Nobody… Anymore…

04_illustrations

“Don’t cry.” She presses the doll tight to her chest and whispers, “It will be fine. Nobody will hurt you anymore.” She stands outside the burning house watching the firemen extinguish the remnants of the fire.

The policeman wraps her up in a blanket. “What’s your name?”

“Annie.”

“How old are you, Annie?”

“I’m seven.”

“Do you live in this house?”

She nods.

“Was your mom in the house when the fire started?”

“No, she wasn’t there. Mom’s still at work.”

“So you were alone?” The policeman writes in his notebook.

“No, Bill was home.”

“Who is Bill?”

“He’s Mom’s boyfriend.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“Today or yesterday?”

The policeman looks puzzled. “Something happened yesterday?”

She nods.

“Tell me about yesterday.”

“Bill made Mimmy cry.”

“Is Mimmy your sister?”

“No.” The girl shakes her head and points at the doll, “This is Mimmy. And he made her cry.”

“What did he do? Did he hit you… or her?” The policeman frowns.

“No. Bill told me to come to his room. He took Mimmy and dropped her on the floor. Then he took off his pants and lay on the bed. He said, “Come here and sit on it.” I didn’t want to, but he made me. Then he said, “Don’t tell Mom.” I took Mimmy and went to my room. Mimmy cried all night. It hurt. It still hurts.”

The policeman keeps writing in his notebook, his fingers tremble slightly. “Did you tell your mom?”

The girl shakes her head. “No, he told me not to.”

The policeman nods. “Now, Annie, can you tell me what happened today?”

She nods. “Bill came home and called for me.”

“You were in your room?”

She nods. “I was with Mimmy. She was afraid.”

“Then what happened?”

“I took Mimmy and came downstairs. Bill took a beer from the fridge and told me to come to his room when he called for me. Mimmy and I waited in the kitchen. Mimmy cried.”

“Did he call for you?”

“No. Mimmy wanted to hide in my room, but Bill told me to wait for him in the kitchen so I had to stay there. I waited for a while. He didn’t call for me so I tiptoed upstairs to see what he was doing. He was sleeping. I went downstairs to the garage. I know where he keeps gasoline. I took the can and went back upstairs. I spilled gasoline in front of his door and then went back to the kitchen. I know where Mom hides cigarettes and a lighter. I took the lighter and went upstairs. When the fire started I took Mimmy and we left the house. Lucy ran away too.”

“Who is Lucy?”

“She’s my dog. She’s over there. She got scared when the firemen arrived. I’m not scared. I’m waiting for Mom.” The girl smiles at her doll. “And Mimmy is not crying anymore.”

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21 thoughts on “Nobody… Anymore…

  1. When the story started to unfold, I secretly hoped it was the little girl that burned the house down. Burn baby burn. If only we could all lock our abusers in a room and light a match. Does that make me sound twisted? All well. Great story. ~Dawn

  2. Joan, this was very well told. Such a difficult topic to write about, and you’ve done it so thoughtfully. I really loved how Annie’s emotions were all deflected to the doll, and she was protecting the hurt doll. There was so much packed into so few words. Really well done.

  3. That was heartbreaking, terrifying and very uncomfortable. You told it with such courage and clarity, so that I really felt for Annie – and really hoped she was going to do what she did. Too many children have to suffer this kind of thing.

    • A while ago I read about an eight-year-old girl who married a 40-year-old man (in Yemen, if I’m not mistaken) and died of internal injuries the next day. Obviously, I couldn’t get rid of this image. It’s too disgusting and scary.

  4. This is such a difficult subject to tackle in fiction with sensitivity and brutality — and you’ve managed both. Well done.

  5. Your language felt so honest, Joan. I can tell you toiled very hard on this! Normally I’d mention a few favorite lines, but Annie’s story is so disturbing that my favorite thing about this story is that Annie is alive to tell it. Nice job!

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