‘Behind Closed Doors’ by Cheryl Russell

Anne walked passed number 13 and shook her head helplessly. Jean always seemed so cowed and browbeaten. Anne just wished she could do something but she had no proof that there was even a problem. She had her suspicions though. She had tried approaching Jean but she always avoided answering any questions. Anne had the impression that Jean was too scared to speak. It was a problem. It was impossible to know what went on behind closed doors.

Anne had tried to find out what was going on. Jean wasn’t going to speak to her quite obviously. She had tried speaking to other neighbours but met with a couldn’t care less attitude. Long gone were the days where neighbours helped and looked out for each other. The police wouldn’t intervene without evidence they had told her. In fact she had the impression they saw her as just a nosy neighbour rather than a concerned citizen. She had kept her distance from Jean’s husband, not wanting to cause more trouble for Jean.

Yesterday, she had caught a glimpse of Jean and her arms had been covered in bruises. There were two children to think of as well which worried Anne even more. The children were both early teens and appeared vulnerable by their appeances not that she had seen much of them. What was happening to them and what were they witnessing? She had never noticed bruising on the children and she had done her best to have a look – surreptitiously of course. It concerned her that the children were witnessing the alleged abuse. The psychological effects didn’t bear thinking about.

Today, the curtains were closed, so there was no way she could look to see what might be happening. She had worked out that it was a bad sign when they were closed. What was she supposed to do? The police wouldn’t be interested in this when she couldn’t even say there was a problem.

She went indoors and sat down, worn out from her shopping trip. She closed her eyes for a minute and dozed off. She was jolted awake by a scream. Was that coming from number 13? If there had been an incident, she couldn’t avoid taking action now. A scream surely meant something was very wrong.

She went out and warily knocked on the door. When no one responded she called through the letter box asking if everything was all right. There was still no answer although she thought she heard the faintest sound. She called again, saying she would call the police if no one answered.

“Get lost,” called a voice. Not a masculine voice as she had expected, but the voice of a child, probably female.

“Please let me in to speak to your mum,” she called again.

“I won’t tell you again. If you don’t leave us alone you will be sorry.”

What did that mean? Why would a child be making threats like that? Maybe they were just very frightened and were probably just trying to protect themselves and their mum. Anne wasn’t prepared to leave things as they were so she began to return to her house where she intended to call the police. She was a bit confused as to what was going on as she had expected a man to answer.

When the police arrived they tried to gain access. This time the door was opened and revealed the true horror of what had been going on. Jean and her husband Tom were laying on the floor hands and legs bound tightly together. Standing over them was a boy and girl who looked to be early teens. They were each holding knives which were pointed at their parents.

When Anne realised what this all meant she was shocked. For whatever reason it seemed as if the children were the abusers not Tom. The children obviously needed help. It made Anne question what had happened to make the children act with such violence towards their parents. At least now this mess would be sorted out and Jean and Tom would be able to live safely in future and the children would get the help they so obviously needed.

Copyright 2016 by Cheryl Russell. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

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