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I’m 12 years old, and afraid of my own home. Every time I go home, I get a new bruise. My parents abuse me and my two younger sisters. Layla, my youngest sister, gets the worst of the beatings. I can’t bear to see my little sisters beat like that. I vowed to them, and to myself, that I would get us out of this place.
It’s not even home. It’s like my own personal hell. When my dad makes my mom mad, she takes it out on us. I just stand there and try to put on a brave face for my sisters. I’ve gotten used to the beatings. I’ve gotten them for 12 years now. Sometimes I don’t even feel the pain. I’ve gotten so used to them that i’ve grown numb. That’s not normal for a kid, even if they are abused.
It was a tuesday night. My parents had just gotten in a fight, and my mom barged into our room. She started beating us. Throwing her fists, slapping our faces, and kicking us. She threw me off of my bed and onto the floor. She threw Jessie, my other sister, into the closet. And gave Layla a black eye.
When she finally left our room, I tucked Jessie back into bed and gave Layla ice for her eye. I kissed them both on the forehead, and told them I would see them every night. I would sneak into the house to take care of them. I was going to run away. I told them I would do my best to get them out of here. And then I jumped out the window and ran away.
I ran to the old ball field that was two blocks away from my house. There was a treehouse that my sisters and I had made. I climbed up to it, and pulled out one of the extra blankets we had stashed here. Sometimes we would just run to here to get away from our parents. We had a big trunk that was full of pillows and blankets.
I stayed there for most of the day, only leaving to go to the stream and get some water. I would steal food when I visited my sisters at night. I would always jump through the window in our bedroom. It was always unlocked because they knew I was coming.
My parents never filed a missing persons report. For all I knew, they threw a party when they woke up and I wasn’t there. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
I kept my routine up for about two months. I would have gone longer, but I went back that night. When I jumped through the window, I saw that there was a bed that was empty. And it wasn’t mine. It was Layla’s.
“Where is she?” I frantically looked around the room. Under beds, in the closet, under the desk. But, there was no sign of her. I looked up to see the single tear escape from Jessie’s eye.
She ran into me and wrapped her arms around my waist. She cried so hard that I almost couldn’t understand her when she spoke. “She’s in the hospital. The story is that she fell down the steps and ran into a glass vase. But, Dad beat her so much and then Mom threw the vase at her. She almost died, Misty.” Layla is only seven years old and she was almost beaten to death. “I’m coming with you. I’m not staying here. I don’t care how horrible it is when you run away.”
I knew how she felt, so I didn’t argue. I should have just brought them with me the first time I ran. Jessie and I jumped out the window and ran, without even a second glance towards the house. We went to the hospital first. When we got to the receptionist, she gave me a look that I knew very well. I looked like a homeless kid. I ignored her looks and just asked for what I had come for.
“Layla Young? Where is she at?” The receptionist pointed to a room that had the curtains closed, so you couldn’t see into the room. I slid open the glass door, and was shocked by what I saw. It was sickening.
Layla laid in a big hospital bed. Her right arm was broken, and her left ankle was sprained. All over her were little cuts that only glass could make. Her face was swollen, and her lip was busted. She had bruises covering almost every inch of her tiny body. I heard a sob come from someone, and realized that it came from me.
I wanted so badly to just go over there and make everything better. She was asleep, and her tiny snoring made the room a little more peaceful. The doctor walked in then and told us about her condition.
“She is very badly injured, but she will heal. It’s a clean break in the arm, so it should heal very nicely. The sprained ankle should take about two or three days to heal. She will be able to walk by the time she gets out of here. She is under heavy sedation right now, so she won’t be awake for a very long time. I’ve seen kids that have fallen down steps and gotten injured, but this is nothing like any of those cases. Is there something else that happened? If you don’t want to tell me, I understand. But, knowing exactly what happened would help me heal her faster.” The sincerity on the doctor’s face made me want to cry. This is the type of father I would have chosen.
“She didn’t fall down the steps,” I walked toward Layla and gently kissed her forehead, the only part of her that wasn’t completely bruised. “She was abused.” I slowly walked out of the room, taking Jessie’s hand along the way.
“Where are we gonna go?” Always curious. It’s one of the things I hated about her. But also one of the things I loved most about her. She kept quiet when I didn’t answer right away. I didn’t know where we were going. I knew what I wanted to do, though. Almost as if my feet knew what I was thinking, they turned in the direction of the police station.
“We’re gonna go tell the police what happens in that house.” Jessie stopped abruptly, fear plain in her eyes. “Don’t worry! I won’t let anything happen to you. And neither will the police. Mom and Dad won’t be able to hurt us anymore.” This seemed to make her feel better, and we started to walk again.
When we got to the police station, we told them our story. We told them about how long this has been going on, how I ran away, and what happened to Layla. They seemed to believe us. They told us they would take care of everything. They asked us if we had anywhere to go, and I told them we could live with our Uncle and Aunt. He asked us if we had anything to say to our parents. I said no, all I wanted of them was to see them taken away in handcuffs. They didn’t seem to like that, but they understood.
“What will happen to my baby sister?” The man hesitated, thinking it through. It didn’t take him a while, but it was long enough to start to drive me crazy.
“We will take money out of your parents bank account to help pay for her hospital bill. When she is aloud out of the hospital, she will come to live with you guys and your relatives. Until then, the doctor’s will take care of her. Do you girls have anywhere to stay tonight? I don’t want you going back to that house.”
“I’ve been living in that tree house. I can bear it for another night.” The officer looked at me warily, probably debating whether or not to let us go back, or let us stay somewhere else.
“I’ve got an extra room in my house. Or I can let you sleep in a jail cell,” he said, with a mock smile on his face. We took him up on his offer for the extra room. He told us we were gonna go get our parents in the morning. He still didn’t like the idea of us going along, but he didn’t argue. Just then, my stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten since yesterday night. The officer, Jim he told us, eyed me. I guess he remembered the part of the story where I said the only time I ate was when I snuck in at night.
When we got to Jim’s house, he cooked us some food. It was the best thing I had ever tasted! But, there wasn’t much to compare to. Mom was a terrible cook. That night I slept more soundly than any other night of my life. Because I was finally safe.
In the morning, we rode to the police station. Two other police officers came with us, driving their own vehicles. Jessie laughed when I hopped in the back of Jim’s police car.
When we got to the house, Mom and Dad had just figured out that Jessie was missing. We stood outside by Jim’s car and leaned against it. All the police officers that came busted into the house. Next thing I knew, they were carrying Mom out in handcuffs. Then Dad. They shoved them in the two other cars. They told them about how they had the right to remain silent.
They both glared at us, like they would jump out of the cars and beat us if they could. But they couldn’t. This time Jessie took the back seat. I laughed. It felt so good to laugh! My life was almost perfect right there. I had clean clothes on my back, I wasn’t as smelly as a homeless person, and I was laughing with one of my sisters.
Jim drove us to our Uncles house. We didn’t have anything but the clothes on our backs, and each other. We slowly walked towards our new lives. We thanked Jim, and promised we would come to us if anything happened.
Even in a new house, I didn’t sleep very well. I was always afraid that would parents would find us here. The only part of that that scared me was if my sisters got hurt.
Layla was able to come home two weeks later. The bruises had cleared up, and, as the doctor had promised, she was walking. Her arm was still her her cast, but she liked it. She thought it made her look tough. It was good to see her healthy again.
We were all together again. And we were safe. Nobody was coming for us. Layla would have her cast off in a few weeks. We were all enrolled in a new school. We made friends, and lived our lives. It was hard sometimes, but then I remembered that it could be a lot worse.