Caged Bird

TRIGGER warning  – child sexual abuse, cult abuse, mind control, manipulation.

This is out of context unless the blog has been read in a chronological order.

Bianca, Guinevere, Giselle and some who have yet to introduce themselves:

If this is Greece

We’re the chorus in a tragedy

Oh tell us Princess

How did he freeze

Your spirit into apathy

Princess:

No matter where I

Looked, all exits they

Were barred by him

To confuse him I’d lie

But he learned how

To get under my skin

Princess, 5 years old

If I wake up outside The Butterflies, I must leave the body immediately. Or I will be killed. (Only magical children like me can leave the body at will. Bianca isn’t magical, so she can’t do it).Timothy says they wouldn’t let me live, the bad people claiming to be my relatives. Sometimes I open my eyes and see a bedroom, stuffed animals sleeping beside me. It’s so strange. The woman who calls herself my mother says it’s my room. But Timothy says it’s not. I live at The Butterflies. If I awaken in Bianca’s bed, I should pretend to be her. Nobody must know I exist

I sit up in the bed in the room that’s not mine. (Sometimes I wish it was. It looks nice and cosy.) If you don’t leave the body at once, demons will come and drag you to Hell. Timothy told me so. I’ve seen the demons – horrifying! – caught on a videotape he showed me. I’m about to lie down when I see the floor out of the corner of my eye. A yellow street lamp shines outside my window. Some of its light enters through the blinds and a gap in the curtains, casting striped lines on the floor. It makes it hard to distinguish the room, but it seems there’s a shape stretched out on a mattress! Is it a demon? Here for me? Don’t scream, don’t scream! I bite a pillow to keep the sound from escaping. I’m not able to cry without sound. The one lying on the floor stirs. 

”Bianca?” It’s a boy’s voice. He sits up and rubs at his eyes. ”Are you crying?”

”Who are you?” I whisper. 

”You don’t remember?” I hear he’s worried, but I like the sound of his voice. ”I am Eric.”

”Eric?” Who’s Eric? 

”Me and my mom came to visit yesterday. It got late so your mother invited us to stay. My mom is sleeping in the living room.” He gestures at the bedroom door, indicating his mother is somewhere on the other side. 

”Are you a Prince?” Timothy says only Princes like him and his friends are allowed near me. The boy laughs heartily.

”No and I’ll never be!” 

”So you’re not a Prince mattress?” Timothy is very stern on this point. Princesses can only sleep if they sleep naked on Prince mattresses. A Prince mattress is an undressed man who is a Prince. If I sleep anywhere else, those demons will come. Because demons love to eat princesses and only Prince mattresses can protect against them.

”A what!” The boy exclaims. I’m unsure of what to say now. Maybe I should try leaving the body? But I want to keep talking with Eric. ”You said a what?” He chortles and I notice he tries to do so silently.

”A Prince mattress”, I mumble. 

What on earth is that?” Now he’s choking, trying to keep roars of laughter in. I don’t get what’s funny. I don’t like Prince mattresses! I just don’t want to be ripped apart by demons. 

”I can show you”, I offer. ”But you need to take your clothes off.”

”No way!” He exclaims. ”Forget it Bianca. I’m not taking my clothes off!” 

”I’m not Bianca!” I counter.

”Then who are you?” He sounds concerned now. I shouldn’t have said that, it was stupid! ”Bianca, what is a prince mattress? No, don’t take that off. You can show me with your clothes on. Please.” His voice is kind. I want him to like me. Even though this is the first time I see him, it’s like I’ve known him forever. 

”Lie down”, I tell him and he falls back on the mattress. I lie down on my stomach on top of him. ”I can only sleep if it it’s on a Prince mattress. Or demons will kill me”, I explain. 

”Bianca, where did you get that from?” Eric sits up slowly, easing me off his lap.

”Timothy says so.”

”Who is Timothy?”

”He is at The Butterflies.”

”Your day care centre?”

”It’s not my day care centre. I live there.” The boy makes a strange, snorting sound. I peer at him and I’m surprised to see he’s crying.

”Why are you crying?” I whisper.

”Because it’s wrong, it’s so wrong! Timothy lied to you.”

”Timothy only wants to protect me. You don’t know about demons? They will kill me if I sleep somewhere else. If a Prince doesn’t protect me…I don’t want to die! I don’t want to!” Now I’m the one sniffling against his t-shirt. The boy hugs me.

”I’m not a prince. I am only Eric. But I will always protect you. Bianca, demon’s aren’t real. That’s another lie Timothy told you.”

”Can you save me? From Timothy?” I’m afraid of Timothy. I sometimes…feel like I hate Timothy, but it’s forbidden. Such thoughts are forbidden and now I’ve said it out loud! I remember another thing, also forbidden to think of – avoice called Guinevere! She said an Eric would come to save me!

”You’ll never have to see him again!” Eric exclaims. ”Never!” 

Later, Timothy convinces me this was only a dream, sent to me by demons. I say to myself, ”it doesn’t matter if it’s only a dream”. If I really am magical, maybe I could dream travel. I could see Eric again. I want him to hug me! I want him to say he’ll protect me! I felt so wonderfully safe with him. I’ve never felt like that before. Not once since I was created. 

Eric insists we should wake our mothers. For some reason, my mother – is she my mother for real? – is sleeping so hard she can’t be woken. But Eric’s mother sleeps lightly. When he tells her what occurred, he starts crying again.

”Calm, calm.” She speaks in a soothing voice. ”You need to stay calm so she continues talking to you.” She instructs him to ask me the same questions as before. I give the same answers. I glance at her when I’m talking. Her face is sympathetic but I feel scared, seemingly for no reason. When we’re finished, she sighs. ”Timothy has created a doll in her.”

”A doll?” Eric sounds confused. 

”You should go to sleep!” She orders, knocking him between the shoulder blades. ”You too”, she tells me. But I leave the body before her knuckles touch my back. Out of the two of them, Eric is the only one I feel at ease with.

Guinevere:

Eric was forced to forget (by our relatives) everything he learned that night. It took years for the memory to fade. Each time he asked questions they told him different lies – that I went to a new preschool, that Timothy had been sacked or was in prison, that Eric shouldn’t speak with me about it because it would stir memories best forgotten. 

Grandfather said Timothy should be punished by the Society for his breach of contract. 

”It’s her own fault, for being so stupid!” Uncle exclaimed, pointing at me with his glass of something. ”How could she believe things like that. Prince mattress!” He snorted with laughter. I felt such shame, it was stupefying. Grandfather got upset:

”You shouldn’t be ashamed!” He declared. ”You’re only five years old! If you were ten years or older…or thirteen years…yes, then I would worry about your intelligence level. I’ll tell you what! There are adults who have been brainwashed to believe the most outrageous things! You! You have nothing, nothing at all, to be ashamed of!” This moved me so, I ran to him and gave him a big hug (something I seldom did voluntary). Uncle shook his head and left the room. Grandfather decided steps should be taken to break Timothy’s control over Princess. I was taught how to spy on Baby. Eric’s Night Self was sent to pick me up from preschool so he might learn what cue made Princess appear. He also attempted to warn my mother, but she was forced – by her siblings – to forget his warning. The end result was my mother continued to be clueless and I still attended The Butterflies.

One person, however, was deeply disturbed by Timothy’s insolence. The audacity – to dare mess with his daughter’s mind – prompted my father to leave his country hideout. Mother was surprised when she opened the door and saw him. He said it was a surprise visit. They had coffee and it made her so sleepy, she headed for bed and nodded off. Father threw himself at the telephone.

”She’s asleep now. Get over here, you and I have some business to sort out!” Some time later, we heard a knock on the door. Father opened and I saw Timothy standing outside our entrance.

”SHUT THE DOOR!” I yelled. ”He’s an axe murderer!” Before I was banished from preschool, I’d made good friends with James. He told me out of all villains, axe murderers are the very worst. No one lets an axe murderer enter their house! Father burst out laughing.

”Nice try!” He bellowed. ”HA! HA! Come in, you axe murderer, ha!”

”But dad one shouldn’t let axe murderers through the door!

”Stop it Guinevere, I know he’s not.”

In the beginning, father behaved somewhat cold and standoffish. He led Timothy to the kitchen table and they sat down to ”negotiate”. I turned to walk out of the room and felt someone pinch my left arm. Then I woke up on the kitchen floor. My face was wet and I had a foul taste in my mouth. I scrambled to get up and noticed the two were in good spirits and the kitchen table full of bottles. It was dark outside. I went to wash my face. As I did so, I had a dreadful feeling something bad had happened when I was gone. I decided to stay in the hallway and listen to their conversation. 

”What are you doing over there?” Father inquired.

”I’m hungry.”

”Here, you can have a sandwich.” I took the sandwich and sat down to eat it, but my jaw hurt and I almost couldn’t chew it. The men continued talking without paying me any attention.

”If she’s so magical, she might have a…No, I shouldn’t say it”, Timothy sighed.

”A what?” Father asked.

”No, no, forget it.”

”A what!?”

”It’s just she’s very magical, so she might…”

”Might what?”

”Have a magic mouth.”

Father leaned back in silence. I could tell Timothy had ventured into dangerous territory, but he didn’t seem to notice so.

”How would you know if she did?” Father’s voice was calm and Timothy appeared eager to explain himself.

”She’s good at suppressing pain. I could teach her. I have made some, you know. Magic mouths.” But his smile faltered as father leapt out of his chair, roaring:

”If you EVER do such a thing, I will SHOOT you! First time I hear you’ve tried, I shoot to warn! If you cross me a second time, you’re a dead! I FORBID YOU to try creating a magic mouth! It’s insanity! You could seriously damage her! She’s mine! My daughter, my money, my investment!” He gathered his breath, adding ”who do you think I am? Another hillbilly you can con? I’m an educated man! I have three times your knowledge about everything and my daughter isn’t a piece of junk for you to destroy!” Timothy defended himself:

”I’ve treated her as if she was my own daughter! I have a daughter!” 

”Then you’re an idiot!” Father concluded. I backed away from the table. Was it too much to hope for, that they’d knock each other out? It ended with Timothy asking for forgiveness and father ordering him never to forget what would happen if he disobeyed. As we shut the door after Timothy, father looked at me and exclaimed:

”That one is a cockroach! If I could, I’d exterminate him! Fucking cockroach!” He threw a bottle a the door, it smashed into pieces. Then he remembered my mother had a strict no alcohol policy in her house. Cleaning up the glass he cut himself and started cursing Timothy all over again. Bianca and I danced in the hallway, singing:

”Timothy is a cockroach! Timothy is a cockroach! An ugly, ugly cockroach!” It was just the two of us left, or so I believed. Giselle and Princess had been crushed by Timothy, they didn’t dare disobey him. But I and Bianca were still fighting.

Bianca:

I have some memories from the preschool years. Now that I think about it, all of them are from special occasions. The time we were allowed to watch the olympic games. Or the easter when we were given a huge chunk of marzipan and taught how to make yellow chickens. Most days, I woke up in the morning in my mother’s apartment. We walked the long road to the kindergarten together. Then I arrived…and suddenly, it was time to leave. Or it was morning again.

Giselle:

Sometimes it was difficult for Timothy to call Bianca into the body before our mother came to take us home. He needed to use hypnosis to bring her out and that couldn’t be done in front of the normal children. So he’d trigger me instead and tell Mother I had a sore throat.

Princess: 

I was there nearly all the time. I was the only girl Timothy wanted present. Because he had created me, I believe.

Bianca:

This frightens me. This means that when I started school and Princess didn’t get triggered anymore…and she was there nearly all the time…it means I’d lost almost two years of my life! Two years, not returned to me until now!

Princess, 6 years old:

Elijah figured out I wasn’t Bianca. Timothy had ordered me not to speak with him, but he was friendly and easygoing. Soon enough I’d confided in him everything Timothy said. Elijah refused to believe going over the fence meant certain death.

”If birds can fly over the fence, so can we!” He exclaimed. ”If Timothy is a Prince, he’s Prince John! You can be Princess Marian and I’m Robin Hood, here to set you free! This forest is my forest, because the forest always belongs to Robin Hood! There are no cannibals living there, only my friends who are called the merry men! They could fight the evil Prince John for us!” Suddenly the air I breathed felt fresh, they sky was a deeper blue and the snow more sparkling. Marian. Timothy hadn’t bothered to give me a name. Elijah had given me one, together with his friendship and a concrete plan: let’s escape to Sherwood Forest!

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