I pull Sophie out from under a floorboard under my bed. Sometimes it's hard to get the floorboard up, but its even harder when you have big grownup fingers. Its one of the few places Daddy's mean friends don't look when they go around to keep me "safe." Sophie is dusty and she's a little smelly. For a minute I think maybe I'm going to sneeze and I quickly grab my blanket from my bed and cover my face. If Daddy hears me sneeze he might come in my room and then he'll find Sophie. Then he'll be mad.
Just the idea of Daddy being mad makes me scared and I stuff Sophie back under the bed and dash across my room. I open the door slowly, hoping Mommy and Daddy don't hear the squeeking of the door. From around the corner, I see Mommy's big round belly before I see Mommy. She's humming to herself, bundled in a short coat and thick stockings. I smile. If Mommy's all bundled up to go out somewhere, Daddy's going to be gone too. I listen to the tune she's humming as she walks closer to my door. My smile grows when I recognize the tune she's humming. They're going to the Other House. I can tell. The house Maddy and George and me can't go to.
Mommy sees me peering through the crack in my door as she passes. "Ted? What are you doing?" She pulls the door open and I stare up at her trying to act normal.
"Nothing, Mommy. I, umm, I just heard you coming was all."
Mommy walks around my room and I try hard not to stare at the spot under my bed where Sophie lies. She walks over to my desk instead. "Ted, you're supposed to be studying. You know Daddy wants to start you up at that very nice private school in the fall. You have to be able to show that you're capable. You don't want to dissapoint Daddy."
I stare at the book on my desk. It doesn't have any pictures and the words are small and make my eyes hurt when I look at them too long. "But Mommy, it's hard! I don't like it! My pre-K has an elementary school, why can't I stay at the school I'm in? All my friends are there." I feel tears start to burn my eyes but I fight them back. Daddy says men aren't supposed to cry. Mommy will tell Daddy if she sees.
"Ted, Daddy has said this is the best thing for you, you just have to listen and do what is expected of you." She pauses, giving me a long look. "I don't have time for this right now Ted." She bites her lip and looks at the glittering small watch she always wears. "Daddy and I are going to the Other House for the next few days. I don't know, we might just stay there until little Jefferson is born. That shouldn't be longer than two weeks. We've asked Mrs. Taylor to come and stay to watch you children in the meantime."
I brighten. "Mrs. Taylor? Is Sophie coming?"
"No. You know she's not allowed over here anymore. Honestly Ted, I don't know why you ask these questions you already know the answer to." She looks at her watch again and is practically chewing on her lip now. "Listen, Ted, I have to go. You know it's not nice to keep Daddy waiting." She rolls her eyes at me. "I won't tell him it's your fault, but read your book! Your tutor will be here in an hour." With that she leaves.
The tears well up and I don't bother trying to stop them now. I run over to my bed and pull out Sophie from under it, sobbing into the teddy bear's soft curly fur. I think about the day Sophie gave her to me, three days after my third birthday. She had said it was a "Teddy for my Teddy." I told her, "No! She's not Teddy, she's Sophie!"
That day I ran and played with both of my Sophies in the fields for hours and hours. Mommy was distracted with baby Maddy, Daddy was distracted with Mommy, they barely even noticed when I came home scuffed and dirty from playing outside for so long.
I remember less and less about Sophie, but I remember that day. I don't know why Sophie stopped coming to play with me. I thought she was my best friend. I remember Daddy finding the teddy bear a few weeks later. "Men don't play with stuffed toys," he told me. "Where did you get this, Ted?"
"No!" I cried, "not Ted! Teddy! And this is Sophie, my Sophie!"
Daddy gave me the look that always makes me go quiet. He threw the bear at my feet. "I'm going to be talking to Mrs. Taylor. Get rid of the bear, Ted."
The memories make me cry harder into my bear, using it for comfort but also to help me keep my cries quiet. I start to hiccup a little and my tears subside. I rub my face into the bear. I almost cough and sneeze again from the dust embedded in the bear's fur.
I run over to the mirror in my room and rub at my face with my hands, pushing my dark red brown curls out of the way. My grey eyes are puffy and red, but I shut them tight and blink until they look clear enough that they look kind of normal.
I find a backpack - black and grownup looking - and stuff Sophie inside. I sit back and think. I put the book on my desk inside too, trying to use it to cover Sophie. Then I dump some more papers and other serious, schooly looking objects into the backpack until I can't see the bear anymore. I close it and strap it to my back and tiptoe out of my room, making my way toward the kitchen.
In the hall outside the kitchen, I hear baby George crying, and the soft voice of Mrs. Taylor singing softly. I try to sneak past her to the kitchen.
"Ted? Where do you think you're going?"
I turn and see Mrs. Taylor, holding George, whose face looks way redder and puffier than mine, on her hip. The baby has a lock of Mrs. Taylor's blond hair in his grip, tugging at it, and Mrs. Taylor ignoring him.
She raises a brow, "sneaking cookies?"
She winks at me, "don't come out with more than one in your hand."
I smile at her and make my dash for the kitchen. I quickly stuff a jar of peanut butter and another jar of jam into my backpack. I try to also stuff a bag of bread in there, but it won't fit, so I just take out as many slices that will fit and stuff those into my bag. Then I go to the cookie jar and take out one cookie.
"See?" I display my cookie for Mrs. Taylor to inspect.
She nods, "alright, Teddy, go on, I have to take care of your brother."
I smile when she calls me Teddy. Then I leave, sneaking out the front door.
The air is warm and damp. Early June. The grasses, where I used to play with Sophie, are bright green, with tiny white and yellow blossoms. I run through the grass - just one last time - imagining Sophie is here with me. I drop the bag and pull out the bear, not caring when the books, pencils, and papers are scattered in the dirt in the process. I hug her to me. "You love playing outside, Sophie."
The bear is still in my arms as I begin walking down the road. "We're going to find her," I tell the bear. "We're going to find the real Sophie."
50 Shades of Grey and its sequels depict an emotionally abusive relationship. You are not reading a romance, you are reading a horror story. For further information, please visit: http://jennytrout.com/