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My Little Angel
After the rain that day, she went outside and gathered all the branches. They would have to be dried before she could use them in the fire. It was evening time, and she was gathering wood just like she did the last night, and just like she knew she would do the next night. It was always the same routine; go to work, come home, take a nap, eat dinner, try to somehow relax, and go to sleep. She was fighting depression, and the only thing keeping her here was her little seven year old girl. Everything reminded her of her precious daughter, the pictures, her class quilt, and her little shoes. How could someone take away the only thing that mattered in a person’s life? All she wanted was her little angel, just the two of them.
It had been a nasty divorce, lasting almost two years. The custody battle was brutal as well. She was only allowed to see her little Cecilia one weekend every two weeks. She couldn't understand how they could take away her little girl, separate a mother from her child. But they had, and she just had to deal with it. She was determined to not lose her little girl again, though.
She had spent hours making sure everything was perfect. There was a small sky light right above the bed, where she had folded the class quilt nicely across. The room was small and a little dark, but cozy. Across from the bed, she had set a box of toys, her Barbie house, and a new Barbie jeep just in time for Christmas. That was exactly what she wanted. She had covered the unfinished wooden floors with a flower rug, and the crumbling drywall with pictures. She was proud of the little room, couldn’t wait to show it to her. After admiring the room for a couple more minutes, she laid down for a nap.
The drive to her mother’s house was about an hour and a half. It was way out in the countryside; a little house off of the main road. Her mother always liked to be out of the way, by herself. Except for when she came. She hadn’t seen her mother for almost two months. She made a special arts and crafts project at school for her. It was a wreath with her picture in the middle, and wrapped around the wreath it said, “Merry Christmas, from you little angel.”
On the way out, her father asked, “What would you like for Christmas, honey?”
“I want the Barbie jeep!” she exclaimed.
“Anything elose?” her father asked.
“Hmm, and a teddy bear,” said Cecilia. Just as she said this, they rounded a corner and slowly pulled up to the house. Smoke was crawling out the chimney, and the trees were decorated with Christmas lights. She could tell that her mother had been preparing for her; this was the best the house had ever looked. Cecilia jumped out of the car and ran up the stone walkway. Her father grabbed her arm and gave her a hug.
“Listen, if you need anything or if you’re in trouble, make sure to call me okay?” he said to Cecilia.
“Okay dad, but it’s only mom!” she replied.
Letting her go he said, somewhat to himself, “It’s only mom, she’ll be alright.”
She opened the door, and beheld her beautiful daughter standing before her. She picked her up and swung her around. After waving goodbye to her father, Cecilia walked inside. The inside of the house was nicely decorated, and Cecilia’s favorite part was the spiral staircase inside. There were only two stories, and the upstairs was smaller than it looked on the outside. The main floor had a little family room with a fireplace and a little kitchen. It was an older house, but that made it have a nice worn in feeling. Carmen had been preparing a gourmet dinner all day, including Cecilia’s favorite, honey baked ham. They sat down and talked for two hours about everything they could think of. Everything was going perfectly.
After dinner, the two sat down on the couch and watched the movie Elf together. Cecilia felt at home here with her mother. She seemed better now. Before the divorce, her mother had been, as her father called it, sick. She was either in a very good mood, or yelling and screaming about everything. She didn’t seem happy at all, and increasingly would go to sleep. Sleep seemed like her happy place. But here, she seemed better. She even seemed normal. Carmen carried her to her bedroom, which was right across the hall from the master bedroom. She tucked her in and shut the door. Cecilia noticed something different about the room, maybe that some of her toys were missing. She was too tired to care though, and she drifted into sleep.
She opened her eyes, and jumped out of bed. She ran into her mother’s room, and looked out her window. It had snowed overnight, and the crisp white snow was completely untouched. Cecilia heard it calling her name. She jumped into her mother’s bed, and asked, “Can we play in the snow, please!” Carmen rolled over and looked at her daughter. Cecilia knew her motdidn't’t like being interrupted when she was sleeping, but shcouldn't’t help herself. “I’m sorry mom, if you want to sleep more its okay.”
Carmen took a deep breath and nodded her head saying, “Yes, of course we can. Anything for my little angel.”
They bundled up and ran outside. After three hours of snow ball fights, snow angels, and igloo building, they went inside to warm up. Two cups of chicken noodle soup later, Carmen looked at the clock. It was time for her daily nap. “I’ll turn on some cartoons for you, honey, and I’m going to take my nap. Don’t bother me, okay?”
“Okay, mom, have a good nap,” said Cecilia. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. It seemed almost unreal. She sat down on the couch, and eventually fell asleep herself.
After her nap, she walked downstairs into the family room. She looked around, and saw the mess from dinner the last night, and boot tracks on the floor. “Are you kidding me?!” she screamed, “Why can’t you ever help with anything! The kitchen is a mess, the floor is full of dirt, and you’re just sitting there!” She could see the look on her face, she looked scared and helpless. “I’m sorry, forget all that. Just sit down, we can do it later. I don’t want you to be mad at me. Don’t worry my little angel; I want you to want to stay here with me. I’m going back to sleep now.”
When she woke up, her mother had already started cooking dinner. She got up and walked into the kitchen. “It smells good in here,” she said.
“Thank you my little angel,” replied her mother, “I’ll let you know when everything is ready. You can go play!”
“Okay mom!” said Cecilia, running to her room. Once she arrived, she looked in her toy box. She figured out what she noticed the night before, that her Barbie house was gone. She shrugged it off, and started playing with her other toys.
After dinner, the two of them ate peach cobbler and went to sleep.
It was after she had laid down for her nap, but shcouldn't’t wait any longer, she was too eager to show off all her hard work. She walked into the family room. “I have to show you something, follow me,” she said in a very peculiar voice.
“What is it?” she said, confused.
“Come with me, you’ll see soon enough.” She walked over to the couch, where she was watching cartoons, and grabbed her hand. She looked crazed. They walked down the hallway, and at the end of it on the wall was a small door with an old fashioned lock on it. The door was very unnoticeable, it might be assumed to be a laundry chute or something like that. She held up a brass key, and smiled. She opened the small door, ducked down and stepped inside. She motioned for Cecilia to follow. Cecilia stepped inside. Inside there was an old staircase leading up to a small room. She started to imagine what could be up there. Maybe it was their special room to have tea parties and play dress up. Or maybe it was her special room to paint and draw. As she was imagining, her mother was halfway up the stairs, and turned toward her. Cecilia rushed up the stairs. As she approached the top, she looked over the railing.
The room was not what she had imagined at all. It was an attic, old and dusty. Cecilia suddenly felt uneasy.
“Um, what is going on, mommy?” she asked. There was no answer. She continued up the stairs, slowly. “Mom?” she asked again. Still, there was no answer. Her mother turned toward her and pointed at a sign hanging on the opposite wall of the stairs. It looked like it was hung on a door that lead to another room. It was written in fancy cursive. As Cecilia got closer, she could read the sign. It read, “A special room for my special little girl. To Cecilia, from Tina.” Cecilia read it multiple times, getting more and more confused. Her mother just stood there, staring at her. “Mom, who is Tina?” she finally asked.
“It’s me silly. You don’t know your own mother’s name?” she said, as she opened the door, shoved Cecilia inside and shut the door.
She woke up from her nap and walked out into the family room. The T.V. was still on, the kitchen was a mess, and Cecilia wasn’t sitting on the couch like she had been before. “She must have gone to bed early tonight,” though Carmen to herself. She turned off the T.V. and cleaned up the kitchen. It was Saturday night already, and she knew that her little girl would have to go soon. She knew that they had a great time though, and that Cecilia wouldn’t want to leave. “Maybe she will stay,” she thought. She laughed, and shook her head. “That won’t happen,” she said out loud. Hank, Cecilia’s father, wouldn’t let that happen. And Carmen wasn’t about to fight him anymore. He would ruin her life all over again.
She had been crying for hours on end. It was the middle of the night, and it was pitch black. She felt her way into the small bed, and crawled under the quilt. It was her favorite quilt, the one she had made in kindergarten. And now it was the only thing that made her feel safe. The room was tiny, and she had cut her foot on a nail sticking out of the flooring. The scariest thing though, was that she was so confused. What happened to her mother? Why did she call herself Tina? What made her want to throw her daughter in the attic? She didn’t understand what was going on. It was like her mother had turned into a different person. She finally fell asleep, under her favorite quilt.
She woke up with breakfast sitting on a table in the corner of the room. It was her favorite, chocolate chip pancakes and cranberry juice. Also on the table was a note. “Good morning little angel. Do you like your new room? Maybe you can stay here forever. Then I’ll never lose my daughter again.”
At about 4, the doorbell rang. It was Hank. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“What do you mean? I’m here to pick up Cecilia,” he said, confused.
“Your mother came and got her
about an hour ago,” she replied.
“No, she didn’t. What is going on? Can I come inside?” he said, pushing his way inside.
“Hank, stop! You can’t come in. Cecilia isn’t here,” she yelled. Hank stepped back.
“Okay, calm down. We had an agreement, and it is the law now. You have to give her to me. I’m sorry. You will get her soon. I’m sure you two had a great weekend,” he said, trying to calm Carmen down.
“Listen, Hank. You stole my house, you stole my money, and you stole my daughter. And now, I had to go to extreme measures to see my daughter happy,” she said. Hank didn’t know what to say.
“Just let me pick her up, okay?” he said, annoyed.
“No! Get out! I hate you!” she screamed. Hank walked back to his car.
“What is your emergency, sir?”
“She won’t give my daughter back, and she’s crazy. I know something is wrong, I don’t know where my daughter is.”
“Dad! Dad! I’m up here Dad!” she screamed over and over again. She could see the bed of his truck just barely though the slanted sky window. He didn’t hear her. What was she going to do? She saw the Barbie jeep, exactly what she had wanted. It made her cry. She wanted to stay with her mom, but not like this.
All of a sudden, her mother walked in. “Hello honey,” she said. Cecilia just stared at her, crying. “What’s wrong my little angel?” she asked, walking over to the bed and sitting down.
“Why are you doing this to me, mom?” Cecilia choked out.
“Because, honey, I want you to be here with me all the time,” she said, calmly.
“I miss my daddy,” said Cecilia, letting out a huge sob. Her mother grabbed her face and looked at her.
“No, no you don’t. You will never see him again,” she said, and left.
Cecilia felt so helpless. She didn’t want to play, she didn’t want to eat. She just sat and cried.
“Good morning, Carmen,” a strange man said. She sat up and looked around. She was in a small, unfamiliar room. There was a small table with flowers in the corner, with a glass of water and two pills. Sitting next to her was a man, dressed in scrubs. She looked out the door and saw a man being held down by two nurses on a stretcher.
“Where am I?” she asked, scared.
“You are at Pembroke Hospital, ma’am,” he replied, “don’t worry, you are safe and no one will hurt you.”
“Where is Cecilia?” she screamed.
“She is with her father right now,” he replied.
“Let me out! I need my little angel!” she jumped up and tried to run out. Two nurses grabbed her and sat her down. “I just want my daughter,” she said, looking down.
“You can’t see her right now, Carmen,” the man said.
“My name isn’t Carmen,” she said.
“Yes it is. You think you are Tina, but your mind made that up to cope with the fact that you were kidnapping your own daughter. You need to get better Carmen, and then you can see your daughter again,” he said.
He handed her the two pills, and a glass of water. She slowly took them, rocking back and forth in her chair and under her breath she replied, “I’ll find a way to see her, and you can’t stop me.”