The fiancé (4/10)
**Trigger warnings still stand: If you’re easily bothered by things such as suicide, rape, child abuse, animal neglect, sex trafficking, narcissist behavior, and maybe some other related topics, you should skip these posts. It’s not my regular happy-go-lucky sort of deal. Previous posts here: (1/10) (2/10) (3/10)**
(In order to protect the daughter of the fiancé, and ONLY her, I am going to use some fake names here.)
Even though Hawg’s fiancé, CoCo, had been living at the uphill property when we moved up at the start of the pandemic, we didn’t meet her until much, much later. Months later.
I expected to meet her sooner since she drove through our property several times a day and her fiancé was literally building our barn. We tried to wave her down several times to say hi and make introductions. She would make a point of staring at her phone or digging around and fiddling with something on the floor of her car if we were outside. ALWAYS avoiding eye contact. Several times I expected that she would stop and say hi but she never even glanced at us. There were times we literally had to step off the road so she could drive through. Even then, no acknowledgement of our existence in any way – eyes straight ahead or distracted. Never a wave. Never a smile. Nothing. It was like she was trying to will us away. It was bizarre.
Her driving was an issue from the day we moved up
I understand this is something I can’t complain about with an access easement but it was not normal. It’s worth noting as a matter of her character. Mostly, she would stop and park at our barn if we weren’t down there. She’d literally hang out at our place while she talked to Hawg, so long as we stayed inside. If we were outside or down at the barn, she would drive on through. Overall, if it was during barn working hours or she had Hawg in the car, she drove reasonably (mostly).
But when they weren’t working, she would barrel through our property SO fast. Upwards of 30-40 mph on a narrow, loose gravel driveway. She didn’t work as she would apparently loose her disability check if she got a job. She was apparently a ‘big gamer’. This, I guess, meant that she would stay up really late, or even all night playing X Box. So she would just speed through our property at all hours day or night. I’d say she usually drove down and back 6-8 times any given day, mostly erratically. In no pattern at all we could get used to.
Her driving really upset James. I constantly tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and would say things like, “She’s a mother, she wouldn’t put a kid in danger, she ‘gets’ it.” Still, we lived kind of on edge any time we’d hear a vehicle. Eventually we met our max. And after we found out she moved her daughter in with a sex offender my ‘she’s a mom, she wont put a kid in danger’ theory flew out the window.
We didn’t have her contact information, we had never even met her before. So we texted Hawg and asked if he could ask her to please slow down. We tried to be cool about it, explaining that the gravel road makes a lot of dust when she speeds though like that but also we’re worried for our people and our pets. We would often walk back and forth between the barn and the tiny house with little kids who don’t see the driveway as a ‘street’. This was way back before we had our mower. It was literally 6-8 foot tall grasses with a narrow swath cut through the middle of it for a loose gravel driveway. There was no chance to stop if something or someone poked out of the grasses at that speed. It was a very scary situation for us, daily.
For about two days she was normal and then went right back to erratic.
Hawg introduced us
It was several months worth of awkward non-interactions before she accidentally didn’t see us at the barn and stopped to hang out with Hawg. When she saw us she immediately tried to get back in her car and leave but Hawg gently forced the introduction.
I tried to say some nice things about how much work they had been doing at their place and how nicely it was all coming together. She complained about how she had to stop taking two baths a day now that they are off grid and how bad it made her back hurt. Every time I would try to find something they were doing well she would forcefully say it wasn’t her doing, ‘she had nothing to do with it’. She seemed to pride herself on how uninvolved she was in everything and it seemed painful for her to have to stand there and talk to us. I felt like I was forcing my kindness on her and that she could not get away fast enough.
To this day it is still one of the strangest ‘first meetings’ I have ever even heard of. Her hate of being in that situation was palpable and uncomfortable for us all. It was so weird but at that point I was just thinking she’s anxious. But jeeze, take a complement, I’m running out of any to give!
I know at times Hawg thought her behavior was weird too, as he made excuses for her about how she was ‘just afraid’ to interact with new people. Later, through many of forceful blow ups with her, I’ve come to not believe this about her at all. She wasn’t anxious to talk to us, she just didn’t want to. We didn’t have a purpose to serve her then, so we essentially didn’t exist. Eventually, we could serve her a purpose and she had no problems interacting then. Every interaction I have had with her, I left feeling ‘icky’. It always seemed like she either hated being there or was working an angle.
Ava, who was 10/11 at that point, caught the bus at the end of our lane. She would walk down really early in the morning and mosey back up every afternoon. We had talked with her near daily for months before we finally met her mother. She would stop by anytime anyone was outside and chat for hours if she was allowed. She would even stop by if we weren’t outside. It never bother me until the pandemic was well underway.
Our families had much different tactics on how to deal with that. We were a mask up and keep your distance crew. They were an ‘same as always, it’s just a cold’ crew. I would gently remind her to keep space and she would just say, “It’s ok, I’m not worried about Covid at all” We had to keep telling her, “But we are!” She would usually just giggle like it was a joke.
We changed to make our meetings outdoors only and stopped allowing her to come inside the tiny house. She regularly ‘forgot’ and did anyway. We taught our kids that she had to stay at least as far as Denver away and they tried their best. I used to giggle because Miles would see her coming and start screaming “6 feet Ava! 6 feet!”
Never once did Coco check in
She had spent WEEKS worth of combined hours with us before I ever so much as met her mom. Hawg would text to make sure she was ok and not bothering us. Or to have us send her up to do her homework or eat dinner. One day when her bus didn’t get home on time it was Hawg who grew concerned for her, not CoCo.
I try really hard not to judge because I’ve never considered myself a great role model when it comes to mom-ing, but I never once saw Coco be motherly to Ava. Not once. I know that different kids need different things and I tend to be on the overbearing side of things. Frankly, her behavior shocked me though. Even when she eventually would talk to us, it was about what a handful Ava was, or how she wouldn’t do this or that, and how she was grounded for whatever, how she had to take away her art supplies again… I only heard bad things or, more usually, nothing at all. She seemed all too happy for Ava to spend her evenings with us.
It was completely weird to have someone else’s kid thrust into our every day life but Ava was a sweet girl. She was talkative and completely extroverted which overwhelmed me. But she was also very kind and respectful. The kids adored her and really liked spending time together. She couldn’t help but talk about all the things she was doing at school and what they were working on up the hill and what animals she was learning about. She was wildly optimistic and, like me, easily entertained with the small things in life. By her accounts she seemed to be living her best life. She was like a bouncing ball of sunshine and a good influence overall. Sometimes I just liked my dark cave, too.
We did notice things
Ava would often say things that were sexual in nature, in passing. Things that were way older than I felt someone her age should know. They had several rounds of puppies up the hill though and I hoped her knowledge base had to do with being a farm girl, and that exposure. I had an inkling it didn’t though. REALLY early on I wondered what situations her mom had placed her in already. But I wondered about the ones BEFORE Hawg.
Ava was an overly touchy person (said as my completely non-touchy and introverted self). I regularly had to remind her that I didn’t like being hugged. She would often just grab me and hang on tight. Even well into the pandemic she would giggle away my request that she not hug me while doing it. I also noticed that if she didn’t hug and kiss Hawg goodbye, her mom would make her. I found that extremely odd behavior, especially with us having found out about his past. Always, it was her mom who gave us cringe feelings.
Over time, Ava, would confide in me about the different situations she’d lived through. She would tell me all about her mom’s ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, which ones she liked and which ones weren’t nice to her. Which ones were physically abusive. She called Hawg ‘dad’ despite her mom and him dating mere months. I got the impression he was the only father figure she had ever liked having. The only one who treated her like a kid. She beamed with pride about all the skills he was teaching her. She questioned our methods of doing things, like planting trees, because ‘that’s not how her dad does it’.
We did find it suspicious and were concerned that a registered offender, who was not supposed to be within 300′ of a school, was able to live with an unrelated minor. We found it even more concerning that his biological daughter, the same age as Ava, was not to have unsupervised visits with him. He was deemed such a threat by her mother. And here Coco is basically giving him full custody of her daughter. It was not something we felt like we could report though. They could have just said he’s not living there and then we would have just made an enemy. Frankly, by her own account, this was the best living situation Ava had ever had, she seemed so happy to be there.
Our moral debate
When we looked at the whole situation, it was Coco who seemed like the threat. Every interaction we’ve ever had just lent further into the theory she is also a tricky person. She was the one putting her daughter in sketchy situations over and over again. Not caring where she was for hours on end until it benefitted her. CoCo almost seemed to use her like a bargaining chip at times. She didn’t know us from anyone but let her daughter spend hours at our place, anytime. She didn’t so much as have my contact information. Nor I, hers. As uncomfortable as it was knowing all the dirty details that they assumed we didn’t know, I didn’t feel that Hawg was Ava’s biggest threat.
My literal worst nightmare since having kids is someone calling CPS on me (I’ve had people threaten that many times because we live in a tiny house). Way back at the point though, we considered calling CPS. We knew the facts of the situation though. Nothing was documented. It was our word against theirs that they even lived there. We were the only witnesses. They were all apparently happy with the arrangement at that point, too. We WERE concerned for Ava. James has regrets about not calling CPS then. I don’t think it would have led anywhere but to a tense relationship, much faster. Especially after seeing how the whole situation unfolded. I believe CoCo had planned much of this from the get-go. We opted to keep things cordial, keep the peace and to keep a watchful eye out for Ava.
Coco is young
She’s also very dramatic. When we found out about Hawg we also googled her. Nothing really came up. And then, one day checking our mail, I saw a package for a name I didn’t recognize. It was her legal name. We’ve since found SEVERAL names she goes by. All pretty Google-able. She IS a tricky person.
Two years before we bought the property, she was married to a woman and living a completely different life. According to Ava, this ex wife was physically abusive. Not to CoCo, but to Ava. She is also the first person Coco contacted to restart a relationship when things fell apart with Hawg.
Coco also considers herself a Pagan witch and shield-maiden. I can’t attest to it but I am fairly sure animal sacrifices were a thing that happened uphill. I think she was 30 when we moved in (a full 18 years younger than Hawg, and a classmate of his oldest daughter). She has a weird relationship with Facebook and prides herself on her emotional highs and lows. The persona she cast online is very happy and bubbly, but in person she lacked any semblance of a personality. She posted things to facebook in jest about how you can always tell her mood by how erratically she’s driving. And she’d add things like ‘So make sure you don’t piss me off!’ She was generally angry a lot, according to her driving.
I had nightmares, constantly about her running over my kids
I have seen that happen in my mind so much that it makes me sick to my stomach. We had asked, and asked, and asked: please help us stay safe and to slow down, at least in between the barn and the tiny house. How we are afraid a family member was going to be hurt. One evening, we were sitting out on the patio BBQing some dinner. I heard Coco coming so I took a quick inventory of our people. The kids were with us dancing to music, the dog was laying in his bed, no sign of the cat. Then we heard a loud crack!
I just knew it was our cat, squishing. I was instantly sick to think about how I had to break this to Hazel, her brand new kitten and her first death to deal with. So, so SICK about it in a split second. James and I run out front and look and Coco is still rolling, much slower down the road. It was clear something happened. She finally came to a stop around the corner and out of sight (or so she thought), got out and checked under her car. We run down to the road hoping to pick up the cat before Hazel sees her.
Thank goodness, it wasn’t the cat!
Coco drove off the road and into the ditch going WAY too fast. She hit the dirt that makes the start of our driveway and left a pretty epic tire impression.
I turned my nausea into anger, found her on Facebook and wrote a message. For the love of anything, I begged her to please, slow down! I told her how I thought she just killed our cat and the ramifications that would have had for all of us. I told her that I really don’t want to have to bury a kid because she was having a bad day some time. Mother to mother I tried to talk about how we were neighbors and how we should look out for each-other to help keep each others families stay safe. I told her I know she suffers from anxiety but this is really important to me because she is the biggest source of anxiety for me every day. I told her all of the hows and whys and that I would like it to stop.
She didn’t apologize
She said that the sun was in her eyes was all and that she just couldn’t see the road very well. Like that was no big deal. Then, she asked me to never speak to her again. I was told that if I had any communicating to do with her it needed to go to Hawg, he will speak to her on my behalf. And then she blocked my account.
I was flabbergasted. How I could endeavor for so long to find a solution to this very serious issue that had been building for MONTHS. Then, have the response to a very vulnerable plea for understanding be a stone wall.
Then it got worse!
From that day forward she made a point to floor her car whenever she got to the property line (about 20 feet outside the front door of the tiny house). Sometimes she would put on a ridiculous display, drive 2 mph through our property and then absolutely floor it at the property line sending dirt and gravel all over our house. She would especially do this if we were outside. Still, somedays she would ignore it completely and speed through the property like it was a freeway. We never knew what to expect with her but she got more erratic, not less, when confronted respectfully.
This was just the beginning. It continued to get so much worse!