By Kylie Lynn Khalil
8th grade, Twin Creeks Middle School, TX

With lines from "Health Care Providers Are Missing Chances to Help Victims of Sex Trafficking" by Isabella Gomes, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

30,000 dollars
Is what they told me I was worth
100 dollars at a time
Each experience getting worse

I struggled, scratched, and screamed
Only to be beaten down
I lost her voice and spirit
And my smile bled into a frown

Pregnant six times
Against my own will
Cut, bitten, and bruised
My scars are yet to heal

When I finally got out
I felt I never left
The despondency, numbness, and fear
Was too much to digest

I felt like a shell of a person
I didn't know who I was
Fear grabbed me by the hand
And locked me in its jaws

I wasn't sure where to go
I was trained not to tell
But I needed the medication
I'll just say I fell

She came in urgent care
On a Tuesday afternoon
She wouldn't say what's wrong with her
But she needed treatment soon

I saw her cuts and bruises
She said she just fell
Cigarette burn and bite marks
I asked... she wouldn't tell

As she listed all her injuries
The cause ran through my mind
I could tell she was abused
I was trained to know the signs

I let her know she's safe
We could help her if she needed
I told her she could get away
We would make him pay for what he did

She didn't look me in the eyes
She just repeated what she said
"I was being careless and fell,
I must've hit my head"

I decided not to pry
Was it even my place?
I guess I could be wrong
It wouldn't be the first case

I walked in the urgent care
Tuesday at three
I prayed no one would ask
I prayed no one would see

I stood in the waiting room
And signed my name
But doubt ran through my mind
Who would they blame?

Was I being too careless
I guess I'd have to see
I was taken to a room
And asked to have a seat

She asked me "standard" questions
I did my best to lie
I told her that I fell
And then she looked me in the eye

She told me I was safe
A story I heard before
She told me she would help
But I knew those were just words

I couldn't look her in the eyes
I knew I would be crying
I told her I just fell
Would she know that I was lying?

She sighed and wrote a prescription
I guess she believed me
But part of me wished
She could see the real story

Kylie Lynn Khalil is an 8th grade student at Twin Creeks Middle School in Spring, Texas.

Read more winning entries from the 2020 Fighting Words Poetry Contest