Prologue

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Prologue

The wooden door creaked as Valerie's father opened it. He stepped inside and motioned for her to follow him.

She stood up from her cot, taking time to stretch. She had been sitting in that position for far too long. But what else did she have to do?

She followed her father up the wooden steps that led to the hallway. She eagerly scanned the hallway for doors that may have been open. She wanted to see more than just her cell and the hallway of the house that see had lived under for over seventeen years. But her father always took precaution: the doors were all closed. She sighed and walked out the front door.

The day was cloudy and foggy. She frowned. She did not like somber days. She liked days filled with sunshine and clear blue skies. But with her father, she took what she was given and asked for nothing more.

"You have thirty minutes," her father said to her in the same, monotone voice he always used towards her.

She nodded and looked at the ground. "Yes, sir." She wouldn't make eye contact with him. Not now, not ever.

Her father made himself comfortable on the cement steps that led up to the porch. He watched her intently, as though she would run off at any second. But where would she run off to? She would be caught. When Valerie was five she had run across the yard and onto the road while her father was not watching. She admitted that she had only been chasing a butterfly, but her father hadn't believed her. He back-handed her left cheek twice and told her that if she were to ever to place one foot off the lawn again, he would not feed her for two weeks. The next day, he enabled two video cameras in the two trees in his front lawn. That way, if she did run off again, he would know where, why, and when...

Valerie streched her hands up above her head and breathed in the fresh morning air. It was such a change compared to the dank underground air she smelled for the majority of the week. She bent down and touched her toes. She danced around the two trees, laid in the grass, did anything to forget her life.

She was just about to climb up one of the trees when she heard her father's cell phone ring from inside the house. He must have heard it too because he stood up from the steps and told Valerie, "Listen. I'm going to get my phone from inside. Do not move. And remember," he pointed to the video camera in the tree she was climbing, "I'm watching."

Valerie's father open the front door and stepped inside. Her eyes opened wide. She bolted from the tree and ran out into road. She turned left and headed toward the city. She ran as fast as her two legs could carry her. The city was two miles away but she couldn't have cared. She took a sharp right and climbed over her neighbors fence. She hopped fence over fence until the was no way her father could still see her. She hopped over the last neighbor's fence and took another left, onto Mulberry Street. She ran towards the city again, not stopping until she reached it.

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