Women's Writes - Works

Women's Writes

Well-behaved women seldom make history.
— Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Day 27

My mind went off in weird directions today. I heard some sort of advertisement, just the edge of it, really, and it seemed to be talking about everything being wonderful, good everywhere you look. I may have misheard it, but it doesn’t matter. I started wondering, what if? Is it always good to have everything be nice? Probably some times, but I knew I would sooner or later take that to a place that, well, wasn’t so good. Because that’s how my mind goes. So I turned it into today’s story, a story of a girl…or is she a woman?…living in a place where everything is good, except…maybe not.

(My apologies to R.E.M.)

Hope looked up as the door opened; this was likely to be something good. It was always something good. Her life was good, people were good, and she was good. So she never expected anything bad to happen. Badger loved Hope, and he treated Hope nice, and he would always be there for Hope, no matter what happened.

No one entered, and Hope lost interest. She knew she didn’t want anything that was outside. Her entire world was here, and the outside wasn’t good. It was scary and mean and everyone out there wanted to hurt Hope if she went out. So she didn’t make any move toward the door, even though it was swinging open with no one watching. She sort of remembered that there was a time when she wanted to leave, but she had no idea why. Here there were toys and candies and sweet flowers, everything she could want. The world was good. Nothing could be better by going out.

The door closed again, and Hope was glad. It was better to keep the world out there. She headed for the swing, planning to swing for a few minutes before dinner, but changed her mind and slipped into the swimming pool instead. The water was warm, and she completed four laps before she climbed out, exhilarated and relaxed at the same time.

Badger was late today. Where was he? She was getting hungry, and she knew she wouldn’t get dinner until he was home. He liked to eat dinner with her. He said she made him happy. He was such a happy Badger now that he had Hope, that’s what he always said to her. She hoped nothing was wrong to make him an angry Badger. Sometimes when he was angry, he forgot himself and hurt her. But when he was a happy Badger, everything was good.

Badger slipped in the door, barely opening it tonight. She’d seen him do that a few times before. Someone, he said, someone is following. That’s what life is like when you’re a spy, he told her. Someone is always following, at least while you’re on a job. Badger must be on a job. Hope smiled to welcome him, and also because she knew it was going to be dinner soon. It seemed like such a long time since lunch.

After dinner, Badger pushed her on the swing and told her about things. He was always teaching her, giving her the lessons she needed to be happy and smart. Then she could talk to him and he wouldn’t be bored, because she knew things to talk about. She sat in his lap and let him tickle her, and then it was time for nighty-night. Badger was in a naughty mood tonight. Nighty-night would be play time. She wasn’t sure she liked play time, but she liked for Badger to be happy, so she didn’t tell him when he hurt her. He didn’t always hurt her; tonight he didn’t hurt her, and they went to sleep when he was done with play time.

Badger was already gone when she woke. He rarely slept as late as she did. He liked her to sleep late, and not to do chores. It made her softer, he said, more feminine. She would play most of the day, the toys and the swing, and maybe have another swim before dinner. She enjoyed swimming. She knew she was good at it; she could even beat Badger at laps, and most things she couldn’t beat him. He was a lot smarter than her, but she was a lot faster then him.

Badger was late again. She stared at the light in the window; it was late, she was hungry, and Badger was still out. He’d never been this late before. Where was he? She played dinner party with her dolls, but pretend food wasn’t the same as real food. It didn’t fill her up for real. It only worked when she wasn’t really hungry. She threw her dolls off the sofa and tucked her legs under her. She could read, but she was too hungry to concentrate. She lay down on the sofa and tried to count the stars she could see in the skylight. There were too many, and she lost track. She fell asleep, and was still asleep when the door finally opened.


Sandra didn’t know what to expect when she opened the door. They’d been following the suspect for days, and he always went to this apartment before he headed home to his wife. This was probably where he kept her. Sandra steeled herself for the revelation. She hoped the victim was still alive. So few were being found alive these days that she had little reason to hope, and this victim had been missing for so long. Even if she was alive, she was likely to be messed up.

The sight when she opened the door wasn’t what she expected. The apartment was pleasant, at least. The walls had been removed, and the one large room redecorated as a play room of some sort. What used to be the motel swimming pool was now part of this room, and the rest of the building was redecorated with fake flowers and trees to resemble a garden in one area, and a comfortable living area in the other. There was an oversized crib in the corner, a crib large enough to hold two adults, and shelves of dolls and other toys lining the walls. A large sofa on one wall was covered with stuffed toys of all descriptions. A swing hung at the boundary between the ‘garden’ and the living area.

A woman was curled up on the sofa, asleep. The sofa was large enough that the woman looked like a child lying on it, but this was no child. Her body was fully developed, and her stomach protruded with the obvious signs of pregnancy. She had her thumb in her mouth, and her arms were wrapped around a large teddy bear. She would be about the right age for the woman they were searching for.

Sandra debated waking the woman, but she didn’t want to startle her. From what she could understand from the suspect, she hadn’t been outside in all the time since he snatched her from her yard all those years ago. He wept as he told them how much he loved her, how much he needed her, how taking her away from him would cause him to lose all hope. She growled at him, wanting to make him understand that he couldn’t just claim a child for his own and keep her, even if he did think he loved her. He begged the officers not to hurt his Hope. She had no intention of hurting the woman. She was there to help.


Hope woke, still hungry, wishing Badger would get home. The room was dark now. She didn’t know how to turn on the light. Badger always took care of that for her. She tried to sit up, but her stomach got in the way. Badger seemed happy she was getting so fat, but she thought she just looked stupid. She clutched her teddy bear and cried, scared now as well as hungry.

The voice from the darkness scared her. Someone was asking her if she was all right, if she needed anything. The voice sounded kind, but no one was supposed to be in here, no one except her and Badger. She scooted toward the end of the sofa, away from the voice. It spoke again. “Do you need anything?” it asked. She nodded, but didn’t speak.

Light flooded the room and Hope could see the person who was speaking. It was a woman. At least, she thought it was a woman, but it wasn’t dressed like a woman. It was wearing blue pants, not a skirt at all, no pink. Blue pants and a blue shirt. Some sort of star on it’s chest, and a hat. A blue hat. Hope didn’t like blue, not that shade of blue. She only liked light blue, the blue of her doll’s eyes. She shook her head. She needed something, she needed to eat, but she didn’t need this woman. She needed Badger. He knew what she needed.

“I’m here to take you home.” The voice was speaking again.

“I am home. I’m always home. I’m waiting for Badger.” Hope spoke for the first time, unsure and wobbly, but wanting this…woman?...to leave so Badger would come home.

“Badger? Oh, you mean Zane Middleton…he isn’t coming…home. He…probably won’t be back for some time.” The…person…reached out a hand, tried to take Hope’s hand, but Hope scooted away. She didn’t know this person, and was afraid. Badger was being followed. Maybe they wanted to steal his hope so he would give them something they wanted.

“Are you a spy?”

The person shook its head. “No, dear, I’m a police officer. I’ve come to take you back to your parents. They’ve been waiting so long, so very many years.”

“My…parents?” Hope puzzled. She thought she remembered parents, but the memories were fuzzy. She thought maybe they lived here with her before Badger came, but Badger didn’t like other people around. He just wanted her and him, just Badger and his Hope.

The person moved toward Hope, not fast, so slow Hope almost missed it. She waited, not sure what she should do. Badger would usually tell her what to do, but Badger wasn’t here. “I’m hungry.”

“Yes, dear, of course. We’ll get you something to eat as soon as we can. Do you have any snack food here?”

“No. Badger didn’t bring any yesterday. He said he forgot. He was going to bring me snacks today, but he hadn’t come home yet.”

The person had reached Hope now and took Hope’s hand. It led Hope off the sofa and toward the door. Hope screamed and fought. She couldn’t go out there. People out there wanted to hurt Hope. They wanted to kill Hope.


Sandra stopped, uncertain. She didn’t want to scare the woman, but she needed to take her out of the building. She needed to get her safely out of this…whatever it was…and back to her life. The woman was apparently afraid of this…Badger…or of something he had said about the rest of the world. She didn’t know her way around out there. Maybe it would be better to leave her here and bring her parents to her. Besides, the woman was above the age of consent now, and it wasn’t like taking a child to their parents. This was a woman of twenty-two, a woman who had been missing from her home since she was six, and didn’t know her own parents, maybe didn’t even remember she had parents.

he woman seemed to have the personality of a child. She was dressed like a child, in pink and bows and Mary Jane patent leather shoes. The swing. The dolls. The crib. Everything was designed to give the impression of a child; even her speech patterns were child-like. Sandra felt anger threaten to choke her; this man had snatched a child from her parents for his own perverted sexual fantasies, and when she began to grow up, as all children will, he decided to keep her a child. She probably didn’t even know what her pregnancy meant. That silly name…Badger…didn’t sound like a lover’s name, but like it was the only name she knew him by. And she called herself Hope. Well, at least all the suspect’s talk of hope made sense now. He had renamed her Hope, and that was how she knew herself, not as Amanda Martin, the only child of doting parents who had been heart-broken when she disappeared.

Sandra talked to Hope as they moved to the door, the sort of talk you would use for a small child who was scared. She assured Hope that no one was going to hurt her, that she was going to be loved and cared for, and maybe someday she would be able to grow up and have a good life. The woman sniffled and sobbed, but she allowed Sandra to lead her out the door and settle her in the back of the patrol car. Sandra settled in the front beside Monty.

“You won’t believe it, what’s in there.”

“I…wait. I just had dinner. I don’t want to hear.”

“It’s not…anything we’ve seen before. It’s like a playroom. She’s like a child. He…he kept her in a childlike state.”

“Really? She looks pretty grown up to me. How far along you think she is?”

Sandra looked back at the woman, huddled in the back seat holding her teddy bear and rocking. “I’d say…pretty far along. At least seven months, maybe more.”

“Did she tell you anything?”

“She said she was hungry.”

Monty nodded and swung the car into Wendy’s parking lot. They pulled through the drive through and Sandra handled ordering. Hope wasn’t able to tell them what she liked to eat. “I eat what Badger brings” was all she would say. She seemed to have no difficulty with the hamburger and fries once they arrived. She ate them with enjoyment, her eyes shining. She stared out the window of the car at the city as it passed, pointing to things with surprise and glee. These appeared to be things she had never seen before.


Hope looked at the line of men through the window. She jumped up and down and pointed. “That’s him! That’s Badger!” she shouted. The man beside her, the one who insisted she call him Dad, jumped up and headed toward the door. The person, the one who said she was Sandra, put her hand on his arm and made him stay. Hope was so excited to see Badger she tried to crawl through the window, but it was locked. There was no way to get to him.

“Can he see me?” she asked.

“No. He knows you’re here, but he can’t see you.” Dad held her, not wanting her to go to her Badger. He had a look in his eyes that she didn’t understand.

“Badger needs me. He needs Hope.”

“Amanda. Not Hope. You’re name is Amanda.” The woman who called herself Mom didn’t like her using her name. She wanted her to be someone else, someone called Amanda.

“I’m sorry.” Hope looked at her fingers. Were these really her hands? They seemed so big all of a sudden. And her feet, too. She liked her new shoes. They felt more comfortable than those shoes Badger brought her. They were soft. But they didn’t shine. Still, she could run in them and that was good.

The men turned and left the room. Badger was the last one out, and Hope waved at him, hoping he would sense that she was saying hi. She didn’t know why he looked so sad if he knew she was there.


Sandra closed the file. Her part was over. She doubted the suspect would be able to convince a jury to acquit him. The case was too solid, and Amanda had just picked him out of a line up. The jury would get to hear the woman, her childlike nature, and see how this man had held a girl hostage, kept her a child, so he could have sexual intercourse with a young child. His therapist would attempt to get him a lenient sentence, would probably be able to reduce it a fraction, and everyone would go back to their life. Except Amanda…Hope. She would need a lot of readjusting to enter the world that she had been shut off from for so long.

She remembered the day she first spotted the suspect. She knew him slightly from church, and knew his wife and daughters. When she saw him go into that old abandoned hotel, it seemed strange, but she didn’t think much about it until she saw him go in there over and over, night after night, carrying groceries and other items. What was going on in there? She searched through their files for any clue. It was when she found that old case, the cold case from all those years ago, and saw the composite drawing made of the suspect, that she began to put two and two together.

Zane Middleton had actually been called in for questioning when little Amanda Martin disappeared, but he was able to convince them he was away when she disappeared. He had an alibi. It wasn’t checked as closely as they might, because he was a solid citizen. He had a wife, and a child on the way. He had no reason to steal a little girl. Sandra frowned. She hated that attitude. Believe the man, that’s what Monty called it. Always believe the man, he growled, when they told him to call off his partner from the case. He’s clear, they said. He’s good. Leave him alone. Monty didn’t call her off, he egged her on, and they were able to get permission for a tail. Now the very supervisor that had told them to lay off was recommending them for a citation.

The Martins were having a lot of trouble adjusting, too. They were happy, delighted to have their daughter back, but it was difficult having a grown up child, especially one that was eight months pregnant. Any day now, they’d be grandparents, and their daughter didn’t even know she was going to have a child. From the things Hope had told them, Sandra suspected she’d been pregnant before but had always miscarried. This was the first time it had ever gone to term.

Monty came into the office and flopped in the chair across from her. “This has been so difficult.” He frowned. “I never understand men like that. What in the world could possess a man with so much going for him to snatch a little girl, and keep her a little girl? He must be sick.”

“Not you, too.” Sandra growled at him. “Everyone says oh the poor guy must be sick. He’ll probably get off with, like, two weeks probation or something, and a few hours of community service. Therapist will declare him cured, and he’ll be back in his life. No one will want to ruin his life just because he’s sick.”

“No, I don’t think that at all.” Monty was thoughtful. “I want them to throw the book at him. I meant sick in a less clinical sense. You know that. I hate this sort of thing. And I don’t think he treated her that well. She talked about him being angry, and hurting her, when we took her out of there.”

Sandra nodded. There were no obvious signs of abuse, but the woman was scared, both of “Badger” and the outside world. “He really messed with her mind. I always wondered what life would be like if everyplace I knew was a shiny happy place. I think I’m glad I never experienced that.”

Monty nodded, and handed her the folder he carried. “Hey, here’s another old, cold case. Want to try this one on for size?”

The partners bent their heads over another case of a missing girl who had been snatched from her yard. This one had obvious suspects, because there had been a brutal custody case and the mother had won. The father had been bothering them. For some reason, this had been another case of “believe the man”. This one was only two years ago. Should be a cinch.