I could hear my parents whispering to themselves agitatedly as they snuck glances at me. I ignored them. They always spoke about me. Always whispered. Then they pasted fake smiles on their faces like that could fool me. They thought I was too young to see through their smiles. They didn’t trust me. They never had. Not since the first time I told them about my best friend. Penelope.
I remember watching the Carrie movie but my mother had heard the screams from the telly and rushed to put it off, scolding me as she did so. I was too young to watch scary movies. My mother was not impressed when I told her such movies didn’t scare me. They were like comedies. She had looked at me a little worried, maybe scared when I had chuckled to myself as I watched the movie ‘Joshua’. Granted, he was a sociopath but he didn’t want anyone to love him. Why did they?
I nudged Penelope’s shoulder as we peered at my parents through the sliding doors. We were in the garden and they were still whispering away to themselves in the living room.
‘Can you hear what they’re saying?’ I asked.
Penelope replied, ‘they want to take you to the doctor again.’ I sighed. My parents had been taking me to see doctors ever since my first pet ran away. Then my second. Then my third. It wasn’t my fault they ran away. I had loved them. I had mourned them. But my parents said I was doing something to them. Why would I?
‘Who’s this one now?’ I asked tiredly.
Penelope scuttled inside the house then came back, ‘I heard your mum say Dr Whittaker?’ Who was that? Not like it mattered. I was going to be prodded and poked again. I sighed and leaned my head on Penelope’s shoulder.
‘Please don’t leave me to go through this on my own,’ I mumbled into her shoulder.
She stroked my hair and said softly, ‘I will never leave you. Not even if I have to sneak into the hospital with you.’ We giggled at this.
The next week, I was walking in between my parents to the doctor’s office. My hands clasped tightly in theirs. When we got there, I realised it looked more like a church.
‘Why are we here, mummy?’ I looked confused at my mother. Then my father. They ignored me at first but I asked again, my voice louder.
‘Why are we here? We aren’t even Christians. Why are we here?’
My mother stopped walking abruptly and knelt on one knee so she could be on the same level with me, ‘Baby, we spoke about this before. We need to see this doctor’
‘No!’ I bit back sharply, ‘You need to see a doctor! I’ve seen loads. I’m not ill. You just don’t love me anymore. I want Penelope!’
My father knelt quickly and dragged me for a quick hug. ‘You’re not ill, darling. Of course not. We just need to see him real quick to prove to those pesky therapists that you’re okay.’
Therapists? Prove? They weren’t making any sense. Before I could say anything, I was practically bustled into the church and up the stairs to an office in the corner. I saw a priest walk out…a priest!
‘Daddy, that’s not a doctor!’ I said almost inaudibly. I didn’t realise I had walked backwards till my back hit the wall. The man said softly. Gently. ‘Calm down, Sarah. We just want to have a little chat. Alone. Your parents don’t have to be here.’
I looked at them frightened. I was begging them silently not to leave me. Please, don’t. They rubbed my shoulders soothingly. My mother pressed a kiss to my forehead. Then they left. I was blank for a second. Maybe two. Then I ran to the window and pressed my face to the window as I saw them drive away. They were leaving me here!
They promised to stay with me! I turned back gasping loudly as the priest raised a hand. I had no idea if he was trying to calm me down. I didn’t care. I wanted Penelope.
‘Calm down, Sarah. Please. Calm down.’ It seemed like his voice was coming from another room. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. Then I felt a sharp pain in my neck and darkness swiftly followed.
I woke up groggily, forgetting for a second where I was. I blinked twice trying to get my bearings. It was dimly lit, the setting sun throwing little flickers round the room. Then I spotted the priest on the floor and gasped.
He was dead!
I took a deep breath and suddenly my nostrils were clogged with the smell of something metallic. I screamed out loud. Then I jumped as I felt someone touch my shoulder.
‘Told you I’d never leave you.’
It was Penelope. I grabbed her in a tight hug as I sobbed and blubbered on her white dress. ‘Don’t ever leave me again! This priest! He injected me and now he’s dead! What if I had been killed too?’
‘You can never be killed. I will always protect you.’ Penelope whispered fiercely in my ear. ‘Come on, let’s go home.’
‘What will mummy and daddy say? They’ll be so upset. And they left me here! I still can’t believe it. And the priest, what shall we do with…’
‘Don’t worry, I’ve called the police. They’re on their way. We should go now or they’ll think you did something.’ She said as she dragged me out of the room.
Me? But what could I have done? I am just a kid. I didn’t say anything however as I walked hand in hand with my best friend out of the church. Happy that we were together again.
For now, that was all that mattered.
‘Mummy, why is that girl talking to herself?’ Little Samuel asked.
Erica pulled her son close and blocked his face from the little girl with the curiously red hands who had just emerged from the church. She was walking like she was holding hands with somebody and talking and laughing to herself.
‘Nothing baby, let’s hurry home now.’ She pulled him even closer and walked briskly in the opposite direction.
Photo credit: google images