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Hidden Tears & Hidden Fears This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Sitting in front of the TV – perhaps a bit too close to it – the girl was playing
video games, her normal routine. When the door opened, she looked up in surprise, eyes widening in alarm when she saw who stood in the open doorway.

“Hey, Dad,” was all she could think of to say, as she stared up at the intimidating man clad in desert camo. He was supposed to be thousands of miles away, overseas. Not here, definitely not now.

“Well, aren’t you going to give me a hug?” the man demanded of the girl and the two boys - her older and younger brothers – who were sitting on the couch behind the girl. With hesitant steps, the children hugged their father.

Life wasn’t always easy for her family and her father didn’t make it any easier for them, so it was no surprise that with the right words and reasons, someone else wormed his way into their lives while the girl’s father was overseas. The young man was staying with them and somehow, her father found out and went on emergency leave to try to save his marriage.

The girl backed away from her father, her nerves on end. “I’ll go tell Mom that you’re here….” She said, quietly, turning to go up the stairs in the old, creaky house.

Her father pulled her back, striding past her, the stairs protesting at the heavy weight of his combat boot clad feet. The children waited, wondering… Then, the pounding began, the heart-wrenching sound of a combat boot forcing its way through a bedroom door. The pounding of the boot echoed that of the fear in the girl’s heart.

Her older brother and she took their little brother, running to hide in the woods, scared of what was happening, terrified by what they feared they would find at home.

The older brother left the younger siblings, going back to the house –to get food, he claimed. The girl waited and waited… but he didn’t come back.

“Maybe he’s at the trail,” she suggested, taking her little brother’s hand and walking up the road to the beginning of a mountain trail. No brother to be found, so they walked back towards the hiding place. As they rounded the bend in the road, they found the father and older brother searching for them. With a sinking feeling, they followed back to the house.

“Is he going to kill us?” her little brother only six years old at the time, asked, a knife twisting in her heart. She hushed him for fear of her father hearing. She was also frightened by the answer, the answer she didn’t know…

When they got home, the only sign of damage was a hole in the bedroom door, but her mom and her mom’s boyfriend were unhurt. The father had claimed to have done something, something bad, and that was the reason the young man had moved in. The girl was the only one who knew if it had happened or not, but she wasn’t sure. All she knew was that she wanted her mother to be happy, not hurt. So, she sat down for a talk more serious than a ten year old should ever have to experience. Decisions were made, decisions that would perhaps leave their mark for many years to come.

You may or may not find a lesson in this story, you may not understand it. Perhaps the lesson, or message, is: you never know what hidden fears or burden someone carries, so be considerate of those around you. When you slam a door or kick the wall in frustration, maybe the girl next to you is fighting tears as the pounding of a combat boot echoes through her mind. Everyone has fears and pain they keep hidden, we can’t see it, but it’s still there.



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