Somewhere down the street, a dog barks.

She stares up into the darkness, barely able to make out the outline of her ceiling fan with the dim light from the streetlamps outside her window. After a moment, she reaches for her teddy bear. Her fingers meet air. He isn't there anymore.

She curls into a ball and wraps her blanket tightly around her, a caterpillar safe and warm inside her cocoon. One day, it won't hurt anymore, the girl tells herself. She presses her hands to her chest, and feels her heartbeat beneath her fingers. There is a drumming noise inside her head.

One day, she will be a butterfly. She will fly somewhere far away.

But tomorrow, she will still be here. Tomorrow, there will be bruises.


She is sitting on the carpet, playing with her dollhouse.

There is a knock on the door. She jumps. "Marie?"

At the sound of her mother's voice, she lets out a deep breath she didn't even remember taking, and slowly turns to face her. Her mother forces a smile. "Look who I found out on the porch."

She does not reach out to take the bear. All she does is stare at it. The bear gazes back, black button eyes almost accusing. "Aren't you glad to see him?" She shakes the stuffed animal in her direction. The girl suddenly finds the carpet very interesting.

Her mother sighs and tosses the bear on the bed. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees her daughter's toy box. It is empty. "Where are all your toys?"

The girl shrugs.

"You don't know?"

She shakes her head.

"Well, they didn't just get up and walk away." Her mother frowns. "You have to learn to take better care of your things, Marie."


"You left me," the girl says, her voice barely above a whisper.

The bear does not turn around to look at her. "I'm sorry," he says.

"No, you're not." She is looking at her dollhouse, but not really seeing it. The dolls share nervous glances. One opens its mouth, as if to say something, but the other one shakes its head.

The girl slowly climbs to her feet. "No, you're not," she says again, everything getting blurry.

He stands on the window sill, his stuffed body tensed. "I wish there was something I could do."

She makes her hands into fists. "You could stay," she pleads.

The bear does not answer. Instead, he jumps.

She sways a little. "You still have us," one of the dolls says, maybe a little too cheerfully, its painted smile maybe just a little bigger than normal.

The girl bursts into tears, picks up the dollhouse, and hurls it against the wall.


It is night again.

She hugs her pillow. Her eyes are wide open, staring into the darkness.

She hears the soft click of her door opening and takes a deep breath.


Somewhere down the street, a dog barks.