When The Shadows Began To Dance

Yamaya Cruz


Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2011 Yamaya Cruz

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmittedby any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, withoutwritten permission from the author.

Chapter One

I am really not sure when the shadows began. I suppose they were always around,creeping about in the darkness, only showing their faces when they were illuminated bylight. My earliest memory is when I was about eight. I remember waking up in the middleof the night and rushing into my mommy’s room. It was a mess. I stumbled over piles ofclothes like they were landmines. I kicked over empty vodka bottles and crushed beercans with my feet. I paused, not knowing what to do.

She was on her knees, crying, begging for them stop. I wanted them to stop too.They didn’t. They got angrier, more frantic. And my mom responded by shooting up toher feet, cursing loudly, waving her fist into the air and then slamming them into the barewall. Each punch felt like a hammer was being smashed into my head. I closed my eyestight, bit down hard on my lower lip, and hoped and prayed that they would leave mymommy alone, just for that night.

My chest felt heavy like a sinking ship. I remember thinking to myself that it wasjust a dream, a nightmare. I told myself that I would wake up soon and everything wouldbe okay. But the shadows were still there. They were almost twelve feet tall. They linedthe walls and danced about menacingly. I remember flinching as they reached out to tryand get me. I screamed, ran into my bedroom, and buried my head under the sheets. Ineeded to escape, to pretend that it wasn’t real. I could hear my mommy ripping clothesoff hangers, slamming dressing drawers shut, and sweeping supplies into large bags. Aliwas ten, and I watched him struggle as he lifted a huge Santé Clause sack and flung itover his shoulder. His face strained from the weight. I was way too scared to help.

We were forced to flee our home like refugees in the night, saddled with bags andarmored in layers of clothing for warmth. Winter had no mercy; it spat out cold chills thatcrept through our sleeves and into our spines. We walked around aimlessly in the night,until finally we boarded an empty bus. We drove down richly paved roads that loopedaround giant office buildings; dainty cottage dwellings peered off like mountains in thedistance. And the lights of New York City sparkled like the sun setting beyond thehorizon.

The engine hummed, and I rocked back and forth in my seat as the tires rattled overpotholes. The scenery changed, and Newark looked like it had just been looted. Thestreets were littered with trash; bilious buildings coughed out clouds of black smoke.Storefronts were corroded with bubble letter graffiti. Factories were boarded up andclosed down for good. And an old man sat on an underpass, like a wounded soldier,holding up a cardboard sign that read, “Will work for food.”

I looked around. I was the only one on the bus! Panic struck me. Where waseveryone? I wanted to jump up and look for them. Where did they go? Did they get off atthe last stop? How come I didn’t see them? I looked out the window, hoping and prayingthat I would spot them. My heart hurt, like someone was squeezing the guts out of it.

I could feel someone’s eyes on me. I looked up and saw the controller looking at methrough the rearview mirror. He pulled the bus over and walked up to me.

“Hey young lady, where are you heading?”

Tears swelled up in my eyes, and I couldn’t answer him because I didn’t know whereI was going.

“This bus is supposed to be empty with no passengers; I made my last stop back onMercer Street. Didn’t you hear me?

My bottom lip began to quiver. I worked hard to hold captive the tears that wanted tobreak free and run down my face.

“Alright, everything is going to be okay. Can you tell me your name?”

My name? My mouth was dry. My throat was sore. I was alone. The fear wasintense, and I felt like a chicken before its neck was rung. The controller reached out tome. I flinched.

“Don’t touch me.” I hissed.

“I am trying to help you. Please let me help you.”

“I want to go home.” My voice was drenched with tears, and my body started toquiver. It felt too scary to be real.

“Okay, alright, I am going to take you home.”

He pulled out his radio and began to speak into it. He held the radio up to his ear andthen turned to face me, smiling. He leaned in and fed some answers back into the radiobefore he turned around and drove back to the station. I was very scared, but theattendants were friendly. They gave me hot tea and cookies. Somehow, I managed to fallasleep.

“Are you crazy? You’re not taking that girl anywhere until we call child services.”

My eyelids fluttered open. The elderly woman, she was here! She placed herforefinger to her lips, motioning for me to keep quiet. There was a woman in the office;she was having a heated conversation with the controller.

“How many times do I have to tell you? The girl is sick! I understand that she toldyou that she was on the bus with her family, but that’s not true.”

“You mean to tell me that young girl is crazy.”

“Mr. Calderon, please don’t call her crazy. And keep your voice down; I don’t wanther to hear you.”

Mr. Calderon rolled his eyes and then crossed his arms over his chest. The womanleaned in closer and started to whisper, but I could still hear her.

“We believe that she suffers from delusions. So she is under my observation until wecan figure out how best to treat her.”

“Best to treat her, what are you running, a fucking animal shelter?

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