The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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My mom learned how to protect her children by watching her parents. Because of her ailments, she had a bit of special treatment, but it worked out well for her. Whenever she needed it, no matter her age, her parents were always there to protect her.

The room full of first-graders was silent, but for the scritch scratch of led and the click-clack of Miss O’Neil’s heels. Doreen was just about to answer question number five when she noticed an odd silence, followed by the feeling of eyes boring into her. Doreen scribbled down her answer and was just about to turn when the sensation ceased. The click-clack had returned, and she watched as Miss O’Neil walked from behind her to stand behind Betsy Mulligan. Doreen was about to return to her test, but something caught her eye.

A butterfly, with wings of blue and green crystals, and a body spun of golden wire, was pinned to the teacher’s chest. The pin made the woman’s green eyes sparkle in a way Doreen had never seen in the months she had been in Miss O’Neil’s class.

“I love your pin, Miss. O’Neil!” Doreen said with an innocent smile, which fell as her teacher’s head rose. The twinkle in Miss O’Neil’s eyes ignited into a flame of indignation.

“Your paper,” the teacher hissed, holding out her skeletal hand. Doreen obliged unquestioningly, but stared at her teacher in confusion. “In the hall.” the teacher said, her crooked finger pointing to the door. “Don’t come back until I call you.”

Doreen stood mechanically, mind attempting to process what was happening. The moment the door closed behind her, she began to sob. She couldn’t understand what she did wrong. Sure, she had spoken during a test, but was that really worth this? As she sobbed on the ground, she heard a masculine, gravelly voice call out to her.

“Doreen?” The little girl looked up and began to sob even harder as she locked eyes with her father.

“What happened?” Asked her sister Caroline, who stood behind her father with a palid look on her face.

“I-I t-told Miss O-O’Neil that I-I liked her butterfly, and s-she yelled at me,” Doreen said, still sobbing.

“Her butterfly?” Caroline said, looking to her father for clarification. He had none to give, though.

The door to the classroom opened, and all three of the hallway occupants looked to Miss O’Neil as she glared out, expecting only one person.

“You’re either going to stop crying or-oh. Mr. DeLorenzo.” What had begun as annoyance dropped to a monotone as Miss O’Neil saw the man and the anger on his face.

“Girls. Go down the hall.” Doreen’s father said. Without hesitation, the two girls trotted down the hall, and around a bend. Immediately, they flattened themselves against the wall, straining to hear the adults’ conversation.

“Do you have any idea what that little girl has been through? How long she has spent alone?” The girls looked at each other as they listened to their father speak, sharing a vindicated smile.

Venomous Butterfly

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