Balloon Man

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Chapter 5

Giselle learned how to stay out of the way as much as possible, sometimes cleaning and scrubbing just to stay busy and not have Ada’s wrath come down on her. But there was only so much she could do when Foret would come creeping into her room at night. She was too afraid to say anything. She feared Foret would beat her as Ada did when Giselle complained about anything.

The first time he dared to come in, Giselle was sleeping. The slight crack of the door opening woke her from a bad dream.

“Shh,” said Foret. “I just want to say hi. Look, I brought you a present.”

Foret handed Giselle a brown stuffed bear with a hat on its head. Despite her fears, Giselle was drawn to the toy and reached out to hold it. Foret used the opportunity to lean closer and touch her hair with trembling fingers.

Giselle took the bear then moved away a little, stroking the soft material with her hand. She liked the way the fur felt as she smoothed it down and the softness made a sliver of a smile appear. It was the first time in months she’d felt like a child again.

“Now keep quiet and don’t tell Ada,” Forest whispered.

His fingers grazed Giselle’s hair and arms. On instinct, her whole body stiffened. Part of her wanted to cry out but a deeper instinct pushed her to remain still so the monster would go away.

Just as he started to move his hand up her leg Ada called out from the bathroom. “Foret, there is no towel in here. Get me a towel, now!”

Foret quickly stood and whispered, “Shh, I’ll see you later.”

After he left, Giselle heard him talking to Ada. “I’m sorry dear. I thought there was a towel in here. I’ll make sure that girl knows to check and replenish the towels every day.”

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