Little Girl Lost

From the writer: I submitted this to a Vocal Media challenge. I am just sharing here.

Nobody could pinpoint the day she lost her mind. Vanessa Holland had always been a bit off her rocker. Spending time alone with her thoughts, the day the forgotten child picked up a copy of Alice In Wonderland, Vanessa ceased to exist. She would never again respond to her birth name and lose herself in the depths of the pages where she felt free. Some would say she was a complete and utter loon, and others, well, they envied her ability to escape from the harsh reality of the real world. In the world of the well to do, they shun mental illness when the child is not perfect. Instead of a new dress for Christmas, her parents made a shameful drive in the middle of the night and never looked back. A birth forgotten, the tiny girl would forever find herself locked away in a sanitarium for the insane. The question burning on the tongues of everyone who entered those sterile walls was, “Are the patients ill? Or was it the world around them that really burned with sickness?” It all depends on who you ask.

Sneaking out, the tiny redhead knew if caught again, there would be hell to pay. Though she lived in her own mind, the staff lived in the real world, and the constant loss of their most famous patient was forcing the hand of the head nurse. Wonderlust asylum was not for the timid or the faint of heart. From the moment Vanessa fell down that hole, they did not consider her normal. The world that played out in her mind kept the insanity inside of her forever. After all, as the rabbit once said, “When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”

Sneaking into the dilapidated old barn, she stretched out on the dirty hay covered ground. Her chin rested on her folded hands. An army of ants marching by in her head. She could hear their steps as the Queen led the way. “One, two, three, four, forward march,” said the muscular insect behind her Majesty, The Queen. Her feet stirring, she marched along with them, eyes never leaving the tiny soldiers. They had wars to fight, a dynasty to save, and food to forage. Ants are the hardest working creatures on the planet.

A flutter from the rafters piqued her ears to attention. It was Dexter, the old owl, who would spend his last winter in the comfort of the rundown old refuge. Bringing one finger to her lips, holding it still, she warned the creature of letting his presence known again. If the mice knew he was lurking, they would surely leave and deny him a warm meal that evening. A hush grew over the small room, her eyes once again of the colony that forged through. As she placed her hand to her forehead, saluting them all, that’s when it happened. Building inside, the dust tickling her nose, a sneeze came without warning, blowing half of the troops away.

“Oh no, I am ever so sorry, your Majesty. It was not my fault,” she begged. With a quick brush to her nose. Vanessa watched as the angry mob returned to the formation. Their little legs shaking from the near death experience. She could hear him laughing. Dexter took great joy in her whispered ramblings. He was almost sadistic in his taunts about the young one. “Stop it, I say. You’ve done enough already,” she whispered, knowing his keen sense of hearing would shut him down before she finished.

SCREECH!

As his wing fluttered, the old owl gave a warning. There was danger on the way. No matter his games with the small one, he protected her with his life.

“Vanessa, where the hell are you today. I know you aren’t in that barn again,” the voice screamed.

As the footfalls advanced, the little redhead scurried into the corner. The ant’s standing guard. Tucked tightly into a small crevice, she huddled once again. Pulling her dirt-covered knees to her chest, she held her breath for as long as her lungs would allow. The fire building inside her chest, she stayed as quiet as a mouse. Screams played in her mind. She didn’t want to go back. Not yet. Never.

“Got you,” he grumbled, an arm reaching back to grab a handful of auburn locks. “I told you about this place. It’s not safe for a tender young thing like yourself,” he said. Yanking Vanessa out of the space, dragging her across the floor until she was in full view of the world around her. The man held her by the shoulders, shaking her slight frame from side to side. As the male snarled, his words laced with venomous warnings, “This is the last time I will warn you.” Saliva dripped from the sides of his mouth, tiny droplets of spit raining down on the young girl’s face. It was disgusting, to say the least, but the man continued to rant about rules and such. Everything needed a place, and hers was back in the home under the protective eyes of the staff assigned to care for the mentally incompetent.

No warning was given. Dexter flew from the rafters, his nails scratching across the man’s head. He would provide Vanessa enough time to escape. His last gift to his friend. A shattered silence. The orderly screamed in pain as the talons of the majestic bird dug into the scalp. “Vanessa, get back here, you little fool,” he screamed. With force the tiny girl pushed the splintering wood enough to slip out of her small safe haven. The moment the cold air slapped her cheeks, she felt free. Being lost in her mind was the biggest escape from a family, unwilling to allow her wings to soar.

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