Yawning, Natalie stood up from her bed and walked toward her wardrobe first and cabinet second. She took out today’s clothes: a white shirt, a dull green cardigan, jeans, white socks, light blue bra and panties. Her vision was still a bit fuzzy, making her wobbly, but she still managed to reach her bathroom without tumbling.
Once she was inside, she closed the door behind her and the window’s curtain. Then she began undressing, taking off her pajama, before she opened the shower’s glass door. Natalie entered and put one of the many shampoos and shower gels each on the shower’s tiled floor. Then she exited, used the toilet and checked for any unnecessary things that shouldn’t be on one (a woman) ’s body. Not noticing anything wrong, Natalie once again entered the shower, this time closing the glass door and washing herself.
It took a while to clean her waist-long hair, but she liked them so it wasn’t much of an hassle. Almost an hour later Natalie was done and so she went out of the shower. She dried herself and put on her panties, socks and jeans. Maxing out the hair dryer’s settings, she spent a good twenty minutes drying her chestnut coloured hair while she sat on the small chair she kept in the bathroom.
Once done, she wiped her upper body before wearing her bra, shirt and cardigan. Natalie randomly choose a deodorant and used it. She knew it would have been easier and simpler to use it before she put on her shirt and cardigan, but she liked to use deodorants and perfumes after she was completely clothed. Done that, she opened the bathroom’s door, the curtain and the window to let fresh air circle in.
It was winter already but Natalie loved the cold so it wasn’t such a big deal. Still, her parents always nagged her when they saw her do that or something similar. She sat on the chair and combed her hair until she felt satisfied, at that point Natalie put the comb away and started braiding her hair in her favorite (and only) style, the bohemian side braid.
After that, Natalie got up and finally checked herself in the mirror. Her eyebrows were thin, and so were also her soft red lips and turned up nose. Her eyes were black and her skin was a light pink. Content that nothing horrible happened to her face during the night, Natalie pondered if she should apply a bit of eyeliner and glosslip before exiting the bathroom, but decided not to.
She steadily walked to the living room and sat on the end of the sofa, near where she last left her shoes. A bit later Natalie went to the kitchen and fixed herself some breakfast, milk with cereals and pear juice, as she still had time before she had to go. She leisurely took her purse along the car and house keys and exited the house, locking the door.
Natalie drove for around forty minutes before she arrived at the nice looking detatched house where she would work for the following days. As she parked the car near the house, she caught a glimpse of the flower-filled garden in the backyard. She calmly walked toward the door while paying attention not to slip. Even if it was cleared away, the snow had already made the ground wet.
After she rang the doorbell, a woman in her her late thirties opened the door. The woman had curly red hair that reached her shoulders and clear blue eyes, her figure seemed well proportioned but her clothes were too baggy to know for sure. She was also a bit taller than Natalie, as the missus was around 170cm tall. The woman’s lips formed a thin smile as she looked Natalie over.
“Hello, I’m Natalie Fern, I’m here to be the tutor of Lily.”
Natalie spoke first and offered her hand for a greeting. The woman shook it and replied after they both entered inside the house. The temperature was quite high in confront to the cold outside.
“Hello. I’m Martha White, feel free to call me Martha. Ashley told us a lot about you, we hope you won’t find this job a bother.”
The hallway the two were in was quite spacious, the walls were a light cream, almost white, colour. On one side were coat hooks, on the other were old family photos. At the end of the hallway you could see the stairs to the floor above and another hallway to the left. A few meters from the entrance were the living room to the right and what seemed a dining room to the left. Natalie handed Martha her jacket and talked again.
“No, I’m sure it won’t be. I think this will be a useful experience for me and some more income certainly isn’t bad.”
Martha made a warm, calm smile at Natalie’s attempt to a joke. Then, she said “Come on, I’ll let you meet Lily.” and walked into the living room. The room had two gray sofas, that appeared to be extremely soft, with three cushions each; a black leather armchair was positioned diagonally to the right of the 68’ tv. Other than the circular ceiling light, there was also a tall, rectangular lamp next to an ebony cabinet with a glass framed door.
In-between the sofas and the television was a wooden low table (the distance was around 20~30cm) over a black and white carpet with repetitive geometric motifs. A girl was kneeling on the floor, with her legs folded underneath her thighs, while her buttocks were slightly over her heels. She was hunched over the table intent on drawing something on a piece of paper with a myriad of coloured markers all around.
Lily wore orange sweatpants and a long-sleeved light-orange shirt which sleeve were rolled up until a little before her elbow. Her black hair sprawled out on her back and on the sides of face, but it didn’t seem to impede her crystalline blue eyes on intently gazing on the picture before her. Natalie knew she was one of her aunt’s (Ashley’s) patients, but she didn’t know anything more as it was a private matter. Watching the little girl sketching so happily made her wonder about her problems for a few moments before she shook her head, reminding herself to mind her own business.
“Lily, come greet Natalie, your tutor.”
“Wait, I’m almost done.”
Martha showed a troubled smile to Natalie as she spoke to her.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, she gets like that when she’s drawing.”
Natalie had a knowing smile on her face as she said “Don’t worry about it,” ending the situation with the two women having to wait for the little pest to finish her sketch. As the silence persisted, Lily would always shush them when they tried to speak, Natalie pondered on the girl’s soft and delicate voice. It reminded to her how sweet and fragile children were, and also why she choose to become a teacher in the (hopefully) near future.
Then, Lily suddenly stood up and walked toward them, more precisely, toward Natalie. She held up her drawing, looked up at Natalie and smiled timidly, causing her cheeks to slightly tinge red in embarrassment. Lily’s quiet and gentle voice could be heard clearly because of the momentaneous silence.
“Nice to meet you..”
“Nice to meet you too and thanks for the beautiful flowers.”
Six months have passed since Natalie began teaching Lily. At first, she was felt a bit overwhelmed by the fact that she had to practically teach the girl from the educational material of second grade up to at least the tenth grade’s and more, depending on how much it took her and Lily to progress. But then, when she saw the eagerness to learn new things in Lily’s eyes, all her worries went out of the window.
At the moment they were more or less on schedule, by Natalie’s words. Lily was just starting with the fourth graders’ curriculum, but it was also the beginning of summer. Natalie thought the prospect of going to the beach and/or pool would distract the girl, yet it wasn’t so. More or less. Lily still went and wanted to go to the pool and beach, however when it was time to study, she studied as diligently as always.
During her time here, Natalie witnessed two particular events, one happened a little less than a week after she began teaching Lily, the other was happening now, in a less crowded part of the city’s public pool, where Lily wore a long-sleeved azure shirt that refused to take off. As for how and why Natalie was at the pool with Lily, it will be explained later, for now, let’s talk about the first occurrence.
Natalie sat beside Lily by the table in the dining/kitchen room and they were currently reviewing addition, subtraction and the placement of values above the hundreds and the thousands. Then, Lily’s face went pale, distorting in various ways by fear, horror and pain. Tears began to fall from her moisten eyes as she hunched her back forward, shielded her stomach with her arms and brought her legs and feet on the chair, making it possible for her to hide her head in-between them. As the girl cried, Natalie could hear her mutter softly…
“No… please… John… It hurts… stop… I’ll be good… please…”
The only thing Natalie could do at that time was call for Mrs. White’s help. Martha came running and once she saw her daughter’s state, she stopped and looked her over, trying to figure out was happening. She too, as well as Chris, had not experienced this situation before. After a few seconds of panic and frantic searches for the cause and/or solution of the problem, both Martha and Natalie saw it. Blood was dripping from the chair Lily was seated on, her pants more than dirty from it already.
Lily had menstruations.
Later began the long session of Martha and Natalie calming down the little scared girl while her father was out buying some tampons. Natalie tried to convince that such a thing was normal for every girl and that it just meant she was beginning to become a grown up. Martha talked about how John was long gone and how he wouldn’t be able to hurt her anymore. By the time Chris came back, Lily was just slightly better, perhaps noticing that she wasn’t being hit by anyone.
When he came back, Chris also informed them that Ashley was on her way here. Martha briefly praised his good thinking before she sent him upstairs to fetch Lily a new pair of panties and pants. Done that, Lily and Martha went into the bathroom with all the necessary things. Still the girl didn’t seem to want to stop crying even after that. Fortunately, Ashley didn’t take too long to arrive to the Whites’ house.
Ashley and Lily then went to talk privately in the girl’s room, leaving the anxious adults downstairs hanging. Natalie felt a tiny bit curious about Lily’s circumstances, but the emotion was quickly forgotten as her worries continued to pile up, much like Martha and Chris. After what seemed like an eternity, Ashley came out of the room and met the adults in the kitchen. Lily remained in her room to rest.
She eyed her niece and then asked “You sure?” toward the two parents. Martha replied with a nonchalant “Yes, she was going to find out one day or another.” to which Chris just nodded with a serious face. After that, Natalie still didn’t know the full story, but she could make a theory or two about what had happened to Lily after Ashley talked to them about the girl’s outburst.
“As you already know, John liked to hit her in the stomach and this, coupled with the stomach pains from the menstruations, led Lily to believe that the two were one and the same, that is: she believed and still does, in part, that she bled because of John’s beatings. It will take a while, but it is possible to make her understand that this thing isn’t happening because of John. Still, I suppose she’ll be reminded of her life with him every time she has menstruations.”
After that there was a slow process of comforting Lily and making her understand the situation, which became easier each month. It was impossible and later quite hard to tutor Lily during those days, and that is the reason they were also barely on schedule. Natalie became more and more involved in the girl’s life as she, too, helped calming Lily down when she had her period. This somewhat ended in the current situation, that is: Lily was very eager to go to the pool again, but her parents suddenly found themselves busy with their work.
“Then I’ll go with Natalie!”
Lily suddenly said, causing a bit of shock in her parents and Natalie, who had been there the entire duration of the discussion. It was perhaps because she was just there at that moment, nonetheless Natalie felt happy about it. Her parents were visibly worried, but in the end they didn’t stand a chance against Lily’s pouting face.
And now, Natalie and Lily were playing around in a part of the pool where there was only a handful of people. However, they were all stealing glances toward the two girls because Lily was in the pool while she wore a shirt. It was definitely weird, but no matter how many times Natalie asked her, Lily wouldn’t take it off. It wasn’t until after lunch that Natalie discovered why she wouldn’t take her shirt off.
Lily was taking a short nap and Natalie thought it was the perfect time to take her shirt off. Fortunately there were few people nearby and all a good distance away. When she started to lift her shirt, Natalie saw and understood why Lily didn’t want to take it off. On her stomach were various injuries and marks. Like connecting dots, Natalie remembered the first time Lily had menstruations and her aunt’s speech.
Still, it was better to make sure it was that “John” ‘s fault and not her parents’, so Natalie immediately called her aunt Ashley after putting Lily’s shirt back to normal. A long sigh later, Ashley explained that not even the doctoress knew why the girl’s injuries and holes were still present, the conjecture being it was, once again, the unknown mixture that was injected in Lily for a long period of time.
Natalie’s question brought a few seconds of silence, but then Ashley spoke again, this time explaining how Lily had been drugged by injections in her arms, and those too were still present. Before hanging up, though, Ashley’s tone became extremely serious as she spoke one last sentence to her niece.
“I’m telling you all this only because Martha and Chris told me to explain it to you if you ever were to ask. I hope you won’t betray their trust in you, Natalie.”
“Of course, Aunty.” Said Natalie while nodding.
The rest of the day passed serenely but quickly as the two girls played and had fun in the pool.