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#ShortStory

Posted on April 23, 2017 at 11:20 PM

Mute 

Ben held his girl’s hands tightly as they took the long walk down the aisle towards the coffin that held their mother’s body. Angela, Ben’s ex-wife had known for a while that she had an aggressive form of cancer, but chose to live instead of fight with treatments that would make life not worth living at all. Angela unselfishly used holistic treatments to make her illness bearable while she taught her daughter, Shane and Elsie, all that she could about being proper, independent, educated young women. She took them to Bible study to help ensure they would have a relationship with God and aside from their trust funds, she spent every dime she had to travel with them, exploring new lacing, and sharing adventures. If anyone could have squeezed a lifetime into two years, Angela proved that she was the one to do it. Lastly, she met with Gretchen, asked her to please love her babies as if they were her own and felt grateful when her ex-husbands new wife assured her that she would.

The day after Angela’s services, Ben and Gretchen worked with the kids to pack up all of their belongings so that they could move into their new home. Ben was especially supportive and comforting. He’d always played an important and active role in the girls lives. After he married Gretchen, she’d tried to get close to the girls, but couldn’t deny that she’d found them annoying and needy. She felt that eight-year-old Shane was mouthy and five-year-old Elsie was a pathetic mute. The child only spoke when absolutely necessary and it was always in whispers. To her, Elsie was a brainless waste. Angela had every intention of letting the girls mourn for two more days, but Monday would be a new day and they would conform to her rules. If they refused, there would be consequences, very painful consequences.

Three weeks had passed since Shane and Elsie moved. With their father traveling four days a week for business, that left them alone with Gretchen more often than not. So far they’d been sent to bed with nothing to eat at least three times and spanked almost daily for one infraction or another. Because of a promise they’d made to their mother to give Gretchen a fair chance, they hadn’t said anything to their dad about her abusive behavior. But then Gretchen got angry with Elsie for spilling orange juice on her white pants.

“You ignorant little mute, look what you did,” Gretchen screamed as she raised her hand to hit Elsie. When Elsie raised her teddy bear to block the hit, Gretchen tried to snatch the bear. Elsie screamed bloody murder and Shane quickly ran to her defense.

“My mom gave her that and you can’t take it. Now leave her alone,” Shane yelled as she wrapped her protective arms around her sister. That show of love enraged Gretchen. She grabbed Shane by the hair and slammed her to the floor while Elsie stood crying with her bear covering her face.

To their surprise, Ben walked through the door. When he saw Shane on the floor, he dropped everything and rushed to swoop her up. “What happened here? Why is she on the floor and both of them crying?” When Gretchen didn’t respond, he barked harshly, “Answer me, damn it!”

“They were running through the house playing when she tripped over Elsie and fell,” Gretchen lied.

“No Daddy,” Elsie said boldly, shocking everyone in the room. “She’s did it, she hurt Shane. She hurts us a lot.” Elsie then unzipped her bear and pulled out a small camera. Her mother had placed it there and told Elsie to press the bear’s back whenever she was scared. She’d followed instructions well.

When Ben hooked the little camera up to his laptop, he saw all of the evils that Gretchen had done to his girls. While Gretchen tried to explain, cry and beg her way out of the situation, Ben dialed 911. They watched as the cops handcuffed and hauled a kicking, screaming mad woman out of the house. When all the dust settled, Ben told his girls that he was accepting a new job that would allow him to be home with them and assured them that no one would ever hurt them again.

-Stacey Covington-Lee

 

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