her feet as her blonde wavy hair danced in the
chilled wind. The sun peaked its way through the
trees that surrounded her. She was running as
fast as she possibly could to get away from all
that she had ever known. She had woken up in the
middle of the night to her parents arguing;
something that they always did these days.
Countless times she had cried herself to sleep
as her parents screamed at each other.
back to the argument that morning. “Why the hell
didn’t you clean this kitchen? How do you expect
me to live in this dump?!” her father had
yelled. She heard a thump on the table and
dishes clattered to the floor. She knew he had
shoved her and then she knew what was going to
happen next. There would be more Jack Daniels,
more shouting, and then he would hit her mother.
She was right. The cries echoed through the
house and continued in her head long after it
had gone away. One thing always led to the
other, like a domino chain bumped into, all of
the pieces crashing down. It was becoming too
much to handle. She needed to get away.
my parents do this to me? she thought as
tears streamed down her face. They could see how
much it affected her. They saw her tear stained
face and puffy eyes as she sat at the kitchen
table eating her Lucky Charms before getting
ready for school. They had to have known that
her crying was about them. More specifically, it
was about her father and his abuse. She had
yelled at them, “Why can’t you just get a
divorce like a normal couple?!” but that never
helped. She saw the fire behind her father’s
eyes when she had said that and it scared her.
Her mother saw the fear and pain upon her face
and always reassured her “everything will be
okay. Your father is just having a bad day.” Is
every day a bad day for him then?
mother’s reassurance made her believe that it
would be better. Her mother had thought wrong.
It just kept getting worse, like an illness that
is never going to get better. Like the cancer
that her mom’s mother had passed away from back
in July. When her parents started yelling and
her father started hitting, she would run over
to her Grandma’s house crying her eyes out as
her Grandma held her, promising that things
would be alright.
Grandma had not known of the abuse her father
had always resorted to. She never suspected
anything because he was always kind around her.
The bruises and the scars he gave them over the
years were easily hidden so she never saw any
obvious signs. She could not get herself to tell
her Grandmother about it; if her father was not
mad, he was a good guy, really he was. He would
just sit quietly at the television and watch
reruns of CSI and Without a Trace.
But now that her Grandma was gone, she had no
safe haven. She didn’t have any friends or any
family besides her parents. And they were the
ones that she wanted to get away from.
did not get back from school, her father would
come out searching for her. Her mother would
start to worry, but her father would only get
angry. She was a freshman at Bellcross High
School—an outcast that nobody cared to associate
with. She walked to class alone and tried her
hardest not talk to anyone. She did not want
anyone. She did not want a friend that would
want to come back to her house and would end up
seeing her parents yelling at each other.
Someone that would see the abuse: the bruises
and the scars. A friend that would see her
crying. Her biggest weakness.
exception she made was her English teacher, Mrs.
Johnson. She thought back to the countless
conversations her and her teacher had. Mrs.
Johnson was by far her favorite teacher. She was
easy to relate to since she was fresh out of
college. They talked a lot. About everything,
ranging from the weather to boys. Sometimes she
would bring her lunch to Mrs. Johnson’s room and
they would sit there watching General
Hospital poking fun at the situations the
characters would get it. Her teacher was like
her second mother. She loved every second she
spent with her.
everything at home, Jessie?” Mrs. Johnson had
asked her. That was the only question she would
she had replied. “So…how are you doing today?”
She would always change the subject with a
reassuring smile across her face. Her teacher
seemed to be growing suspicious and she really
wanted to tell her everything; how she spent
every night crying herself to sleep while her
parents screamed at each other, how her father
struck her mother, and how at times all she
wanted to do was to get away from him. But she
never did. She tried to fool her teacher, but it
did not look like she had. Mrs. Johnson always
told her that she was there for her if she
needed someone to talk to.
not want to admit the facts, even to herself.
Ever. But she almost couldn’t take it anymore.
The bruises on her right arm were rubbing
against her side as she ran. The scars on her
back were a painful reminder of what happened
back in August. She kept running as she thought
back to that moment.
here right now!” her father screamed at her. She
had forgotten to take out the trash from the
kitchen. He was furious. She could tell he had
been drinking by the way he slightly slurred his
words and occasionally stumbled over his feet.
That was why she tried to run upstairs to the
comfort of her bedroom but he grabbed her arm.
Her mother ran into the room yelling at him.
go! Don’t you dare even think about hitting
her!” Not like he had never hit her before. Her
mother could have stuck up for her in the past.
Her father’s grip on her arm was leaving bruises
already. She tried to free herself, but upon the
struggle he slapped her on the side of the face.
The force was so hard that it left her face to
the side, her head spinning slightly. That was
the only mark that he had ever left on a visible
part of her body; it was usually her arms or
back or legs. Places that were easily covered.
But this one was without a doubt the worse thing
he had ever done to her. Or so she thought.
and grabbed at his wrist; a stream of curse
words emitted from her mouth. She never had much
liked hearing her mother swear but at times like
these, she did not mind so much. He released her
he said. “You don’t appreciate anything I do for
this family! I am the one making the money
around here!” He slowly walked toward the red
glass lamp that was sitting in the middle of the
kitchen table. Her mother was cowering as she
always did. “I even bought you this damn thing
you wanted! Now I see it was worthless since you
don’t appreciate me!” He threw the lamp at her
mother, or so he thought he did. His drunken
state messed up his sense of judgment. Her
mother’s cries streamed out of her mouth as the
lamp collided with her daughter’s back drawing
blood that soaked through her shirt.
been bad enough for stitches, but her father
insisted that it was a waste of money going to
the doctor’s and that she ought to just bandage
it up. She had used gauze and bandages and by
nightfall, the bleeding had receded enough for
her to leave one bandage on and go to sleep.
scared to tell anyone about her father because
she didn’t want to be taken away from her
parents. She did love them and she believed they
loved her, regardless of the fact that her
father was abusive now and again. Now she wished
she had talked to Mrs. Johnson. It was starting
to become too much to handle.
me!” she had sobbed into her grandmother’s arms.
But her grandmother would always smile at her, a
sad and caring smile.
love you. They always have and always will.” She
had thought that it was true because her
grandmother said it was true. Now that she had
no one to assure her, the line between what was
true and what was false was fuzzy to her. She
she had to go back, but for now, she just wanted
to run away and let her tears stream down her
face. She did not like other people seeing her
cry. Only her Grandma could and she was gone.
to a bridge and stopped to rest, her breath
showing in the air. A creek trickled through the
rocks below and, for the first time, she noticed
that she was very thirsty. She climbed down the
rocks to get to the creek and with cupped hands
brought some cold water up to her lips. The
water was clean and refreshing and she smiled
despite being sad.
against the rock behind her and closed her eyes,
taking in the cool air that blew all around her.
She listened to the wind rustling the leaves and
the water trickling around the rocks. She
listened to the birds chirping and the little
creatures scurrying in the crumpled leaves that
littered the ground.
poor dear child,” a familiar voice said behind
She thought. No, it couldn’t be…She was
dead. She opened her eyes and sat upright
slowly, confusion in her features. Upon turning
around, she was stricken with both fear and
amazement. Her dead Grandmother, now a ghost,
was floating behind her. Her white curls lay
straight, unaffected by the wind; her aged face
showed signs of sorrow.
it can’t be…I must be dreaming…” She started
backing away slowly, scooting closer to the
dear child. Please do not be afraid of me.” Her
ghostly Grandmother floated over and sat next to
her. Jessie was obviously confused, with a
slight look of horror upon her face. She had no
idea what was happening, but yet, when her
ghostly Grandmother took her hand and held it
upon her light-blue flowered dress, she did not
move. It still felt comforting to her even
though it felt like her hand was floating in the
crying for her parents, herself, and the abusive
situation that she was in. Crying because that
felt like the only thing left for her to do. Her
Grandmother just sat there quietly like she had
always done in the past. She knew that too many
words annoyed her grandchild since they were the
same things over and over again. She only
started to talk when Jessie was running out of
you never told me, dear?” her Grandma questioned
her. Jessie rubbed her eyes and really looked at
her Grandmother for the first time since she had
appeared. She looked exactly like she had the
day she left this world. Her white curls lay
right above her shoulders only interrupted by
the silver metal glasses that she wore
offsetting the curls by her ears. She still wore
that light blue dress with the little grey
slippers. These were the slippers that Jessie
kept right next to her bedside as an object of
really you?” Emotions were filling her body, but
different from the ones she was having before.
These feelings were happiness, confusion, and
wonder. How could this be possible?
it is me. I am always here to watch over you.
But why didn’t you tell me about your father? We
could have gotten you and your mother some
help.” She had always had such a soothing voice.
Just listening to her made Jessie start to feel
better. Oh how she missed her grandmother.
I really wanted to tell you. Really, I did. It’s
just that I love Dad. Even though he hurts me
and Mom sometimes. I just don’t want anything to
happen to him. And what if he finds out I told
someone? He would not like that…” She trailed
off, thinking of the possible things that her
father would do to her. Her father probably did
not deserve her love or her respect, but she
found it difficult to do the opposite.
don’t deserve this treatment, nor does your
mother. You need to tell someone, child. I saw
that your teacher wants to talk to you. She can
tell something is wrong, but since she does not
have any proof, she cannot do anything about
it.” She noticed a tear escape her
granddaughter’s eye. “Honey, nothing will truly
become better unless you tell someone about your
father. You need to. I don’t like watching you
and your mother suffer like this.” She started
to choke up on her words but held her tears
back, seeming to be afraid to let her
granddaughter see her cry. Her figure was
starting to get more translucent. She did not
have much time left here.
do that?...How do I just tell someone my father
hits me? What if they don’t believe me? What
if…he finds out?” Jessie was talking between
sobs, looking down at the ground. This was
really hard for her.
my child. I do not have much time left here so
listen to me.” Jessie looked up at her
Grandmother and vowed to not take her eyes off
of her. She did not know the next time that she
would see her Grandmother or if she ever would
to someone about all of this. You need to get
you and your mother some help since she is not
taking it upon herself, although I do see her
trying to help you every day. My daughter never
was one for causing conflict. But please, do not
just be like that as well. Talk to someone. Tell
someone about your father. It is the only way
things will start to get better.” She was fading
more and more, almost barely noticeable to the
leave me! I don’t know what to do! I need you
Grandma, I need you!” Jessie was sobbing, still
keeping her eyes trained on her Grandmother
through her tears. She was almost gone.
are a strong girl. You’ll be fine! Please, do as
I have said. I love you so much, dear child. I
love you.” With that final word, she fully
on the ground crying, her body convulsing with
her sobs. Why did she have to leave me so
suddenly? I miss her so much. What am I to do
now? She just laid there, sobbing both
over her Grandmother and the indecision that she
up suddenly. Her Grandmother’s words finally
sunk in. She needed to tell someone. Neither she
nor her mom deserved this kind of treatment.
exited the forest, she noticed the sun setting
in the horizon. She wiped her eyes, straightened
up her clothing, and stood up tall. Now was the
final stretch to her house. She was sure her
father would be angry and her mother was
probably worried sick. She wanted to look as
calm and collected as possible.
up the red door that was the entrance to her
house, took off her green converse all-stars,
and headed up the wooden staircase. She heard
the television on in the living room and she
hoped her father would not hear her. He hadn’t,
or if he did, he sure did a fine job at acting
like he didn’t. She was glad.
she saw her mother reading a book in the master
bedroom. She must have heard someone coming up
the stairs because she was trembling slightly.
She probably thought it was her husband.
glanced over at her and upon noticing that it
was her daughter, she jumped up, went over to
her, and gave her a hug.
Where have you been? I have been worried sick! I
had to lie to your father. He was really mad
when you weren’t home for dinner. I told him you
had a school project to finish up tonight.” So
that was why he completely ignored me. “Where
were you actually?”
just walking around…” Jessie trailed off. She
did not want her Mom to know what she had been
up to. She especially did not want her to know
where she had been. Her mother always told her
to stay away from the forest ever since she had
gotten lost when she was eleven.
Her mother paused and noticed that the
television had been turned off downstairs.
“Never mind, just get some sleep, dear. I love
you.” Her voice had become a whisper.
I love you too.” She smiled at her mother and
gave her a hug. For the first time, she felt
like she was good for something, for she had
plans of what she was going to do tomorrow. She
shut her bedroom door and lay in her bed,
quickly drifting off to sleep.
from a peaceful slumber, the sun shining down on
her face. Surprisingly, she actually remembered
her dream. Her Grandmother was giving her words
of encouragement and she was going to follow
through. Her clock read 7:15 AM. She would be at
school by 8 AM so that she would have about an
hour to talk to someone before class started.
out of bed and threw on a pair of dark-washed
skinny jeans and a loose black shirt. She paired
that with her favorite white scarf. Going into
the bathroom, she put some makeup on and put her
hair into a ponytail. She noticed that her
father had already left for work and her mother
was still sleeping. Upon going downstairs, she
put on her converse, grabbed a piece of toast,
and left for the fifteen minute trek to her
school. She was determined that she would tell
Mrs. Johnson and then everything would be fine
in the end.
High School, she took her usual route to get to
Mrs. Johnson’s classroom. She saw her teacher
sitting at her desk, her eyes squinted in
concentration. Upon hearing a knock, she looked
up and gestured for Jessie to step inside.
I please talk to you?”
you can! Whenever you need to talk, I am always
here.” She looked around her classroom looking
for a place that they could both sit. Walking
past the desks, they took a seat at the cushiony
tan couch located in the back of the classroom.
“Okay, so what do you need to talk about?”
in embarrassment, scanning the lavender walls
and the bookshelf filled with books. Looking at
her teacher’s desk, she noticed a picture for
the first time. It was a picture of a happy
family: her, her husband, and her baby girl who
was no more than a year old. She smiled a sad
smile, wishing that she could experience what a
happy family was like.
little nudging from her teacher, she came back
to reality and started spilling her whole story.
Mrs. Johnson only interrupted occasionally to
ask a question or get something clarified.
“Could you show me places where he has hurt you?
Are there any bruises or scars that you could
show me?” Jessie could tell that she was hurt by
all of this, especially after showing her where
the lamp had hit her back. She heard her say
under her breath “How could he do this?”
so sorry you had to go through all of this,”
Mrs. Johnson said as strongly as she could.
Jessie was crying into her teacher’s shoulder as
she held her. It was nice for her to finally
tell someone everything. She sat there crying in
Mrs. Johnson’s arms until the five-minute
warning bell rang at 8:55.
I am so sorry but I have to let you go.” She
gave her a sad smile with her sympathetic voice.
“I am so glad that you decided to talk to me.
Can you please go down to the counselor’s office
and tell them what you told me? They will help
you even better there.” She gave her a hug and
Jessie was on her way.
not go to any of her classes; she sat in the
counselor’s office and retold her story to the
counselor, Jean. She had treated her with almost
as much sympathy as her teacher, but Jean meant
business. Regardless of that, she still held her
when she cried and gave her a Kleenex.
fine soon, sweetie. Believe me,” Jean reassured
her. She began filling out paperwork. Now it was
just a matter of time that her father would get
in trouble for all that he had done. Jessie
would occasionally think of another story, and
Jean would stop what she was doing and listen,
holding her if necessary. Both Mrs. Johnson and
Jean were really nice to talk to because she
felt like they genuinely cared about her. She
loved that feeling.
home at 3:45 PM, she walked through the door as
if nothing had happened at school. She took off
her converse by the door and made the usual trek
up to her room. Around 5 PM, she heard the
garage door open; her father was home. She
jumped off her bed and ran down to the kitchen
to help her mom finish preparing dinner:
marinated chicken and potatoes with green beans.
That was most definitely one of her favorite
meals. Her father entered the kitchen and popped
open a beer, as he always did when he got home.
work, dear?” her mother asked her father.
“I’m going to go watch TV. Hurry up and finish
dinner. I’m starving.” She saw the hurt in her
mother’s eyes; that hurt would not be there for
a knock on the door. “Get the door!” her father
yelled from the living room. No one heard him.
“Jessie, get the damn door!” She heard him that
time and scurried to the door as quickly as
the door, there were two cops and a police car
with flashing lights in the background.
Lanton home?” a skinny man with a mustache
questioned. A tall chubby man with brown hair
was standing next to him holding handcuffs.
want to speak to you.”
walked up behind her and placed her hand on her
shoulder. “What’s the matter, officers?” she
asked. Jessie could tell she was scared for she
was trembling slightly.
dad asked annoyed while he was rounding the
corner from the living room to the front door,
still holding his beer. Upon seeing the
officers, he set the beer down and changed his
tone. “Officers, I don’t mean to be
disrespectful, but what do you want?”
need to come with us,” the man with the brown
hair stated. Her mother cringed at the words
while they grabbed her father’s wrist just as he
was about to retreat.
hell are you doing?! Let go of my wrists! I have
not done anything to deserve this!” her father
yelled. Glances filled with contempt were thrown
at Jessie and her mother as Jessie cowered into
her mother’s arms, her tears streaming down her
face and onto her mother’s purple V-neck
t-shirt. She had not wanted to do this because
she loved her father. She just didn’t know what
else to do.
the right to remain silent. Anything you say can
and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot
afford an attorney, one will be provided for
you. Do you understand the rights I have just
read to you?” The man with the mustache recited
to him. It was easy to tell that he had said
those words many times before.
him to their cop car. Jessie and her mom stepped
onto the porch and watched as he was shoved into
the car. They watched as the police car drove
away and was no longer visible in the distance.
Jessie’s mom turned to her. She held her and
they cried. Although this process would be a
long one, they would have a greater life ahead
of them. A huge weight lifted off of their
shoulders. Finally, they were away from the