The little girl walked into the house she had just been taken into to be fostered at. She clutched her stuffed rabbit tightly, looking around the new house. Her half-open blue eyes showed no emotion as she observed her surroundings. In the eight years she had been alive, this was the ninth house she had been moved into within the three years she had been an orphan. It was nothing exciting for her. She had been through it before, and was expecting nothing else from what she had normally experienced. She knew she couldn't trust any of the grown ups around her, and that the children in the neighborhoods wouldn't be nice. They were never nice to orphans. Her only friend was her stuffed rabbit, Mr. Fuzzles.
"Well, Martha?" Joan asked. "How do you like your new home, sweetie?"
Martha said nothing and shrugged as she continued to look around. She could hear an audible sigh from one of her "parents" and then felt a large hand rest gently on her shoulder. She looked back to see her "father", Mark, smiling down at her.
"Come on. I'll show you your room."
Martha nodded and followed him up the dark, wooden stairs to her new bedroom. The walls were solid white, as was the furniture. The hardwood floor matched the steps, and there was a floor lamp in the corner next to the bed. She watched Mark put her things down and continued looking around the room.
"We'll get you posters and pictures to hang later. Then we'll see about getting some paint for the walls. Would you like that?” he asked, smiling down at the little girl.
She didn’t look at him and shrugged, not really caring about decorations, seeing as something told her this would be another foster home that she wouldn’t last long at.
“Would you liken me to help you unpack?” he asked, trying to get her to say something.
She shook her head and held onto Mr. Fuzzles tighter. Mark sighed and ruffled Martha’s straight black hair as he walked out of the room, leaving the door open.
Martha looked back and waited until he was gone to set Mr. Fuzzles on the small chair by the white dresser before opening her bag. She started to put her clothes in the dresser and closet to give her something to do.
They don’t like you, Martha, a familiar voice stated in her head. She turned to look at the chair.
“What do you mean, Mr. Fuzzles?” Martha asked.
They don’t like you. They want to make you happy, and then they’ll send you back, just like the Johnsons, the Smiths, the Williams, and all the others. You have to prevent that from happening.
The little girl bit her lip, knowing that when the rabbit had said this previously, it had come true. All seven of the other foster families had indeed sent her back to the adoption agency, just like the rabbit had predicted.
“How?” she asked, getting a little frightened. “And how come you only talk to me when I’m in houses and not when I’m lonely at the other place?”
Because I only talk to you when you need me. Remember? I only started talking back to you after you saw your parents killed. You needed me back then, remember?
Martha nodded. “But how do I stop them from sending me back? I don’t like it there. The other kids are mean to me. They pull my hair, and make fun of my pictures, and-“
I’ll tell you later. Now quiet, and put your clothes away.
The little girl sighed. “Fine. But you have to promise to tell me. Do you promise, Mr. Fuzzles?”
She smiled and nodded before picking the white bunny up off of the chair and hugging him. She stroked his floppy ears and then placed him gently back on the chair before going back to her suitcase. As she picked a pink shirt from the suitcase, a knock sounded on her doorframe. She dropped the shirt and turned around.
“Martha, what do you want for dinner?” Joan asked, smiling. “We can order pizza, cook macaroni and cheese, or make spaghetti and meatballs.”
“I don’t care,” she replied.
Joan nodded and walked downstairs again. The little girl turned back to her rabbit and tilted her head slightly.
“What do you mean, Mr. Fuzzles? They sound nice.”
She waited for several moments, but got no reply from the toy. She sighed and went back to hanging and putting away her clothing the best she could.
About twenty minutes later, she heard Mark calling her downstairs for dinner. She put down her crayons and closed her coloring book. Then she climbed off of her bed and picked up Mr. Fuzzles from his seat on her chair before walking down the stairs to the kitchen, where Joan and Mark were sitting with two boxes of pizza on the table. She sat in the chair Mark pushed out for her and clutched Mr. Fuzzles tightly.
“How about you put your bunny down?” Joan asked. “You might get sauce on him and he’ll be dirty.”
Martha shook her head and hugged the white rabbit tighter.
Mark pushed a small chair next to hers. “Here. Put Rabbit on the chair so he’ll sit next to you. Pizza sauce will stain him.”
“His name is Mr. Fuzzles,” she said, acting like she was offended.
“I’m sorry. But how about you sit him next to you so we don’t risk having to put him in the washer?” Mark asked her.
She looked at the stuffed rabbit and then at the little chair before sighing and putting him down on it as Joan served her a piece of pizza on a white and blue striped plate. Martha waited for the piece to cool off a bit before taking a small bite from the tip.
Throughout the dinner, Martha kept looking at Mr. Fuzzles to make sure he hadn’t moved or fell down. Her foster parents occasionally exchanged worried glances, wondering if her obsession with the rabbit was safe. They were each tempted to talk to her about it and say that no one was going to take him, but neither wanted to offend her, seeing as they knew why she had been taken into the orphanage in the first place. They also knew that her mentality was in a very delicate state, as she had witnessed her parents’ murder and had been moved from orphanage to foster home seven times.
After dinner, Martha grabbed Mr. Fuzzles and ran upstairs to her room with him. She closed the door and sat him at the head of her bed as she lay down by him and started coloring again. The girl picked up a blue crayon to start filling in Cinderella’s dress.
Did you see what happened at dinner, Martha?
“Huh?” the little girl replied, turning to look at the rabbit.
That man tried to separate us and you gave in! What if he had taken me away from you for good? Also, what if he needed to “put me in the wash”? He was threatening to drown me, Martha!
“I don’t think that’s what he said,” the little girl argued. “He meant so that you didn’t get dirty and so they didn’t have to wash you. Then he said pizza sauce wouldn’t come out, and that would give you red spots. That’s not good.”
Martha, he wants to separate us. I’m your only friend. You said so. You don’t want him to get rid of me and make you lonely, do you?
Then keep me with you everywhere.
“I always do,” she said. “You’re my best friend.”
Well, you have to be more careful. You have to bring me everywhere, and don’t let Mark get his hands on me. You can’t trust them, Martha. If you let them take me, you’ll never learn how to keep these people from getting rid of you. After all, this time, I have a new idea. There’s a really good chance this will work.
“You know, it never worked all the other times,” Martha replied.
That’s because those people outsmarted us. I’ll make it work this time. If it doesn’t, we’ll never give up. Not until you have a family that will keep you.
“Can you tell me now?” she asked him.
When the time is right.
“When will that be?”
The rabbit gave no reply. He just limply sat there like he always did, exhibiting a dead, lifeless, dull stare straight ahead. Martha sighed and then went back to coloring.
“Martha, I’m going to run you a bath now,” Joan said as she stepped into the doorway of the eight year old’s room. “Do you like your water hot, warm, or cool?”
“Hot,” she replied, not looking up from her coloring book. She continued to color Cinderella’s dress with the sky blue crayon as Joan walked down the hallway to the bathroom. The sound of running water could be heard and then Martha put her crayon down. She opened her middle drawer and took out a set of pink and purple pajamas that had kittens on the pants. She then took Mr. Fuzzles off of her bed and placed him in the drawer.
“I’m sorry, but if you want me to be careful, I have to hide you,” she said, covering him gently with a little blue T shirt. The girl then closed the drawer and opened the top one to get a pair of clean underwear. She tossed it on her bed on top of the pajamas and laid down to continue coloring.
After she had filled in Cinderella’s dress, hair, and half of her first glass slipper, Joan knocked on her door frame. Martha looked up and put her crayon down in the book to mark the page as she closed it. She stood up, picking up her pink and purple kitty pajamas and underwear before following Joan to the bathroom for her bath.
“Where’s Mr. Fuzzles?” Joan asked, trying to start a conversation with the quiet girl.
“He’s hiding,” Martha replied. “He’s scared of the new house.”
“Why is he scared?” Joan asked.
“I don’t think he would want me to tell you,” she replied. “He didn’t act like he wanted anyone to know.”
“Oh,” the woman said, flashing a nervous look to her husband, who was watching from their bedroom doorway. He furrowed his eyebrow in a concerned matter before walking into the master bedroom and closing the door.
Joan walked into the bathroom with Martha and took a towel from the cabinet under the sink. She then showed the girl where the shampoo, conditioner, soap, and wash rags were. Martha nodded and waited for Joan to leave before undressing and taking her bath.
The girl walked back into her bedroom and took the rabbit out of the drawer. She hugged him and rested him on her bed as she rubbed her hair dry with the towel. When it was mostly dry, she laid down and continued coloring Cinderella.
Martha, I overheard them talking while you were in the bath.
“What were they talking about?”
They’re worried about you. They think there’s something wrong with you, and they don’t want you to have me anymore. They think I’m talking to you.
“But you are talking to me, Mr. Fuzzles.”
I know, but they aren’t allowed to know that! They’ll have you listed as insane, give you pills, and separate us forever, Martha! We have to take care of this tomorrow while Joan’s at work!
“What are we going to do?” the little girl asked.
Get some sleep. I’ll tell you tomorrow.
The next morning, Martha awoke at ten thirty. The summer sun shone through her window and hit her face warmly. She groaned a bit and rolled over onto her side, hugging Mr. Fuzzles tightly. When she couldn’t fall back asleep, she opened her eyes and sat up, looking down at the stuffed rabbit. She rubbed her eyes and then looked at him again.
Today’s the day, Martha. Are you ready to find out what we’re going to do?
Martha nodded and waited quietly as the rabbit instructed her on what to do.
Joan came home after a long day at work. She yawned as she grabbed onto the door knob after putting her grey and black cell phone in her olive green purse. Pulling the door open, she poked her head inside to see if Martha and Mark were spending quality time together like she had asked the night before. Not seeing anyone in the living room, den, or hallway, she raised an eyebrow and walked into the house.
“Hello?” she asked. “Mark? Martha?”
She walked through the hall, looking in the living room, the dining room, and the den as she passed them. Not seeing any of them occupied, she opened the kitchen door and dropped her purse and screamed at what she saw.
Martha looked up at Joan from her place at the kitchen counter where she had been coloring with her rabbit sitting against the cookie jar, watching her.
“Mr. Fuzzles said that if you didn’t have Mark, you wouldn’t send me away because you wouldn’t want to be alone.”
“Come hear the voices in my head. They say you want to hurt me and they want you dead.”
-Combichrist: “Blut Royale”