She stood on the near bank of the canal, a blank expression on her face. In her hands, she held a scale model of house similar to those on the opposite bank of the canal. When asked about it by various passersby, she said nothing and continued staring ahead, expressionless.
As twilight approached, the lights behind the windows of the model house came on. Still, the young woman remained motionless and by that time, a small crowd, curious about what she was doing, gathered around her. A few more people inquired, but she remained silent.
It was almost 8 pm and dark when a police officer approached the young woman, now surrounded by more than 100 townspeople. The policeman, standing directly in front of her, said, “Young lady, you’ve gathered quite a crowd around you, but no one seems to know what it is you’re doing out here. Can you please enlighten me?”
The young woman looked at the officer. She bent over and set the model house on the ground. She stood back up and started to tell her story, speaking in a hushed voice so that only the officer could hear her.
“My name is Anna,” she said. “I am seventeen and have lived in the next town over for the past thirteen years. This,” she said, pointing to the model house she had just set down, “is a model of the house I lived in. I was taken from my first home by a man and woman when I was around four. They said that they were my uncle and aunt and took me in, claiming that my parents had tragically died in a car accident.”
Anna continued, “At first I was very grateful. They took very good care of me. They taught me to read and write and gave me religious training. But I was not allowed to leave the house alone, which I thought was strange. But I accepted it because they fed me, clothed me, and cared about me.”
Anna stopped for a moment, sighed deeply, and then gathered herself. “But when I was about twelve, as I grew from a little girl into womanhood, everything changed. The couple started to do things to me. Sexual things. They told me that this was how parents and children show how much they love one another. I knew it wasn’t right, at least it didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know what to do.”
The officer looked perplexed. “I’m sorry about what they did to you, but I’m not sure I understand what it is you’re doing here and what this is.” He pointed to the model house.
“I had to get away from my uncle and aunt and I tried to plan my escape. But they found out about my plan, and locked me in a room in the house. They came in my room to bring me food and to make me do sexual things with them. When I was alone, I put together this model house and was going to use it to show the police what my house looked like if I ever escaped. It took me almost a year to make it.”
“So you ultimately did escape,” the officer said. “Where are your uncle and aunt now? Can you take me to their house? I can arrest them.”
“There’s no need for that,” Anna said. “They’re gone.”
“Where did they go?”
Anna reached into a dress pocket, pulled out a book of matches, struck one, and dropped it on the model house she had made. When the match hit it, it quickly burst into flames. “They’re in there,” she said, pointing at the model. “What I just did to this, I did to their actual house this morning, before they woke up. They can’t hurt me anymore.”
Written for this week’s Photo Challenge from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Photo credit: Oleg Oprisco.