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Grade
9

Shelby

“Mommy, why do you always leave the house with a black mark on your face?”

Beer bottles scatter the living room.

“Daddy likes to use my face as a canvas darling. He likes the colors black, blue, and purple. He says they make a great color palette. But don’t worry sweetie, today I broke his paint brushes. He no longer has a canvas.”

 

The door slams. Mommy walks inside the front door, frowning. Daddy immediately greets her. He smacks her cheek. Daddy loves Mommy. He leaves her face covered with love strokes. Purple and blue love strokes. This way she can remember him forever. Mommy greets him back. She kicks his ankles. She leaves scrapes along his legs. Mommy likes to call this the splattering effect. Daddy adores painting. Mommy tries to paint, but she isn’t as good. She can’t get the same colors he can. Daddy has the better paint brushes.

 

Daddy

The door slams as she walks in the door. She’s frowning but I could care less. I greet her with a smack on the cheek. Shelby watches from the corner, thinking this is all one big art gallery. I let the child think what she wants. The more in denial she is, the more her “mommy” won’t ask for help. She kicks back, going for my ankles. She thinks she can defeat me. She can’t. I absolutely despise her. She doesn’t deserve to be my wife.

 

Mommy

I walk in the front door. Shelby sits in the corner. She meets my glance. Great. Here he comes. I keep my shoes on, hoping the heels can provide some sort of defense. His fist meets my cheek and it instantly begins to sting. I fight back, kicking his ankles, the heels leaving scrapes on his “precious” skin. I look over at Shelby when I can, making sure she isn’t giving this her full attention. But she is. I look back up at him, my face feeling hot.

“Nice to see you honey. I brought home the bottles of paint like you asked.”

 

Shelby

Mommy shoved past Daddy. She went up the stairs. Daddy followed. I skipped to my playroom. I played with my Barbie Samantha. Meanwhile, screams echoed throughout the halls.  I hate when they yell. So does Samantha.

 

Daddy

“OPEN THE DOOR CARRIE!”

 

Mommy

I shoved him. I’ve had enough. I stumbled up the stairs and went to the closest room. The bathroom. Perfect. The only room with the lock. His feet pounded the stairs. He jiggled the handle of the door, trying to find a way inside. His voice pierced the halls.

“OPEN THE DOOR CARRIE!”

No way in hell- And with that I opened the window and jumped.

 

Shelby

“Shelby. Go upstairs and tell mommy to come out of the bathroom. I want dinner.”

I left my playroom. I walked up the stairs. I tried to open the door. It was locked.

“Daddy it’s locked. Mommy isn’t answering me.”

Daddy came up the stairs. He was holding a screwdriver. He unscrewed the the door frame. The door swung open. The breeze blew through the open window. Where was my mommy?

 

Daddy

“Shelby. Go upstairs and tell mommy to come out of the bathroom. I want dinner.”

Shelby did what I had asked. Still so clueless. Up to the stairs and to the bathroom she went. She pleaded for her mommy but got no response. I headed to the garage and grabbed a screwdriver. No more hiding Carrie. I unscrewed the screws and the door swung open. The window was open. She was gone--

Mommy

I jumped for Shelby’s sandbox, landing feet first. Years of gymnastics seemed to pay off. I ran to the back porch, hoping the screen door would be unlocked. But it wasn’t. I needed to find Shelby. We needed to escape. He was a monster.

 

Shelby

Daddy said he would look for mommy. I went back down the stairs. I noticed mommy crouching on the porch. She motioned me over.

“Listen to me Shelby. Daddy wants to play hide and seek. He’s  trying to find us. Let’s find a good spot okay?”

“Okay Mommy. Daddy is looking in the front yard. I saw him.”

 

Daddy

Where did she go? I circled the front yard, checking in the car, up in the trees, and behind bushes. I ran to the front door and pushed it open. I scanned each and every section of the house. She was too good. I needed a weapon. Something to scare her. Something to get her out of hiding.

 

Mommy

I was crouching on the back porch, hoping to get Shelby’s attention. I quietly scratched against the glass, praying her curiosity would lead her right to the door. I saw a small shadow dance across the wall, nearing the back door. Yes. I love you. Shelby met my stare and I motioned her over.

“Listen to me, Daddy wants to play hide and seek. He is trying to find us. Let’s find a good spot okay?”

Shelby agreed.

“I saw Daddy in the front yard.”

And with that, Shelby followed me out into the backyard. We exited our property, pushing open the wooden door that connected our fence. We were free.. For now.

 

Shelby

“Mommy, did we win?”

“Not yet Shelbs.”

 

Daddy

I continued walking through the house but this time I was looking for Shelby. I checked her playroom, her bedroom, the living room, the garage, the basement, the kitchen, and the master. Shelby was nowhere. She got to her before I did.

 

Mommy

Shelby and I weaved through backyards and wandered the streets. We needed a hiding spot. A good one.

 

Shelby

Mommy and I walked around. The goal of hide and seek is to not let the seeker find you. Your hiding spot has to be good in order to win. We wandered through a backyard. I saw my friend playing soccer.

“Mommy. Mommy. That’s my friend Marissa. She goes to my school.  I think she lives here.”

 

Daddy

I left the house and walked through the neighborhood, Barbie in hand. I might be able to use it to lure Shelby out of hiding.  I looked past fences, peeked into cars, and checked up in trees. I couldn’t find them. Where could they be? I pulled out my phone and called her. Maybe I will hear the phone go off.

 

Mommy

“Mommy. Mommy. That’s my friend Marissa. She goes to my school.  I think she lives here.”

“Try and get her attention darling. Maybe we can stay for a bit. I don’t think Daddy will look here.”

Shelby skipped over to Marissa, taking her attention away from the soccer ball. Marissa invited us inside by swinging open her basement door, and leading us up into her kitchen.

“I apologize for intruding.  I was wondering if my daughter and I could stay here for a little while. Things aren’t the greatest at home.”

“Absolutely. I’m Nicole Tempelson. Make yourself feel at home.”

 

Shelby

Marissa let us in her house. We went to her kitchen. My mommy sat with Marissa’s mommy. They talked. Hiding seek was fun. Our spot was great.

 

Daddy

I never heard the phone go off. I wasn’t giving up. She needed to suffer. I looked through the contacts on my phone, hoping one might lead me in the right direction. I scrolled and scrolled, reaching the letters LMN. It hit me. Some days when I couldn’t leave work in time to get Shelby from school I called Nicole Tempelson. Her daughter Marissa was friends with Shelby. She lived two streets away from us. Shelby knew about her. But my horrible wife didn’t. I couldn't let her find out. She didn’t need to know that I couldn’t always get Shelby from school. It would give her more of an excuse to escape. Shelby probably found her house. That’s where they have to be hiding.

 

Mommy

I conversed with Nicole. She subtly asked questions about my situation. I tried my best to dismiss her curiosity. It was better if others weren’t involved. I can’t even begin to imagine what he would do if he found out I told others. He would kill me. Or worse. He would kill us.

 

I looked over at the girls, who were supposed to be playing in the living room that was connected to the kitchen. Marissa was playing with a barbie. But Shelby was gone. My eyes scanned the room, my head spinning and my heart fluttering.

“Marissa honey. Where did Shelby go?”

Shelby

I looked out the window. Samantha was lying in the grass. I ran past Marissa. I ran out the door. I ran for Samantha. I reached down. A hand grabbed mine.

“Daddy!! You found me.”

“I found you Shelby. Game over.”

 

Daddy

She fell into my trap. Shelby ran outside for Samantha. I could no longer get to Carrie. I had to get to something she loved. Mission accomplished.

 

Mommy

“She ran outside.”

I glanced outside. There he was. With MY Shelby. I sprinted out the front door, my eyes focused on Shelby.

“DON’T TAKE HER. TAKE ME.”

She turned around, her face as red as the dress Samantha was wearing. Imprints left her porcelain skin scarred.

 

Shelby

“Mommy!! Now my face looks like yours.”

 

 

 

 

State
Connecticut
Zip Code
06066