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The young girl looked up at her mother with sore, sad eyes. She knew what was coming. It was the exact same thing that happened every day. She was only 5 but she realized that what her mother and step-father were doing to her did not happen to every child. She first realized this when one day during kindergarten she asked her friend how hard she was hit last night. Her little friend ran off crying and the young girl was sent to the principal’s office. She got extra punishment that night.
“Don’t you dare talk about me or your mother again in school!” Her step-dad had shouted while pulling out the belt.
She didn’t get any supper that night. The next morning she started dressing for school while her stomach rumbled. Her mother heard and wasn’t happy.
“Are you hungry, sweetie? Well you can eat as soon as you earn it! You can’t expect to live in my house for free.”
Her mom wasn’t the only one that heard her stomach. The teacher heard too.
“Did you have breakfast this morning?” She asked the little girl during class when her tummy rumbled so loud everyone turned around and stared.
“I had waffles for breakfast. My mommy made them with extra syrup just for her princess. That’s me.” A spoiled girl blurted out.
This started a large outburst in the classroom and soon all the kids were talking about the yummy breakfast they had had.
This made the little girls stomach grumble even louder. The teacher looked concerned and asked the assistant teacher to take over while she led the young girl to the hall.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart? We haven’t been looking very happy today, have we?” she commented.
The little girl mumbled no.
“Well, then you can tell me all about it over some breakfast.” The teacher said while leading the girl into the teachers’ lounge.
She grabbed a giant chocolate muffin and watched the girl devour it in a couple of minutes.
“Honey, are you happy at home?”
The girl kept her mouth shut, remembering what her step-dad had told her about not talking about her family life at school.
“Do your parents shout at you?” the teacher insisted.
The girl shrugged her petite shoulders slightly while taking smaller bites of her muffin.
“You can tell me anything, honey. I promise it’ll be alright.”
The girl sat there thinking.
“Promise?” she asked.
“I Promise.” Her teacher replied.
“My daddy hit me on my arm last night. Well, he’s not my real daddy but my mom says I have to call him that. Please don’t tell anyone, Miss.”
The teacher rolled up the girl’s sleeves to reveal several bruises. She lightly pressed her hand against an especially big, blue bruise and wasn’t surprised when the girl moaned in pain.
The teacher knew what she had to do. The bruises were enough to prove she was being abused at home. She knew the pain she felt because she herself had been abused when she was a child. A plan was already forming in her mind by the time school was out. She warned the girl not to say anything to her parents about their little talk as her mom pulled up in the school parking lot to take her home.
Even well thought out plans don’t always work, for when the teacher arrived at the girls house that night nobody answered the door. The shades were pulled and all the windows were locked. She wondered if this was the wrong address but when she checked the school information book the address was the exact same. The teacher knocked on the door several time but of course there was no answer. She knocked, and knocked, and knocked, and knocked but no sound replied to her constant banging.
She sat there debating whether to call the police. She knew that there was no solid evidence that the girl was being abused. For all she knew, the bruise could have come from falling on the playground. She also knew that the little girl did not feel comfortable enough to tell the police what she had told the younger teacher earlier that day. No, this was something she had to do alone.
With that last thought she stood up and started looking for a back gate. If she could just get into the back yard she could possibly see or hear something from inside the house.
She unlocked the gate latch and almost tripped over several bricks that were in her way. The yard was growing over with weeds and it was almost impossible for the thin teacher to trek through. She decided to search for a back door, but could not find a single one. She walked slowly around the house again and noticed that there were no windows on the back of the house. Not only that, but the house was a different color. It was darker, and more eerie.
A chill shot through her spine. The weather was different as well, it was cold and there seemed to be dew on the weeds that she hadn’t noticed before. The teacher pulled her thin spring sweater tighter around herself and decided that she should head home. She told herself the little girl must have just gone out for a while and nobody was home. Call it whatever you like, but this teacher knew that the girl was home and in grave danger.
So with a sinking feeling in her heart that only comes with the face of recognition, the school teacher decided to go back to get the police. She felt very weak suddenly and wanted to get out of that yard as soon as possible and leave this situation to the authorities. She felt extremely stupid for trying to take matters into her own hands. After all, she was only a kindergarten teacher. How much could she do?
She dragged her slow, weary legs toward the side of the house where the gate was. Or so she thought, for as she looked she could not find the familiar break in the fence that marked the beginning of a gate. She grew rapidly alarmed and hurried to the other side of the house. She must have been mistaken; the gate had to be on that side.
But it wasn’t. Neither was it on the other side of the yard. Or anywhere else, in that case. At that moment the fence seemed to be growing. Higher, higher, reaching up so high she could hardly see the sky. She started gasping for air in panic. This could not be happening. She had to be hallucinating! Yes, of course, that was it. She was very tired. She had to find somewhere to sleep. She trudged slowing around the yard, as if stuck in a dream. Every time she came near a fence, it would grow creating more distance between her and the outside world.
Just as the teacher was going to give up on any chance of survival, she noticed a small wooden shed. It looked old, like it was built twenty years ago. She walked towards it and slowly and cautiously pulled open the rusted latch. As soon as it was unlocked the door let out a breath of air and cracked open an inch.
The woman wearily opened the door. There was a small sleeping cot and a lantern left in there, almost as if someone knew she was coming.
She climbed into the bed and fell into a deep sleep. She was awakened twelve hours later by a crack on the window. The teacher lifted her aching body out of the bed and peaked out.
What she saw was not surprising. She almost expected it after what she went through the night before.
The little girl who was the reason for the teachers suffering was standing outside, shivering. She had cuts and bruises all over her face and seemed stunned.
The teacher’s heart collapsed in her chest. She had to help this girl, even if it was the last good thing she did in this terrifying world. She ran to the door and tried to open it but it was stuck with age. She tugged and pulled and after about five minutes of struggle it finally creaked open.
She ran to the side of the shed where she saw the little girl and saw nothing. No little girl, no blood, nothing.
That’s when she lost it. She was shaking uncontrollably and crying those sad, audible sobs that seem to build up from the bottom of her chest. She felt as if all hope was gone and she was going to be stuck in that yard forever. That is until she looked up. For, unknowingly to her, during the night the gate had reappeared.
She started jogging slowly to the gate, but as she came closer her jog turned into a run and then a sprint. She unlatched the old rusty lock and headed directly to her car. It was cold from the night before but she didn’t care because she was finally, undeniably safe.
She drove to the closest police station as fast as she could. Just as she was pulling into the driveway, she knew no one would believe her. She hardly believed it herself. She knew what she saw though. It was not a dream. It was far too real for a mere dream.
It was clear to her now that what she needed wasn’t a policeman, but proof that the night before had happened. She had to go to the school. She had to check something right away.
The teacher drove the five mile drive to the school house and pulled up in an empty parking space.
It was a Saturday so only the janitor would be there. She ran into the hallway and took giant strides to the kindergarten classroom. She frantically started looking through her file cabinet and searched through the different students folders. Her heavy eyes fell on the empty spot where the little girl’s folder should have been. The file cabinet had been locked and she was the only one who had a key.
She pulled open her desk drawer to reveal a roll sheet with the same results.
The teacher slid to the floor next to her desk. The little girl had been removed. She had never even existed, apart from a slight memory of one day twenty-two long years ago.