Balloon Man

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Chapter 11

2000

During the next six years, Giselle grew sick and weak while Alouette watched in horror as Herme continued to bring men to the house, forcing her mother to work. Giselle had two more pregnancies and each time, she was told the child died. Now, her mother was fragile and bedridden.

Giselle was dying from a broken heart and a body too abused to continue on, but she was trying to stay alive for her daughter. Alouette watched from the outside and knew her mother was ill, heartbroken there wasn’t anything she could do to help. Alouette also did not believe the babies had died.

Alouette told her mother she would find the babies if it was the last thing she ever did. “Momma, I think Foret has the children. I saw him take it with him, but he did not see me.”

“Alouette, Foret is a very bad man. I think he is even worse than Herme, for he knows what evil he does. Herme is an animal who goes by a prehistoric instinct and Foret is greedy and clever. He will do anything for money. Just promise me Alouette, if anything happens to me, promise you’ll try to get away from here the minute you can.”

“I want you to come too, please don’t go!” Alouette cried to her mother.

“Alouette, come close. I want to tell you something.”

“What it is, Momma?” Alouette leaned in.

“It’s about Foret. He—”

“What’s going on in here?” Herme came into the room and Giselle changed topics.

“I don’t feel well, Herme. I am with child again and the baby isn’t moving. Please, take me to the hospital?”

Grunting, Herme answered, “We’ll take right good care of you here.”

For a few months, Giselle endured terrible sickness until the day she announced the baby was coming. Herme did nothing to help, called no one for assistance, and Giselle died while in labor.

Alouette remembered her mother’s words to escape when the opportunity to flee appeared. She grabbed an old stuffed bear her mother kept over the years and threw on a sweater. While Herme grumbled and yelled at her mother’s bedside, Alouette ran out the front door. She looked around for the best direction to follow.

To the south, she saw the outline of the old building she learned years ago was an orphanage. “That’s where I’ll go! Maybe someone there will help save me!”

Looking left and right, she walked down the road. Suddenly, an arm reached out from nowhere and grabbed her. She screamed and turned around, only to find it was Herme.

“Where do you think you are going?” Herme asked.

Too frightened to respond, Alouette remained quiet. Herme pulled her back to the house. Once inside, he fastened a chain around her ankle, one long enough to reach inside the house and part of the yard.

“You stay put, you understand? I’ll be watching you. Your mother’s dead and I’ll need you to take her place.”

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