Hope breathed softly, as she looked through the window covered in snow. It was three days after Christmas and her parents were still not home. Since her last beating four months ago, her father and stepmother left on vacation. They left her with a sex hungry cousin. She did not mind being away from her parents this long. It meant no more physical abuse. As the first month went by, she really missed it. This new kind of abuse she suffered was more painful and life scaring.
She turned her head to look at the bed where her cousin slept. She walked towards him and covered him with a blanket. He shifted slightly, but he stayed in his deep slumber. She walked into the bathroom and closed the door softly. It was the only place in the house she felt safe. This spot was where she just looked in the mirror.
She stretched out her neck to see the hickeys and new bruise she had. With all the other things, she hated how her lips looked, so swollen and red. She became something her stepmother always told her. She was a slut, nothing more and nothing less than a play toy for men. At times like this, she wanted to scream and cry out, but fear kept her so silent as the midnight sky.
After a few minutes of breathing, she left the bathroom. She stood still, as her cousin sat in front of her on the bed. He motioned for her to come to him, but she did not move an inch.
He looked slightly confused and got up. He stood in front of her with such dominance that it frightened her. He suddenly, got on his knees and placed his forehead against hers.
"Are you alright Hope? I do not need you to get sick on me. I am going to be gone for two days. I need you to take care of yourself."
She felt relief, when he said that. She flinched, as he brought his hand to her face.
He brushed the hair out of her face so he could see her eyes.
"Also sweetie, don't go run for help while I am gone. We do not want people thinking you are some little slut do we. People don't think kindly about an eight year old brat who doesn't know her place in the world." He said in a kind voice.
She held her breath in horror with what he said. Could it be true that people would think such things of her? If so, she shook her head in fear.
"That's a good girl. Now I am going to go head off to see my girlfriend and stay at her place. You be good while I am gone." He kissed her on the forehead and left.
Once she heard the front door close, she fell to her knees and cried in silence. As her tears hit the cold floor, they sounded like drums in the empty house. She fell against the bathroom door and curled up into a little ball. Hours passed, as she stared out into a haze of nothingness. Suddenly, she heard a small knock. Once again, the knock came and she sat up in confusion.
Suddenly a loud voice reached her ears, “Hey, Hope are you there? It's Ted!"
She jumped up in excitement. She ran to the door. She had not seen him or his older brother for almost two weeks. Before she left her room, she remembered the bruises and hickeys on her neck. She went through her closet and grabbed her pink scarf to hide her neck.
She made her way downstairs and opened the front door. She stood there as Ted gave her a big hug.
"Sorry, we haven't visited you in a while, but we barely returned from our trip. We got you something to tell you we are sorry." He said happily.
She shook her head in disapproval. She looked straight at Ted's eyes pleading with him.
As if he understood, "Don’t be ridiculous! You are our friend. Please, my mom kind of loves you."
She blushed slightly and nodded at him.
Ted called out for his brother. He came out of the bushes with a leash. Hope grinned widely, as she saw the head of a dog. She hugged Ted in approval and did the same with James. She began petting the dog and played with it.
James smiled at the sight of her and began to talk, "He is a German Shepherd only four months old. We got him so that when we are away, you have this dog to always keep you company. Look at that. He already likes you."
Hope continued to play with the dog, until it grabbed her scarf. She played tug war with it, so the dog would not pull it off.
Ted stood next to James, "His name is Sunshine." He watched as she fought with the dog. "Just give him the scarf Hope. We can get you a new one."
Suddenly with the entire dog's might, he ripped the scarf off her. The motion revealed her neck. In horror, both boys looked at her. In a short time, James' shocked face turned angry.
"What, the hell, is this Hope?" James grabbed her chin and made her look up, so he could see her neck better.
She tried her best to get out of his grip, but she failed.
"Was this your cousin's doing? It was, wasn't it? Hope, you need to go to the police. You know what better yet I am calling them." He walked into her house toward the phone.
She ran in front of him. She stopped him where he stood. She shook her head in terror. She tried to plead to him with her eyes.
"Hope, please let me help you. It is your chance to escape from all this." He said slowly.
Suddenly, she pushed him hard to the floor. He caught a glimpse of tears running down her cheek. He knew that fear gripped her strongly. He stood up suddenly and walked toward the door, while he grabbed his brother's hand.
He looked at her one last time, before he rushed out of the house.
"James, where are we going? I thought we were going to stay with Hope a little longer."
"She has the dog to keep her company. We can't be late for dinner."
Hope watched from her door, until she couldn't see them. The dog rubbed her leg softly, she patted his head and they walked back inside.
That night, she actually slept well. She hadn't slept well for a long time. When the phone rang, it rudely interrupted her sleep. She didn't want to get up, but the dog barked loudly. She got up and answered the phone.
The voice she heard shocked her awake.
"Hey, princess, I don't have much time to talk. The police accused Daddy of some bad stuff. It turns out that your stepmother went missing. They will hold me until they find her. I love you. When they let me go, I will talk to you. Oh, don't worry I got you a new babysitter."
The line went dead. Hope had many mixed feelings on what just happened. She took a deep breath and went back to bed.