Once there was a little girl named Gloria who lived with her mother and father in a little cottage on the edge of a dark city. This cottage was clean and neat and had a big, pastel pink bedroom for Gloria.
Gloria liked the little cottage and her pink bedroom. But some of the other rooms scared her. Next to her bedroom was a spare room that scared her very much. She often saw shadows dancing around the window and one time she found a stack of horrifying magazines in the closet. Gloria always held her breath when she walked past that room.
Her parents bedroom smelled smoky and sour but she was not really afraid of that room.
She was terrified of the basement! It was more like a cellar, with concrete floors, cobwebs and centipedes. It was a dreadful place and Gloria always made sure the door to the basement was shut tight. And locked.
Gloria was actually afraid of many things, but she was good at acting brave. Her mother was afraid of many things too, but she did not try to hide it. Some things her mother was afraid of and everybody knew about were storms, snakes, spiders, and the outdoors.
Her father was rarely home, so when her mother was frightened by something she would go to Gloria for comfort. This usually happened late at night, when Gloria was sleeping. Sometimes her mother would barge into the pink bedroom, screaming and crying, waking Gloria and begging her to kill a spider that was lurking in the living room. Sometimes when it was storming her mother would slide into bed with Gloria and hold her tight, squeezing the breath out of her.
One night it was not her mother who awakened her, but her father instead. "Baby, are you awake?" he whispered in her ear. "Can you hear me?"
He saw Gloria's eyes open. "Baby, it's your mother. She's crazy. She's nuts. You know that, don't you?"
Gloria blinked. She looked at her father with his curly, dark hair. His icy blue eyes seemed to glow in the dark.
"You know not to trust her, don't you? She's mean. And frigid. But most of all, she's crazy. You can't trust her. She could snap at any time."
Gloria fell back asleep.
She dreamt that she was being forced into the basement. Witches were chasing her right through the locked door, down the dark stairs and into the corner near a tiny window. Suddenly, two arms crashed through the window and pulled her outside to safety.
Gloria breathed a sigh of relief until she turned to see the two arms belonged to her father. Then she screamed as loud as her lungs would let her.
When she woke up, there was an angel floating next to her bed with a vial of purple potion. "Here, Gloria. Give this to your mother if she acts crazy and then the craziness will stop."
Gloria fell back asleep wondering what counted as "acting crazy."
The next morning, Gloria had a queasy stomach when she remembered all that had happened during the night. She cautiously went into the kitchen. Her mother was drinking coffee and making french toast. "Better hurry up, Gloria. You'll be late for school."
Gloria looked her mother in the eye. She seemed normal enough, so Gloria hid the potion in her nightstand. Then she kissed her mother goodbye and went to school.
In the afternoon when she returned, her mother was standing at the sink washing dishes. Her back was to Gloria.
"Hi mom. Can I have a snack?"
Gloria stiffened because her mother often ignored her when she was angry about something.
Slowly her mother turned around and Gloria saw that sure enough, she was wearing her mad face.
Gloria ran to her bedroom, holding her breath as she passed the spare room. She went to her nightstand, opened the drawer and discovered that the potion was gone. Gloria gasped.
"Get. Your. Own. Snack." her mother yelled from the kitchen as she slammed the cabinets and put the dishes away.
Gloria's heart was beating quickly.
Was this it? Was she acting crazy? Where was the potion?
Her thoughts racing, Gloria quickly grabbed a sweater, a notebook and a pencil from her room before creeping into the kitchen for an apple.
"Where do you think you're going?" her mother yelled.
Gloria took the apple, looked at her mother's face and saw something that made her blood run cold.
Her mother's eyes were glowing, glowing a strange color--purple! Her mother's eyes were now the same color as the angel's missing potion!
Gloria turned and ran out the front door into the dark city. She ran and ran and when she finally stopped to catch her breath, she saw that she was surrounded by men. Some were passing by, walking past her on the city street.
Some were leering.
Some were looking straight ahead, not noticing her.
Gloria bit her apple. Then she started walking. Fast. Breathing hard.
She was walking fast and then she saw a girl, an older girl, a teenager, about 18. Gloria saw the girl and she relaxed a bit.
The girl was standing on a patch of grass by a tall, chain link fence. She was wearing a faded pink tube top and blue jean shorts with scuffed white pumps. As Gloria stepped closer, she saw that the shorts were so tight they were squeezing each cheek and going up her ass. The girl was smiling.
Gloria felt scared and alone with all the men around and so she went to the girl.
There was a card table next to the fence, and Gloria slowly realized that the girl was selling something. She saw that the table was covered with pictures of girls, naked girls, naked with their legs spread, smiling. Gloria looked at them, then up at the girl.
"Yeah, its gross," the girl said, snapping her gum. "What do you want from me?"
Gloria handed the girl the rest of her apple.
Just then a police car pulled up, lights silently flashing. The girl stepped away from the fence as the cop approached, while Gloria stepped further into the shadows. From there Gloria saw the girl smile at the cop and then the cop smiled back, winking one of his icy blue eyes.
The cop was Gloria's dad. Gloria turned and ran.
She ran and ran until she came to the park by her school. Gloria was usually afraid of the park at night, because there was often lots of men standing among the tiny, young trees. But Gloria didn't see anyone around this time, until she caught sight of the park bench. It was far across the park, but it seemed as if there was someone sitting there, their back to Gloria. The someone was slouched forward. The someone seemed sad.
Gloria walked up to the figure on the bench, then tentatively sat down next to them.
"You okay?" Gloria's mother asked gruffly.
Gloria looked at her mother. Her eyes were no longer purple, they were back to their natural green. She didn't smile at Gloria, her face was still tight with anger, or maybe it was just annoyance.
Gloria nodded, then opened up the notebook that was still in her hand. She took the pencil out of the spiral binding. I'm sorry, she wrote then showed it to her mother.
"Let's go back to the cottage," her mother said.
And so they did.