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Submitted on 01/08/2021

Categories: Drama Happy Mystery

                        “Claire Williams, to the main office please. Claire Williams.”

            I know it had nothing to do with school I made sure I was an average student below the radar. My grades, my behavior, my appearance all average to avoid further investigation into who Claire Williams is. 

            Several stares came my way, as I quickly walked to the trash trying to evade the main focus. I spotted the workers through the glass windows that were the office walls, standing with the principal. I took a deep breathe before opening the door and walking in. 

            “Claire?” the worker spoke with a gentle voice. 

            “Yes” I answered averting my eyes. 

            “Do you mind coming with us into the office?” She gestured. 

            I nodded my headed in followed by an officer. 

            “Claire do you know why we are here?” I shook my head no. “We are following up on a report- “ 

            From there I knew all my efforts were in vain. I tuned them out knowing I was not going home today.

            At the Family services office they brought me into a room, and I was asked if I had on a shirt underneath my turtleneck. It was springtime and though it was not hot it was still a little suspicious to wear one. I complied when they asked if I minded removing it. There they could see one bruise wrapped around my wrist and another spread over my shoulder. They asked me if I had more, but I didn’t, this is the first time that I ever had to hide bruises like this. It turns out I am not good at disguising them. From there they questioned me about my father and who was the one to cause them. I didn’t want to speak, Mom told me loneliness was in being taken from the only family you had. I didn’t want to be taken away from my mom and dad the only two people I loved and knew who loved me. 

            “Can I see my sister? Where is Angel?” I blurted out instead of answering.

            Everyone paused and the worker Cheryl, turned back to whisper to her party.

            “When is the last time you saw her?” the worker Cheryl asked 

            Why would she ask me that? On my way into the office she was seated outside with the worker. She assured me everything would be okay and to stay strong. Angel was three years older than me, just turning 16, and protected me since my dad and mom divorced two years ago. We didn’t have the same dad, but my dad was always loving towards her. When dad left, she explained to me that it was hard for him to stay because of mom’s inability to be happy. My mom was seldomly happy having more fits of anger and extreme sadness. Dad tried to take me with him and Angel was supportive, but that never happened. 

            “She was outside with the other worker.” I told her 

            Cheryl smiled warmly, 

“Why don’t you tell me how you got these bruises,” was her response.

            “I can’t, I want to be able to see my mom and dad.” I said quietly. 

            Trying to make the room look friendly the walls and carpet were brightly colored, plushies, toy boxes, and an arts and crafts table off to the side. The truth is when you looked up at the mirror, that two-way mirror, the truth is this was an interrogation room. 

            “Our job is to make you safe. Telling  the truth will help assure that this never happens again.” Cheryl tried to reason.

            I dropped my head into my hands afraid to do anything more than stay quiet. 

Flashback: Stay Quiet

            I remember Angel and I walking into the house to see my mom standing over David slapping him on the face trying to wake him up, in his arm was a needle. when that didn’t work she threw cold water finally waking him. 

            “Thank goodness.” Relieved as she sat next to him on the couch. 

            I finally acknowledge Angel as she ushered me into our room. That night mom came in to talk to us.

            “Girls not everyone can understand the working of our home. In order to stay together somethings require you to stay quiet. You guys love each other, work as unit and keep things safe.” She said as she looked into our eyes. 

            That conversation darkened her mood. I heard her walk straight to the fridge and open a can of beer. I am sure it wasn’t her first today. Angel pulled my attention from the noises that erupted in the front room as David and mom argued over her drinking his beer. Angel was 13 and smart she pulled me into her side.

            “Don’t worry ClaireBear you always have me.” 

Present

            I felt her hand on my back slowly pulling my head up I smiled at Angel.  

            “Go ahead. Tell them the truth, None will separate us.” She whispered. 

            Inhaling, “It was David.”

            My voice drew their attention. 

            “It was the first time that he was so violent. Sometimes he grabs my wrist too tight, or shoved us, but he has never hit us. I don’t know how it started.” I pulled at my sleeve

Flashback: Run

            Angel and I walked in the house to see David punching mom over and over again. 

            “Help!” mom screamed. I never heard her scream like that, her first time asking for anyone to interfere. 

            My step forward was pulled back by Angel. 

            “Run.” She said in panic. 

            “I have to help her. He might kill her.” I said pulling away. 

            Our presence was ignored as David sent punch after punch to my mom’s curled up form. I curled my top half inward and charged into the side of David knocking him off my mom. I was helping her off the ground when he smacked me. 

            “Stop it get off.” My mom screamed as she charged at him but he sent her flying across the room. Grabbing me by the wrist he shoved me into the wall. My shoulder took the brunt of the force as I felt the sharp pain strike. He had me pinned as he drew his hand back to strike again. My mom slid a knife across his face and small trickles of blood slipped through, a warning cut stopping him. I was forgotten as he turned to her. 

            “I already called the cops you better leave.” She held the phone in one hand and in the other the knife

            He didn’t hesitate long because a voice came though the phone, “Hello, Hello” he ran out the door after grabbing his things. 

            My mom exhaled before pulling the phone to her ear, “Sorry Jess just a butt dial.”

            She walked to the door and locked it before helping me to the sofa. I looked around but Angel must have ran off to her friends. 

            My mom administered her level of first aid care. I winced as she assisted me before cleaning herself. After she looked at the damage her stress level seemed to skyrocket, and she immediately went to the fridge grabbing a beer. As she popped the cap she walked to me and placing her forehead to mine and whispered, “sorry” before walking off to grab another beer. This is the first time he has ever attacked my mom like this. Sometimes their arguments involved some shoving but never has he ever exerted such force. Not only did he cause her great damage but I was not lucky enough to evade the damage. My face had already started to change colors, this was going to take time to heal. 

Present

            “That’s why I was gone from school for two weeks.” I finished. 

            “What did your dad say about the bruises?” she asked me 

            “He never saw them. Mom call told him that I was not feeling good and could not make it, he stopped by anyways check on me. I stayed in the snuggy he bought me one Christmas insisting I was freezing. He wanted to check my temperature but we didn’t have a thermometer, he was going to give me medicine but my mom ushered him out before that I knew he felt something was off but I reassured him I was okay. Mom had him out of the house in 10 minutes.” I quickly responded to his questions. 

            Angel smiled at me in reassurance and continued to rub small circles in my back. 

            It was around seven o’clock when they walked me and my sister to a car. They had informed us that my mom was facing charges for child endangerment, drug possession, and child neglect. Fear filled me when I realized I was not going to be going back home. I only calmed when Angel took my hand in hers. 

            “Don’t worry we’ll be together.” She squeezed my hand. 

            Anxiety plagued me when we pulled up in front of a house I’ve never seen. 

            “Where are we?” 

            “This a foster home, they are really nice people I have been working with for 5 years now.” Cheryl turned to the back seat and spoke gently to me.

            “Angel will stay here too?” I asked 

            Cheryl smiled at me before responding, “If you want her to.”

            “Why can’t we stay with my dad?” I asked 

            “We have to complete the investigation before that happens.” Cheryl stated as she turned to open her door. 

            The Allisters were very friendly. They had one other foster child staying there but me and Angel got out own room. Cheryl didn’t stick around too long, she informed me she had her own daughter that she had to return home to. I nodded before letting her leave and walking into my temporary home. 

            “Don’t worry, we did the right thing. We’ll be safe now.” Angel spoke gently to me when we were alone. 

            “What about mom though?” I asked her

            She inhaled deeply before answering, “Though mom loves both of us there are some things that mom has to work on before she can be a better mom to us.”

            “I thought you said this is the best mom she could be?” I asked her remembering what she told me after dad left. 

            “Now, it’s time for her to become a better mom.” Angel smiled at me and brought me into a hug. 

2 weeks later 

            It took two weeks for them to clear my dad. The whole time I could only think about the nights we shared drinking rootbeer together when I visit. 

            “How are things going at home?”

            I would always say the same thing. 

            “Good.” 

            He would ask about mom and I would give him the same answer.

            He would never press the issue and would always begin discussing my friends and school. I would share with him all of my accomplishments and he would always express his pride. 

            When the car pulled up to my dad’s house I was excited. I smiled at Angel who didn’t share the same excitement. I barely waited for the car to stop before I ran to my dad who embraced me. 

            “Claire bear.” He an Angel came up with that nickname together and were the only ones to use it. 

            My excitement died down some when I notice Angel was not next to me. 

            “Isn’t Angel staying?” I asked 

            My dad looked around and glanced back at the car that showed Angel who refused to look at us.

            “Where is Angel?”

            “Um can we have a conversation alone.”

            I spotted Mavis my dad’s wife for the first time standing in the open door. 

            “Mavis you want to send her upstairs.”

            “Come here Claire.” I walked to Mavis and she gave me a reassuring hug. “It will be okay Amaya is upstairs.” She placed a soft kiss on top of my head and watched as I walked up the stairs. 

            I didn’t understand. Why was Angel not staying? I walked into the room to see all three of Mavis kids. Amaya, 11, Derek, 8, and  Dalilah 17. 

            “Surprise!” they shouted at once 

            They had all made me a sign and had balloons and streamers up. 

            “Hey Claire we heard you were moving in so we wanted to redo your side of the room.” Dalilah who we called Lilah hugged me first 

            “Claire yeay.” That’s all Derek said before jumping on my bed. 

            “We can make so many videos now.” Amaya stated with extreme happiness. 

            Mavis and her kids have always been friendly to me and I appreciated the warm welcome. They redid my side of the room in pink and purple my favorite color. They painted my name in huge letters behind my bed. And got me a new bedset with glitter in it. 

            The discussion of Angel was put off until today my dad said. I had an appointment set by Cheryl with a doctor named Morris. We all sat together in one room Dad, Mavis, Morris, and I.

            “Claire do you know why you’re here?” Morris asked 

            “Because I can no longer live with my mom, she is probably going to Jail.” I answered based on my best guess

            “I am the kind of doctor that meets with children who have experience trauma?”

            “A therapist I asked?” I was 13 not an idiot. 

            “Very similar. We actually are meeting to talk about what you experienced living with mom. 

            The nerve set in and I instantly felt like curling into a ball. Where is Angel she made everything easier.   

            “Can’t Angel be here for this?” I asked as I tugged at my sleeves 

            “Before that happens why don’t you tell me about two years ago an incident that happened between Angel and you moms then boyfriend David?”

            “What incident?” I asked feeling anxious more so with his question

            I didn’t know what he was talking about, why were they keeping me from Angel. 

            “I believe you and Angel came home one school evening and caught David taking something.”

            Images sprang to my mind. 

Flashback: Guardian Angel 

            Me and angel walked into the house an seen our mom passed out on the sofa. Next to her was several bottles empty. She was drunk again. Most of her money was spent on beer and liquor. We didn’t see him at first but the sound of a bottle falling over caught our attention. That’s when Angel charged forward. David was digging through out mother purse and pulling out the feel dollars she had left in there. There were several days that we went without school lunch often mom not able to find any money to give us David was the culprit. Angel would try to get to the money before he took it but mom must have gotten her money early this time. 

            “Not this time.” Angel said grabbing the money from his hands. 

            David did not take kindly and snatched it back, “Who do you think you fooling little one.” 

            Before I knew it they were tussling back and forth I went to jump in but I didn’t know how. It ended just as quickly as it started when I heard loud thud. My mom jumped up as I ran to Angel. She laid there still as I pulled her head to my lap. My pants slowly began to feel drenched as I realized that she was bleeding 

            “I didn’t mean to I promise.” David shouted as my mom ran over. 

             Mom sent me to my room as picked up Angel. I was worried and fell asleep crying until Angel returned home the next day smiling just as bright. David and mom were arguing about the incident the previous night with Angel. She pulled me in tight and whispered everything was okay.

Present

            “Claire, Angel was not okay. She never received proper treatment and she passed that day. 

            “No” I said with a panicked smile. 

            “Yes, they found her body when they went to arrest you mom.” dad said with tears in his eyes

            “NO!NO!”

Flashback: Run

            I walked into the house with alone to see David standing over my mom punching her over and over again. 

            “Help me!” my screamed out for someone to stop him It. was the first time I ever heard her scream like that, the first time she ever asked for anyone to interfere. 

            I step forward to assist but hesitated as if something pulled me back. 

            “Run.” a soft voice sounded in my head

            “I have to help her, he might kill her.” I said pulling from her 

Flashback: Foster Homing

It was around seven o’clock when they walked me to a car. They had informed me that my mom was facing charges. Fear filled me when I realized I was not going to be going back home. 

            “Don’t worry she quickly shouted to we’ll be together.” The soft voice appeared again 

            Anxiety plagued me when we pulled up in front of a house I never seen. 

            “Where are we?” 

            “This a foster home, they are really nice people I have been working with for 5 years now.” Cheryl turned to the back seat and spoke gently to me.

            “Angel will stay here too?” I asked 

            Cheryl smiled at me before responding, “If you want her to.”

            The seat next to me was bear

            The Allisters were very friendly but I found solace alone.

            “Don’t worry, you did the right thing. you’ll be safe now.”

Present

            It has been six month since being place with my dad. I have visited my mom once month she apologize countless times about not protecting me and not protecting Angel. In therapy I found out I used the memories of Angel to protect myself and feel safe. We still are shuffling through memories trying to cope with things I intentionally blocked out. One thing is for sure the memory or the presence of Angel saved me and brought me to make the best decision  for me and my mom. 

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2 comments

Elizabeth Inkim
19:15 Jan 18, 2021

Hi Michaela! I found your story through the Critique Circle email, I know I am a few days late but better late than never, so here it goes. I enjoyed your storyline and dialogue. Your character voices, tone, and sentence structure were incredible. Also, after reading your story, I think that you might enjoy some of mine, particularly "A Kaleidoscope of Memories" and "The Savage Truth of Fear". My latest story is called, "Tables Turn, Bridges Burn", and I would love to know what you think about any or all of them; your choice.

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15:30 Jan 15, 2021

Very sad but beautiful story. I really liked the twist at the end, it makes the whole story feel even more powerful. Well done!

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