21 Years Earlier. Year 1918Cheryl, small, freckle-faced, dark eyed girl with mousy thin lips and hair that cascades straight and almost brittle like pine needles down her tiny, bony frame. You could say the hair was almost as tall as her.
She stood by the frosted window pane as her father and mother walked down the large steps they’d climbed only a short while ago, daddy dearest holding Cheryl’s small pale hands while mother walked ahead, her perfect behind shaking like a pendulum as she did, and her 4 inch heels clipping.
“It’s going to be okay, Cher. You’ll see.” Her father hushed from above her, something in his eyes searching for her acknowledgment. “I went to a boarding school too when I was young. Made lots of friends, I did.” He stopped down to her as they reached the front grand door. “You want to make friends, don’t you sweet pea?”
Cheryl eyed the giant doorway, her mother long since disappeared. “I will live here now, Father?”
“Yes, sweet pea, and you will love it, I promise.”
Cheryle had continued to eye the lobby, its dark cold open space uninviting. “Till mummy is happy with me?”
“No, no, darling. Your mummy loves you very much.”
“Lies, Father. We mustn’t tell lies.” Cheryl looked him straight in the eye, her own vacant and full of questions. “Missy says mummy doesn’t want me anymore. Missy says mummy wants only the new baby.”
Her father holds her gently by her shoulders. “Cherry, we talked about Missy, haven’t we?” Cheryl nodded. “And what did we say about Missy.”
Cheryle eyed the blue-eyed blonde girl standing behind her father. A beautiful smile widening on her cherry lips, which put two severe dimples on her side. “Missy is not real, Father.”
“That’s right, sweet pea. Missy isn’t real, okay?” They heard the clipping of her mother’s shoes coming back again, and that’s when father rose. “Now, we will come back and get you for holidays and Christmas. And you must behave or…”
“We will leave you here for good!” Mother interrupted, snatching a Cheryl’s hand away from her father. Mother’s well manicured maroon nails scratched the young child’s arm, drawing blood, not that she cared. “Now,” she barked, “I don’t want to hear any complaints about you, you get it?” Cheryl nodded. “Good then,” the woman straightened up. “Get the car dear. The head mistress will be allowed my shortly for her.”
Cheryl watched her father do as he was bid and retreat. She wasn’t to know that that would be the last time she’d ever see him again. Or her mother for that matter. That day, all those years ago, Cheryl wasn’t being left in a boarding school. No. That day, young five year old Cheryl Waters was being abandoned by one parent and orphaned to another. The only person left by her side that evening as she watched the car churn up dust down the gravel drive was Missy. Missy who held her hand and quietly whispered. “I’ll look after you now, Cherry.”
“Cheryl, someone is here to see you. Says she knows you. She is waiting at the lobby for you.”
Cheryl nodded, finishing up bandaging April’s hand. April was another resident at the hospital, incapable of looking after herself. Yesterday she’d accidentally got a hold of a pair of scissors and somehow managed to cut her hand with the blades. Over the years, Cheryl had learned to help out the nurses. It was the least she could do to have a roof over her head. Her funds had long since stopped arriving at the school apparently.
“Who is it?” She finally asked as the nurse started walking away.
Nurse Martha had been working at the hospital for the last decade or so, but even her face was one of disbelief. “She says she’s your mother.”
“Mother?” Missy hissed beside Cheryl who could all but stare in disbelief. For all Cheryl knew, her father had died in the last Great War, and her mother lost interest in Cheryl with it.
“Tell her I’ll be there in a moment. Whoever she is, she is not my mother, but I’ll see her anyway.”
Nurse Martha nodded and proceeded to go out the room and go about her work.
“You will not see that woman. You will not Cherry.”
…to be continued…