Tom stepped out of his hiding place in the cellar.
“He’s here! Thelma’s down here!” He should have known Ty would be on the lookout. Tom started looking for an escape route as 5 sets of feet began thundering down the steep stairs. He’d lived here longer than most of the children, and he knew the place up a down. Ty had him cornered, though. Tom could try to use brute force, but Ty was a large kid, undoubtedly strong as a workhorse. Tom couldn’t help but wonder who Ty’s parents were.
As the other kids approached, he heard the telltale taunts of Frida, a ruthless 12-year-old who had been looking for easy, 8-year-old prey, aka Tom. He’d been her target for the greater part of a year now.
“Thelma, thelma, thelma! We know you’re there! You’re hiding because you’re weak! You’re such a sissy!”
Frida had started the nickname Thelma after Tom had lost his favorite stuffed animal, one he couldn’t sleep without, and cried about it. Mrs. Vance had encouraged him not to sleep with it, as he was getting older. But he truthfully couldn’t sleep without it, so he kept it. But when he accidentally left it outside, he searched everywhere, but wasn’t allowed to go back outside; it was night. He cried himself to sleep, and the rest of the kids in the home heard.
“Come on, you baby!”
Ty backed away as Frida slapped Tom across the face.
“Aren’t you going to fight back?!”
Frida was angry, but Tom just stood there. Then, his face contorted and he started screaming. Loudly. Very loudly. First scared, then angry. Frida and her posse, who had finally caught up with her in the center of the cellar, were confused, but their faces quickly because horrified when the screaming kept going. Tom screamed for a minute straight, and by then, Frida and her friends had fled the cellar. Ty had left too, so Tom was alone. Just how he liked it to be.
Mrs. Vance didn’t bother to come check on him. Even though she was a lovely woman, the owner of the home and a great chef, she did this because she knew Tom could defend himself. The only time she ever saw him cry was when he lost that stuffed animal. But what she didn’t realize was that Tom needed her help more than anything. If not to be his temporary guardian, to be his friend.
Little Tom was very lonely. He’d like to have a friend more than anything, but he knew Mrs. Vance was too busy to tend to him and be nice to him.
Once Tom was sure he was completely alone, he began to sing. He thought he was a marvelous singer, but in truth it was all in his head. He was, in fact, quite an awful singer with an extremely off tune belt. He would hum bits of pop songs he’d heard on the radio at school, and, though he was often ridicule for it, he kept doing it because he loved it. He could sing about anything and express himself the way he couldn’t through speaking (he was very introverted).
After a while, Tom’s actions sank in, and mid-song, he began to cry. He’d screamed in front of everyone. Screamed. How could he expect this not to cause another nickname to crop up, or his situation to become, if possible, worse. But then a thought crossed his mind, ‘But I faced Frida, and I won.’
Why would he be worried if he had won their little battle? He wouldn’t. He would get out of that dump. He swore to himself that he would never allow himself to be affected by Frida’s taunts. He was going to get himself out of there.