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The House of Flame

Children have been taken from their families for many years. Sex trafficking young girls continues to be a problem across the globe. Some of these unfortunate females are drawn in via promise of fantastic opportunities or employment. Some of them manage to escape. Unlike the characters in my story, too many others never do. Their life becomes one of misery, and typically ends far too soon. Inspired from another one-line prompt, this piece is dedicated to the law enforcement and private individuals who work hard every day to eliminate child abduction and sex trafficking by bringing the offenders to justice. It is also dedicated to the parents and grandparents who take the time to teach awareness to their children and grandchildren. Together, we can defeat this issue. As always, thanks for stopping by.

The House of Flame

He staggered when he returned for his nightly routine of food, water, and abuse. “Sorry, I can’t help it,” he often said, as if his words pardoned him from violating me and my little sister, Robin. I never knew how he hurt her, only heard her screams. Protests that time failed to numb.

Whiskey fueled his defiling rituals. Tonight he reeked of the stuff. When he finished with me, he left an empty bottle behind and forgot to lock my door.

Glass shattered when I smashed the bottle over his head. He dropped and lay motionless. Keys fell from his hand.

When I woke her, Robin appeared much older than I remembered. We both did. Silent stares accompanied anxious moments of recognition. Had it been five years?

We escaped through the front door. Outside, Robin jerked to a halt. “I forgot Morty.”

I pleaded. “No. We’ve got to go. I’ll get you another Teddy bear.”

Robin persisted. “He is my only connection.”

Connection to what?  I watched her run back into the house. Not willing to abandon her, but too sacred to join her, I waited.

Robin reappeared with her bear. I began breathing again. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I hugged her. Hand-in-hand we ran toward a field below the old clapboard farm house. Toward what we hoped was salvation.

Robin and I fell into the tall grass as the house erupted. Cautiously, we stood, mesmerized by flame’s mocking fingers that stabbed toward the heavens. A funeral pyre to our lives of torture. I pulled Robin toward me. Intense heat drove us further back. Further from the years of incarceration that represented our existence. If only the memories would burn too.

The dewy grass chilled my feet. I shivered as my mind filled with questions. Where would we go? Why did the reality of sudden homelessness feel so liberating? Were our parents looking for us? Would they recognize us, or want us back? How did the fire start?

I gazed at my sister. In the red-orange glow Robin’s face bore a wry grin. Her left arm clutched Morty to her chest. Her right hand revealed an empty match box. Sirens wailed in the distance. We were on our own, but I knew we’d survive.


2 thoughts on “The House of Flame

  1. For many years I worked for the Missouri Div. of Family Services as a child abuse investigator. In just a few words I think you caught the essence of the desperation felt by many victims. So much of the pain swims just below the surface despite our attempts to help after the fact.


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