HIDING IN THE DARKNESS

by Cruz Balderas
(Fresno, CA. U.S)

HIDING IN THE DARKNESS

Five year old Tiarra slips into her “Princesses
Elena” pajamas after soaking inside a bubble
bath for nearly an hour and she hears the
clinging of dishes coming from the kitchen as
her Mother prepares a evening snack before
bedtime.

“Ok baby...Fruit Loops or Cap’n Crunch.” said Tiarra’s Mother

“You know I like Cap’n Crunch...mommy!” said Tiarra

“No...you like anything that’s sweet is what it is...you little
brat.” laughed her Mother

They sit at the dinner table enjoying each other’s company as Tiarra eats her pink plastic bowl of cereal and her Mother drinks a hot cup of herbal tea that would help sooth her nerves and perhaps get a restful sleep tonight.

“Did you put your dirty clothes in the hamper...like I told you?” asked Tiarra’s Mother.

Tiarra nods her head, “Uh huh”

“Ok now remember put the bowl in the sink when you finish.” said Tiarra’s Mother.

“I know,” replied Tiarra “Uh..mommy..what are we going to do tomorrow?”

“I don’t know...why...what do you want to do tomorrow?” she asked.

“I want to go to the park.” said Tiarra

“Well maybe if it’s a nice day.” replied her Mother.

Suddenly there is a strong knock at the front door.

“Open up....Gloria!” said a man’s voice.

“Quick baby...get in here!” said Tiarra’s Mother as Tiarra scurries inside the pantry and her Mother quickly closes the cupboard behind her.

“And don’t make a sound.” warned Tiarra’s Mother

Tiarra opens a tiny crack between the two front door panels of the kitchen cupboard just small enough to see through one eye. She could smell the scent of spicy cinnamon as she squeezes further underneath the bottom shelf putting herself in total darkness...this was not the first time she had to do this!

There is another knock at the front door...this time it’s louder.

“Come on...open the damm door...Gloria!” said the angry man. “Stop acting stupid!”

Tiarra hears her Mother whispering on her cell phone, “I need an Officer here...my ex-boyfriend is at my front door...he’s drunk again and trying to get in!”

Police Dispatch: “Ok stay on the line..ma’am....we’re sending a Officer.”

Suddenly, Tiarra hears a loud smashing noise and sees a man standing in the middle of their living room.

“It’s Frank...my Mom’s friend!” thought Tiarra “He use to bring me toys.”

Frank appears to be very angry.

“Why didn’t you open the damm door?” he snapped

“You better get out of here...Frank!” said Tiarra’s Mom, “The Police are coming!”

Tiarra could see Frank with a open beer can in his hand as he places it on the kitchen table.

“Where were you last night?” he asked “I kept calling you!”

“I already told you...Frank...it’s over.” said Tiarra’s Mother.

Tiarra suddenly sees Frank grab a hold of her Mother from the collar of her blouse.

“It over when I say it is!” he snarled and tightly wraps his hand around her neck, “I asked you where you were last night?”

“Stop it Frank!” she gasped “Leave me alone!”

Tiarra doesn’t see her Mother anymore, but hears a scuffling of feet then something hard hits the wall that divides the kitchen from the living room followed by the sound of broken glass. She could see Frank picking up his fist and striking something soft...again...again and again.

“Please...no more...Frank...I’m sorry!” begged Tiarra’s Mother, “I won’t do it again...I swear...please don’t hit me anymore!”

“You used me!” growled Frank as he kept raising his fist several more times.

Tiarra suddenly does not hear her Mother and notices a different tone in Frank’s voice,

“Hey...hey...baby...wake up!” he said, “I didn’t mean it...come on baby...wake up...I didn’t mean it...please baby open your eyes!”

Tiarra could hear her Mother moaning as footsteps hurried inside her bedroom then there is the sound of opening and closing of doors.

“Tiarra...Tiarra...where are you sweetheart?” Frank uttered calmly.

Tiarra wants to come out of the pantry to check on her Mother, but she dare not move and stays very quiet.

“I’m scared!” she whispers softly, “I want my mommy!”

“Tiarra...Tiarra...where are you?” repeated Frank in desperation. “Your mama is looking for you!”

Suddenly the closing sound of a car door is heard outside followed by footsteps running through the kitchen and out the back door. She is about to crawl out of the cupboard when she hears more footsteps.

“He’s back!” she thought, “Please God...don’t let him find me!” As tears slowly begin to roll down her small rosy cheeks caused by the feeling of intense fear.

The sound of slamming doors are getting closer as Tiarra shuts her eyes...silently waiting and praying for the sun to soon rise...and take away the night.

There is total silence when suddenly the doors to the pantry swing open. Tiarra almost faints when she sees a gun, but she bravely looks up and sees the glare of a shiny badge followed by a kind voice behind a friendly smile.

“Hey baby...it’s ok...you’re safe now.” assured the Police Officer as he stoops down on one knee and extends his strong arms toward her, “Come on mama...you’re safe with me now...I pinky promise.”

Tiarra instantly wraps her arms around the Officer’s neck as he carries her outside and she sees people gather on the street where old ladies are covering their mouth with their hands and a ambulance driving away from her house.

“I wonder if mommy is in there?” she thought.

Tiarra is asked several questions at the Police station by the friendly Officer.

“Now sweetheart...how do you know Frank?” he asked.

“He use to bring me toys.” she replied.

Late that evening, Tiarra, the friendly Police Officer and a very pretty lady stop in front of a large house covered by pink bricks with a long drive way and different color lights inside the flower garden.

They are greeted at the doorway by a happy white toy Manchester terrier with brown patches, who keeps standing on its hind legs and sniffing at their feet.

“Now Tiarra...these are the Andersons!” said the pretty lady, “They will be taking good care of you until your mommy gets better and comes out of the hospital.”

Tiarra reluctantly lets go of the Police Officer’s hand and walks inside the residence.

The Police Officer stoops down on one knee and gently combs away a strand of Tiarra’s hair from her face with his fingers. “Don’t worry baby...I’ll be back tomorrow...ok...I pinky promise.”

Tiarra nods her head and wraps her arms around the Officer’s neck and hugs him tightly.

The Andersons serve Tiarra a bowl of Cap’n Crunch that she didn’t have the chance to finish earlier while wearing a brand new pair of “Princesses Elena” pajamas.

“Look Tom!” said Mrs. Anderson, “She ate all her cereal...you were hungry weren’t you sweetie?”

Tiarra nods her head, “Uh huh...mommy says I like sweets.”

Mrs. Anderson teaches Tiarra to recite a short prayer of baby Jesus before tucking her into bed.

“I’m going to leave the door slightly open and the hallway light on...ok...Tiarra.” said Mrs. Anderson. “Just call me if you need anything...ok...goodnight sweetie.”

“Goodnight” said Tiarra as she lays her head on a soft fluffy pillow, but when she closes her eyes ugly images of Frank keeps appearing in her mind.

“I want my mommy.” she whispers softly as tears slowly begin to roll down her small rosy cheeks caused by the feeling of being completely alone.

So she covers herself entirely with a comforter blanket leaving a tiny crack small enough to see through one eye as she looks around into the surrounding darkness of her glamorous new bedroom that is totally foreign to her....silently waiting and praying for the sun to soon rise ...and take away the night.

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