I recently signed up for self-publishing school and feel fired up about my novel. Some of the scenes had to be deleted and new ones added. Also changed the title. I guess I needed to have a fresh perspective. I changed the title from Perceptions to A Locked Heart. With the new title, I can now see the story I want to tell, as well as the fears of my leading lady. Before I was trapped, and couldn’t move forward. Now scenes are opening before me, and my fingers can’t get everything down on the page.
Introduction to A Locked Heart
Annabelle Grayson ached all over, but especially on her skinny calves and thighs. She sat gingerly at the edge of her chair in black tights and a yellow floral dress. Her sandals hid the bruises under her feet. Her bony elbows on the long table she shared with three other children. She prayed under her breath, “please never let the day end. please never let the day end,” as she colored a scene of a laughing family. The red crayon moving like it has a mind of its own covered the entire family in red. It obliterated the smiles of the family in the coloring book. The bell rang, but Annabelle remained seated. The other children in the classroom rushed towards their backpacks and lunch pails near the door. Annabelle kept her head down and a tear slipped out blending with the red waxed crayon on the page. “Annabelle, are you okay?” Asked Ms. Williams in a singsong voice.
Annabelle wanted to yell that she wasn’t okay, but she kept everything in. Something bad might happen to Yvette, if she said anything. Yvette was only four years old. Annabelle was a big girl at five. She had to take care of Yvette. Tanisha tried to help them once, and she received a broken wrist for her trouble. No one believes little girls anyway. Their foster parents thought Tanisha was lying, and she got a spanking as well as a broken wrist for telling the truth.
“Annabelle? Are you okay, sweetie? You can tell me anything.”
Yeah right. No one listens to little girls.
“Annabelle get your bag!” Annabelle cringed at the charming voice of the sixteen year old kid standing in the door way leading into the classroom. Ms. Williams’ hand was resting on her shoulder and Annabelle knew she felt it tense. Annabelle wanted to run screaming from the room, but remained seated. The crayon held in a tight little fist.
“Who are you, young man?” Asked Ms. Williams in her lilting accent. Ms. Williams had said that she was from Barbados. She showed the kids where the island was located on the map. It was like a little dot. Do people really live there? Annabelle wanted to live on the island. It sounded like paradise. A place where people cared, and said good morning to people they didn’t know. Annabelle went into her mind, and brought up a scene of her living on the island. Running and laughing through the surf.
“Never you mind Teach. I’m here to pick up the pipsqueak.” Replied Tyrone smiling charmingly. His sandy hair stood up in short spikes. He wore a ripped black T-shirt, dark blue relaxed jeans, and dirty hi-top sneakers. There was something about him that made Traci Williams not want to send this innocent child with him. Where were Annabelle’s parents? This young man could not be related to her. Only family members could pick up the children. They looked nothing alike. Where he was Caucasian, Annabelle was African American. Her dark skin tone had been smooth and flawless. Lately, she has been arriving at school with hand prints on her skinny upper arms or four tiny imprints on her neck.
“My name is Ms. Traci Williams. Where’s Annabelle’s mom? I need to speak with her.” Traci wanted to discuss the bruises that sometimes appear on Annabelle’s body. She didn’t want to falsely accuse the woman of abuse, but Traci needed to address the bruises.
“Who knows where that whore –”
“Young man, please refrain from using that type of language in my presence.” Traci decided to visit Annabelle’s home that very afternoon. She didn’t like this young man, nor his way of addressing, or looking at Annabelle. Why would Annabelle’s parents send this guy to pick up her up without calling to alert the school? “I’m sorry, but I can’t release her into your care. No one told me you would be picking her up.”
“Teach, I don’t have all day. Ask her if she knows me? Annabelle?”
“Do you know him Annabelle?” Asked Ms. Williams. At first Annabelle was silent, her eyes had a far-away look. Then she blinked at the teacher, as if she was bringing her back into focus. She looked at the boy at the door before dropping her head down to the coloring book.
“He’s my brother.” He liked the reaction people gave when they found out they were related. Ms. Williams didn’t respond in the usual way. She just smiled, and held out her hand. After a beat, he smiled and placed his hand in hers for a shake. “And you are?” Asked Ms. Williams.
“Tyrone Porter. Is it okay for Annabelle to leave with me, or do you want to call our mom to verify? I don’t want to break any laws or rules.” He smiled again. Looking into Traci’s eyes. His thumb caressing her hand. Traci tried to pull her hand away. Tyron tighten his grasp before loosening his fingers. Traci wanted to wipe her hand against her lilac pencil skirt, but he was giving her that knowing look. She felt naked under the boy’s gaze. Suddenly her white silk blouse and pencil skirt seemed non existent. All Traci had looked forward to today was getting out of her four inch heels and soaking her entire body in a nice relaxing bath. Now it looked like it was going to be a longer day.
“It’s okay.” His brown eyes moved constantly between Traci’s breasts and Annabelle’s lowered head. “I’ll call your mother to let her know that you’re on your way home.” Annabelle hadn’t moved away from the desk. She sat there staring down at her coloring book. Traci didn’t know where to look, and wondered if she was doing the right thing to release Annabelle into Tyron’s care.
“Why don’t you call her now?” Tyron came all the way into the room, and made his way over to his sister. Annabelle stiffened up her thin frame. Traci stepped in front of Tyron. He shook his head, and laughed before turning around and walking towards Annabelle’s backpack at the door. He picked it up, and walked out the door.
Traci and Annabelle remained in the room. Traci did not know what to do. Should she follow him or take Annabelle home with her? “You coming, Teach?”