by Cara C., Age 13 , Grade 8, The Academy, Westminster, COLORADO USA
Teacher: Caroline Cutshall
Six years ago, I lived with my Aunt Patricia in New York. I was ten with a cousin named Annabelle (age eleven). Constantly rotten that girl was, she got everything she wanted no matter the circumstance. Patrisha only adopted me on behalf of a family issue concerning my parents abandoning me at age 9. I was quickly put into an orphanage where Patrisha soon adopted me after my great uncle made the call, attempting to convince her to adopt me. It was my parents wish to do so.
“But I don’t need anyone but my precious Annabelle.”
“Whether you need her or not is not the issue Ms. P., she needs a home and it’s her parents will to sign her over to you”
“I don’t want a dirty rat in my home Harrison.”
“Patrisha, it’s not about what you want it’s about what is best for the child dear.”
“ Im sure I can make due. Of course I would never leave a child without a family of course…”
“Err…Excellent. We will go over the papers and signing tomorrow morning. Please meet me at the orphanage at 8 o’clock sharp.”
It was Monday night and I was in my room on the second floor of Ms. Patricia's mansion. Annabelle was running through the hallways with her sad imaginary friends, screaming and yelling HYSTERICALLY.
“ANNA PLEASE, PLEASE KEEP IT DOWN!” I shouted.
“Don’t tell me what to do you ugly orphan!” she yelled as she thundered down the staircase.
Thank goodness she left, I thought, as I continued writing my story. Suddenly, Patrisha stormed into my room quickly and violently, and struck me HARD across the cheek, making me rip a hole in my notebook with my pen. I was knocked off of the bed as she grabbed my ear,
“DON’T YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TALK TO ANNABELLE AGAIN YOU RUDE UGLY BRAT!” she screamed until my ear rang. I glanced over at the doorway where Annabelle was standing, fake tears and all with a little smirk on her face. In a huff Patricia broke my only pen, and poured the ink onto my notebook, ruining its pages before slamming the door and knocking over my pottery pencil holder. As it shattered on the floor and the piercing sound rattled my ears, I didn’t care. All I could think was how my face burned with heat and stung on the right side. All I could do was cry as I focused on my hatred for Annabelle as my ear rang so loud I didn’t catch Annabelle’s giggling in the other room.
4 years later…
I woke up to the aroma of freshly baked breakfast, and stretched before walking to my door and putting on old socks and a T-Shirt. It was gloomy outside and I could hear the rain on the roof. I opened my door, and walked down the hallway to the stairs. Anna was walking up as I took a step down and I stopped to lean on the rail and let her pass. Patrisha demanded that I treat her like a queen no matter what, for I’m living in “The house of one.” The “non-issue” sort of vibe was quickly cut off by hot tension as Annabelle punched me in the stomach while saying,
“Get out of my way you stupid orphan. I was really wishing that today would be the day that you didn’t wake up.”
As I crumpled to the pain everything in me fought against the urge to punch her till she couldn’t breathe. I calmly took a deep breath and watched her flip her hair and walk away. My face turned red with anger that quickly faded as I went the rest of the way into the kitchen as the pain of my stomach began to fade. Chef Mary was cooking something that smelled like bacon and pastries, but a cold bowl of milk and oats with prunes was waiting on the counter for me. Frail as I was I didn’t need anything but more food. I was hungry ALL the time. My extreme hunger got the best of me and I decided to try and sneak some bacon. It looked so good…so crispy and warm. The glass platter on which it was placed was only an arm's length away. Chef Mary’s back was turned so I hurriedly reached over and tried to grab a piece off of the stunning, glass platter full of what looked like 100 pieces. To my dismay I knocked over the whole platter, splitting the delicate glass into a million pieces. It landed with the loudest CRASH with pieces flying in every direction. Startling Chef Mary, she accidentally burned herself on hot grease, while slipping on her own baby blue dress. She fell to the floor and screamed as my eyes grew wide with fear. I tried with all my might to run as fast as I could back upstairs.
“ALLLISSONNNNN!!!” She bellowed as I tripped on the shards, cutting my knee. I fell and cut my palms as I felt the pieces break my skin. Chef Mary staggered up and grabbed a wooden spoon with her uninjured hand. She stormed over to me, beating my back and arms before pulling me to my feet by my hair.
“I DON’T CARE THAT YOU’RE HUNGRY AND I DON’T CARE THAT YOU ARE SAD. I WILL REPORT YOU TO PATRICIA AND SEE HOW YOU FEEL THEN YOU INCONSIDERATE PIG!”
I coughed and sputtered as tears streamed down my face, and blood dripped off my finger tips.
“I’m so sorry; please I’m just so hungry… Look at how skinny I am! Please just help me I mean no harm.”
“WELL TOO BAD LITTLE GIRL! You hardly belong here anyway. I still don’t know why that Patricia doesn’t dump you onto the streets already.”
With one harsh shove she threw me to the ground and I ran up to my room, blood dripping on the kitchen floor. I closed the door and tore up an old T-shirt and wrapped it around my knees and my hands after carefully picking out bits of glass from my hand. The pain was almost intolerable; my hands burned, my knee stung, my hair was coming out in tufts and the salty tears I wiped away stung on my hand. The hunger I had felt only moments before had vanished and all that was left was the feeling of nausea and fear as the adrenaline pumped through my veins.
After waiting to be calm again, I walked downstairs again and snuck to the library; my favorite place when I needed an escape. No one really uses it, so I’m almost always able to stay there for hours on end when Patricia is off at work. Patrisha hates it if I go in the library but she sometimes let's me if it keeps me away from her and Annabelle. She just especially despises when books aren’t put back where they go. Although Patrisha doesn’t read practically at all, she treasures her expensive collections and her favorite mahogany shelves. I entered the lovely, ink smelling room and took a quick moment to admire the large stained glass window, as rain pattered against it. I then picked up my favorite book, Lolita. I have probably read this book 100 times. It gave me strength and gave me a feeling that made me happier. It made me feel better about myself. I read for nearly an hour when I remembered my hunger. I went out of the library, before putting my book right back where it belonged. Only then did I notice Annabelle was staring through a little office window in the other room at me as I put away my book…why is she staring at me like that..? I wondered. I double checked that it was the right slot for the book, put it away, and when I looked back she had turned up her chin and looked back at her notebook, book, crochet or whatever she was pretending to work on as she got into all my business. Then I remembered once again my never ending hunger and went to go see what food Patrisha had placed in my pantry section.
Patrisha believed that because I am adopted I get my own little section of the pantry that usually consisted of nuts or dried fruits and on a lucky day some old baloney. To my dismay Chef Mary was in the kitchen once again watching me as I grabbed a bag of oats and some raisins from the pantry. Sulking, I wandered up to my room and scarfed down the oats. I placed the raisins in my satchel for later. For the rest of the day I stayed put in my room, writing and doodling on the parts of my notebook that weren’t full of holes and black, pen ink until Patrisha got home a couple of hours later.
When I heard the keys in the front door my heart skipped a beat as I remembered my incidents earlier. Knowing Chef Mary, she would dramatize the story and make it sound like I nearly chucked a platter at her head. I heard tense chatting down stairs as Chef Mary complained to Patricia about me. I then anxiously waited and tried to figure out what I would say while simultaneously preparing myself for a good yelling or punishment. My door suddenly clicked and Patricia walked in and took a deep breath.
“Alison?” she said ever so sweetly.
“What makes you think that you can STEAL foods from Chef Mary?”
I cringed and grit my teeth together. I narrowed my eyes.
“I’m just so hungry ma’am. All I eat everyday is water and oats or whatever and I need something else! I am weak and skinny and I just need better food.”
“THAT ISN’T HOW THIS WORKS ALISON YOU ARE NOT HIGH CLASS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THIS FAMILY. YOU ARE UGLY STUPID AND AN ORPHAN AND NO ONE HERE LOVES YOU. I'M SICK OF CLOTHING YOU AND FEEDING YOU AND GIVING YOU SHELTER WHEN ALL YOU DO IS ABUSE EVERYONE HERE!!! I SUGGEST YOU GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER ALISON, OR YOU WILL REALLY SEE THE BEAST IN ME.”
My heart raced. I never talked to Patisha like this before. My ears pounded.
“Ma’am this isn’t fair. I never intend to talk to you this way but you are a lawyer and have so much money that it would be easier than pie to feed me correctly. At least give me what Anna doesn’t eat! If you do I'll do chores…anything! I just want to be treated as everyone else does.”
Patricia's face turned red as she struggled for a response. Her fists clenched and a bead of sweat dripped from her auburn hair, past her emerald green eye. Then she grabbed my hair and bellowed,
“ALISON SAY ONE MORE WORD AND I'LL STARVE YOU TO DEATH AND YOU'LL BE LIVING IN A CELL FOR A WEEK BEFORE YOU CAN ASK FOR ANY MORE FAVORS, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!”
I felt my throat tighten as a single tear ran down my cheek. This wouldn’t be the first tear of today…This depressed emotion quickly turned into a burning anger as I noticed Annabelle standing in the doorway again. Arms crossed against her silk gown and her curly brown hair done up with several floral decorations and pins inserted into it. She snickered, and Patricia whipped around, but Anna already turned her satisfied smile into a sob.
“I can’t believe she ruined my breakfast,” she cried.
Patrisha let go of my hair and wrapped Anna in a hug before leaving me by myself again. Why can’t I be the way everyone else is? Maybe I should run away…I thought. But what good would that do? The both of them are so cunning they could convince the police that I had some sort of mental issue. How hard is it to treat a new member of the family with the same equality as everyone else, that even the maids and chefs in the house are treated with??? I sat and pondered everything about my existence here for several minutes as I heard jolly laughing of Chef Mary downstairs as she and Patricia conversed about my mistakes. I heard them talk about what they would enjoy for dinner and what activities everyone could do that night. The talking faded minutes later as Chef I assumed began to cook dinner.
Abruptly, there was an earsplitting screech from the downstairs…near the library. My heart skipped a beat and I quickly flung open my door and dashed downstairs to see what had happened. I turned the corner and was met with the sight of Patrisha staring into the library from the doorway, her eyes wide with shock. A slight breeze blew back her green dress and pieces of stray hairs hanging from her Auburn bun. I could feel the draft as I cautiously looked through the doorway. There, lying on the floor were Patricia's books, sprawled across the length of the library. Pages were folded and crumpled, and some torn out, lightly blowing across the room. But the worst part of all, one of Ms. Patricia's mahogany shelves was knocked into the glass window of her library, the shards scattered about. The shelf had several dents in it and a couple of shelves were broken off and dangling over the broken window. Pieces of colorful stained glass were scattered in front of the window but some still hung from the window pane. I gasped in shock as I pondered, why…how…this happened? I could feel the blood rushing to my head, and the beads of sweat collecting in my hands and on my face.
“Alison. What. Did. You. DO.” Patrisha breathed.
“It wasn’t me…I promise…I…I…” I stammered.
“GET OUT” Patrisha said.
“GET OUT” she bellowed, this time a little louder.
I stepped back out of the library entrance.
Patrisha clenched her fists and screamed the loudest I’ve ever heard, so much so that it nearly startled me to death,
“YES ALISON I MEAN ALL THE WAY OUT. GRAB YOUR THINGS AND LEAVE I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!!!!”
I paused in fear.
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW ALISON!!!”
I quickly said,
“Ma’am it wasn’t me I promise I swear!!!”
Patrisha looks at me with bloodshot eyes. She grabbed my wrist and flung me into the wall knocking the wind out of me. When I crumpled on the floor I saw that I had punched a hole where my knee had hit, also causing it to bleed again. I dodged Patricia's revenge hungry hands and ran upstairs gathering my notebook pencils, a jacket, and some clothes. I hastily shoved it into my leather satchel. I could hear her storming after me heavily up the stairs and burst into my room grunting with harsh anger. I scooted into the corner and when she swung at me missed and punched a hole in the wall near my window. To my advantage her chubby fingers got stuck in the wall. She screamed with extreme fury as I darted under her arm.
Then I ran into Annabelle.
I dropped my bag and tackled her knocking her head into the railing. I sat on top of her stomach and yelled,
“IT WAS YOU!! THIS WAS YOUR DOING YOU STUCK UP LITTLE PRINCESS!”
I pulled her up by her hair and kicked her into the wall. She screamed as I socked her across her porcelain skin until her nose bled and her face was beet red.
“STOP! STOP YOU USELESS LITTLE ORPHAN!!!” Patrisha screeched from my room. She pulled harder than ever and un-stuck her hand from the wall right as I shoved Annabelle down the stairs and sprinted out the door. Patrisha chased me down the stairs and passed screaming Annabelle before grabbing the nearest vase and chucking at my head. By nearly an inch it missed my head and crashed into the wooden front door as I ran down the front steps and onto the streets of New York. My new life started right here right now, as I heard the shouts of my old family in the distance and the slapping of my feet on the pavement. I heard the sound of my backpack bouncing in rhythm of my running as I ran and ran. Ran until I couldn’t breathe. Ran until my feet burned, but as far as I can away from that family. Ran until time felt like forever and until I felt I would suffocate. I found rest under a tree nearly 2 miles from my previous home. I opened my bag to search for food. I rummaged through a jacket a notebook pencils and…ah there. Food. Suddenly, a girl the same age as me approached me. She said,
“What happened to you?”
I looked at my cuts on my knee, my blistered feet and cut up hands. My black eye and beat marks on my arm and my tufts of hair stuck to my backpack.
“It’s a long story…” I explained.
The girl stared with concern and proceeded to say,
“If you want you can come to my house for dinner, then you can tell me the story. You look like you have had a very rough day… I’ll even help you clean up a bit, I think we can relate on our past events...”
I stopped fiddling in my bag.
“You...have no idea what I have been through...” I said in disbelief.
“Yes,” she cut me off. “I struggled with an abusive father at the age of nine. I was stuck with him for nearly two years before the neighbors heard my screams one night and reported a noise complaint. The police arrived at my house just in time to arrest him and take me to a foster home where I luckily found the best family I could ever ask for a year later. Maybe you could be in it too.”
I cracked a small smile as my hopes rocketed. The girl smiled back as I asked,
“What is your name?”
She giggled and said,
My smile grew wider…for I had heard that name before. The name that made me feel better about myself. The name that gave me hope. Lolita motioned with her hand to follow as we walked down the sidewalk. I watched the sunset as I opened my box of raisins…I think this is the happiest I had been in a while.