Sally stood staring in the mirror, watching tears stream down her tiny cheeks. “Stand still!” her mother yelled as she pulled on little Sally’s hair, trying to brush the knots out of it. Sally hadn’t moved since her mother started brushing her hair; she knew that, and so did her mother.
An explosion of pain erupted on Sally’s backside when her mother swatted her bottom. “And how many times do I have to tell you to stop crying? Are you trying to make me feel bad?” her mother chastised.
The pain from her mother’s hand didn’t hurt nearly as much as the pain in Sally’s heart. Why doesn’t my mother love me? I am such a bad little girl. I wish I could be a good girl, so my mother would love me.
“There, now go get your stuff and wait outside for the bus,” her mother barked. “I’ve got important things to get done and I don’t need you bothering me!”
Sally gathered her backpack from her bedroom, then went outside to wait on the bus. It was cold and damp. Tears still lingered on Sally’s cheeks; she didn’t bother to wipe them off. She used to get embarrassed about her tears, but now she was just numb to them.
The bus finally arrived. Sally stepped onto the bus and headed straight to the back, so she could be by herself. She only had a couple of friends and neither of them rode the bus. All the other kids liked to pick on her and tease her, so she always headed straight to the back, avoiding all eye contact.
Sally sat her backpack down on the seat and sat next to it. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine a different life. A life where she had lots of friends. A life where her mother loved her, a life where her father was still around. If only…she thought.
The bus finally came to a stop at her school. Sally stood up, grabbed her backpack and started to walk down the aisle, when a strange feeling came over her. She turned back to look at where she had been sitting. What’s this? There, on the seat, was a small music box. She picked it up and looked at it closely. There were strange designs all over it. It seemed to be calling to her. Sally stood still, mesmerized by the little box.
She was finally rattled out of her trance by the bus driver, “Hey kid! Are you getting off the bus?”
“Uh…oh yeah, I’m sorry,” Sally said as she quickly stuffed the music box into her backpack and got off the bus.
The rest of the day went like any other for Sally: she kept to herself during class, never raising her hand to answer any questions; during recess she played with her two friends, far away from anyone else. She experienced the occasional teasing and bullying, but there was something different; something different about her. A sense of peace and calmness washed over her. She felt safe; like no matter what happened, everything was going to be ok. A small smile started to spread across her face.
And then Sally started to feel a strange pull from her backpack. She grabbed her backpack from under her desk and opened it up to take a peek inside.