Daddy gathered my things and was first at the door. He was so happy to see the mean lady, the one I never wanted to see again and who lived in my mommy's house now. Daddy called to me, "Libbe, Libbe, what are you doing?" I went slowly to the door where Anita looked at me and said, "Hello, dear." I didn't answer but looked away and into the house. There was plastic on the floors, and the rugs were not the same. My mom's mahogany telephone table was still in the hallway near the kitchen doorway. I took a step or two inside and saw that the living room was totally different; except for my mom's desk and floor lamp, everything was gone: the chairs and Victorian couch, the coffee table and the curtains weren't there anymore. I said, hysterically, "Daddy, what did you do with her couch?" He didn't have time to answer as I ran by him and up the stairs to my room. I wanted to be with the dolls Mommy bought me. I walked into my room; they were gone. The twin bed against the wall had a puffy, white terrycloth bedspread that had a lady in a long, full dress with a parasol in the center of it. The dresser was different, and had a big mirror at the back, and on the top were hair and nail brushes, a hand mirror and a white, lace doily. The walls were white. I opened the closet expecting my toys to be there but it was empty. I let out a scream. "Daddy, where are my toys and dolls? I want my mommy back. Give me my dolls!" My father came up the stairs and yelled at me to stop making a scene in front of Anita who had worked so hard to give me a beautiful room. "She said that you are becoming the age of a lady and you've outgrown your dolls." I sat on the floor and cried. Daddy walked away without a hug for me; he must not like me anymore. I wished Aunt Rose would come to get me. I thought that my toys might be in the basement, so I got up and went past Anita and Fred who were sitting on the couch together. No one cared. I walked through the kitchen and saw that the kitchen set was there but it looked and smelled different. I put on the light and ran down the stairs. The built-in seats and bar were the same but there were different things on the shelf where the radio used to be. I looked everywhere but my stuff and Mom's things were not there. I ran back upstairs to see what had happened to Mom's room and the guest room and on the way they asked me what I was doing. I said, "nothing" and kept going until I reached Mom's room. Everything was gone: all her pictures, her bed, all her clothes and perfumes, lipsticks--all gone, gone, gone. I looked in the guest room. It was different and the closet was empty. Where are Mommy's pictures? I went down the stairs and got in front of Daddy. "Give me Mommy's pictures, Daddy, please I want them." "Libbe," he said, "I have never seen you act like this before. Go to your room and stay there until you are ready to say that you're sorry to Anita. The pictures are put away and when you're older you can have them." "I want Mommy's picture, please for my room." I was crying so hard I couldn't breathe. Daddy said, "Go to your room--no dinner until you behave." He didn't feel badly for me. I turned and I walked up the stairs to the room that was not mine anymore. I closed the door, which was something I'd never done before. Mommy had always kept the doors open but I did not want to see anyone or to have them see me. I sat there by the closet door and cried for hours until I fell asleep. It was late when dad came in and said, "Libbe, Libbe wake up." He shook me a little and I awoke slowly, thinking he would hug me now. Instead, he said, "Libbe, I'm so ashamed of you for being this way and for sleeping on the floor. If you can act nicely, you can come down. We saved you some dinner." I told him "no thanks," and that I was not hungry. Then he said that I needed to wash and change into my night clothes and that Anita could help me. I said, "No, Daddy, I can do it myself...no, I don't want her." He said, "I'd better hear good reports about you when I come home."
Anita came upstairs anyway. "I will lay out your pajamas," she said. I thought that at least my clothes would be the same, but no, they were not the same. I didn't speak at all until she said, "I can help you." "No," I said, stepping back, "My mommy showed me." I thought that maybe she might care. "Please, can I have my Tiny Tears doll to sleep with, please?". She looked at me as if she were looking through me. "No, you cannot have your toys or dolls back. I donated them to the temple. You are going to become a lady and you won't have time for them." It was clear she meant what she said. My dad wasn't having any sympathy for me. I went to bed very hungry that night and after that night I looked out the window and prayed. Days went by, and Dad was home for awhile until, they said, Anita was comfortable. I was sent to my room several more times without supper before Dad went back to work. Anita and Daddy went clothes shopping for me to go back to school. The clothes she picked out were gray, brown and black and I did not like them. Though Dad told Anita that I was allergic to fish and wool, most of the clothes were wool. She told him it was in my head and she said I was allergic to get attention. Daddy did say that the doctor had said that if I ate fish my throat would close and I could die--but the wool stayed. Daddy said to me, "You are making it up, Libbe--you're not allergic to wool so you will wear the clothes." He was getting ready to go back to work now and Anita seemed like she was trying to be nice to me. I wasn't sure of her yet, but I didn't like staying in my room all the time. Usually when Daddy was getting ready to go back on the road, he would hug and kiss me and tell me he would bring back cupcakes. Now he said, "Behave yourself, Libbe, and be good for Anita and do everything she tells you. I don't want any bad reports." I could tell he meant it. I was so frightened to be alone with her that I grabbed his coat and said, "Please Daddy, don't leave me here, please." He gave me a little push away. "Libbe, I don't want to hear this; I'm going on the road. Go upstairs. Don’t make me upset, I have to drive." I thought he was going to kiss me goodbye, but he gave Anita a nice goodbye instead. I ran to my room and shut the door. I didn't care if I stayed in there forever. I prayed for Mommy to come get me. Please Mommy, I don't want to be with Anita. I love you; don't you love me? I knelt at the window to pray to my star. I'll think of Mommy and everything will be okay.
I stayed in my room and cried. When I became quiet, I could hear her walking around. I was hungry but didn't want to go out of my room until she went to bed. I thought I would wait and that she'd go to bed soon. I had to go to school in the morning and I was getting tired so I went downstairs into the kitchen. There was a small light on. I walked in and there she was sitting on the kitchen chair as if she were waiting for me. She stared at me and the nightlight reflected on her face scared me. I screeched out, "Oh, you scared me." She replied, "Did you think I was sleeping? Don't you ever leave your room unless you ask me." Then she said in a soft voice, "Are you hungry?" I said, "Yes, please," feeling scared to death as a cold shiver ran down my back. She said, "You will eat in the morning. Go to bed and don't come back out of your room." I went back to my room and remembered what the little boy had taught me: to suck on my shirt to get flavor. So I did, and fell asleep that way until morning.
Anita came into my room. She told me, "Get up...get up--look at what you did to your bed!" I was startled; I'd never been woken up like that before. "Look at what a mess you've made out of the bed." I got up quickly and without any thought, as she pulled all the covers and sheets off. I was cold and a shiver came over me. I stood still and she turned to me and said, "You will learn how to make your bed and how to sleep in it." I didn't know that there was a way to sleep in a bed. I watched her make the bed trying to memorize how she did it, hospital corners on the sheets and spread. Then she said, "Take it apart and make it yourself." I did, but was not sure if I had remembered correctly. I wished the time would go by fast; I wanted to go to school. The time didn't pass fast enough: I had to make the bed three times. She told me that when I came back from school, she would teach me again and again until I learned. I could feel Anita everywhere and stood silent. She laid out my clothes and I wore them even though I didn't like them. I would be in store for more bad clothes to come, too. It was almost time to leave the house and meet my friends, smelly Diana and Katie, to walk to school. Although I didn't know what was in my Howdy Doody lunchbox, I hoped for cupcakes. It didn't even matter to me if the teachers had to keep me or they hit my hands with a ruler; at least I wouldn't be home. At the time, I didn't know things would get progressively worse. I got a brown bag instead of my lunchbox, and when I opened it, there was a cream cheese and olive sandwich on dark bread without a cupcake or desert--that was it. I thought maybe she didn't know what to give me or what children like to eat so I will tell her what Mommy used to make and how she read stories to me. I went home after school and opened the garage back door to let myself in and there was Anita at the door. When I went past her to go to the playroom in the basement she said, "One minute young lady. Before you do anything come upstairs." I looked up at her and said, "Okay, but excuse me, I didn't like the sandwich you made me for lunch. My mommy usually makes me...." Anita interrupted me and said, quietly, "I am in charge now and your mommy will not be brought up again...do you understand? What you get for lunch is what you eat, and every day when you get home from school, you will have chores and homework." When I asked for a snack, she said, "No, you will eat supper later; now, you work." I did not like it but I was too young to say anything. She scared me; so every day for weeks it was learning how to make hospital corners, how to sew hems and how to scrub clothes. She told me to tell my dad that we were getting along fine, and I did because of course she scared me so much. When Daddy would come home for that one day, he would be too tired to talk much. He did tell me, though, that Anita said I was happy now. I didn't answer him, but asked, "Where are my cupcakes?" Daddy replied, "I give them to Anita to give to you. Anita says you get them." It was a lie, but I kept silent.