parents to go home to, and so he had been adopted.
The next month, the same happened for Erica. She went home with a new couple, and another foster daughter came to replace her, one closer to Toby's own age.
She'd been with the family two months, and she withdrew into her painting. There were few supplies in the beginning, but when she asked, June and her husband (Michael) purchased her the things that she needed. After all, they said, they were here to be her parents until her father was ready to be her dad again. They were the good kind of foster parents, the kind who took kids on because they genuinely wanted to help them.
It was Michael who suggested that she had real talent and that she should sell her paintings. He showed her how she could take photographs and go online to list them on art sites, even create her own profile to go with them. He helped her to take the photographs and to post the listing.
She'd sold four paintings by the time that word came through that her father had completed the investigation after four months and that she would be returning home again. June helped her to obtain her own bank account into which the money would henceforth be deposited, transferred Toby's earnings into it, and then gave her a special gift: A smartphone with a good camera on it and the promise that if she ever needed anything, she could call her.
The painting described above is the last one that Toby painted before returning home to her father.
Black Flower Vase
print of charcoal on paper
10 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
This is a simple print of a black vase, well shaded (though perhaps aggressively so) with black flowers springing up from its opening. It is a new medium, charcoal from a painter who doesn't often use sketching mediums. The work makes use of the negative space surrounding the vase and its accompanying flowers, and the flowers themselves make use of negative space for shading.
It is well executed, though smudged on the left side from the drag of the hand across the paper. The artist is clearly left-handed, and inexperienced with this particular medium. She has used angry strokes of the charcoal on the portion of the drawing that takes up the majority of the page: the bottom half, the vase. There is a small tear in the bottom right corner of the original (not evident in the print).
When Toby returned home, her father was angry that she had been taken from him. He blamed her for the trouble he'd endured with the child protective services, the battle that he'd fought with the courts to get custody restored to him "even though he'd done nothing wrong." The social worker and the courts knew nothing of his routine abuse -- either physical or sexual -- and therefore what they had based their suspicions on were the empty cabinets and the absences from school.
Toby went back to school every day and buried herself in her art work. She spent an extra hour every day at school with the art teacher, then went home to prepare the best meal that she possibly could for herself and her father. He kept food in the house now, though she was required to pay for it. Her father was disappointed, at first, when Toby didn't provide him with more paintings to sell. This meant that where she had once seen between two and four men a week, she was seeing two or three a night, often well into the night.
If she wanted to eat, she had to work, her father told her. No longer were these men satisfied to grunt and sweat over her body; They wanted her to do increasingly depraved things to them, they wanted a participant. One client liked it when she cried, another wanted her to pretend that she enjoyed what she was doing to him. One man would stand out in her mind the most: A fat, balding man with a perpetually runny nose who cried every time that he finished with her and apologized profusely.
How was it for her to feel badly for him? He hurt her, and yet he left her feeling sorry for him.
Anger grew in Toby. She was ten years old and she sold her body so that she could eat the food that was in the cabinets. She cooked the meals for her father and she cleaned the house. On the rare occasions that she could draw or paint, she had to hide the results of her labors so that her father couldn't steal them from her and sell them for booze. When he could find nothing, he often beat her.
It was no way for a ten year old to live.
Princess with Pony
print of acrylic on canvas
11 years old
cary, north carolina, usa
The horse stands with its head down, a black steed with a strong head. Its tail flicks; You can see the movement in the painting if you look at it closely enough. The brush strokes are light again, careful, the detail incredible. You can see the princess's expression of sorrow as she lowers her forehead to meet with the horse's forelock. Her fingers wrap into the leather of the bridle that the horse wears, and her red lips are open in a word.
Her hair is long and black, falling to her buttocks where it curls gently, a touch of romance to the painting. She is wearing a pale pink skirt, the only pastel in the entire painting. The wind has caught it and lifted it behind her. If you look closely enough, you will see that the artist has obtained a true pink pigment -- no mixing this time around, no streaks in the paint.
The painting is somehow sad, and yet remarkably poignant. It tells a story of a girl who has lost everything but her one remaining friend.
Social Services appeared on the doorstep again in the middle of Toby's twelfth year. The woman who arrived was severe, with a stern expression on her face and narrow, thin hands that hurt when they pinched Toby's arm on the way out to the car. She didn't tell Toby what was going on, and it wasn't routine -- yet. She'd only find out later that someone had called social services because they believed that Toby was being beaten.
She was quick to deny it. Though she'd loved June and Michael, Toby went to a different home this time. Confusion and anger led her to lie. He'd never stuck her. They could check over her entire body. He'd never hit her, not even once. There were no bruises for the social worker to photograph, but she only "harumph'ed" and went on her way, leaving Toby to settle into the new foster home.
This one was an older woman and her teenage son, a boy with pimples that covered his entire face until there was nothing left. But he smiled when Toby looked at him, and she returned the smile, tentatively.
There were two little girls in this house, both with blonde hair, and each of them below the sacred age of six. They were both foster children, brought into the home because their mothers used drugs. The foster mother (Shawna) talked about this as though it made the biological mother a horrible human being who had deserved to lose her children.
Toby quickly learned that she was responsible for taking care of the little girls. She cooked, and she cleaned, much as she did at home. She kept up with her schoolwork, and on the rare occasions that there was time left over, she painted, photographed, and sold the paintings. It crossed her mind to call June, but Toby decided not to bother her.
Shawna was neither kind nor cruel, though she did little work and during the time that Toby spent with her, she provided nothing of importance for her. She learned later, from someone she knew at school, that some foster parents only fostered for the check that they received from the state in exchange for doing so. This was one of those homes. The foster kids worked hard -- even the little ones -- and the foster mother sat and let them do the job for her.
Toby began her period the second week that she lived with Shawna and her son. Her breasts had been developing slowly up to this point, little buds on her chest that would soon blossom into more. She'd been unprepared for the bleeding, however, and when she informed Shawna of what had happened, the woman slapped her. Periods and hygiene products were expensive. She gave Toby an old rag to put into her panties, and told her to get back to work.
She stayed in the home for less than six weeks, during which time one of the little girls went on to a new home. The second little girl moved out shortly before Toby did, moving on to a new home. Shawna had become irritated with Toby, and so she went to live with Calvin and Jessica.
Calvin and Jessica were a young couple with no children of their own, but it was clear from the start that this was Jessica's idea and that Calvin wanted nothing to do with foster children. Toby arrived only three days before a little boy with red hair and freckles. He was probably pushing six, but he was still young enough to still be cute. Though Jessica continued to include Toby in "family" meals, Calvin was distant and angry. The first time that Toby stole one of his cigarettes to smoke it, he called her social worker, and she was out again.
That home only lasted a handful of weeks. Then it was Robert and his three children. They were a relief. Robert was one of the good ones, the type of foster father who believed in fostering the interests of the children. For five months Toby ate well, painted frequently, and sold enough paintings to push her bank account into five figures -- a huge sum of money for an eleven year-old. She liked Robert, and she liked his children. The only foster child in the home, she wasn't faced with the risk that somebody else would get adopted, but not her.
The word floated around hung over her head. She heard it, but chose to do her best to ignore it. Then, when she was sure that Robert meant that he wanted to adopt her, the social worker arrived. It was time to go back to her father again.
Goddess Full Moon
print of acrylic on canvas
12 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
The painting depicts a young woman with flowing black hair, curled at the tips, her hands raised above her head in worship of the full moon. Her head is thrown back, though you cannot view her face as she faces away from you. The dress she wears goes to her ankles, a deep violet with lavender accents. She is courageous as she throws her head back and cries into the sky.
Color is blended well in this painting, the brush strokes broad in places, small in others, a careful use of various textures to create the effect the artist wanted. It is a painting of courage, but it lacks humility -- a change from previous work by the artist to whom this portfolio belongs.
She has used negative space again, the white of the moon, captured with a splash of bright white paint to bring the silver to the eye. Vines curl at the goddess's feet, twisting their way up her legs, each precise brush stroke remarkable in itself.
The artist is the subject of this painting, and she is changing.
Toby's father was the first to remark with disgust on her changing body. He saw her every two weeks at the social services building for visits during her time in foster care, but he knew when to keep his mouth shut and when he could speak aloud. Her weight had shifted into her breasts -- now more than simple buds, blossoming into womanhood -- and her hips, her buttocks, even her arms. She was fuller, rounder than she had been when the social worker had picked her up and taken her away from him. This was not the Toby that he wanted.
She turned on herself, first slicing at her burgeoning breasts with a razor blade until blood dribbled down their sides. When she discovered she could not simply cut them off, she did the next most logical thing: She stopped eating. The person in the mirror was not Toby Andrews. Her father had told her that a dozen times now, enough to convince her of it. She had to make her body match what he expected of her, to become Toby again. So she fed herself portions a quarter the size of those she gave to her father.
It became an addiction. The nights that he brought two or three men to her (those nights were now two or three a week, sometimes four) she ate nothing until her head swum and she felt like the world spun around her. It was how she imagined her father felt when he'd been drinking. Soon she merely nibbled on food when she went to school to stop the lunch room monitors for her fifth grade class from getting on her. She'd failed the previous year, and had gone back into the fifth grade for the second time. Foster care, going from place to place, school to school, it had that effect on a person.
Nobody cared. Not her father, not as long as she let the sweaty men grunt and poke her; Not the men who paid for the pleasure of her "company;" Not her teachers who didn't want to be bothered with her. Not Toby herself, who had given up hope the day that she'd been sent back to live with her father.
Her weight plummeted. Her father praised her for it. Soon, eating was something to be punished. If she ate more than the allotted amount of food, he beat her with his belt until she curled up in a tiny ball on the floor and wept. She learned how to go without, how to appreciate the hollow feeling. And soon she was convinced she was no longer hungry.
print of acrylic on canvas
12 years old
raleigh, north carolina, usa
A dragon flies high in a cloudless, endless blue sky, its red wings translucent against the setting sun. It dips to the right, and if your imagination is good, you can see it in your mind taking a turn and spinning with its rider on its back. The dragon is carefree while its rider leans forward on its back, bareback, clinging to reins that come from the dragon's mouth.
There is anger in the eyes of the girl who sits astride the dragon. Her hair is tied in long black braids that trail behind her with the force of the wind as she rides her dragon. Her face is intent and angry, fixed on a point in the distance. It might be the tower, the place where the black haired Rapunzel once waited for someone to rescue her.
This time, perhaps Rapunzel rescues herself. It is the same girl, perhaps a bit wiser, less of a dreamer. If you compare the two pieces, you will see her there, in the lines of the jaw.
Toby changed. Fear gripped her on a daily basis. She battled depression, starved her body, faced insomnia, and struggled with mood swings. A second-year fifth grade student after failing the previous year (thanks, in large part, to going from home to home), she was short tempered with her teachers and aggressive with her classmates. She became known for getting into spats with other students, and teachers became concerned that she exhibited signs of abuse. Her history with child protective services alerted the authorities that she might be somebody to watch. After her third trip to visit the principal after a fight, she met with a new social worker.
The meetings would go on once a week for the next month. She'd just turned twelve years old, but Toby was smart enough to know where this was going. Once more she lied to protect her father. Nothing in her life had been constant, but she held close to the hope that things would return to normal again. Her father was in so many ways the last thing that she had left, and she could trust things to stay the same at home. Foster care was a crap shoot.
True to the life she'd lived thus far, the social worker finally decided on removal. For the first time, this was a considered decision, not something that came from a rushed moment. The social worker picked Toby up from school one afternoon, took her back to her house to collect the things she needed (Toby mostly grabbed her painting supplies) and transported her to the home of Robert and Charlene Cabot.
The Cabots were both in their thirties and they already had four foster children living in the family. Three of the foster children were under the age of six, and the fourth was seven years old. One of the little ones -- a girl named Jessica -- was adopted in the second week that Toby lived with the Cabots, and she was quickly replaced by a little boy with brown hair and a lisp.
As foster parents went, the Cabots were "middle of the road." They took care of the children and spent the money they received from the state on clothing and food for the kids. They required the kids to do chores (Toby and Gabriel, the seven year-old little boy had the most chores), but Toby had enough time left over at the end of her chores to work on her painting. Her bank account was growing, and the numbers were quickly reaching toward six figures. She kept her activities private. The Cabots never asked about them.
The second child -- a four year old little boy -- got adopted in the second month that Toby was with the Cabots. A month later they had begun to discuss adopting Gabriel (news which took Toby by surprise).
She remained with the Cabots for nearly five months, and in that time six children came and went. Most of those who left the home left with permanent placements or foster-to-adopt situations while Toby held back. It was difficult for her to understand, and she turned on herself, denying her body sustenance and spending hours in front of the mirror, hating what she saw reflected back at her.
At the end of five months, Toby was moved to a home with Colleen O'Hare. This time she was the only foster child in the home, and she joined Colleen's twenty-three year old son. Colleen was a hard woman with a firm hand who required Toby to complete chores every day and to sit down at the table at eat every night with her and her son, Jacob. It was the first time that Toby realized that she was afraid to ingest the food that was placed in front of her. Tears resulted, fights, and later a beating from Jacob O'Hare.
She lasted three weeks in the O'Hare house before her social worker arrived unexpectedly to take her to the Bartlett home. Toby left a painting behind, and barely had time to gather the rest of her things. The painting would later show up on a website listed under a different name than the one that she sold her paintings under. It crushed her to lose it, and her response was to create the Dragon Rider painting, which sold for the highest sum of any of her paintings to date: $2,500.
John and Cara Bartlett had a total of eight foster children before she joined their home. The house was chaos, and the children were poorly tended to. Toby quickly learned how to change a diaper (though it made her uncomfortable to touch the children at all, let alone in areas that were considered "private"), and she continued to do her best cooking for the children who lived in the home. John yelled a lot, and Cara worked too hard. He reminded her of her father (right down to his name), and Toby would have avoided him if she'd been able to keep her temper in check.
It happened the night he asked her to get him a beer. Toby snapped, and not in a small way. She burst out that he could get it himself, that she wasn't his servant and that he was getting paid to take care of her, not the other way around. He struck her in the face -- not the first foster parent to do so, but it took her by surprise.
Three days later, Toby demanded to go home. A week after that, she faced a judge and told him that she wanted to go home to her father. At twelve years old, the judge and her guardian ad litem listened to her. She was back at home before the start of her (first) sixth grade year.
Mother and Child
print of acrylic on canvas
12 years old
wake forest, north carolina, usa
A woman with short blonde hair sits beneath an elm tree, a child tucked up in her lap between her legs. The child has dark hair tied into two braids with a bow that binds them together. Their heads are close to one another, and the mother reaches out a single finger of her right hand. Where the finger touches the ground, flowers in pastel bloom.
The child toys with her mother's hair, a curl just below the ear, her lips pursed as though preparing to say something. Their eyes are intense, gazing at one another, and the corners of the mother's mouth turn upward in a smile. In the background, a horse grazes near a stream while another looks on, perhaps protectively.
Brush strokes are evident in the broader sweeps of paint on the grass, the sky, the river, but the details of the faces are fine and precise, tiny brush strokes made by a practiced hand. It takes close inspection to prove that this is a painting and not a photograph. In spite of the fantasy element of the scene draws you in, as though you could step into the painting.
The first few weeks at home were different. Jack tried. For the first time since her mother had died, they sat down to eat their meals together. He didn't pressure her to eat if she didn't want to, but he provided the food, and after three weeks, Toby began to eat again, carefully and deliberately. He said nothing about her weight gain, about the swell of her breasts and her hips, and for a time, Toby gained some confidence.
For a while, there were no men to sweat and grunt. A social worker watched the family -- something foreign to Toby but familiar to her father, keeping an eye on him to make sure that he took care of Toby the way that he was supposed to. It went on this way for six happy months. Toby painted. She talked to her father over meals (most of which she cooked, but few of which she ate consistently). She went to school and though she struggled, she had stopped fighting with her peers or her teachers.
Things changed the week that the social worker stopped the random visits to the house. She'd never suspected sexual abuse, or things might have been different. Now that they had been released from the system, he could return to the previous pattern of treatment. The first week that she was back, she took nine men, four of whom forced her to do some of the most depraved acts that had ever been asked of her, and two of whom insisted on tying her down. One of them bit her repeatedly, leaving a pattern of bruises all over her body.
When she attempted to refuse the second demand for a "special" her father beat her until she passed out and missed three days of school the following week. Her teachers noticed her absence, but her father reported her ill, and she remained at home.
Toby was torn between loving and admiring her father because he was her father and fearing him. She withdrew, obeying him when he instructed her to do something, but otherwise avoiding him. She painted, and he no longer stole her paintings. She sold them, every single one of them (including the painting of her mother and herself) and deposited the money into her bank account. If her father knew about the money, he didn't ask for it.
She stopped eating, and she lost more weight. Her father praised her for her slender body, and criticized her for the growth of her breasts -- for puberty. When she looked into the mirror, Toby didn't see the person she felt like in her mind, and she hated the body that she saw in that mirror.
White Horse Dream
print of acrylic on canvas
13 years old
zebulon, north carolina, usa
It is a white horse -- the first, as the others have been black -- with its head bent back. If you listen, you can almost hear the whinny, the plaintive cry the horse makes. Night has fallen and the horse is alone beneath the shadow of the moon, cloaked in darkness and surrounded by woods. Mist clouds the ground, hovering an inch or two above it and masking the horse's feet in the gloam.
There is an ethereal quality to the painting, as though the scene is being viewed through a dream. The quality of the painting varies throughout the different parts of the scene. The nearer portions of the painting, those in the foreground, were painted with large brush strokes, while the parts in the background, further from the eye, are painted with precision. It is a new technique and gives the impression that the viewer is seeing the scene as though through a dream.
It started with a raid during the early afternoon on a school day in late May the year after Toby turned thirteen. A social worker -- somebody new and unfamiliar to her -- arrived to retrieve her from school and to take her to the new foster home. The social worker had dark auburn hair, a bright smile, and a kind demeanor. Toby had run out of trust a long time ago, but she felt the first niggling of something akin to it for the first time in years.
She took Toby to live with a man named David. He lived alone, a single man with a mind to adopt an older girl. By this time, Toby recognized that the hope of getting adopted after seven years old was slim. Nobody wanted her now. Nobody had wanted her then. She kept to herself, worked on her painting every opportunity that she got, and refused her meals David didn't pressure her to come out of her shell, but he was always there when she had something that she needed, or she wanted to talk.
Toby heard nothing of her father for two weeks, when the social worker -- a woman named Faith -- arrived at David's home to sit down with her and explain what had happened. Someone had reported an IP address for storing and soliciting child pornography. The IP address led police to one of the men who routinely took her to the back room. When pressed, he revealed the source of the pornography, and the police raided her father's house, where they found evidence they had not previously sought. Not only would she not be returning to her father this time, but he would face criminal trial for a number of crimes.
This was difficult news for Toby to process.
Faith and David were both there for her when she needed somebody to talk to, but Toby ultimately withdrew from them, sinking into her artwork. She missed her father. Or perhaps it was the illusion of her father, the man he had been before her mother had died. Part of her was sure that he would find a way out of this one, that he would get access to her bank account, pay the right lawyer, and make it out of jail before he could be convicted and sent to prison.
Fear enveloped her. She spent every moment fearful that he would come for her, only this time he was going to be angry. She'd learned to fear him, his hands, his belt, his rages, the alcohol that he drank, and though she felt safe and comfortable with David -- who had encouraged her to call him "Dad" (but she'd refused because she already had a father who she feared), she couldn't quite let her guard down.
She spent the summer painting. In late July, around the mark of her half-birthday, David announced something strange. He wanted to take her to a horse auction. After all, she was always painting "those horses." When he put her hands on the reins of a Thoroughbred Gelding, Toby thought that he had to be teasing her. Her own father wouldn't allow her to have a kitten. How could he give her a horse when she was nothing but a dirty little foster girl?
He told her that it was because he had chosen to make her his own daughter, and that he wanted to begin working toward adopting her. There were still a few small matters in the way, such as the termination of her father's parental rights (this went without saying, but would still take some time), and the standard legal legwork to do in order for her to become his daughter.
Toby was torn between gleeful shock and hurt revulsion. Her behavior took a nose dive. She'd not been eating enough as it was (he never forced her), and Toby struggled with her attitude when she hadn't gotten enough to eat. Her heart beat too quickly, or not quickly enough, and she was strained with headaches, nausea, and insomnia. They began to fight two months after his announcement and the gift of the horse, and he threatened to take the horse away from her. For the first time, he required her to call him Mr. Czymanski instead of by his first name. Distance grew between them, though he never withdrew the offer of adoption. They continued to wait on the paperwork.
Two months before the event that would end the process, he raped her. David pinned Toby to his own bed, grunting and sweating like the fat man of the first year of her service. He called her a "slut" and a "whore" and told her that she "liked it." She cried afterward and rolled away from him, slept in his bed that night. The next day, and in the coming months, they would speak nothing of it.
Things were tense for Toby, while David acted as though nothing had happened. He was happier somehow, like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders, but Toby was fearful. She'd jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, and she had to tell herself every day that being raped once by her foster father had nothing on the way that her father had treated her like his whore. David's words echoed in her mind, reminding her of what she was. He'd used what he knew of her against her.
She ran a week before her fourteenth birthday. It was stupid and Toby knew it, but a mixture of fear, dread, and determination compelled her to take the keys to David's 1992 Corvette at three in the morning and drive it out of the drive and out of town. She was driving 80 miles an hour when she crashed the car into a telephone pole, sustaining two broken ribs and a concussion.
David arrived at the hospital, but only for long enough to tell the doctors that he didn't want her. He left afterward, and Toby would once again meet with Faith.
Self Portrait (Girl in Mirror)
print of oil on canvas
14 years old
wendell, north carolina, usa
It is the first painting in oil, a careful self-portrait of a girl looking into a mirror. The painting depicts not the girl who is, but the girl who she sees when she gazes at her own reflection. Her face is too round in the mirror, cheeks full with youth and childhood, perhaps a bit too pink, eyes wide and black hair in two identical braids on either side of her face. Her body is slender but not thin in the mirror, flat-chested and childlike.
Though you can't see a lot from the back of the artist's head in the painting, the reality of the girl who looks into the mirror is a stark contrast. The hair is oily and limp, the head narrower than the face in the mirror, the shoulders thin. It leaves the impression that the artist knows the reality, but that she can't see it when she looks at herself in the mirror.
In some places the brush strokes are angry testaments to her fury and heartbreak, where in other places they are careful lines of hope. This will be the last painting in this portfolio for quite some time.
Toby was moved to the Parker family, a woman and her husband who already fostered a six year old little boy and who had an eight year-old little girl of their own. They favored the younger children, doting on them while Toby was expected to do housework, to clean up after the children, and to attend to cooking the meals. They noted that she was thin, but as it didn't affect her ability to do the work that they required of her, they didn't demand that she eat. Toby continued to pick at her meals in her school, though she had begun to lose hope. It was her second year in the sixth grade, after all. She'd failed both the fifth and then the sixth, in part due to her work and in part due to bouncing from school district to school district.
They weren't a kind family. Though it was far from the first year on which she received no birthday presents, it was the first year that she had not spent at least part of the day with her father. To spite herself, she missed him, and her disappointment at not receiving a card grew in the days leading up to Yule, and then Christmas. Though her faith was still small, she had felt called to the feminine presence and energy of a goddess, and while she had no word to put on her religion, she began to worship quietly when she could. Though reading was difficult for her -- to the point where she would say it was impossible -- she understood the basics, and on December 21st of her fourteenth year, Toby stood barefoot in the snow and worshiped.
Gary Parker beat her with a switch he'd cut fresh from one of the hickory trees in the yard, whipping her until she bled and then forcing her into the house. She would do twice the chores between that day and Christmas, and she would do the entirety of the family's wrapping to make sure that it was done for the children before Christmas morning.
She told herself that she didn't care. She punished herself by restricting her food intake even more. Already she feared the food, the way that it made her feel, the loss of control of her own body that came with the hormonal influx of puberty when combined with calories and the right combination of nutrients.
They made it through Christmas with Toby keeping mostly to herself. For the first time in years, there were no paints or canvases under the tree for her. Not even a card from Faith. It felt wrong, out of place, strange. A week later Faith visited to check up on her, asked how she was doing. Toby was stony cold. The social worker didn't care enough to make sure that she had something for Christmas, even if it was new socks. She turned away, and let Faith believe that she was angry, sullen, but generally okay.
January and February passed slowly. Toby did her chores and kept out of trouble. It was only when Gary cornered her, picked on some minor thing that she had done wrong, that she burst out in anger. Twice he slapped her in the face. Once he locked her out of the house. She didn't report it. If she did, she'd only go on to the next foster home, the next nightmare.
It lasted until early July. Toby would "behave" for two or three weeks, and then Gary would lose his temper with her over some imagined infraction. She'd come home from school with a bad attitude, or her teacher would call to report an incident in the classroom, and he'd lose his temper, fly into a rage, and he would hit her with his belt or another switch from the yard. She'd grown used to being beaten over the years, and submitted to it. Often it was the only time that she would submit, and Gary eventually learned that if he wanted to get cooperation from Toby, he had to beat her. The threat alone wasn't enough: He had to follow through.
This approach would end Toby's experience in foster care and would lead her to Brook Haven Ranch.
It was a Tuesday in July. Toby had just finished clearing the dishes from the table and Marlene Parker had taken the little ones into the living room for story time (much the way that her mother and father had once read to her). She was left with the dishes to clean up, and, shaking due to malnutrition, Toby dropped one of the plates. Gary flew into one of his rages and grabbed her by the hair, his right hand already pulling at his belt. Terrified, and angry, Toby lashed out at him, landing a blow against the right side of his face.
Gary slammed Toby into the counter, lashing at her with his belt. He lacked control, and the belt tore at her clothing, cut through the thin layer of her blouse, and tore a welt into the flesh of her shoulder. Toby screamed, but Marlene and the children had never come to her rescue before. Nothing would stop Gary this time. With his hand on her arm, he jerked her back to her feet when she collapsed, panting. He'd cracked two ribs, bruised her right shoulder, and pulling too hard, pulled the left shoulder out of its socket. His hand twisted, and in Toby's fragile state, he broke her left arm.
It was enough to shock him, though not to stop his rage. Toby ran as fast as she could in her injured condition, out of the house, and for the first time used the phone that she'd been given by Miss June for its intended purpose: She called Faith.
Twenty minutes later the social worker arrived, took one look at Toby, and called an ambulance. She spent three days recovering in the hospital for refuge while Faith made other arrangements, and three days after that, arrived at Brook Haven Ranch -- finally a sanctuary where she would be safe.
Never Going Back
Over the course of the past four years, Toby has experienced a cycle. Somebody -- often a teacher, but usually a neighbor -- calls child protective services and they launch an investigation. Toby is removed from the home during the investigation. Social workers find nothing. Toby is returned to the home. Some investigations took longer than others, of course, and Toby spent periods of up to twelve months out of the house while her father fought for his parental rights -- and retained them the first time that it was necessary for him to do so.
Several months ago, Jack Andrews was reported for the actual crime of child sex trafficking and unlawful imprisonment. Toby was removed from the home immediately and the police substantiated the claims. The district attorney took the case, and Toby was sent back into foster care for the final time.
Foster care has not been good to Toby, but her greatest fear is not the routine abuse that she has experienced at the hands of multiple carers: It is the terror that a social worker could decide at any moment to send her back to her father. While she's been informed that her father is now in prison and that he will never have custody of her again, Toby has little trust in the system. She continues to be fearful that she will one day be sent back to her father and that she will be forced to face him and the continued use of her body to pay the bills.
It's going to take her a while to realize that she is safe on the ranch. Until that happens, she will keep everybody at a distance. Trust is slow coming for Toby and she has no intention of getting close to anybody when that just means that it will hurt more when she gets ripped away from them again to go back to her father and his abuse.
It's hard for Toby to pin down the exact moment that she stopped eating. Anorexia is complicated enough, but it comes at Toby from what seems a dozen different angles. She has body dysmophia, some body dysphoria to go along with it (if nothing else the breasts don't belong there!), and has never once in her life been in control of anything that happened to her. The eating disorder has taken over her life and has consumed everything about her.
Toby's anorexia has gotten out of control. Her BMI is less than 16, and she's fighting for her life at this point. As Logan would say "Recovery isn't for those who need it, it's for those who want it." On the ranch she can be forced onto a (nasogastric) feeding tube, but if she doesn't choose to recover, it's not going to happen for her. Her potential for recovery is at a critical junction: She's never been put onto a feeding tube in the past, which means that if she begins to gain weight and balance her electrolytes, she could fully recover from her anorexia. If she chooses not to go that far, then she is going to wind up in a potential cycle of recovery and relapse.
Her recovery is, without a doubt, the most important thing. There are a dozen other factors in her being at Brook Haven Ranch, from her ability to feel safe to finding a permanent home, but even with those things taken into consideration, her recovery has to be the main focus of her time here. A system of punishment and reward will work best with her, especially if she manages to find somebody with whom she can form a strong bond and who she wants to please.
This is ongoing.
Toby is still struggling to cope with a failed adoption that fell apart just a month ago. After years in the system she believed that she had finally found somebody who could love her for who she was and who appreciated her. He wasn't always nice to her, but he made her feel safer than the other foster homes, where she worried constantly that she was going to be sent back to her biological father.
The adoption didn't work out, and Toby has been a mess since then. She's always been submissive and eager to please, but in the last month she has become surly and unmanageable. Toby's attitude has taken a turn for the worse and she has begun not to cooperate with her authorities. It was difficult for Faith (her social worker) to find her a home that would hold onto her, and the home that she was last in fell apart quickly.
Disrupted adoptions -- or failed adoptions, as this one was -- hurt the child to their core. Toby has suffered immense guilt and pain as a result of this failed adoption, and she is acting out as result of her feelings about her adopter giving up on her before she had a chance to prove that she was worth keeping. She's better off without him (he was both physically and sexually abusive toward her), but Toby doesn't know that. She's lonely and she's hurt and she's scared.
It's hard for Toby to trust people after the failed adoption. Building trust with her is going to be a painstaking process that could take months, or even years, but Toby is inevitably worth it (I promise!).
Give a Girl a Horse
From the time that she was a little girl, Toby has dreamed of horses. The subject of many of her paintings are horses (or, more specifically, unicorns), and she has dreamed about them for so long that the ranch is, in a lot of ways, a dream come true.
Most of all, for Toby the horse means that this is where she belongs. The animal means perminancy, and it means that she has something to lose. She'd do virtually anything for that horse, which means that the horse is leverage.
While taking the horse away will result in incredible insecurity for Toby (and signal that she might be going back to live with her father again), Apollo can be used as a way to reward Toby for doing the things that she's supposed to do. Her attachment will be strong, and if she is rewarded with special lessons, she will be more apt to work on putting on weight.
The horse is important to Toby because he is an anchor for her. She's never had anything that meant so much to her, and this horse will take over a good portion of her life, especially on the ranch.
It Makes the World Go Round
Toby began painting when she was around six years old. Her mother was the first one to put a paintbrush in her hands, and she was quickly excellent at it. Her greatest skill was in taking what was inside of her head and putting it onto the canvas. She quickly developed her skills as a painter thanks to classes her mother had her take and endless practice at the easel.
She's a prodigy -- literally. Toby's paintings began to sell by the time that she was ten years old. That was a year after her mother died; The year that her life started to really fall apart. Paintings went to the local gallery. Jack said that they needed the money from the sales. He drank it, of course. Toby knew how good she was, that her paintings were remarkable for a person her age, and she continued to paint what went on inside of her head.
Art has always been a way for Toby to express herself, but for her it's more than that. This isn't a tool for self-expression so much as it's a tool for supporting herself. In the last few years Toby has found a way to sell her pieces online, and she's amassed a sizeable bank account as a result of these sales. She is surely able to purchase her own supplies with the money that she's made, and her bank account is enough to get her started in college when the time is right for her to do so.
If that's not the first thing that people notice about Toby, it's that she wears a lot of clothes. Toby prefers skirts to the point that if she is not permitted to wear them, there are tantrums. These tantrums are often of epic proportions. She likes them in particular because she can layer clothing underneath them, diminishing the ability for an attacker to get to what is underneath those clothing items. When she cannot wear skirts (the ranch may let her due to circumstances), she tends to wear jeans a size too big with leggings on underneath them, multiple pairs of panties, and then layered t-shirts, oxford shirts, and sweaters (even in warm weather).
The clothing may hide it on her body, but her face also shows that she is underweight for her height. Her cheekbones are prominent, and her skin is sallow. Her eyes often lack luster due to a lack of good nutrition. She is clearly under weight. This is something else that people will tend to notice about Toby, if not immediately, then quickly.
Toby is anorexic. While it by no means defines who she is as a person, it alters her personality significantly. People who struggle with anorexia often have racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating on one thing at a time, and can be short-tempered because (whether they feel it or not) they are in a constant state of hunger. She's ill tempered and she does not like younger children or women.
There is a reason for this.
She dislikes younger children because years in and out of foster care taught her one thing: Younger children were more likely to experience a termination of parental rights than older, less adoptable children. Moreover, these younger children are often more desirable for adopters in general. Since Toby missed adoption, and has a failed adoption behind her, this is a big deal to her.
Her feelings for younger children stem from jealousy, but they are real. While her instinctive, initial reaction to younger children is likely to always be hostile, she may find ways to bond with younger foster children who have experienced similar to her own trauma, or who have also spent their lives being overlooked. It will take time for her to befriend these people, and as much as I dislike to express this, they will have to be persistent with her. Since this is a common trait in younger children attempting to befriend teens, I'm more comfortable than I might have been if the circumstances were different.
As far as her feelings for women, Toby's issues stem from distrust. Her mother died when she was nine years old, leaving her in the car of a father who quickly turned abusive. Toby placed all of her trust in a man who hurt her, blaming her mother for leaving her as her father demanded over time. Since her mother's death, she has had limited experience with women outside of teachers at her school, and therefore she often treats them with hostility or disrespect, wishing not to get too close to somebody who is just likely to leave her the way that her mother did. I must stress that she is not afraid of women (or men for that matter), but that she simply doesn't like to have to deal with them. In Toby's mind, women are lesser beings to men -- yes, she's chauvinistic.
The final thing that you really ought to know about Toby before plotting with her is that she is literally an artistic prodigy. She has been painting since she was six years old, having received the paints as a consolation prize when the family moved from England to the United States, and her father quickly noted that she was talented at painting. She's had some lessons, and her favorite subjects lack maturity, but she is excellent at what she does, and is known for "tagging" walls with real art -- not just graffiti.
Toby isn't apt to have a lot of friends. While persistence on the part of younger children might make a friend for her, this is not generally a matter of "if you're patient enough to become her friend, she's going to be loyal and unendingly affectionate with your character."
No, Toby doesn't trust people. No women or men, boys or girls. While she's more apt to have friendships with boys than she will with girls, this is a universal truth for her. She neither has a lot of friends nor does she want a lot of friends. Kind of an unsettling situation for her to be in as an extrovert, but these things do happen sometimes due to the life that a person has led.
The real truth is that Toby doesn't see herself as being worthy of the friendship. She's unsettled when people want to be her friend, and is actively repulsed by perky, cute people who smile too much. What I'm trying to say here is that I really am genuinely trying to put you off of befriending Toby.
If for some reason you still think that it's worthwhile to become her friend after reading this, then here's what you need to know:
She's most likely to be found in the barns or somewhere near the cliffs. If she's near the cliffs, she will probably have a portable easel with her and be painting. If she's in or near the barns, she's with Apollo and is apt to ignore you unless you have tips about the horse or something meaningful to teach her about how to handle him. She will listen to these things because the horse matters more to her than she matters to herself and if you have something to give her that will make her better for him she will soak that up.
Plus, she likes the attention.
The people most apt to become her friends are the ones who give her consistent attention. They are the people who notice her, those who know how to adequately deal with her anorexia and the people who hold her accountable. She won't be friends with people who tolerate her nonsense: She'll be friends with the people who tell her "this isn't how it's going to be Toby, so get your shit together."
What you get in a friendship with Toby is nothing trite like loyalty or devotion, or even affection (though she demands a lot of affection from the people she cares about). What you get from her is somebody willing to be real with you, prepared to call you on your own bullshit, who will give you honest and reliable feedback about your projects, your efforts, and your personality flaws. She will give to her friends what she needs most from her friends: Raw honesty.
So while there aren't going to be a lot of friends for Toby, the ones that she does have will need to be good friends in the sense outlined above.
Let me start this out by saying that Toby is a sex-repulsed asexual. I'd like to talk some about this because I realize that it gets heavily into trope territory to talk about the sexually abused person who grows up to be asexual (and particularly sex-repulsed) and I want to add some definition to this that makes it uniquely Toby. This way you're not left sighing and shaking your head because it's yet another one of those characters.
Toby hates her body. The body loathing is the biggest reason why she is sex repulsed. While she loves minor sexual contact such as hugging and general hand holding and affection, she is repulsed by any act which involves person touching the parts of her body that she hates, especially underneath her clothing. This clearly wouldn't be a problem anyway since she's fourteen and sex is pretty much out of the question for her (at least on this site, currently).
Of course most touch for Toby has been bad. If it wasn't for the sexual abuse, there still would have been the beatings. She has learned to hate everything about her body.
For obvious (or maybe not so obvious?) reasons, her sexuality matters little. She's heteroromantic and is already involved in a relationship with a young man who she has known for the past couple of years. He's older than she is by four years, and their relationship is very iffy in this regard. Fortunately, James knows better than to put his hands on Toby in any way that she wouldn't like, and their relationship is good because he doesn't push her to do things that she's not comfortable with. In fact, he's not brought them up at all since she was finally relinquished from her last home.
Although shes in a relationship, Toby does notice attractive boys. She's definitely not the "oversexed" type since she has no desire for sex, but she knows what she finds appealing in a man and she's not afraid to show some signs of that attraction. She's partial to dominant males with good bone structure and muscular upper bodies. While there are plenty of things that would put her off of a relationship with a guy, these things do make her find them attractive.
James is not currently in Montana (though he's likely coming, since even though she's fourteen, their relationship is pretty serious!), and this does leave some room for minor romantic attractions before he can finally make it out of North Carolina, where his well-to-do family lives.
Toby's flirty with the right boy, and she will pass right past the friendship phase. This does mean that if something starts and then ends, however, she does not want to be friends and is absolutely willing to give the boy a bad name when it's done. She's not as affectionate with her boyfriend(s) as she's apt to be with her final adopter or with James when he finally comes into play, so she's not offering a lot in the relationship department other than being able to say that you dated Toby Andrews.
So to make this simple, she's attracted to attractive boys, and she will flirt like crazy with them. You can look, but you can't touch!
It does not take much to get onto Toby's bad side! If you are younger than twelve, or if you are a female, you have every chance that she is just not going to like you. She's not a fearful person in spite of her history. Bold to the point of being caustic, Toby will make it well known that she doesn't like you. There are good reasons that she doesn't like younger children and that she bristles around female authority figures. If you're interested, read above on these things. It doesn't bear repeating at length.
The thing about it is that Toby is openly hostile toward these two groups of people. Kids who tag along after her or ask her excessive questions about her clothing, her body, or her art are going to be met with her snapping at them. She might ignore female authority figures, or she might lash out at them. She's apt to lash out at female students who she feels get in her way or who otherwise annoy her. She's more submissive with males, and therefore less apt to wind up with hostile relationships with any male (unless he attempts to touch her inappropriately).
Toby is not a fun enemy to have (or she might be, as a roleplayer). She's hostile, aggressive, quick tempered and silver tongued. Her insults are fast and they are almost invariably true about the person she's lashing out at. She will find the biggest weakness that you have and hammer home to you how much this makes you a failure in life. She will build herself up to tear you down. She is not afraid to throw a punch or most of all use your own body weight against you.
She is a vicious enemy, and if you don't want an enemy who will rip off your arm and feed it to you for dinner, then you might not want to mess with her.
It doesn't take much, either. She's not one of these characters who you need to do much to make her an enemy. Be a female who tells her to do something she doesn't want to do, or a male who touches her unexpectedly, and you're already there. If you attempt to bully her, watch out, because you might not survive the aftermath.
Family is a difficult concept for Toby. She had it when she was younger, a very intensely loving family unit of her mother, her father, and herself. Her parents would have done anything for her or for one another, and there is a part of her that continues to crave that nuclear family unit in an adoption. However, with one failed adoption behind her, Toby isn't looking forward to going through that abandonment again, and so she has withdrawn her consideration of families.
A family is planned for Toby, with Logan Brook's best friend and his girlfriend (who is a Wellwader Junior Counselor).
With family in general, Toby is phlegmatic to the point of being submissive. She is obedient and generally respectful, fearful of being displaced again, and tends to cling to her adopters with ferocity that you've likely never expected for somebody like her. Her biggest worry is that if she doesn't stay with them, she will go back to her father, and that's not something that she can tolerate.
Toby responds very differently with men than she does with women, and even then, her response to people in authority is challenging (to say the least).
I'll start with women. As I've explained repeatedly, Toby does not do well with female authority figures. This is not my way of stating that I don't want to plot her with women. I'm not even heterosexual, so this isn't about sex and gender. The fact is that Toby bristles at female authority figures and doesn't trust them not to abandon her the way that her mother did. There are a lot of issues here, but it boils down to this one thing. She hates to be told what to do by women and will either ignore the instruction entirely or she will throw it back in the woman's face if she feels threatened. It takes a lot of trust in a woman for Toby to obey the woman, and she will rarely do so without questioning her.
Once she forms a bond with a female authority, however, Toby is an emotional train wreck. Though she will cooperate, it usually involves tearful frustration and some demands on her part. She's not the type to sit down submissively and talk through her problems with a woman. Even where the relationship is good, it will be an emotional relationship for Toby, who may cry more easily in front of women than she does in front of men (but only in front of women who she trusts).
With men, on the other hand, Toby is submissive, and often does what she's told without questioning it. She was trained (literally trained) growing up that she had to do what she was told (by men specifically) or she was going to be beaten by them. Therefore she learned that it was wisest to do what she was told without questioning it. This can, in some ways, get her into trouble, since one of the goals of the ranch is to get the students to think critically. When it comes to males in authority, Toby simply does not apply critical thinking skills and she is apt to do what she's told without thinking about it.
For the right authority figure -- male or female -- she is sweet and affectionate. They may see an entirely different side of her, especially once she's in recovery from her anorexia and she's getting control of the racing thoughts and the aggression issues.
Why does she wear so much clothing?
One of the first things that a person is likely to notice about Toby is that she wears a lot of clothing. Toby is typically found in a skirt, with at least one pair of pants beneath it (usually sweat pants, but also leggings, and sometimes the two layered together); She wears a shirt layered with either another shirt of a sweater depending on the day and whether she is particularly cold. Most of the time it's a sweater, which she pulls down over her hands. In short, she covers every inch of her body with clothes, often in layers, and usually unseasonably warm.
This stands out to people, who will likely find it odd if they don't understand two things: That she is often cold due to a lack of body fat, and that she layers her clothing in order to make it more difficult for others to access her body. Those who know these things are more apt to react with pity, while those who do not are apt to respond with revulsion.
She looks like Wednesday Addams.
While Toby's face claim portrayed Wednesday Addams in the Addams family movies, this is not the reference I mean to make. Toby herself had black hair and tends to favor black clothing over lighter colors. She has a macabre look much of the time, and people think of her as being "goth" at the best of times or "emo" at the worst of times.
In her effort to wear clothing that will help her to blend into the background or disappear, Toby has inadvertently selected clothes that cause her to stand out among other people her own age, which invites considerable ridicule from others. Those who don't know her well might make the mistake of calling her by the Wednesday Addams name, but this is not something that I would recommend doing -- and you won't do it more than once.
Either way, the first impression that many get from her -- especially when she is forced out of her layers and layers of clothing, is that she is a goth kid or obsessed with death and vampires.
Does she look like that on purpose?
Perhaps the most intelligent response to Toby is the question of whether she chooses to look the way that she does intentionally. She has almost no fashion sense at all in spite of having gone to school with other students her own age, and she doesn't know what is and is not popular. Instead, she dresses either for comfort or security (or sometimes both) and the clothing that she wears makes her feel safer than the clothing which is often prescribed by society.
So the simple answer to this question is that no, she doesn't dress like this on purpose. People are still going to make their judgments of the way that she looks, however, and kids can be cruel. Adults can be as well, and both age groups are apt to wonder what's going on in her head that she takes so little pride in her personal appearance.
It could be noted that those willing to help her to learn what is fashionable and what is not might be surprised by how quickly she's willing to adapt for the sake of blending in.
Did you know that a twelve year old painted that?
Most strangers who have heard about Toby will "know" her through her profile on the site where she sells her artwork. Her profile picture is not a photograph of herself (as she is under eighteen years old), and the profile offers few details on who she is. Instead, it lists the different genres of art that she produces and talks a bit about how she uses artwork as a storytelling medium. However, the majority of collectors will at some point discover that she is, in fact, a child under the age of eighteen, and most of these will be impressed with her capabilities.
People are generally impressed by Toby's capabilities given her age and general lack of training. While she has had some formal artistic training, it has been limited, and the people who collect her art are learning increasingly who she is as an artist. Though she deals in fantasy themes, she does so in a mature manner that defies her age. These paintings tell a story, and they aren't some quickly airbrushed painting of a unicorn on a screen.
I'm not interested in a child that old. I'm looking for a child who will actually love me.
In addition to the people who frequent the art dealing site where she sells her artwork, the other means that people have of getting to know Toby without meeting her is via any one of the adoption network sites that has her picture on it. There is a tremendous push from the state to adopt out children who are in foster care in order to obtain additional federal funds from the government to keep the programs going. As much as parents might not want to adopt her, the state wants to see her get adopted.
It has been the story of Toby's life that most adopters simply overlook her because she is so much older than what they are looking for in a child. Adoption in this sense can be a lot like Tinder, and for Toby, all but two prospective parents have swiped left. The two who swiped right later withdrew their offer, or nothing came of it. She is just another overaged undesirable child in the foster care system.
Isn't she the one whose father was arrested for child pornography? That's pretty serious!
Finally, some people will know Toby's father. While most won't make this kind of connection (and it's not something that she generally talks about openly, those who do are apt to instantly feel a sense of sympathy for her. (It's undeniable that the less mature people in this category might also say that she "asked for it" as well.)
Those who feel this way about Toby are apt to discover that their sympathy and pity is unwanted or misplaced. She dislikes being told that people feel bad for her because of the things that she's been through, and if she is pressed, she will call herself a whore. She finds people like this disagreeable and she dislikes having her story known at all. Even the staff members who know what she's been through make her feel undesirable and therefore crazy. She will lash out if this comes up.
You really have to look past the angst to see who she really is.
Toby's walls are a mile high. She acts out as a result of malnutrition (lack of key nutrients can cause hormonal imbalances that might make a person lash out at others, plus hunger does some crazy things to people) and in order to keep people at an arm's length. While she's far from shy and doesn't tend to hide from people, Toby's not a pleasant person most of the time. The best people in her life are the ones who are able to look past that and see the hurt, frightened little girl inside of the raging tiger waiting to pounce.
One of the things that makes these people the best is that they will point out that there is good in her if you are willing to look deep enough. Patience isn't necessary: It might not take time, just the ability to be empathetic and to look deeply and connect to another person. Her close friends will be the first to tell you that Toby's mostly bark and little bite.
I feel like I'm walking on eggshells around her a lot of the time.
On the opposite side of this is the fact that Toby is sensitive. She becomes easily upset by things that a lot of the people in her life feel shouldn't upset her at all, and they sometimes feel like they can't say anything around her without setting her off. Don't mention her weight; Don't mention her past; Don't mention her clothing; Don't mention her complexion or her hair. The list of things not to say is a mile long, and it is frustrating for her friends to have to put up with this.
Many will decide that it's not worth it -- and that's okay! The ones who have made this decision will likely warn off the ones who would like to be her friend. This is where patience comes into play. Each person has had to make his or her own decision about Toby, and while there are some who see the great side of her that is loving and sweet, the majority of people are apt to feel that they are going to get their head bitten off if they say "boo."
Don't get too close. She gets clingy if you do.
The final group of friend-types are annoyed for an entirely different reason. Toby tends to play the "push you, pull me" game. She wants people to notice her and recognize that she's hurting, but she doesn't want to open up about what's bothering her. Then, once she does open up, she expects undying, blind loyalty to her no matter what happens. In an effort to "earn" this loyalty (because everything in her life previously -- including food -- has had to be earned), she will force herself on her friends.
This is annoying to most people, who by this point mostly just want her to shove off and cling to somebody else. At the same time, these people often wind up with a special bond with one another: The "I hate Toby club." They are her friends, or were her friends, but have become so frustrated with this poor behavior that they don't want to put up with her any more.
She's only good for one thing, filthy little piece of shit.
Toby's biological father loved her once upon a time, but his mind got twisted until she was nothing but a tool. He blamed Toby for her mother's death (though Toby had nothing to do with the aneurysm that killed her mother) and he was never quite able to let go of it. When he looked at her, he no longer saw the little girl who had cuddled with him and Lily on the couch: He saw only the thing that she had become, and he blamed her for the acts that his friends paid him to have her commit.
In short, he never took responsibility for the abuse that he inflicted on Toby and has always treated it as though it was somehow her fault, as though she had asked for the men to do those horrible things to her. He believes that she sabotaged her own body to make it more womanly, and in short is a deeply disturbed man who struggles to see Toby as she really is.
Girls like her are better of not even being born.
This one's a mixed bag, as there are two groups of people who often say this about Toby. The first group is those who know what she's been through, and believe that it is better for her not to have been born than to have suffered what her father put her through. They are the foster parents who cared for her but couldn't keep her for a number of reasons.
On the other hand there are those foster parents who believe that she was born bad and that the world would have been a better place if Toby Andrews had never been born into it. It's not so much that she would have been better off not being born, but that the world would have been a better place if she'd never come into it in the first place.
She had a tough break, but every kid deserves somebody who wants them.
In the not so distant future, Toby is going to get adopted by a certain Lochlann Grange -- and his girlfriend, Joanna Aaronson. Both of them, along with Loch's adoptive father Tyler, see Toby as she truly is. A wounded person who is just doing her best to continue to survive, even if that means pushing everybody else away. The fact that she has gone this long without being adopted is astonishing to them, even if they understand the tricks that her father played with the system.
These are the people who want Toby. Because of who she is, and because of how long she has fought within the system to find somebody who truly wants her regardless of her age and what she is or is not willing to do for them. They see the scared kid who is crying for someone to offer her structure and stability -- and most of all, who will make her eat.
God, she's so sensitive. Can't she take a joke?
First of all, it bears mentioning that Toby views the entire world as rivals. Everybody she comes into contact with is a potential rival, but the biggest rivalry is with the other foster children who she meets. Each of them is a rival for the attention of potential adopters.
Foster care rivals in particular are apt to see Toby as sensitive to their jibes and their "jokes" (though most don't like the way that she pokes back at them either, so this door does swing both ways). If somebody really does get to Toby and pokes at the sore spots in her emotional systems, she is quick to tear up and withdraw from the person who has hurt her, and it can be difficult to get her back into a group. This is annoying to people who are in a similar situation to what she is but who handle it better.
She's such a fake. Everybody makes a big deal out of what she can do, but she's no better than the rest of us.
The truth is that Toby has few rivals in the art world. Certainly there are better and more experienced artists, but Toby is a rare artist for her age. Some of her competition or rivals in the online art world have become obsessed with discrediting her and proving that she isn't who she says that she is. When compared to artists much older than she is, it's easy to see that she is equal to -- or perhaps even not as good as -- the competition. It's her age that sets her apart from them.
These people are jealous of her. Her popularity comes in large part from the age that she is rumored to be. Though her own profile doesn't state that she is young word has gotten out that she is a young teenager who has been producing these paintings since she was nine years old, and her rivals are insecure and believe that they must discredit her in order to gain recognition for themselves.
I don't get why everybody thinks she's so special. She's just another foster kid.
A lot of people are jealous of Toby for a number of reasons. Not only does she get recognition for her art work, but she tends to get a lot of attention from people who take care of her (that they don't get). In the eyes of many, she's "just another foster kid" who doesn't deserve anything different or better than other foster kids. They see somebody who has outlived her opportunity to be adopted and who therefore shouldn't get to come before they do.
She's spent most of her life fighting with the way that people see her as just some kid who has come and gone through foster homes since she was ten years old. It doesn't matter where those people come from: Whether they are people who were or are in foster care themselves, or if they are people who have judgment of foster kids.
Most people don't know Toby's story. She's not secretive about it, but she's also not open about it, so most people aren't aware of what she's been through. Those who do know, however, can hit her where it counts if they call her a "whore." This comes most often from other girls -- one of the reasons that she doesn't like female authority figures -- and Toby has learned to resent these people.
People who think this about Toby are aggressors. She's often the aggressive party in hostile relationships, but some people know just how and where to hurt her and they hit her just as hard as they can -- by using the truth to punch holes in her story and to cause the most damage to her psyche that they can.
She's such a bitch. What the heck is her problem?
Toby is capable of finding the sore spots and the chinks in any person's armor, then hitting those exact places until the person she is poking at is entirely and utterly shattered and destroyed. It's not a good trait, and therefore the assessment of those people who believe that she's a bitch isn't too far from the truth -- at least not based on perceptions alone.
They see her as a person who is willing to do anything to obtain power, no matter how much it hurts another person for her to do so. This group of people perceive Toby as being entirely unfeeling, and they often don't see the way that she's been hurt as well. It shouldn't matter to them what she's been through, especially considering how mean she can be to them.
Why does she think it's okay to pick on little kids?
One of the worst habits that Toby has is pushing smaller children away and aside. She's seen them get adopted ahead of her too many times and she earnestly believes that she has never been adopted (and that she's been sent back to her father so many times) because of them. Note that she doesn't feel that it's because she's no longer adorable and young, but that they are somehow intentionally responsible for the fact that she never got adopted.
It makes a lot of people angry that she exhibits this behavior. To them, it looks as though Toby is blindly abusing and picking on younger children, and few people stop to pick apart why this might be. (For example, she was abused as a child and therefore she learned to abuse others.) People who see this in Toby often have strong distasteful feelings toward her.
She doesn't get any excuses. I don't care what she's been through.
In an environment where the adults genuinely care about the students, Toby is the sort of student who does stand out. She's been through hell and back again and she's dealing with her issues in unhealthy ways. People notice Toby. And of course the people who lead her group and the ranch know what she's been through, as well.
Her authorities are tired of hearing excuses for her though. She's not often the one making them, but they are absolutely sick to death of hearing people say that they ought to cut her slack because of this or that. At the end of the day Toby is a student like any other and she needs to get with the program so that she can start to show some real improvement and make a life for herself.
She has a reputation for a bad attitude, so why is she so cooperative?
People on the ranch know Toby for her sour attitude, particularly toward other foster kids and female authority figures. What a lot of people don't see is that she has been taught throughout a lifetime that she must submit to authority. The people most familiar with the bad attitude have likely never seen her in a situation where she is asked to obey -- because she's all too quick to do things that she's told, even when they aren't healthy for her.
Some authority figures may be tempted to use this against her (in a way) by telling her to do things that they don't believe that she'll be willing to do. This is a means of testing her obedience and behavior, but she will nearly always cooperate, causing potential for harm to herself and others if the authority person isn't careful.
She chooses all the wrong times to resist me.
Group leaders and ranch leaders are frustrated by the fact that while Toby is typically cooperative and generally obedient, she will choose odd moments to resist the authority of the important people on the ranch. It often seems that most days she's fine, and then she will snap and decide that she is not only not going to do what they have told her to do, but she is going to resist them with every bit of power and control that she has over her own life.
This is very frustrating because people often get locked into a single pattern of behavior and they are accustomed to her accepting that things simply are this way. Then, one day, she may lash out, yell, scream, or have a fit about something that isn't any different today than it was yesterday. This throws a lot of authorities off. In the past it has resulted in beatings -- not an option on the ranch while she is under its authority.
She really surprised me with her willingness to work.
Toby is a hard worker, but her attitude often gets in the way of her relationships. Partners and the people in her group are often surprised to find that she is cooperative and that she pulls her weight when working on any kind of group project. She never intentionally lags and she is far from lazy. No matter what they think of her in any other situation, they will find her a good partner to work with because of how hard she works.
This is startling considering that she can be resistant to social situations, doesn't get along well with a lot of people (in spite of being extroverted) and the general attitude that people seem to have toward her as well.
How can we be friends when we're partnered, but not at any other time?
During the partner project, Toby will work diligently and openly with her peers, but the moment that it's over, she's likely to return to her previous pattern of hostile behavior and not tolerate her group mates or previous partners on whatever the project was.
Some people are likely to be hurt by this and to take it personally, as though she played them and strung them along, made them think that they were friends, and then turned on them. If her enemies think that she's a bitch, partners/former partners probably think even worse of her. These people think she is straight-up mean.
It pisses me off that I can't keep up with her.
Toby is good at pulling her weight, but she's not great at cooperation, and she will often plow ahead with a project without waiting for the rest of the people in her group to catch up with what she's doing. Over the years in foster care she learned to complete tasks quickly in order to leave her time for the things that she really wanted to do, and while she doesn't rush and do a poor job of the task at hand, she does tend to do it fast so that others can't keep up.
This is more than annoying. It's exclusionary and it drives people crazy because they want to be able to be part of whatever the task is and to get credit for it as well. Most of the time other students worry that Toby will wind up getting all of the credit on whatever the project was. While this isn't true, it still makes for hostile feelings toward her.
She's sweeter than most people give her credit for.
Lovers have the opportunity to see Toby more clearly, and surely to see her differently than most people do. She is softer with James than she is with other people, less apt to snap at him and to antagonize him. He's the only man other than her father she's had strong feelings about, and while romance is difficult for her, she will eventually come to love him.
It's hard for him to see what all of the fuss is about. Why do other people see her as an antagonistic, angsty teenager when she gives him the best of herself? With James she's sweet and cooperative, though she demands that he respect her boundaries (and he does, though of course like most boys his age he wants more from her).
I wish she knew how beautiful she is.
One thing that James knows about Toby that few other people do is that she doesn't believe that the body that she's in is the one that she's meant to have. She's not transgender, but she has a lot of dysphoria about her breasts and the curve of her hips. Her mind is locked on the body of a child and she is uncomfortable with the changes that it has undergone since she reached puberty.
Toby has abused her body to the point that it is certainly not beautiful, and it's not the outer beauty that her lover sees in her so much as the potential for this outer beauty and the person who is inside of her, the person who her mother would have raised if she had lived.
How could somebody do those things to her?
As time goes on, the lover of a person sexually abused as a child will eventually grow to resent the person who damaged her. The damage is clear: Toby is sex-repulsed and she hates her body more than she hates nearly anything else on the planet. She doesn't trust herself because she was taught that she was dirty and disgusting. Her lover is the one who can see that these were things that were taken from her by force, and that disgusts him.
He perceives Toby as having been altered by this abuse, and while he recognizes that she might not have become his girlfriend if she had more confidence in herself (a four year age difference at fourteen is significant), he wishes that things had been different for her, even if it would have meant that they were different for him.
I hate myself.
Though Toby tries, most of all she hates herself for everything that she is. The abuse has turned her on herself, and she believes that the world would be a better place without her in it. The only thing that she sees coming from herself that is worthy is her painting, and even then she understands that her subject matter is immature and that one day the appeal of her youth and therefore her paintings will die away, leaving only the burned out husk of what remains.
She has grown, among other things, to believe herself to be inherently bad. This is not just because her father is a bad man herself, but also because she believes that she is soiled, dirty, and bad because of the person who she is. There is no specific evidence of this other than the general way that people treat her, but she believes it earnestly.
This isn't me.
Perhaps the most important thing that Toby thinks about herself is that this is not her. When she looks in the mirror, she not only sees her body as thicker and rounder than it actually is, but she sees a body that should not belong to her. She's not meant to be curvy and to have a mature body. Her father impressed upon her how important it was for her to maintain her pre-pubescent body, and whether this got into her head or she has an actual disorder that gives her the dysphoria, the result is the same.
Toby doesn't see herself when she looks at herself, whether she's looking in the mirror or taking a good look at her behavior and the way that she treats people. It doesn't feel right and it doesn't look right and it all contributes to her disgust for herself.
I'm nothing but a filthy whore.
It has been impressed upon Toby since the day that she entered foster care for the last time that she is nothing but a whore. Anybody who knows her story has told her over and over again that she is nothing at all, and she has come to view herself as entirely worthless except as a tool for sex.
This has shaped the way that she views herself and will probably view herself for the foreseeable future. Her overall sense of self worth is demolished because of the way that she's been treated both by her father and by foster families.
Somebody should have done something sooner.
The most sympathetic people will remember Toby as a person who struggled for too long with an eating disorder which, had it been caught and treated earlier, might not have killed her. If she is to die young, it is most likely that she will die as a result of complications of her anorexia nervosa. Sympathetic folks at her funeral are apt to recognize that someone ought to have done something sooner.
These people are apt to be angry with the crowd that let Toby down by not recognizing the severity of her issues, and they are likely to be disappointed in the system that didn't act when it should have acted -- and which didn't protect her from her father when she most needed that protection.
She made a lot of poor choices.
On the other hand, some people are going to realize that Toby had a lot of issues and that she made poor decisions. They may be right, or they may be overlooking the fact that her anorexia was the result of body dysphoria (and dysmorphia). Either way, they are the people who see that she had issues that she attempted to self-treat in all of the wrong ways and that the way that she treated people during her life was problematic.
They may also feel that she brought some of the abuse on herself. Some people do exist in the real world who believe that a rape victim is "asking for it," and those same sorts of people may believe that Toby somehow invited the treatment that her father gave her.
Nobody's going to miss her.
Toby pissed off a lot of people during her lifetime, and there will be a few who believe that she's not worth mourning and that she will not be missed. These are the same sorts of people who think of foster children as being sub-human of course, and that's their reason for believing that she's not worth thinking about in death.
These people are jerks, pure and simple.
I've been writing for Toby for more than twenty-five years now. She first cropped up in my writings when i was about twelve years old, and she's gone through several iterations. She's been eight, thirteen, fourteen, and (briefly) seventeen, and there have been different backstories associated with her (in one, her biological mother was alive and her father was absent).
She is, without a doubt, the most important headperson who I have. I love her to pieces. She's a remarkable person, a very sweet and sensitive girl who remains emotionally stunted even when she appears to be acting with some maturity. She has been hurt a lot through role play, and not just because she's been adopted several times and then abandoned (things happen). She's been hurt because the story of David is something that actually happened in role play, because somebody I used to role play with decided that he hated her because it was "unrealistic for a foster child to have an eating disorder," and she's been plagiarized by a lot of role players over the years (sometimes even in my own groups).
I love her. If you don't, please just keep it to yourself. I'm serious. This girl is important to me, and even if she's a prodigy (a rare, rare, rare thing), she's inherently flawed -- about as big a jerk as any of my minor females is capable of being.
She's an amazing girl with a ton of potential for a redeeming and redemptive story arc in which she recovers from her eating disorder, but she's still always going to be a jerk with a soft side, and not a softie with a tough side.
Toby met James one day when she attempted to purchase her own pack of cigarettes. He was the clerk at the gas station where she made the attempt, and she managed to fool him for three months into thinking that she was older than she was. By the time that he found out, they had strong feelings for one another. He's not currently in Trader's Bend, but he worries about her, and there is a possibility that he will arrive later on to check on her -- and perhaps stay, as he's old enough to do so on his own at eighteen.
Lily Andrews • Mother
Lily passed away of an aneurysm when Toby was nine years old. She was an intense woman with a real, passionate love for her family. Toby misses her terribly and every day since her mother left has been difficult for her. Now she wears her mother's engagement ring on a chain around her neck -- or did before she came to the ranch and was no long permitted to wear the jewelry that she would ordinarily wear.
Jack Andrews • Father
Toby's relationship with her father is complex. He was a good father to her while her mother was alive, but once Lily passed he became abusive of Toby to the point that he sold her body to his friends for sexual purposes. She believes in him in spite of everything that he's done, and more than anything she wants him to return to the way that he was when her mother was alive. She identifies with him, in spite of his abuse.
Faith Carson • Social Worker
In the last year of Toby's life, Faith has become the only person who she believes that she can completely rely on and trust. This is huge for Toby. She called Faith when her foster father beat her so badly that she needed the hospital, and Faith stayed with her to drive her from North Carolina to Montana, giving them time together to talk about what had happened and what was coming up in the future. This forged a strong relationship -- with an adult woman, no less -- that has helped Toby to see herself and the people in her life differently.
Eleanor Noble • Group Leader
Toby has a surprising amount of respect for Ellie. She's certainly not the first woman not to take anything from Toby, but she's the first one other than Faith who hasn't wavered in her consistency. So far Toby has not been able to pull anything over on Ellie at all and she's learned that she can trust her group leader to maintain her consistency even when Toby makes it difficult for her to do so. Though she doesn't love her group leader, she's learned to respect her and to keep herself in line when Ellie's around.
Blake Gilbert • Group-Mate
Blake and Toby could be friends if Blake was more consistent and less erratic. Toby herself can be erratic, but when other people are inconsistent it frightens her, and he's a bit too free with his hands. She's consistently torn between liking him for his sweetness and fearing him because he's so hands-on and he touches her whens he doesn't want to be touched. She's not always nice to Blake, but for some reason he's always nice to her.
Esmeralda Correa • Group-Mate
Like many of the people on the ranch, Esme scares Toby. Her behavior is consistent, but bold, and her energy higher than what Toby is accustomed to, and therefore it strikes Toby as erratic and terrifying. On the other hand, she trusts the fact that Esme is bold enough and fearless enough to face the things that have happened to her and to say that they will never happen again. In some ways she'd like to be like Esme.
Matthew Strider • Group-Mate
Among other things, Mattie is also in Toby's eating disorders group. He is another anorexia sufferer, and his disorder is different from her own. At the same time, he's been through some of the same things that she has. Toby's curious about Matthew, but she's also distrustful of him. He likes to talk about the Bible and God, and that makes Toby anxious, a she practices an entirely different set of beliefs. These two are right on the edge of a good, strong friendship, but they aren't there yet.
One of the daily routines in foster care was the made bed. There was never a home in which Toby lived where she was not required to make the bed "in case a social worker showed up" and so she still makes her bed every morning, every single day. If she for some reason messes it up during the day she will go back to fix it again so that it's neat and tidy by the time that it's time to settle down for the night. She also tends to opt for clean sheets whenever she can, as she herself never feels quite clean.
Before every meal, Toby goes through a process of mental preparation. It's a sort of meditation during which she works hard to remind herself that there is nothing that she can do about this and that if she doesn't do what she's supposed to do, they will "take her horse away" (essentially, ground her until she is eating again). Consuming food is terrifying for Toby and therefore she has to spend some time "psyching herself up" for eating every meal. She does this before every single meal.
Due to her difficulty with reading and her overall segregation from any real community, Toby has learned religion on her own. Even so, she spends some time every evening in the moonlight praying to the goddess who she believes has protected her since she found paganism. She credits the goddess for sending Faith to her to help her to get through the worst of her life, and she believes that it is the goddess who has helped her to accomplish what she has. Though she struggles with the names, as there is no reading, it is The Morrigan who has been an active support in Toby's life.
Layers and Layers (of Clothes)
Toby always wears several layers of clothing. She prefers long skirts over jeans and will fight anyone who tries to get her to change out of them. This is in part because she has always been given dresses and skirts to wear. Beneath them she will wear the required clothing, however, right down to wearing jeans beneath a dress or a skirt. Under the jeans she often has a pair of tights or leggings, then her regular underwear. The same goes for her tops -- she wears a bra, a t-shirt, and then another shirt over that, often layered with another sweater or sweat shirt. This makes it harder for anyone wanting to touch her skin to get to it and protects her from an on-the-fly beating. She's not gotten over her abuse at all.
Inappropriate Dress (for the Weather)
In addition to wearing layers, Toby often wears clothes that are too bulky or warm for the hot weather. She's nearly constantly cold due to the lack of body fat on her body, so not only does this protect her from being touched when she doesn't want to be touched, but it helps to keep her warmer when she is feeling cold. She'll probably be told to change into something more weather-appropriate, but this will just mean that Toby is going to be cold. It's probably best to let her keep the heavy clothing on so that she can stay warm.
Afraid to Eat
Toby is literally afraid to eat food. This isn't something that a lot of people have seen, even in anorexic students. Meal times involve everything from tears and panic attacks to outright refusal to put the food into her body. It's not the food that she fears, but the calories that may cause weight gain. In the past weight gain has resulted in punishment and ridicule, and she is terrified of the effect the food is going to have on her body. She does want to get better, but her fear of eating is holding her back.
Only Eats Food She Cooks
Truthfully this won't remain true for very long, considering the rules on the ranch, but Toby is much more comfortable eating food that she has prepared than she is eating food that has been prepared by another person. This way she knows what went into the food (and therefore by extension what calories and other nutrients are in the food that she's eating). Being forced to eat food prepared by somebody else is going to make her panic.
An extension of her interest in fantasy themes, Toby enjoys creating historical costumes and wearing them in nearly every setting. She feels safer in these costumes than she does in modern clothing (more underwear, less access to her body), but more than that she loves the way that these costumes look. She's grown good at creating costume designs and then making sewing them together as well.
Though she struggles with both reading and writing, Toby loves to create complex stories to tell other people. Most of these stories are told through the visual medium (painting), but if she has an audience, she enjoys telling them as well. In this setting, they are similar to campfire stories, and she is capable of holding her audience with stories of fantasy and dragons -- but most of all, princesses and horses.
It's not something that she's necessarily great at, but Toby has always enjoyed the game of chess. Her father taught her to play when she was young and it is one of the ways that she has occupied her time throughout the years between her mother's death and the present day. She's not excellent at the game and she loses a lot, but Toby's a good loser and she will frequently take a friend up on the offer of a game of chess in the main lodge.
Cooking • Exceptional
It surprises a lot of people that in spite of her being anorexic, Toby loves food and enjoys cooking. She's also excellent at it. After her mother died, she became the woman of the house, the one who did most of the cooking, and in foster care, she wound up being the one who cared for the other children by cooking their meals. Sure, a lot of it came out of a box, but she learned great cooking by experimentation. Toby prefers to only eat food that she has prepared herself.
Painting • Prodigy
Painting has been a part of her life for as long as Toby can remember. Her mother first gave her the paints and from that time she has done a remarkable job of learning to paint, both through education and through her own ingenuity. Her paintings have sold to the point that she has a bank account in excess of $100k, and she will continue with this pattern as soon as she is able. Her themes are immature, but her technique is virtually flawless.
Finance Management • Good
The fact that Toby has her own business selling her paintings has led Toby to the point that she has had cause to learn how to balance and manage finances. She's great at banking, and she knows how to not only earn money but how to save it as well. She's grown skilled at this and continues to learn more about how to manage the money she has and continue to grow it as well. One day she'd like to have saved enough that she can support herself while continuing her career.
When Toby was very small, her parents used to read her fantasy stories. She loved to sit between them while they read to her from the books, and since then she has developed a deep love of fairy tales. Though she doesn't read, Toby enjoys watching fairy tale movies, and she loves to paint stories based on fairy tales as well. It's her way of creating fan fiction (fan art) and she will always give her rapt attention to a new fairy tale that somebody wants to tell.
Compared to most kids, Toby discovered Harry Potter late in her life. She was ten years old and in foster care for the first time. Harry was a character who she could relate to, and who made sense to her. She connected with him by watching the movies, and she has even put an effort into reading the series as well. It's difficult to slog through them when she has such difficulty reading, but she has discovered that she loves the stories.
Toby has always felt a connection with animals. Horses are her favorite and have been the subject of many of her paintings. She's in love with the animals and has always wanted to learn to ride hunt seat. She loves other animals as well of course (dogs and cats in particular), but horses have always been a distance passion for Toby. Being around them now is a dream come true for her.
Toby has spent most of her life dreaming about horses, and wild horses in particular. Although she loves the idea of riding English, she also dreams of meeting -- and gentling -- a wild horse. With the Mustang Challenge in place, this would be a good time for her to make a dream come true, but that's not what I'm looking for -- and it's not really what she wants.
I would like a story line in which Toby encounters a wild horse -- in the wild -- and forms a pseudo-bond with it. It's not that I want her to gentle this horse (she's not incredible with horses, though she'd love to be); I want her to have the opportunity to form enough of a bond with a horse that she is able to routinely paint a wild horse in its natural habitat.
Obviously this isn't interactive, and I'm always going for interactive with my desired plots. The idea here is for Toby to go around the rules to spend time with the horse. If she can't paint, there's always access to pencils and notebooks so that she can sketch (and then paint what she sketched later on). The purpose of this is not for Toby to get into trouble, but for somebody to notice that there's an incentive here to get her to do what it takes to be permitted to spend this time.
Ideally this thread would take place with an adult female or with a person who is younger than her or for it to be with somebody who has biological parents in their lives so that she can have that interplay of frustration while coming out of it to see that these are also people, and that they aren't all there to hurt her. This points back to an ongoing relationship, but what I'm really looking for is for somebody to catch Toby doing something that she's not supposed to do, but in so doing, discovers that there's more to her reasons for doing so.
A lot of people probably consider Toby to be an odd-ball She fears eating, but she loves to be around food. When she was in foster care, Toby had to learn how to cook well enough to feed her foster siblings, and she learned quite well how to prepare meals with a great deal of creativity. She's not good at reading, so she didn't follow recipes, but discovered the way that foods went together. This started in the days when she was willing to taste her own cooking, and now that's something that has changed.
Now this is something that probably won't happen at first because she's going to have to have some time to get herself into recovery, but I'd love to have a thread when somebody catches Toby doing something that appears to be incredibly out of character. This is an opportunity for somebody to ask Toby about why she enjoys cooking so much if she is terrified of eating the food that is put before her.
Toby has an easier time eating food that she's prepared than she does eating food that somebody else has made for her (since she has more control over the ingredients), and this is an opportunity for someone to discover something important that could wind up helping her.
I would love to have somebody not only catching her raiding the kitchen at a bad time, but it would be wonderful if that person bonded with Toby about the food and the cooking, and especially if they were able to teach her some new techniques and to give her some feedback on her cooking. This could be not just a thread but a series of cooking threads that gives Toby the opportunity to improve her skills and maybe deepen her recovery.
Fight of (for) her Life
This is actually a reprise of a thread that I've done with Toby before and which happened entirely unexpectedly. I'd love to have a repeat of this thread because of what it did developmentally for Toby and because, most of all, it has nothing to do with her art and little to do with her anorexia. It's important to me to have the opportunity to do threads that don't focus on the obvious things.
In this case, I'm looking for another student (preferably female), to beat Toby up. I get that a lot of people won't want to have negative relationships or tough kids who would do the job, but if you're up for the task, the purpose of this thread is to demonstrate Toby's weaknesses. The anorexia has made her quite weak physically, but she also believes that she can hold her own in a fight more than she can.
The original thread left Toby for dead until the next morning when she was found. Obviously if something happens at this severity, it's a throwaway character, but an NPC works just as well if somebody's willing to do the thread and find Toby the next morning. It's significant to me because I enjoy portraying Toby in a weakened state. I know this one's a bit of a stretch, but I'd love to have something like this for her.
Time Zone: GMT-5
Native Language: English
Preferred Word Count: 500+
Likely Triggers: positive adoption language, abortion, miscarriage, needles, graphic, bloody violence. if you tag these, i should be okay!
Limits: Please don't make me chase your character down without discussing it with me first. I'm not going to go into grotesque detail about this, but I have a difficult time with chasing after a character. It's highly stressful for me and having to chase actually ruins the thread (and sometimes the relationship) for me.
Also, I have a soft limit of threads where graphic depictions of sexual abuse are part of the story. if you warn me ahead of time, i might be able to handle it.
When people look at Nick, they tend to see a big dumb bully. For all most people experience of him, they might as well be right. At heart, Nick is a smart, sensitive kid who’s learned to act tough because it keeps him safe, but that’s buried deep enough that plenty of people will never encounter that side of him.
We talked about this, at least in passing, before, but I love the idea of Nick and Toby teaming up to make a fantasy-themed comic. I could imagine the idea coming from Nick, if he puts together that Toby likes fantasy and is a great artist, but we could contrive a way for Toby to find out that Nick writes if that makes more sense.
Nick would be his usual friendly self about it, which is to say that he'd be nice enough to Toby, at least most of the time, but also get prickly about admitting to the project in broader company - he enjoys making it, but he's worried about the impact on his reputation if people find out.
Ellie comes from a particularly tight-knit family in the UK, and when her grandmother died, she took it particularly hard. After embarassing herself and being outed by a girl at her school whom she asked out, she's decided that all people are either going to hurt her deliberately, or she'll get attached and something awful will happen. As a result, she's almost totally detached and the only thing that she'll make much noise for is riding Sonny, usually at a stupid speed!
TW: Mention of anorexiaYeesh.
Whether or not she's wrapped up in her own personal problems, someone with a BMI at sixteen is going to get spotted whether they like it or not - I've seen people like that before and they are scary. As stupid as it sounds, I'd like Ellie to at least try finding a quiet moment to ask TJ her name and if everything's okay - from there it sounds like she'd either be told to take a walk or ignored outright.
Ellie isn't going to be brave enough - or smart enough - to point out that some of the stuff Toby does or thinks is dumb and a bad idea, and on response to hearing that sort of thing she's likely to just smile and nod, or be utterly non-comittal ("Oh? That's nice.") which sounds like it would get on Toby's tits. Let me know.
Ever & TobyEverleigh could recognize Toby's artwork but not know her by name, that's very possible. And having them interact during an art class could work. Toby's mean exterior would be a turn off, though and I think to Everleigh, it was translate into thinking that Toby is a bully. In that case, Ever wouldn't speak to her again after that initial bad experience. I think Ever would consider to be very intimidating.Hit me back!
Ellie comes from a particularly tight-knit family in the UK, and when her grandmother died, she took it particularly hard. After embarassing herself and being outed by a girl at her school whom she asked out, she's decided that all people are either going to hurt her deliberately, or she'll get attached and something awful will happen. As a result, she's almost totally detached and the only thing that she'll make much noise for is riding Sonny, usually at a stupid speed!
There's no way to know unless we try!
Just off the top of my head, a few ideas me and my dog came up with;
- One of Ellie's rules is that she must try to talk to people; I like the idea of Ellie spending ages trying to summon up the strength to say something nice about Apollo if they both happen to be working in the stables around the same time?
- The one I mentioned above; Ellie's concern for the poor kid overrides her sense of self-preservation and she asks if things are alright. To be honest I'd expect this one to explode in her face, which is all the more fun!
- This one would take a bit longer to get around to, and needs a few threads beforehand, but the dog suggested it - Ellie notices that TJ looks like a dead woman walking, and instead of asking her she talks to one of the staff - that's a discussion for another shipper - but eventually TJ somehow manages to hear that someone is asking around about her. If I've read her properly, she will not appreciate that one bit. Exactly what she'd do is your prerogative, but whatever it would be, I'd like to give it a go!
Otter is the brains behind Brook Haven Ranch, which is the culmination of twenty years of roleplay admin experience. She developed Brook Haven in response to a personal need (both hers and River's) to have a safe place to work through some of the emotions brought about from childhood and adolescence. Brook Haven as evolved from there into a rich and complex setting which permits players to examine not only their own lives, but the way that other people live, so that we can better understand not only ourselves, but one another. It is, without a doubt, Otter's favorite playground.
Otter prefers threads with action, that move the plot forward or foster strong relationships between characters. She is not a fan of one-off interactions or most slice-of-life types of threads, and becomes bored with them quickly. Her preference when plotting is a "one-two-three" plot system (plot-reply-thread) and therefore she likes to provide (and receive) strong ideas that will lead to threads. Relationships are wonderful, but she prefers to foster them organically, which means threads with action first.
When she's not roleplaying, Otter loves to knit. Her favorite projects are socks and mitts (or mittens). Small projects suit her best, but she also enjoys knitting scarves and hats to donate to the local juvenile correctional facilities, victims of abuse, and otherwise the needy in the local area where she lives.
She also loves to read. Her favorite books are constantly changing, but she is a constant fan of The Hunger Games. She keeps a notebook (Leuchtreurm) with a list of the books that she's read with notes about who might enjoy them, and Otter loves to give book recommendations (but is pretty sure she's not good at it). She also has a blog that she frequently forgets to update with her book reviews.
Squirt joined Brook Haven after searching for a site focused on teenage growth in a detailed setting. She became a moderator after displaying initiative and interest. She comes with a wealth of experience in the Harry Potter and high school genres.
Every thread she participates in has a distinct purpose: to develop a relationship or further the character’s story. She quickly grows bored with one-off threads or stalled threads. She’s looking to play more antagonistic threads and difficult familial relationships.
In her spare time Squirt plays desktop video games, watches kids movies, fosters cats, and takes naps.
Ben has been a player on Otter and River’s sites for the last two years, and became a staff member on Brook Haven after when it was starting up again. He’s a big fan of both the detailed setting and the complex themes of the site.
Ben likes threads which move the character’s stories forward. Often those are high intensity emotional scenes, but sometimes they’re little moments in an ordinary day where people say the right thing.
Outside of roleplaying, Ben studies and teachers mathematics loves video games.
Hello members and guests! Brook Haven Ranch is now hiring! We are looking to fill positions for Outreach Admin, Events Moderator, and Global Moderator.
These are our criteria for inviting members to our staff:
Applying Member must have a minimum of one character before being invited to staff.
Applying Member must have been active on at least one character for one month before being invited to staff.
Applying Member must be over the age of 21.
Applying Member must have a good grasp of English spelling and grammar.
Applying Member must have demonstrated eagerness to plot with other members by reaching out to new members.
Applying Member must be actively participating in Weekly Encouragements.
Applying Member must demonstrate a presence in the cbox.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the staff, please let an administrator know of your interest. We invite members to join our staff when we feel that they are appropriate for the task.
At the present time, we are seeking an Outreach Admin, Events Moderator, and Global Moderator. Two of these positions are specialized, while a Global Moderator's purpose is to help with claims and to join the staff in reviewing applications for acceptance.
The Outreach Admin is responsible for leading the Outreach team in advertising Brook Haven Ranch on other sites, chatting with guests and new members in the cbox, greeting new members via personal message, and reaching out to members when there is a discipline problem which needs to be resolved. They help manage the Outreach team, which currently consists of one moderator.
The Events Moderator will assist the Events Administrator by creating and managing awards, brainstorming event ideas, and constructing prompts for event roulettes. They will be responsible for encouraging members to engage with events and activities on the site and are expected to participate in all events posted on the site (to lead by example).
We are looking only for outstanding members of this community who can lead by example and help others to see how we wish for things to be done. Our staff produce the best characters, generate the most exciting plots, and pursue excellence at every turn. If you are interested in becoming one of us, please make sure that you meet all criteria, and then inform an admin of your desire to join the staff!