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The Satin Box
To anyone who did not know the full story, I suppose it was just an old piece of junk. To me it was joy and sadness, hope and despair. It would always be my most precious possession. It was a memory in a little box; a memory of the dark and ominous life that I lived for most parts of my young life. The filthy floors, the cobwebbed ceilings and the dusty beds were all that were left in my thoughts. I put all of those memories into a little box; a little box that I left in the most inactive part of my mind. I told myself I would never dare open it and remember the torment I went through. It was like my own Pandora’s Box; containing the sickening days which I spent hiding up in the attic, as far away from Miss Rucko as possible. But when I came out in the afternoons, she was always waiting for me; standing there with her arms crossed across her chest and an expression that could kill even the toughest of souls. She was the wicked owner of that orphanage from hell; the one that I wanted so badly to part with.
Miss Rucko resembled a hawk; always looking down upon everyone and making sure that everyone looked up at her. She was the devil in disguise, what with her black hair and dark, almost pitch black eyes. She wore her curly hair in a tight bun, which suited her tight glare perfectly, and wore a hideously thick woven skirt which made her look a bit stiff, if not strict. Truth be told, Miss Hilda Rucko was a witch; ready to swallow all of the children up.
She frightened me; and the children that she beat daily.
But we were lucky that the orphanage was purchased by that nice man, the one who renovated and brought out the best of it. It became brighter, more welcoming and the nice man didn’t beat up any children. In fact, everything from then on became just the opposite of the previous ownership. And that nice man renamed it also. It went from being known as ‘Hilda’s Orphanage’ to ‘Bright-Side Children’s Home’.
Mr Henry McCullough was a shy, slightly greying man. He smiled at every child as he passed them and casually strolled around the orphanage just so he could have someone to talk to. He bore a slight resemblance to the KFC colonel; the hair, beard and the little glasses that he wore all made him look like a man who lived with chickens. But what he had, which Miss Rucko did not, was the heart and the soul.
I also remember there being a change in the other children when Mr Henry came along. They started to talk. Previously, they were quiet and introverted rather than loquacious and playful. The days of Henry’s ownership allowed the children to open up to eachother, get to know eachother better, and the number of children adopted by willing foster parents grew immensely. I could just see the smiles on both children and parents’ faces as they held each others hands, ready and eager to begin their new lives together.
And practically every time, I would wave a jealous goodbye to each of my new friends as they departed. Henry stated that every time someone would take a child from the orphanage, my time would inch forward.
That wasn’t true.
I was always there, even when new children piled into the orphanage. Kelly Smith stayed as well, but soon her time came too and she promised to call me every weekend to find out how my life was going. Well, she did for about two weeks and then she stopped; I guessed that her life just got more involved from then on.
On my 16th birthday, I spent the entire day out in the town. It was around 8pm when I began to return to the orphanage. Along the way I encountered some men, whom seemed to take quite an interest in me. I was shocked at their appearances; ripped jeans, faces covered in mud as well as estranged looks among them. I was frightened of these men, more frightened than I had been of Hilda Rucko, the violent and angry previous owner and carer of the orphanage and its occupants. They looked carefully at me, faces turned upwards towards my face, and murderous glares were shared as they inched closer towards the stunned me.
I couldn’t move.
As much as these men frightened me, my complete horror did not allow me to budge an inch. It seemed to encourage them, that is, my stillness did. They grabbed my arm and pulled me towards them with such a terrible force that I was falling onto the road far more quickly than I would have liked. I screamed, my first act of terror during that night, and luckily the orphanage was not too far from where I was, for Henry was searching for me and heard my cries for help. When he found me, I could effortlessly picture what I looked like laying on the cold, damp street with bruises and cuts across cheekbones, legs and abdomen. He was almost in tears at the sight of me.
I wept quite a lot that night, too.
Henry spent the night in the bathroom with me; washing my back and limbs carefully with warm water. He cared so much for the children of the Bright-Side Children’s Home that our love for him could not match it. I was afraid to sleep alone that night. Henry pulled up a camp bed and spent the night watching over me. It wasn’t long before dreams possessed my mind.
It was a sad time when Henry passed away. Every child within the orphanage wept for days. It was a house of despair, sadness and isolation.
The funeral was slow. Some of us, including me, read some poems out to the crowd and mentioned the amazing love he held for each of us. “He was lovely,” I sniffled, with tear streamed eyes. “He saved my life. Nothing and no-one in the world matches up to him.” I will never part with him, I added in my head.
After brief sobs, hugs and condolences, I was back within the four walls of the Bright-Side Children’s Home. That’s when I met Andre and Margaret; a couple who were looking for a child to call their own. They thought my speech at the funeral was moving and incredibly well composed. I smiled then, knowing what was to come next. They asked if I would like to move in with them and I agreed entirely. That night I visited my attic; the one that I spent most of my saddened life in. I found a little box; a blue, satin box. I opened it and placed the memories of my past inside it. Closing it, I wished that I would never remember it. I hid it in a secret spot; somewhere no-one would ever find it and uncover my secrets.
I left the attic with an empty mind.
That night everything changed. That night love became apparent. That night I slept peacefully. That night… I said goodbye to Henry.