The phone call

The phone call

“No, no Brian, that’s what I’m telling you; we can’t go and hide it there, where it can easily be found.”
Molly was playing peacefully with her dolls in her room when she overheard her mother talking on the phone in the next room. Curious as any 5-year-old girl would be, she enjoyed wondering with her dolls what her mother was talking about.
“They’re going to suspect us of something,” her mother continued with a frightened voice.
Molly became attentive when she heard the fear in her mother’s voice. She approached the wall separating the two rooms, holding her favorite doll in her hand; the one with one eye gouged out and one arm twisted from being dragged around all the time.
“I told you this wasn’t a good idea… from the beginning… and what are people going to say about us now, when this gets out? Yes, it will eventually come out!”
Molly didn’t understand what was there to be found. Did she have to be part of the research? Did her mother need her help? And besides, who was that Brian her mother was talking to? Certainly not her father, who had abandoned the family nest when she was only 2 years old. It must be one of her mother’s several friends that she sometimes met, other times not. She couldn’t call any of them dad, though. The more she thought about it, the more she believed that her mother seemed to be hiding something lately. Maybe it had something to do with the conversation on the phone. Maybe she should listen more to find out, so she stuck her left ear to the wall.
“It was your idea in the first place. You should be the one to figure out how to hide it. Even for a million dollars, I would never have done that. Now my kitchen serves as a secret hiding place.”
“What did Mommy do for money?” thought Molly.
“My clothes are stained, the car is dirty, everything is messy… It will never go away, all this mess… Oh, why, why did you drag me into this! You have to come right away and help me get this over with,” the mother continued to shout. “And if Molly ever found out, that would be the end of it. She wouldn’t understand; you know she already sees things differently from other kids.”
The little girl gasped as she heard her mother pronounce her name. What wasn’t she supposed to know? What would be the end of it? Molly got up and walked to her bed, still accompanied by her doll. She snuggled into her bed under her comforter.
“Is Mommy in danger?” she thought.
The little girl began to imagine the worst in her mind. She thought her mother had hurt someone, or worse, killed someone. Her mother had killed someone for money. They were poor, with no daddy, and her mother had killed someone and stolen all their money. Was this what you had to do when you were poor? Was this how adults dealt with their problems? So if her mother had killed someone, she was in danger. And who was going to protect Molly from danger? The little girl suddenly got out from under the comforter and sat on the edge of her bed. She bit the corner of her lip, took one of her curly locks of hair between her fingers, and began to twist it.
“What if this is the fault of the man she’s talking to?” she thought.
No, her mother would never do that. It was the other man who forced her. The man killed someone, and he couldn’t do it alone, so he dragged her mother into it.
Molly jumped out of bed and walked towards her bedroom door. She stopped for a moment, heard her mother crying on the phone, and then walked out of her room. She headed to the kitchen, where she had heard her mother say there was a hidden secret. The smell of roast beef made its way through the hallway and caught the little girl’s attention. Once in the kitchen, she began to walk along the wall until she made it in the middle of the room as if she were trying to hide or run from someone. She approached the counter which was way too high for her to see anything. She took the stool under the sink and placed it near the counter to climb on it and get her elbows on the countertop. Once she was able to see the surface, her eyes gazed at a long, shiny blade in the middle, stained with a liquid she couldn’t recognize. She stretched out her short 5-year-old arm to grab the knife. Still too far away from her, she managed to catch it by the sharp side of the blade, cutting her fingertip in the process. She looked at her wound, her eyes impressed, without shedding a single tear. Drops of blood ran down her bright yellow dress, which she wiped with her already blood-stained hand, spreading the blood down to the edge of her dress. She jumped off the stool, knife in hand, this time holding it by the handle. As she put the stool back in its place under the sink, she heard a car door closing in the parking lot outside.
She hopped down the stairs, then headed for the front door to see who was outside. She took care to hide the knife and her doll behind her back before opening the door. A few feet ahead of her was a tall man who had just gotten out of his car. Molly had never met him before. The man looked at her with a frightened look on his face when he saw the bloodstains on the girl’s yellow dress. He rushed to her aid, but the little girl quickly said:
“Stop. Don’t come near my mom or me, or I’ll SCREAM.”
“Where is your mom? Is she safe?” replied the man.
“No she is not safe because you forced her to do something very bad. You shouldn’t be here. Leave, leave right now or I’ll SCREAM.”
“Come on, let me talk to your mother, sweetie,” continued the man, ignoring Molly’s tantrums.
Molly’s scream alerted her mother who was cleaning in the kitchen. She dropped every utensil she had in her hands, hurried down the stairs, and rushed outside to see what was going on with her daughter.
She found her sitting cross-legged in the parking lot, her doll in her lap, and the knife still in her hand.
“Molly, Molly, what happened? Oh my God, there’s blood on your dress…what are you doing with the kitchen knife… where’s Brian?” her mother questioned hastily, as she looked towards the man’s empty car still parked.
“It’s okay, Mommy. You’re safe now.”
“Where’s Brian, Molly?”
“It’s okay, Mommy, don’t worry. I’ve taken care of him. Let’s go back inside now, please. I smelled the food and now I’m hungry,” said the little girl, getting up and walking to the front door.

©2021 Teodora D.

Image by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

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