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Once a Queen Always a Queen
“Today marks the 47th anniversary of the discovery of Sandra Dunham’s body in Applewood Forest.” Said the Television as I sat on the couch with my Mom.
“Mommy, who’s Sandra Dunham.” I asked
“I think you’re a little too young for that story sweetie.” Mom replied, still staring at the TV.
“I want to know, Mom. I’m old enough.” I stared at her until she sighed and tunred to face me.
“Okay here it goes, On October 6th, 1962 Lakeview High school had their homecoming dance. The Chicago students couldn’t have been more anxious to hear who was their homecoming king and queen. As the principal took the stage to announce the royalty all the kids gathered around the microphone. Homecoming King was William Hurt. He took is crown and stood aside as the students leaned in with wide eyes. The Queen was announced as Sandra Dunham. Her eyes filled with amazement and happiness as she took her place next to William. The crown was just placed on her head and the flowers were at her fingertips when all lights in the gym flashed once, twice, three times, and then black. Silent. No sound for six seconds before the screams came. A loud crash sounded out as a scream was heard louder over everyone else’s shouts. Twelve seconds later the lights flickered back on. Exhales and giggles came from the crowd, but something has wrong. Something was missing. Where’s Sandra? Some people joked about a runaway queen and others called for her. When everyone realised their queen was actually gone panic filled the air. A full search was executed, but no one found her. The only thing left in her place was a trail of blood leading from the stage to the football field. At the turf, the trail of blood continued to the dilapidated storage shed that rested behind the bleachers. The old and creaky door was flapping open in the October wind. The dark entrance was surrounded by scuffed white paint. The blood trail led straight into the shed. Two girls grabbed a flashlight and entered the small hut. They didn’t find Sandra, they found a much more frightening image. The old wooden axe that rested on the shelf was gone. In it’s place were the homecoming queen flowers. They were ripped and chopped to pieces, looking like trash rather than a symbol of a queen.
An investigation opened to bring the lost queen home. The search was on and continued all month. On October 31st, a girl and boy ran into the woods giggling like fools. They had been drinking at the Halloween Party down the street. Their names were Steven Hollis and Linda Hillbury. The drunk teens stumbled as they neared the river. Their giggles were silenced though when they heard a snap! Confused and dazed they peered into the bushes. A scream pierced the air and shook the trees. More kids arrived and in those bushes lay Sandra Dunham. She had the same pink dress as the night of homecoming, but it was torn and ripped. Her shoes were missing. Her hair a matted mess. Her body was beaten and bruised. The officials said she died from a rock she hit her head on when she rolled down the hill. The police never caught the killer and they never opened a trial either. Not enough evidence. Some say that when they are walking home they see a pale girl in the shadows with a pink dress. An axe over her shoulder as she waits to protect the young homecoming queens at lakeview high school.”
The oven timer went off causing mom to stand and prepare the chicken pot pie for dinner. That was the end of the story I was too terrified to think about for many years.
-10 years later-
I found out years after I first heard that story that Sandra was tortured and raped by her captor. The story is very dark and frightening. I try not to think about it often these days. It’s too sad and awful. For some reason though the story is on repeat in my head as I lay asleep on the most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever felt.
“Alice.” I tried to open my eyes, but they were like cement.
“Wake up, honey.” A groan escaped my lips as I squinted my eyes shut. A sharp pain crossed my belly when I tried to sit up. I felt hands helping me ease back to the bed.
“It’s okay, Alice. Nothing can hurt you now.”
Groggily, I opened my eyes and they focused on a familiar face.
“Mom,” I sighed out. Then, I looked around and realised I’m in a hospital room. “Wait, Why am I here? Mom, where am I? What happened?” Panic and fear took over as I began to remove the needles in my arms and the blankets over my body.
“Alice, calm down.” My mom grabbed my hand as the doctor came into the room.
“Alice, my name is Dr. Frey. You came into the hospital from a 911 call two nights ago. You had a stab wound in your stomach and multiple bruises across your body. There was a man lying next to you. Let’s just say he was in worse shape than you were. Do you remember anything from Saturday night?”
As the horrid memories washed over me I layed back down in the bed.
“Oh my god.” Was all I said before knowing that no one would believe me.
The horns of downtown Chicago rang through the air in a frenzy. I was cold from the bitter January air and tired as I walked home from the stupid party I never should have agreed to. Nataschia said it would be so fun, but I barely escaped from the drugs, alcohol, and fraternity boys in time. Ugh, I’m gonna have to call my mom to come pick me up. It’s too cold to walk and I didn’t bring my car. I’ll walk just a few more blocks to Starbucks before I call her. She’s gonna be furious since I’m not supposed to be at a party. As I walked past an alley I heard a crash and a moan.
“Help!” Someone called out
Oh no, someone’s hurt. I rushed into the dark shadows behind the garbage cans to find… nothing. Oh. My heart beat increased a bit as I walked back to the street. As I turned around a fist came flying at my face. The pain spread from my nose, through my skull as I fell to the wet asphalt. Another kick to my stomach made me hit the brick wall. My teeth clashed down on my tongue, drawing blood.
“I saw you at the party and you looked so lovely. Then, you ignored me and left. That flat out pissed me off.” The evil tone was plagued with the stench of alcohol. I barely understood his words though since I was fighting to stay conscious. I turned my head with barely enough strength to see the shoes of my attacker. Red Nike’s. At least I might be able to identify him if I get the chance. Another kick to my knees forced a wheeze from my throat. A shiny object flashed my eyes and I knew instantly that it was a knife. No fight was left in my as I coughed on my own blood. I had to just take it now. I braced myself for the slice by closing my eyes tight. Don’t see, means don’t feel. I was lifted by my attacker and I felt the press of a knife. A sharp jab in my side made my teeth clench in pain. I steadied myself for whatever was going to happen next as tears poured down my cheeks non stop. All of a sudden I felt the tension of another hand being raised in the air. My eyes hurt, I was sealing the tight so hard. I flinched and tried to curl into a ball, but before I felt more pain a manly high pitched scream decorated the air. I dropped to the ground as my captor released me. I looked at the wall to see two shadows. One standing over the other with a long object.
“No, I’m sorry! She wanted help! She wanted-” his scrambled voice was silenced, but I still couldn’t see him. I was too beaten and disorientated. I felt blood staining my jacket, but it wasn’t mine. I looked up just in time to see a girl in a blood splattered pink dress walking into the shadows. Her skin was pale and help a wooden axe that was also covered in blood. She stopped to adjust her crown in the reflection of a puddle. Her blonde hair was windblown and pristine as it rested just below her shoulders. She then grabbed her axe and disappeared into the shadows. A few minutes passed before I heard a woman scream and a man yell “Call 911! I think she’s dead!” I lost consciousness right as I heard the wails of the ambulance.
-Present Day: Hospital Room-
“Mom, you have to believe me. Sandra Dunham saved my life.” I stared at her with wide eyes. The doctor left about ten minutes ago after I told him I blacked out and couldn’t remember the person who saved me. I had just run over the . I knew she didn’t believe me.
“Alice, this man beat you and you think this is some sort of thing to joke about.” She glared at me with tears in her eyes.
She stood from her chair, letting it scrape across the ground as she fled the room. I turned away as my own tears were starting to fall. The door to my room opened and a different person stepped in. I whipped my head to see Nataschia step in the room. She broke into tears, apologising over and over again. In that moment I decided no one was going to know the true story. They’d think I was crazy and I’d be isolated for the rest of my life for being the crazy girl. They would know of the story were my savior would be unknown and never found. That was just easier. After talking to Nataschia for awhile I started to believe the unknown savior story myself. Sandra Dunham. I laughed internally. I’m so weird. Nataschia gave me a gift basket with cookies and get better soon cards.
“This is from the students at Lake View High School. They can’t wait to have their homecoming queen back at school.”
I felt my face pale as the words of my mother replayed in my head. Some say that when they are walking home they see a pale girl in the shadows with a pink dress. An axe over her shoulder as she waits to protect the young homecoming queens at lakeview high school. It was real. No one would believe me, but she’s real. She’ll always be our queen. Here to save and protect us. Once a queen, always a queen.