P R O L O G U E
THERE’S NO PLACE TO HIDE*

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      Cassandra lay in the field surrounded by apple trees, tall dry grass and weeds. The fox tails pricked her bare legs making her even more uncomfortable. Her chest heaved in sobs with her lungs fighting for oxygen. Her face was red with hurt and her checks wet with tears. They had yet to subside over the long agonizing hours. In her Sunday go a meeting dress and too tight saddle shoes she picked herself up from laying on her stomach. She sat with her dress padding her small nine year old bottom. She wrapped her arms around herself still shaking uncontrollably. She choked every now and then on the lump that had been resting in her throat.

      "Why?" She questioned herself. "Why doesn't he want me?"

      Her father, Dale, had come home that day blowing up at her. She had cleaned her room and stuffed a few things under her bed. He couldn’t tolerate that. He said that he was going to send her to a foster home. Somewhere far away, without a family. He yelled and screamed.

      Cassandra’s mother had died when she was only eight years old. Leaving her to Dales care.

      "Why does he drink?"

      Her father cared for her supplying her with the bare necessities. He worked hard, but when he was off duty he drank. He was a mean drunk.

      Cassandra dried her eyes with the back of her hand. She didn't know where to go, who turn to when Dale went on one of his tirades. There was no other family so she would have to go back home. She stood up steadying herself with her arms. Brushing her bottom off of unwanted stickers and leaves, she set for home. She walked slowly. It was almost dark. Maybe he would be passed out by now.

      Coming to her house she looked in horror at it. The porch light shining brightly lit up the path to the door. She turned to her house stopping to say a little prayer.

      "Please don't send me away."

      She continued on her way stepping over the two steps on the porch. The door was always unlocked so she turned the knob pushing the door slightly open. Peeking inside she didn't see her father. The tiled floor was dirty she noted as she walked on it seeing the scuff marks. She hoped he was in bed by now.

      She tip toed to the kitchen. There was her father.

      "Where have you been?" He eyed her. His eyes were covered in a drunken haze.

      She was uncertain of what he was going to do but she knew it couldn't be good. She stood back her curly hair making ringlets in her face. She pushed them aside as she started at her drunk father.

      "I was in the field." There was a field behind there house. It wasn't fenced off so she had free wandering space. Acres and acres of land.

      "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." He undid his belt, stringing through the belt loops of his pants.

      She didn't dare move. If she did it would be worse.

      Her father doubled the belt in his hands and came towards her. He grabbed her holding her down as she finally started to wiggle.

      "No. Dad!" She screamed as he came down hard on her with his belt.

      She began to cry again. She should have stayed out. Maybe even ran away.

      He repeated himself once again, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." He smacked her.

      She doubted that. In fact she knew. She wouldn't be able to sit right for the next week or two while he drowned out his problems in a beer can.

      He finally let her up. She sprung from him running to her room where she plopped face down onto her bed crying her eyes out.

      Her father waited a few minutes and then followed her to her room. He opened the door and walked to her, seating himself next to her on her bed. "I'm sorry, but you made me do it." He patted her back. "Come over here."

      She sat up and he pulled her into a hug. "There’s my girl." He did this every time he took his belt to her. She thought maybe it was really her fault, maybe she really did make him do it. She leaned on her father with her arms wrapped around his belly as he petted her head and back.

      A few minutes passed and he pulled away from her. "Time to go to bed." He stood up and left the room. Leaving her to get dressed and ready for bed. She tucked herself into bed falling asleep from the emotional exhaustion she had just been through.

      At twelve twenty three she looked at the clock. She was scared and couldn't get back to sleep. She stood from her bed and took her blanket and pillow in her arms. She quietly walked to her fathers room and stepped inside. It was ironic how she went to her father to seek solace from the mosters under her bed when her father was the real monster. He was all she had. She prayed every night that her mother would come back and hold her in her arms and tell her everything would be all right. She knew she wasn't supposed to be in his room but she was frightened. She laid down on the cold wooden floor and covered herself with the blanket she brought.

      "Oww." She blurted out. She covered her mouth with her hand. Her hips grind into the floor.

      "Get out!" Her father yelled. "What did I tell you? Get out of my room and get back to your own bed." He had told her this so many times. All she was, was scared. She needed a little comfort.

      She reluctantly got up and hurried out of his room. She stood at the door watching him fall right back to sleep. His chest rising and falling in a deep sleep. She laid down outside of his door and soon fell asleep.

      She grew up to resent her father until she became thirteen and he turned his world around. Teachers at her school began to noticed the bruises on her body. They were very concerned and soon found out that her father was beating her. The county threatened to take Cassandra away. Cassandra was Dales world, the only being left in his life. And even though Cassandra was mistreated she loved him. It wasn’t very easy but he quit his drinking and with that the abuse stopped.

      Cassandra began to trust her father again. Slowly respecting him once again.

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