I drove up to her school as kids rushed out of the building. Parking the car, I walked to her kindergarten class to pick her up. A bunch of other parents stood around as I waited for Annie, the moms looked at me with harsh eyes as I played on my phone answering some texts and such before I felt a little body wrap around one of my legs.
“Hi Annie” I looked down and she grasped onto my leg. I picked her up and waved to her teacher as her hair tickled my neck. Her head rested on my shoulder as I walked her back to the car. I set her on the ground as I removed her backpack and placed it next to her car seat. She watched the ground as I placed her in her seat, buckling her in. I walked to the driver’s seat, starting the car.
“Annie, did something happen today, do you want to talk to Appa about it?” I watched her response in the rear view mirror as she leaned her head back and shook her head. I turned on her favorite radio station as I drove off; wondering what was up with my little girl.
We reached home as she was fast asleep in the back. I unbuckled her from her seat, grabbing her things and mine before heading into the house. I opened the door and placed some things on the ground as I walked with my sleeping Annie in my arms to her bedroom. The light pink walls set a light tint in her room as I gently laid her in her bed surrounding her with her favorite stuffed animals. After placing a sweet kiss on her forehead I left the room to unpack my bag and do my laundry.
“I wish ____ was here” I breathed as I put in a load of laundry. I grabbed Annie’s back as it was dripping wet. I pulled out all of the books to try and inspect the damage as put the backpack in the dryer. I flipped through the pages as crayon was scribbled over each page and pages were torn and bent. Rolling my head back I set the books on the counter and walked into Annie’s room. Her little body lay on the bed sweetly as she held one of her favorite bears. I sat next to her, petting her head as I noticed a small bump on her head and bruises that started to form up and down her arms and her exposed stomach. I got up and grabbed some ointment and band aids as I walked back to her room. I raised her shirt gently rubbing the cool ointment on her soft skin that was discolored. I took care of the bump on her head and her little split lip as well. I stayed by her bed as she gently woke up and placed a kiss on my cheek.
“How are you feeling Annie?” I moved her to my lap and steadied her with my hand on the small of her back.
“Appa I am fine” She said in an annoyed tone as she tried to squirm out of my arms
“Where did you get all of the bruises and bumps then” She froze as a couple tears fell from her eyes.
“Other kids did that” She said with a sad heart as she laid her small hands in her lap.
“What happened?” I wanted to know to try and help her if I could
“They wanted me to do their coloring for them since the teacher likes my coloring. I told them no, that it was wrong. Then they wanted me to do their letters for them, I told them no. The teacher told the class that I was the youngest, everyone asked how old I was and I said I was turning four soon. Then when we went out to break a group of boys and girls started hitting and kicking me. They did some things to my books and made them all wet by putting it in the turtle pond.” She lay against my chest telling me her story as my heart broke at what my little girl had to go through.
“Did you tell the teacher? Did she notice?” I asked trying to evaluate the situation a little more.
“I put on my jacket so that she wouldn’t see when I came into the room.” Annie confessed as she turned and wrapped her arms around my neck standing on my thighs. I held her tiny body in my hands as I held her, I held in my tears so that she wouldn’t see.
— Later that night —
“Let me put some more ointment on and then you can get ready for bed” I squatted to her level as he raised her shirt and I applied another layer of ointment on her skin. She walked off to her bedroom changing into some pajamas as I cleaned up dinner. She came out of her room as I finished and followed her into her room.
“So you think that this will happen tomorrow Appa?” She climbed on her bed as she slid under the covers.
“I hope not, but some kids are just mean. They might Annie” I tried not to scare her too much but I wanted to be honest. She nodded her head as I turned off her light and kissed her head.
“Appa?” I stopped at the doorframe as she called my name, turning around. “Can you protect me tonight?” Her little voice was scared as she sat up in her bed. I smiled as her innocence and her personality were stronger than her body at that moment.
“I would love to protect you all the time Annie” I said as her little feet hit the floor and held up her arms for me to pick her up. I carried her to my room as I changed into a tank top and plaid pants. Her little body snuggled into my chest and arm as I held her close. I brushed her hair from her face as she closed her toffee colored eyes and fell asleep in my arms, my little angel.