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Missy & Sack

Missy & Sack

A Story by Carol Cashes

Domestic violence hurts everyone


Missy and Sack


“No! Daddy, no!”  the child’s piercing cry was ignored by the two adults in the small, squalid room.  The man, whose madness glowed from his eyes like twin beacons, never hesitated as he plunged the dirty steak knife into her small shoulder.  Holding the child aloft by one thin arm, he pulled the knife out and raised it over his head, prepared to yet again pierce her tender body.  The woman, who shrieked and cursed shrilly, grabbed the upraised arm, but only altered the knife’s path from the child’s heart to her face, flaying her small cheek open from ear to chin.  Enraged at the interruption, the man dropped the child at his feet, turned and stabbed the woman repeatedly until she, too, lay at his feet in an ever-widening pool of blood.


* * * * * *


“I don’t know how to reach her.  I’ve tried everything.  It breaks my heart every time I look into her eyes �" they’re dead.  It’s like there’s nothing there.” 


“Give her more time, Jenna, it’s only been a couple of months since her father tried to kill her.  He murdered her mother, then took his own life and that would be a tremendous shock for an adult, much less a five year old.  My God, if you could have seen the condition of that apartment.  Missy must have been living in hell for sometime.   It’s a lot for a five year old mind to absorb, and quite frankly, I’m surprised she’s not catatonic.  You did say she responds, even if only to obey simple commands.   Just be patient, there’s a beautiful child in there who’ll come out when she’s ready.  In any case, I’ll be in touch with you next week about the first surgery on her face.


“Thanks, Mrs. Bremmer.  I’ll try to prepare her for that, so she’s not too frightened, but I don’t know how much she really understands, or lets in.  She hasn’t spoken a word.  She comes to the table at mealtimes when I call her, and, as I said, follows simple commands �" “brush your teeth, let’s take a bath, come and eat your lunch”.  But I get nothing when I ask her if she wants to watch TV, or go to the park.  She’ll do whatever I tell her to, but shows no interest, does nothing without being told or prompted.  She just sits there.  It’s heartbreaking.  I’ve tried to hold her in my lap to watch TV or hug her when I put her to bed �" nothing.”


“It may seem like you’re not getting through right now, but your patience and persistence will win out.  Please don’t give up on her.  I placed her with you for a reason.  You’re one of the best foster parents we have and I know, if anyone can reach her, you will.”


* * * * * *


“Missy, let’s take a ride.  I want to take you someplace special.  Find you a special friend.  Would you like that?”


The child gave no response, just stared at Jenna with her beautiful brown but lifeless eyes.


Jenna’s heart contracted, and she felt the now-familiar tears at the back of her eyes.   No child’s eyes should be that old, that devoid of hope.


“Come on, sweetheart, let’s get in the car.”


Jenna helped Missy buckle her seat belt before sliding in behind the wheel.  Her heart was heavy and she hoped that her idea would help this child come back from where ever her mind was hiding her heart.


As they drove through the quiet neighborhood, she glanced over at Missy, who stared out her window as if in deep thought.  But Jenna knew that if she spoke her name, Missy would turn to look at her with those lifeless eyes, belying any semblance of thought, deep or otherwise.


Jenna pulled into the parking lot of a large, red-bricked building with wooden cut-outs, all over the front, of cats and dogs frolicking.  Colorful and cheerful, at a glance, the building could have been mistaken for a pre-school, until one looked closely enough to identify the animals.


As Jenna got out of the car, and walked around to the other side to help Missy with the seat belt, she could hear barks and howls coming from the back of the building.   She prayed one of them would reach this lost child’s soul. 


She held open the front door for Missy and the noise increased.  Only now, there were meows and yowls and yips added to the din.  A long reception counter was on the left, where a young woman talked on the phone, and an older man in a white lab coat played with a small, black and white kitten pacing back and forth on the counter.  To the right, and directly in front of them,  kennel cages were stacked, four high, and lined the two walls.  Each contained cats, kittens, and small puppies of every color and breed imaginable.


“Look, Missy.  Aren’t they sweet?  Oh, look, honey, they’re so cute!”  Jenna took Missy’s hand and walked closer to the cages.  Kittens meowed loudly, their small pink mouths opened wide and little claws gripped the wire of the cages as they approached.  Puppies began to bark and yelp, jumping at the front of the cages in over-excited efforts to reach the woman and child approaching them. 


Missy silently, her face expressionless, looked at all these creatures who wanted so desperately to be chosen, who wanted to lick a small face and play tug-of-war with small hands.  Jenna gently pulled her past the cages, but her exclamations of “Look at this one, Missy!” and “Oh, isn’t she adorable?” failed to stir a response.  Jenna’s heart sank as cage after cage was passed with no comments or interest but her own.


They reached the last of the cages, several of them empty, and Jenna was at a loss.  Should she just pick one of the kittens, choose the cutest puppy and take it home anyway?  Maybe a little time spent around these precious baby animals that needed as much love as they did food would work its magic.


As she debated about what to do, another man in a white lab coat approached them, a small brown bundle with white gauze wrapped around one front paw, a metal splint on the other  and a thick gauze patch over his right eye, curled in his arms.  Jenna’s generous heart went out to the little creature.  As the man neared one of the empty cages, it lifted its head and one large brown eye met two brown ones.


Jenna glanced down at Missy and almost looked away again, but something was different on the child’s face.  Missy and the tiny wounded puppy stared into each other’s eyes, their gazes locked.  Jenna watched the two in wonder as each seemed to recognize the other.  For the first time since coming into Jenna’s care, Missy seemed interested in something, a hint of life animating her ravaged face and slowly growing in her eyes.  She moved toward the man and the puppy slowly, her eyes never leaving the face of the little battered dog.


Jenna looked back up at the man.  “What happened to him?”


“He was caught in the middle of a domestic dispute.  The owner attacked his wife and the pup got in the way.  He stepped on him,  broke one leg, twisted the other, then kicked it out of the way and knocked his eye out.  We sewed it shut �" looks like he’s winking.  Yep, this little guy is lucky to be alive.”  Jenna listened in horror and moved to pull Missy back but halted in amazement as the child reached up for the dog.  The man began to explain to her that the puppy was injured and needed to be put in the cage to rest and heal, but stopped as he stared down at Missy’s thin, upraised arms and studied the long and still-red scar on the child’s face.   The man then looked up at Jenna, whose eyes, bright with tears, wordlessly told him the miracle he was witnessing. 


Gently, he placed the puppy in Missy’s arms and stepped back. 


“We’ve been calling him Sad Sack, Sack for short,  ‘cuz he never barks or whines, just kinda stares at you with that big brown eye.” 


As Missy folded the puppy gently in her arms, their eyes still locked together, Jenna’s tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.  She couldn’t speak, could only watch as the two battered souls connected in a way that no one else had been able to do.


Missy began to murmur in the puppy’s ear, speaking for the first time since her savage attack, and Jenna’s hand flew to her mouth, no longer able to  contain her tears.  Sack slowly raised his head up and the small pink tongue reached up to gently lick the child’s angry scar.


Missy looked up.  “Miss Jenna, can I have this one?”



© 2017 Carol Cashes

Author's Note

Carol Cashes
This is, by far, the smarmiest piece I've ever written and was inspired by Michael Vick.

My Review

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a most powerful tale written with graceful manner
effective heart string tugging that even the hardest of hearts would find difficulty in standing resistant
beautiful words beautiful message

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

That is high praise, and I thank you.
Carol, If it's "smarmy", then we need more smarmy. Realistic and sensitive depiction of the aftermath of domestic violence- the effects on the victims.The trauma makes them retreat to a safe place in their minds- especially if it is a child, with symptoms as you aptly describe.Non-verbal, unconditional love from a pet can effect a miracle. Missy and the wounded puppy bond, and Missy feels alive, loved, connected. Kudos to you for your storytelling skills and for bringing to light this cruel subject.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

Thank you, I wrote this after the Michael Vick story broke, that's how old it is. Don't know how I .. read more
Wow, what a moving, sad, happy and powerful story. A test of one's emotions, this is. Only a robot could read and not get at least dewey-eyed. Like a double barbed fish hook, it snags both child and animal lovers by the heart strings. And that thing she did, turning part of herself off as a means of protection--I know about that.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Carol Cashes

1 Year Ago

Awww...dewey-eyed? I'm humbled by that...and yes, I can "protect" myself at will, now. Some would .. read more

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3 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on June 23, 2017
Last Updated on June 23, 2017
Tags: fiction


Carol Cashes
Carol Cashes

Biloxi, MS

I'm very cynical, jaded, just this side of bitter and the only reason I haven't crossed that line is a good man loves me. I am extremely empathetic, but seldom sympathetic. I can be a ferociously lo.. more..


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