It was morning. A beautiful morning. The kind of morning where the sunrise’s glow gave new life to everything its rays touched.
She was sitting on the freshly stained steps, positioned front and center of the charming brick home that was nestled peacefully in rolling hills, with a view of some magnificent mountains in the distance. On either side of the steps, just below the rod-iron railed porch was a freshly planted flower garden, with the last drops of dew drying in that golden sunrise.
Her hair was shiny and blonde, straight, healthy, and brushed. Her eyes sparkled blue like the oceans of Hawaii where her family had gone on vacation last summer. The smell of the salty air was still fresh in her mind. She wore clean, comfy clothes – just what you would expect a nine-year-old girl to be wearing on a quiet day at home.
She rested her hands on her chin, looking out onto the freshly mowed lawn, simply enjoying the peaceful morning. Suddenly, her trance and peace was interrupted by a boy who was screaming and yelling on the side of the house. The girl jumps and runs to find out what is causing the shouts.
It was only her younger brother, running and playing with his pedigree Golden Retriever puppy. Its name was Suitcase. Now that she was closer, she could hear his giggles. She watched them as they chased each other and rolled in the plush grass. She jumps into the fun, laughing and smiling oh so sweetly.
They were an unbreakable trio.
That morning they played tug-of-war together, filling the air with squeals of joy and laughter. They played with bubbles, challenging each other to blow the biggest one. They watched them fly, fly into the endless blue sky. There wasn’t a single cloud to taint the sunshine.
Around lunchtime, their mother comes out to share a picnic with them. They sat on a brightly colored blanket, sharing freshly sliced apples, bursting green grapes, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with plenty of crisp apple juice to top it all off. They laughed with their mother, whose smile was bright and hair just as healthy and beautiful as her daughter’s hair was.
After lunch, the mother returned inside, leaving the boy and girl and puppy to continue enjoying the day. They started with a game of freeze tag, laughing at the golden puppy who would never freeze when he was tagged. This game led them to the playset which was complete with a twisting yellow slide, green ladder, and green swings. Here they played and played, never getting tired of the slide and the little girl only getting tired when her brother insisted on being pushed “Higher, higher!” on the swing.
By the middle of the afternoon, they were quite exhausted and lied on their backs on the blanket that they had retrieved from their mother from their picnic lunch. They gazed with imaginative eyes into the vastness above them. A few clouds had rolled in since the morning, but not the ominous, gray kind that foreshadowed an incoming thunderstorm. These were the kind of clouds that made shapes that could look like a “stegosaurus” or a “race car” or even a “turtle.”
It wasn’t long before the sunset began to change the colors of the clouds and sky. The boy and girl sat on the porch steps together, the puppy asleep at the boy’s feet. Finally, the little boy speaks up and says to his sister, “I think it’s time to go back inside.”
“No, I don’t want to go.”
“We have to go.”
“But today was perfect. Why do you want to go?”
“I didn’t say I wanted to.”
They were silent for a minute.
“Let’s go,” says the boy.
“I said no.”
“Come on, get up!”
The girl is shaken from her dream. No longer was she on the porch with beautiful hair, clean clothes, enjoying the radiant sunset. She was being shaken in her bed – the lower bunk, only one bunk bed of three in the small room. It was dark, filthy, and overcrowded with clothes, trash, and empty bottles strewn everywhere.
“Get up, girl!” It was a middle-aged woman, overweight with dirty nails and mismatched clothes. She was shaking the young girl, who was wearing clothes stained and at least a size too small for her. Her hair is knotted and disheveled.
“No, no, get off of me!” The girl is hysterical and upset.
A trash bag is thrown at her, and another is thrown at her younger brother, who is standing beside his bed, clutching a dirty stuffed puppy, named Suitcase.
“The social worker will be here to pick you two up in a few hours. Pack your things now and get up. You’re both leaving,” growled the woman, the stench of cigarettes traveling with her breath.
“Get up, sissy,” says the little boy quietly. “It’s time to go again.”
Elizabeth Anne Spires is an undergraduate student at the University of the Cumberlands, pursuing a major in English Literary Studies and a minor in French. Upon graduation, she plans to obtain a Master of Arts in English, while teaching English as a second language. It is her goal to use language and education as a platform to travel and reach the minds of eager learners like herself.