She sat outside on the backyard swing, her brother’s friend keeping watch.  She didn’t know whether the monsters in the woods or the monsters in her house would come to get her first.  It was a cool night and warm tears streamed down her chubby cheeks, an oft-repeated process that happened when she found herself in the midst of adult chaos—no place for a little girl.

She had no idea what had caused the most recent disruption in the house, but now she heard screaming, crashing sounds and threats against her brother.  The truth is, there was a monster in her house and he was not hiding under her bed.  He existed in the flesh, and came in the form of her mother’s second husband.  This particular night he had been dissatisfied with her brother’s tone of voice and started in with the usual belittling comments and macho posturing.  At the breaking point, her brother fought back, calling a friend in the process to come and watch his little sister in the backyard.  And there she was, shivering, wishing she could help him.   Wishing that she could run off with her brothers and live in some magical land where everyone was happy and life was not so hard.

When she finally gathered the courage to sneak over towards the house, she witnessed her brother walking down the driveway with a brown bag in hand.  She soon learned that her mother had tossed him out with hardly any belongings.  He would never live at home again.  Once again her mother had chosen the monster over her own children.

That night as she fell asleep, she wept again.  One of her only protectors had left her behind and she feared the worst.  Before getting into bed she blocked her bedroom door—and checked under the bed.  With the blanket pulled over her head, she dreamed of the day in which she would realize freedom.

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