Authors: ML Ross
mother is getting worse. She refuses to take her medicine. I realize now,
that she hasn’t been taking it consistently for years. She insists that
she is fine without it. Only, I know this is not true.
haven’t been back to the elm in days. I’m feeling claustrophobic and edgy.
I miss seeing Dillon. My mother and I have been cleaning, nonstop.
I have been on my knees scrubbing floors, walls, countertops and every
other surface in the house. Everything is dirty, my mother says.
She has dragged me into the shower at least five times to get the dirt
off of me. She’s been peering out the windows and mumbling. She cries.
She paces. She doesn’t sleep.
putting clean sheets on her bed, which have been washed for the third time,
when we both startle to the pounding on the door.
baby! Come open up!”
heart beats uncontrollably as I look at my mother. It’s the skinny man in
the suit again. I can’t hide in the pantry. He’ll see me through
the windows. She pushes me into the closet and backs away from me slowly.
body breaks out into a cold sweat. I huddle in the corner of the dark
closet, wrapping my arms around my legs trying to stop from shaking.
hurries towards the front door and I hear his steel-toed boots tap across the
look like shit. How am I supposed to fuck you when you look like that?
I hear a
loud slap and my mother’s whimper and then I hear movement coming towards the
bedroom. I see their feet come into view from the small opening at the
bottom of the closet door. He drags her to the bed and bends her over, he
kicks my mother’s bare feet apart and steps in between them while still wearing
his steel toed-boots. I squeeze my eyes closed and push my hands over my
ears as hard as I can so I can’t hear my mother’s cries. Tears are
streaming down my face and I’m trying so hard not to make any noises.
After several minutes, I lift my hands off of my ears and slowly open my
is she?” I hear him demand an answer and can see that their feet are now
facing each other. “Where is Amy?”
not here!” she screams. “Please leave her alone!”
see, here’s the thing. I have some news! The old man croaked.
Yeah, his heart couldn’t take it anymore. The stress. The secrets.
You know what this means, right? No more boxes. No more
protection from the old man. He can’t stop me from seeing her anymore and
neither will you. I’m the big man in town now, sweetheart. I’m the
top dog in the firm, so you need to listen to me and do as I say from now on.
I have to make sure you crazy bitches continue to keep your fucking
mouths shut. So here is what is going to happen. I will provide you
with what you need as I see fit. Think of it as a reward system. You do
me a favor and I do you a favor. See how that’s going to work? If
you don’t, well, maybe Amy will. So, where is she?”
out in the woods. She goes there to read,” my mother tells him calmly.
you dare lie to me crazy bitch!”
slap, loud enough to make my body jump. I bury my face between my knees
to control my breathing.
squeeze myself in my arms and hold my breath.
good Allison. I’ll be back. You fucking say a word, and I’ll make
you watch. Understood?” I just hear my mother’s heavy breathing and
then I hear his heavy footsteps. I listen for the slam of the door and
his engine roar as he drives away.
gasp for air. I can’t move. My body is frozen with fear. The
closet door opens and my mother’s battered face stares down at me.
going to be okay Amy,” she whispers.
mother is eerily calm. I’ve never been so scared in my life. She bends
down as I continue to sit on the closet floor. She wipes the tears off my
face and smiles at me.
is he mother and what does he want?” I ask.
made a deal with the devil, Amy. No one can know. Not even you.
They told me they’d take you away from me if I told.” She pauses
and a small smile pulls on her lips. “Things will be different
now,” she says quietly. She abruptly pulls me to my feet and drags
me to the kitchen. Her small frame seems to have superhuman strength.
Stop! What are you doing?”
grips both of my wrists and drags my body across the floor with my feet
dragging behind me. She moves quickly towards the kitchen counter and
then lets go of my wrists, slamming my body to the tile floor. As I
gather my bearings, she opens three different bottles of pills and dumps them
into a pile onto the counter and then grabs a handful. I scurry backwards
and press myself against the wall. My chest is heaving as I gasp for
breath. I feel like I might pass out.
will be painless Amy. We’ll go together and we won’t have to live in fear
We can run, we can go get help.”
can’t hide from the devil, Amy.”
ranch next door. We can go there. The boy. He’s nice.
He’ll help,” I beg.
turns to me with a crazy look in her eyes that I’ve never seen before.
She takes two quick steps toward me and grabs a fistful of my hair so
hard that I flinch and cry out.
boy!” She spits into my face. “Do you know what boys do Amy?
He’ll have his friends hold you down. He’ll stick his dirty penis
in your mouth and spit his seed down your throat until you choke. They’ll
take turns using your body in ways you can’t even imagine. They’ll hurt you and
make you bleed. Your screams will not be heard. They’ll laugh.
You’ll be a dirty whore like me Amy!”
I cry shaking my head. “Not everyone is evil mother. You’re wrong.
He’s a nice boy. He’ll help us.”
time Amy,” she says softly and walks toward me with a handful of her drugs.
please. You’re just not feeling well and you need to see a doctor.
You’re just sick. We’ll get help.”
fighting me Amy!” she screams as I kick at her. She tries to hold me down
to stuff the pills into my mouth. I hear them scatter and bounce on the
tile. “This is the only way. You’re dirty and no good boy will ever
wrong.” I kick out and hit her leg which knocks her to the floor.
She comes at me again, throwing her body onto mine. We struggle
until I’m finally able to shake out of her hold and stagger to my feet, backing
away from her.
leaving, mother. I’ll be back with help. I love you,” I cry and
then I turn and run and I don’t look back. I run down the trail in the
dark with the dim light from the moon and the stars streaming through the trees
guiding me. I run as fast as I can, gasping for breath. The fence
is about a mile away. It takes me about ten minutes to get there. I listen for
noise. For footsteps. For screaming. It’s silent.
come to an abrupt stop in front of the break in the fence. The branches of the
elm wave slightly with the wind. The leaves make whispering sounds, like
angel’s voices urging me to go on. To be strong. To be free.
I can hardly catch my breath. Adrenaline is surging through my
veins. It’s surreal. It’s only a fence, but I know when I walk
through to the other side, it will be a whole new world for me. I’m
scared of what’s on the other side, but more terrified of what I know is on
climb through the fence and stand completely still, feeling the breeze tickle
my skin. I listen to the sounds of crickets and the wind whistling through the
trees, and far off in the distance, echoes of animals calling out for their
young. I look around me and see the ranch in full view now. I
see acres and acres of trees and rolling hills. The moon casts a warm
glow on the mountains in the distance, creating a beautiful silhouette against
the sky. The bright stars in the dark sky act as little
not sure how to get to the main house, so I run towards the trees where I’ve
seen Dillon take the horses, and I follow the trail. The trees are thick and
block the light. I trip and fall over branches and my legs start to burn
from the scratches. My throat is dry and hurts as I try to pull the cold
air into my lungs to breathe. It feels like I’m on the trail for hours.
I run some, I walk some, and I collapse to the ground from exhaustion
several times, but I continue to push myself. I have to get help.
It’s so dark, I’m freezing and completely worn. I finally see faint
lights up ahead, and as I approach, I hear voices. I hear laughing, a
sound foreign to my ears. I wrap my arms around myself and slow my pace.
The path comes to an end and I stop. A beautiful two-story white
sided farm house with soft, inviting light spilling from the windows appears.
A big porch wraps around the house with two wooden rocking chairs facing
the trail. Off in the distance, there is a barn, and not too far from the
barn, I see flames. It’s a large fire with people surrounding it.
Some are dancing to the music coming from inside the barn. Some are
just sitting by the fire and some are gathered in groups talking and laughing.
There must be twenty people. My senses are overwhelmed. I’m
so tired, I can’t think straight. My feet are continuing to walk towards
the fire while my head is still trying to figure out if this is really
happening, or if it’s a nightmare.
see a girl point at me. “Shhhh...look,” she says.
and every person turns their head slowly towards me. The only sound now
is the crackle from the fire. I’m sure I look absolutely crazy. My
eyes are probably red and swollen, and my long stringy hair is sticking to my
clammy skin. My t-shirt is damp from sweat and clinging to me. My skirt
is torn from tripping over branches. I’m shaking and my teeth are chattering.
I just stand there as they all stare at me as if I’m a figment of their
sound of a girl’s laughter breaks the silence.
my God, what the hell are you wearing?”
her. His girl.
I hear his voice and then see him as he removes her from his lap and
Who is she? Do you know her?” Candice asks as if she’s disgusted by
approaches me slowly.
help me,” I whisper.
What the hell happened to this girl? I can tell she’s not quite
coherent. Her eyes are empty. She looks like she could be in shock.
When I reach for her hand, she flinches and takes a step away from me.
She just stares at the ground.
won’t hurt you.” I stand in front of her blocking her from all of the
prying eyes. “Will you follow me into the house? You can warm
up and I’ll help you. Is that okay?” I ask her softly.
nods her head and then glances at the crowd of people whispering and staring at
her over my shoulder.
over guys! If you need to stay, the guest house is open!” I yell over my
now Candice.” She only thinks of herself. It pisses me off.
me?” Instead of touching her, I just gesture towards the house with my
She nods her head again and
follows me into the house. The first thing I want to do is call the
police, but I’m not sure what exactly is going on. I think about calling
my sister because she’s a nurse. My mind is racing. I just want to
comfort her but I’m not sure how.
enter the house and she stands there shaking uncontrollably. Her eyes
dart around the house like someone is going to jump out at her.
No one’s going to hurt you anymore. You’re okay.” I get as close as
I can to her without scaring her and search her face, waiting for her to talk
finally looks at me. Tears flood her eyes.
mother……my mother is sick. She hasn’t taken her medicine for a long time
and she’s not right. She was…..she wanted me to take her pills with
her…too many of them…so we could go away,” she says while wiping at her endless
stream of tears.
God.” I run my hands back and forth through my hair. It’s something I do
when I’m stressed. I know what she’s trying to say. I can see the horror
in her eyes. “Amy, I need to call the police.”
afraid he’ll find me.”
skinny man in the suit.”
coming back for me,” she says in the most unnerving voice while staring up at
me with her swollen, red eyes.
the fuck! I run my hands through my hair again and start pacing in
circles. I have to call the police.
listen to me, okay?” I try to calm down so she doesn’t think I’m angry at
her. I don’t want to scare her. “I’m going to help you but I need
to call the police.”
nods again. I grab the phone and call 911. I explain the situation
and they assure me they are sending someone out immediately to check the house.
I hang up, I lead Amy upstairs to Laney’s room and find her some clothes to
change into and a blanket to wrap herself in. I can tell she’s going
through the motions, but isn’t quite sure what’s going on. I wait outside
the door for about ten minutes and then knock. She doesn’t answer. I
crack the door open and poke my head in. She’s dressed in Laney’s t-shirt
that just hangs from her thin frame and shorts that look like they are barely
hanging on to her hips. She’s running her finger over the bindings of the
books Laney has stacked on her shelves. The room hasn’t changed since
Laney left. It’s painted purple with posters of Maroon 5 all over the
walls. She still has her girly makeup shit and perfumes all over the
dressers. She has shelves of stuffed animals and tons of books.
like to read?” I ask her as I walk into the room. I remember from
our game that she likes to read and write.
nods her head.
won’t mind. You can borrow one if you want.”
see her pull one from the shelf and the cover has a half-naked couple in an
embrace with their lips touching. Of course. No wonder Laney spent hours
in her room.
turns to me with the book in her hand. “Did you call the police?”
They’re going to check things out. Was it just you and your mom?”
what happened in that house?”
on the end of the bed holding the book to her chest, and I remain standing just
inside the doorway. I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable.
skinny man in the suit. He hurts my mother. She hid me and
protected me from him all this time, but he’s coming back for me. She
just wanted to take us away so he couldn’t hurt us anymore,” she says, looking
at the wall with her lips quivering. I just want to wrap my arms around
her and take away her pain, but I know I can’t. She’s still in a daze and
doesn’t seem to be quite lucid. I hear the doorbell ring and hurry down
the stairs to the door. Two police officers enter.
are you the one who called about the house down the road?” one of the officers
checked it out. Are you related to Allison Frank?”
Her daughter is here. She felt threatened and came here for help.”
she dead?” Her small voice drifts from the stairs. I turn my head
to where she’s standing. Her arms are wrapped around herself.
can we sit and talk?”
walks toward us and I gesture towards the kitchen table for us to sit. I
pull the chair out for her and she sits without taking her eyes off of the
Is your mother Allison Frank?”
you aware that your mother had a mental illness?”
was taking a drug called Clozapine, which is used to treat serious mental
illness. She should have been monitored very closely by a physician.”
hasn't seen a doctor for a really long time and she stopped taking them.”
would explain her suicidal tendencies. Ma’am, she tried to overdose on
these drugs and they have very dangerous side effects. She has been taken
to a hospital for evaluation. She’s in bad shape. Do you have
someone you would like me to call for support?”
We were alone. We were hidden.”
told me there is a man that comes to the house and hurts her mother and she’s
afraid he’s coming back for her,” I explain.
two officers’ exchange looks. Officer Douglas writes something down on
his tablet and looks back up at Amy. He must be the one in charge.
He’s probably near retirement, his graying hair a dead giveaway to his many
years in service. Nothing seems to faze him. He is very matter of
fact. “What do you mean, you were hidden?”
never left that house. She never told me why. The skinny man in the
suit would come to the house and hurt her and threaten her. Another man
would come and leave us boxes full of food and things. We don’t have a
car or phone. I don’t even know where I am.”
in Colorado, Ma’am. You’re about three hours from the city. Can you
describe the two men?”
is very skinny and always wears a suit. I remember his boots. His
steel-toed black boots. I never saw his face. The other man is older and
fat. He never came in the house.”
either of these men ever hurt you?”
My mother told me to stay hidden.”
Douglas hands Amy his card. “If you remember anything that might help us
find them, please give me a call. In the meantime, please stay out of
that house until we have completed a full investigation. Do you have somewhere
can stay here.” I say immediately.
officers’ nod their heads and one of them says, “If there’s any more trouble,
please don’t hesitate to call.”
officers leave Amy and me sitting at the table as they show themselves out. I
turn towards her. She sits stiff as a board on the kitchen chair.
so sorry about your mom. Do you want to talk?”
just shakes her head no, her lips quivering, her eyes still darting around the
kitchen. “It’s just me here. This is my dad’s ranch, but he’s in
the city. You’re safe here. I promise. Is there something I can get
you? Are you hungry? Thirsty?”
Can I have some water, please?” Her voice is hoarse and cracking
like she might break down again at any moment.
I push away from the table and grab her a bottle of water. I
haven’t thought of what to do next. She’s alone with me and I can tell by
her skittish movements that she’s very uncomfortable. It’s almost
midnight now and she looks completely exhausted. I hand her a glass of
water and crouch down next to her chair so I don’t look threatening and she can
see my eyes and trust what I want to say to her. She looks down at me,
her eyes looking directly into mine.
know you don’t know me but I’m a good person. I promise you. You
can trust me. You’ve been through a lot and I’m sure you’re exhausted.
You can sleep in my sister’s room. There’s a bathroom across the
hall. You can use the shower if you want. Make yourself at home.
Whatever you need. Tomorrow I can help you sort things out. I’ll
call my sister. She’s a nurse. I think you need someone to talk to.
Another girl, you know? You’ll like her.”
she says softly, studying my face as if she’s trying to decide if she can truly
walk her to Laney’s room and show her where some of Laney’s clothes are and
where the towels and toiletries are in the bathroom, then I head down the hall
to mine. I lay there listening to the shower turn on and off and then the door
shut quietly. Just as I start to doze off, I hear her door open. I
open my eyes and listen. Silence.
climb out of bed and crack my door open, peeking out into the hallway.
Amy is standing in the hallway in front of Laney’s room. She’s just
standing there. I step out into the hall and she turns to me I see so
much pain in her eyes. Her arms are wrapped around herself.
takes a deep breath in and then lets it out with a whimper. “No. I
don’t want to be alone. Can you sit with me?”
I look down at my state of attire. I’m in my boxers. “Let me
grab some clothes.”
quickly throw a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants on and meet her back in the
hallway. I run my hands through my hair as I follow her into Laney’s
room. She crawls under the covers and curls up, clutching the covers to her
neck and facing me. She looks scared to death. I sit next to her on
top of the covers with my back against the headboard. She says nothing but
closes her eyes. I eventually turn the lights off and stare into the
darkness, just listening to her breathe until I finally doze off.
eyes fly open as I hear the most feral, ear piercing scream I’ve ever heard in
my life. My body is shocked, not fully awake yet, and starts to shake as
I force myself to come to. I jump up on my wobbly legs and adjust my eyes
to the darkness. The moon casts a dim glow across the walls and as I scan
the room, I finally see her. She’s crouched in the corner of the room
covering her head with her hands, screaming. She is creaming so loud.
I turn on the bedside lamp and approach her slowly.
bend down in front of her. Her body is trembling and her hair is soaked with
sweat. Her screams have turned to moans as she rocks herself.
“Amy? It’s a just a nightmare. You’re okay.”
its Dillon. Nobody’s going to hurt you. Are you awake?” I
touch her shoulder and she flings herself back, hitting her head on the wall,
but when she does, her eyes find mine. The look in her eyes break me.
This girl has been through hell. I look into her eyes and hope she
sees me and remembers that I’m trying to help her. “It’s me. I’m
not gonna hurt you,” I whisper. She braces herself up against the wall
and slowly pulls herself to her feet. She looks down, and I follow her
gaze and see urine dripping from her trembling legs. She doesn’t look at
me and I know she’s embarrassed.
It’s okay. I’ll get you some clean clothes. Let’s get you
washed up.” I reach my hand out to her, but she doesn’t take it.
She follows me to the bathroom and I soak a washcloth in warm soapy water
and hand it to her. She wipes her legs as I get a clean pair of shorts
and a t-shirt from Laney’s room. I set the clothes on the toilet seat and
give her privacy.
she washes up in the bathroom, I run my hands through my hair and pace outside
the bathroom door. I’ve run my hands through my hair so many times
tonight, I’m sure I look like a troll. I don’t know how to help her.
She needs someone to talk to. I need her to trust me to take care
of her. I hear the door squeak open and she steps into the hallway with a
fresh trail of tears streaming down her face. I want to take her into my
arms so bad.