• “Mommy?”

    “What is it Karen?”

    “Dolly got her dress dirty.”

    “How many times do I have to tell you not to play with her outside?”

    She snatches Dolly out of Karen’s hands, walks out of the home office to the laundry room and mumbles, “Why did we give you this, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”

    Karen follows dragging her feet, her hands clasped behind her back and her head down. Her mom, out of frustration, struggles to take the dress off of Dolly. Once the dress is off she throws it into the sink and Dolly to Karen, Karen dives to catch Dolly. Her mom turns on the water, and pours in the soap. Bubbles consume the dress and the bottom of the sink. Her mom shuts the water off and searches for the dress. When the dress is found she violently rubs the dress to remove the dirt and other stains. When done she rings the dress dry and tosses it in the air. Karen jumps to catch it in the air.

    “Keep it clean from now on, got it?”

    “Yes, Mommy. Sorry.”

    “Keep quite, I have work to do,” her mom states storming out of the room on the way bumping into Karen and nearly knocking her over.

    “Yes, Mommy.”

    Karen stands there for a moment, and then she pulls Dolly from behind her and starts to dress her.

    “Why is mommy so mad, Dolly?” Karen asks as she finishes dressing Dolly.

    She goes to her room upstairs and starts playing. A few hours go by, and then her father enters the front door. Karen runs down stairs with Dolly to great him.

    “Hi, Daddy!”

    “Hi,” he replies waving his hand telling her to go and continues his conversation on his cell phone. He walks into the kitchen and places his brief case and cell on the counter and heads for the refrigerator. Karen slowly follows, but stops at the counter. He starts to rummage through the shelves when her mom enters the kitchen.

    “Oh no, I don’t think so. Not tonight, I have work to do. You need to watch Karen, tonight.”

    He ignores her and takes out a bottle of beer, opens it and takes a couple of gulps. Her mom walks over to him and slaps his arm and tries to grab the beer. Beer falls onto his sleeve.

    “Woman look at what you did!”

    “So send it to dry cleaning tomorrow. And dump that in the sink.”

    “I work 24-7! This is my time to relax!”

    “I work twice as much as you! I don’t have time to relax, why should you?”

    The argument continues while Karen sneaks away and heads up stairs to her room.

    “Why do Mommy and Daddy fight and fight, Dolly?”

    Karen plays in her room and tries her best to ignore the yelling, banging, crashing, and the clattering. The fight goes on for hours; Karen climbs on her bed and crawls under the covers with Dolly.

    “Dolly, I don’t think Mommy and Daddy love me. Do you love me Dolly?”

    The fight ends and hour later. All that is heard is the announcers on Sport Center from the living room and whimpering from the home office and Karen’s room. She ends up crying her self to sleep for a few hours, and then she wakes up from hunger pains. She slowly crawls out and off her bed with Dolly in one hand, tiptoes to her door, down the hall, and the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs she sees her father passed out on the couch, with one beer in his hand and five empty on the end table. The TV gives her light to see her way to the kitchen. She eventually reaches the refrigerator and sets Dolly on the counter. She opens the refrigerator as quietly as she can manage. Her eyes search the shelves; she takes out the milk carton, sets it on the counter, grabs the white bread, sets it on the counter, and then grabs the grape jelly, sets it on the counter. She slowly closes the refrigerator door and heads for the carbonate, and opens the door. She takes the peanut butter and closes the door. She sets the peanut butter on the counter with everything else, and takes out the butter knife and spoon from the drawer. She makes her PB and J with a glass of milk without a sound. When she finishes her sandwich she begins to put everything away, like she was never there. On her way to the refrigerator; with milk, jelly, and bread in her arms, she drops the jelly.
    She stands still, listening for any sound that Mommy or Daddy heard her. She hears her dad groan, so she jumps to the refrigerator and puts the milk and bread up and rushes to put up the butter, knife, and spoon. She grabs the rag hanging on the stove and starts to pick up the mess. When she’s standing over the trashcan, the kitchen light shines. She drops the mess and the rag in the trash and stands there.

    “What is this, Karen?” her mother yells.

    Streams fall from Karen’s eyes down her face to her hands, and she continues to stand still. Seconds later her father enters the room.

    “I said, what is this Karen?” Her mother repeats, and points at the mess.

    “What the hell? Why are you yelling? I was trying to sleep!” He asks, and slaps her mother on her head.

    “Look at what your daughter did. That’s why I am yelling.” She states and retaliates hitting him on the head and points at the mess. Furious from the hit he slaps her and then his eyes follow her finger. He finally sees the mess.

    He walks over to Karen and asks, “What are you doing up so late, and making such a mess?”

    Karen’s shoulders tense up and her heads slides down and the streams continue to fall, but she doesn’t respond.

    “Answer me!” He hits her head.


    “Sorry? I didn’t ask for an apology. I asked what you’re doing.”

    “I was hungry; I didn’t mean to make a mess.”

    “You were hungry? So you thought you could steal some food?”

    “Sorr-” He hits her again before she can finish. He then pushes her over to the mess. She trips on the way over and her knee lands on a shard of glass. She lefts up her knee, takes the shard out and starts to pick the mess up with her hands.

    “Pick it up!”

    He walks over to her mom. Makes a gesture, like you would to a dog telling it to go, towards the home office. Her mom doesn’t move, so he grabs her by her hair and drags her to the office. She runs into the door, he lets go of her hair and walks back to the couch.

    “It better be spotless by morning!” He yells while walking by the kitchen.

    Karen continues to clean up the mess while her parents go back to their previous engagements. A few hours go by and the sun begins to rise, and the mess has vanished along with the blood that joined it a few hours ago. Karen walks over to the counter and grabs Dolly and the sandwich. They head up stairs to the bathroom. She sets Dolly and the PB and J down by the sink and grabs a washcloth, then wets it and starts to wash her scrapes and the dry blood away.

    “Look Dolly, I’m the one that’s dirty now,” she says laughing softly.

    After cleaning the wounds, she wraps her knee and hand in bandages. She puts everything back to their original places, grabs Dolly, and heads to her room. In her room she opens the blinds to her window by her desk. She places Dolly on the desk and sits down on the chair.

    “I hope Daddy will be happy I did a good job,” she says, while she fixes Dolly’s dress.

    “Do you think he will, Dolly?”

    The streams return and fall onto Dolly’s dress.
    Her parents wake up, and keep with their morning routine. He gets ready for work and she yells at him for not watching Karen the night before. The difference this morning is them arguing about who’s fault it is for Karen making such a mess and stealing their food. Within an hour her father leaves for work, and her mom returns to the home office, and the new day begins.
    Karen spends the day in her room playing and crying, while her mom types, sleeps, eats, and goes to the store for a couple of hours. When her father comes home the story repeats its self. Though this time at night Karen ignores the hunger pains by talking to Dolly and crying.

    “Dolly, you’re my friend, right? Let’s run away, okay?” She says setting Dolly on her bed.

    She walks over to her closet and takes out a bag and starts putting her clothes in the bag and a pair of shoes in as well. Her bag is half full when she walks to her bed and grabs Dolly. She starts for her door with Dolly in one hand and the bag in the other.

    “One last time Dolly. This time I won’t get caught.”
    She closes her door and sneaks down to the kitchen. Her hunt begins. She puts a loaf of bread, the peanut butter jar, and the new jar of jelly, along with a few bags of chips in her bag till it is full. Once the supplies are gathered they start for the back door. Karen holds Dolly close and walks out the door. She closes the door slowly and softly. Once the door is closed she dashes to front yard.

    Running she holds Dolly in front of her, “We cab play and be free forever and ever, Dolly!” with streams falling over her broken smile.