Return to 50 Webs.

The Life of a Child

Written by: Elysabeth

Author's note:  Be advised that there are some scenes in this story that are in no way pretty.  So I hope I will not offend anyone with this stufff, but I felt it played a vital role in this story. Just a warning. This story is something I have been dabbling with since Christmas and am now just getting around to finishing.  This is my version of Kit's early life and it is dedicated to Aly, Dan, Greg, and all you wild, crazy, and wonderful folks on the comment board. Wish me luck in Savannah! Oh, BTW...Kit is Disney's and everyone else is my creation. Thanks to Aly and Dan for the great names. - Lys  : )    



There was a gentle salty breeze blowing from off the water, the sun was shining bright, and it was a perfect day for an air show. John Airlen watched a couple of puffy, white clouds roll by and turned to the mechanic checking the plane.<BR>

"All ready, Joe?"

"You bet, John. She's all gassed up and ready for the workout you and Rachel are going to put her through." The mechanic smiled.

"Good. Looks like we'll have a big crowd today." John Airlen walked back to the little dressing room located within the hanger. His wife of five years sat in front of the mirror, pulling her long, dark hair into a ponytail. A picture of a young boy was tucked into the corner of the mirror frame. "All set, Rachel?"

"Almost." She answered with a grin. She took the picture from the mirror frame and kissed it. "Momma loves you, baby."

She turned to her husband, tucking the picture into her flight suit and smiling. "Now, I'm ready." Taking her husband's hand, Rachel and John Airlen made their way out to the airfield.

The colorfully painted plane took off for the perfect blue sky and the crowd let out a cheer.

"And now…" The announcer began. "The Santa Bambina Flyers proudly welcomes you to witness the amazing aerial acrobatics of its talented husband and wife team, John and Rachel Airlen!"

The crowd let out another cheer as the plane completed a series of difficult maneuvers. Then a slender female bear started to carefully hoist herself out of her seat in the plane and onto the wing. The crowd let out and anxious gasp and then in the mass of spectators, a woman screamed. Smoke was billowing out from the plane and before anyone realized what was happening, it plummeted to the ground and exploded on impact.


May 5th, 1928


It was a sunny spring afternoon, the air was warm and scented with the sweet smell of flowers. To the toddler playing in his sandbox, there was nothing better then being outdoors. He hated it when his mother brought him inside. The boy looked around. Where was his mother? He hadn't seen her or his father in a while. He looked up at his house and saw several adults wandering around inside. Every now and then, one or two of them would look out the window and smile sympathetically at the toddler in the white T-shirt and green overalls who was digging happily in the sand. The boy frowned, even at three years he knew that look that adults give children sometimes, that "oh you poor thing" look. He hated that one. He pushed a lock of his brown hair from his eyes and set to finishing his sandcastle.

He heard footsteps out on the patio near his sandbox and two pairs of shoes, a blue and a black pair, came into view.

"Poor thing." The owner of the blue shoes said.

"Yes, definitely a sad thing. So tragic to lose one's parents at such a young age." The owner of the black shoes whispered.

The bear cub looked up and stared at the two elderly women. "Momma?" He asked softly.

The women wearing the blue shoes, an elegant lioness, knelt down next to the sandbox and smiled gently at the boy.

"Kit, sweetheart," She began gently. "Your momma's not coming home."


"No, honey. Daddy's not coming either."

The boy named Kit stared at the two women. Something was not right. He now felt that there was something definitely wrong. He did the only thing a boy of three could do in order to get some answers; he started to cry.

The lioness gathered the boy into her arms and held him close. "There, there honey. Your momma and daddy were in an accident and they got very, very hurt. You're going to go live in a new home tomorrow."

The other woman frowned. "He's going to an orphanage?"

"Yes, he has to. No family around and none of the neighbors offered to take him in. Why John and Rachel never made arrangements for him in case of something like this is beyond me. All I know is that my Seymour tried many times to get them to make a will."

"Well, you know John and Rachel. They were devoted to that airshow of theirs. Only thing they loved more was Kit. So, when does he leave here?"

The lioness smoothed the cub's hair. "The child welfare agency will come for him tomorrow morning."


May 6th, 1928


Young Kit was playing in the middle of the living room floor, aware that there were four pairs of adult eyes staring down at him. They were talking about him, using words and phrases that his three-year old mind didn't understand. The lioness was there, sitting next to another lion who was obviously her husband from the way she was clasping his hand.

She was talking to the other two in a rather hushed tone. "Now, believe me. If we could take Kit in we would. But you see, my Seymour's health isn't what to be and I don't think either of us have enough energy to keep up with the boy."

The two people sat there, listening to the lioness ramble out excuses. One was a male leopard, the other was a female bear, and both were carrying briefcases and were dressed in suits. The leopard opened his mouth to speak.

"Now, Mrs. Albright, there is no reason for you or your husband to feel guilty for not being able to care for the child. He will be adopted soon, I'm sure of it. He seems to be a very bright, well adjusted child. All those factors and the fact that Kit is a rather attractive child will make finding him adoptive parents that much easier. I'm sure he will not be at the orphanage for long."

The bearess slid down off her chair and sat on the floor in front of the cub. The boy looked up at her cautiously. She looked kind of like his mother, around thirty, and her reddish hair was twisted up into a bun. She was smiling at him.

"What do you have there?" She asked, pointing to the object the child was holding.

"My airplane. Mommy and Daddy gave it to me."

The woman smiled. "Was it a Christmas present?"

The boy shook his head. "No. I got it for my birthday."

"And how old are you, Kit?"

He avoided the stare of the woman and held up three fingers, a sign that he was clearly tired of being asked questions by this stranger.

The bearess picked the cub up and settled him in her lap. He stared at her, his eyes wide. "Now Kit, I am Mrs. Welsh, but you can call me Maggie. Okay."

The boy nodded.

The woman named Maggie pointed to the leopard. "And that is Mr. Turner. But you can call him Rick." She tickled the boy's chin. He giggled and smiled shyly at her.

She stood up, still holding the child in her arms. "I guess we are ready to take him now. He seems to be at ease."

"What about his things?" Mrs. Albright asked.

"Put them in storage. When he is adopted, the adoptive parents can decide if they want any of his clothes or toys. But for now, he can have a few things. I trust you've packed them."

"Yes." Mrs. Albright answered. "One suitcase with his blanket, some clothes, and a few toys."

"Good. Mr. Turner will leave you a copy of the paperwork that releases the boy into state custody." Maggie smiled. "Don't worry. Kit will be fine. We'll send you word as soon as he's been adopted. All set to go, Rick?"

"Yeah. Let's get him to the orphanage before Miss Campbell starts worrying."

Mrs. Albright leaned forward and planted a kiss on the boy's cheek. "Goodbye, sweetheart. Stay sweet and be a very good boy."

The two social workers walked out the door and as they passed the picture that had been made of Kit with his parents, the child let out a wail.

"Momma! Momma! No, I don't wanna go! Daddy!" He sobbed, clutching onto his airplane fiercely. He tried to wiggle free, but the woman held onto him tightly and when they reached the car, she sat him gently in the car and fastened the seat belt. He continued to scream and wiggle, the tears were streaming down his cheeks.

"Now Kit, it's going to be okay. You're just going to go to a new home for a little while."

The boy continued to cry and Maggie finally gave up. She and Rick climbed into the car and drove away, Mrs. Albright watching them with tears in her eyes.

"Watch out for your boy, Rachel. He needs you." She whispered.


December 25th, 1931, The Santa Bambina Home For Orphans


"Merry Christmas!"

Children were running up and down the halls shouting the holiday greeting to each other. Mrs. Campbell, a bright-eyed, grandmotherly looking elephant laughed at the children's excitement. She was glad to provide them with Christmas festivities, one of the few times during the year she was able to do anything special for the children.

There was one child not participating in the fun and she found him curled up on his bed, with tears running down his cheeks. She sat down next to him and patted his arm.

"Kit, honey, what's wrong?"

Six-year old Kit stopped crying and sat up, leaning wearily against the comforting Mrs. Campbell. "Tony took my plane yesterday and wouldn't give it back to me until this morning and when he did, it was all broken."

"Sweetie, it's just a toy."

Kit shook his head fiercely, the tears filling his eyes. "Momma and Daddy gave it to me."

Mrs. Campbell hugged the boy and wiped the tears from his cheeks. "Don't you worry, we'll try to get it fixed. I'll talk to Tony about this, okay."

The cub nodded and smiled a little. The elderly woman smiled back at the boy. He was definitely one of her favorites. She knew that she wasn't supposed to have children she favored above the others, but there were some children she honestly found more delightful then others. And Kit was definitely one of them. She remembered the day he came to the orphanage. It had been early evening when Maggie Welsh and Rick Turner had brought him into her office and the boy had been sound asleep in Maggie's arms and looked like a little angel. Mrs. Campbell had immediately fallen in love with the sweet tempered, quiet three-year old.

Unfortunately, the boy was smaller than most his age and it made him a target for the bigger children. She was constantly pulling the cub out of scrapes and fights the other boys pulled him into. But in the three years he had been there, she was glad to see he had made some friends, most of them a little older and bigger.

Kit was really a sad case and maybe that was why she had taken a fancy to him. The elephant had been almost positive that the boy would have been adopted within a month of arriving at the orphanage, but every month adoption day rolled around and Kit would still be there at the end of the day. She thought the whole process of adoption day was rather heartbreaking, knowing that many of the children would be examined almost like cattle by prospective parents only to be tossed aside for another child. She watched every month as the children left behind tearfully said goodbye to their luckier friends.

Mrs. Campbell had always wondered why the cub was never adopted. He was a charming child, very sweet and considerate of others. And he was definitely not an unattractive child, in fact, she felt he was one of the better looking ones. Kit still had the cute plumpness of a child still close to his toddler years and large, dark eyes that could be so expressive. She shook her head sadly and gave the cub a quick hug.

"Come on now, Kit. We're going to open presents and have dinner." She smiled. "I know you don't want to miss that."

The boy shook his head. "No."

The woman led the cub down the stairs to the dining hall where a Christmas tree was set up in the corner. About 140 children sat eagerly in their chairs at the long dining tables, waiting for the festivities to commence. Two cubs waved to Kit and the boy rushed over and sat in between them.

"Where were you?" The young tigress asked her friend, who smiled gratefully at her.

"Aly, shut up. If you keep talking, they'll never let us get any turkey."

Eight-year old Aly stuck her tongue out at the light gray bear cub sitting on the other side of Kit.

"You shut up." She hissed. "Dan, you're just mad because they're making us eat before we get the presents."

"No way!"

"Yes way!"

"Aly…you are such a…a…"

"A what?" The girl asked innocently, battering her eye lashes just to annoy the already infuriated cub.

Dan threw his hands in the air and groaned in disgust. There was no way to win with that girl. Kit giggled. These two were definitely a good source of entertainment.

"What are you laughing at?" The eight-year old bear cub growled Kit, pretending to be angry.

"Nothing." The boy managed to hold back his laughter.

The three cubs turned their heads to the sound of Mrs. Campbell tapping on her glass with her fork. The woman smiled down at the children, who were dressed in their Sunday best, and began to speak.

"Children, we sit here today to celebrate a special day and to give our appreciation to our most supportive community…"

One of the oldest children choked on a laugh and the head of the orphanage shot the interrupting child a warning look.

"Now, let's enjoy this wonderful meal that some of the women in the church made for us and then we will open presents."

The children hungrily dug into the wonderful turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie. A large bear in a Santa suit laughed and played with the children as they ate.

Mrs. Campbell watched her children and caught sight of little Kit, happily sandwiched in between Aly and Dan, his mouth full of pie. He laughed when Aly leaned over and whispered something in his ear, while pointing at Dan. The gray bear cub stuck his tongue out at the girl, prompting another fit of giggles from the six-year old cub. The woman continued to watch the children and hoped that there would be many more days as joyous as this one.


April 14th, 1934

"Happy Birthday, Kit!"

The cub stood in the doorway, his eyes wide with delight and surprise. His face broke into a smile so bright it nearly outshone the candles on the birthday cake. Mrs. Campbell held out her arms to the boy and he rushed into them, tears of joy running down his face.

"I…I thought that birthdays weren't allowed to be a big thing around here. I mean they never were before."

"Well, this was not my doing." The elderly woman said. "It was all Aly and Dan's idea."

The two cubs smiled at the boy and Kit hugged each of them.

"Thanks, you guys." He whispered.

He stared down at the cake, the words 'Happy 9th Birthday, Kit!' scrawled unevenly across the chocolate frosting. There were nine little candles, all lit and waiting to be blown out.

"C'mon Kit, blow out those candles and let's eat that cake!" Dan said, giving the cub a gentle nudge in the arm with his elbow.

The boy laughed and thought a minute, then leaned over and blew out the candles in one exhale. The cubs cheered and Mrs. Campbell cut four pieces of cake, one for each member of the secret little birthday party.


April 20th, 193


Kit sat curled up under one of the trees in the playground area, reading one of his school books. It had been a few days since his ninth birthday and things were as they had always been. He wondered if being in a regular school was as hard as being in school at the orphanage. The teachers that Mrs. Campbell hired were always very tough and strict, always assigning a lot of homework.

The boy worked on his homework, hoping to get it done before the weekend started. He wanted to have the whole weekend for fun with his closest friends and to explore his favorite subject, flying. It was the child's passion, a passion that Mrs. Campbell hoped he would have lost, but he never did and had gotten into quite a bit of trouble in the past few weeks from sneaking off the orphanage grounds to visit the local aviation museum and airfields.

He had become quite a fixture at the Santa Bambina airfield, most of the pilots and the mechanics there watched out for him and often returned him to Mrs. Campbell when they felt he had come to often that week or stayed out to late.

The boy sat silent for a moment, watching the other children play in the sunshine. In the six years he had been at the orphanage, he had made few friends. With the exception of Aly and Dan and a couple of other children, there was really no one else he talked to. Occasionally, he would be invited to play baseball or basketball with some of the other children, but other than that he rarely participated in anything else. That was something that Mrs. Campbell didn't like and he knew it. He had overheard her on the phone to someone describing him as a "quiet and thoughtful" child and that he usually kept to himself. She had said that wasn't healthy for a boy his age. She said she had hoped that as he had gotten older he would've become more outgoing. Maybe she was right, he should, but that's who he was. Sweet, quiet Kit who never gave anyone much trouble and was content to spend his time reading a book about famous pilots under a shady tree than play those rough and tumble games most boys at age nine played.


The cub's head turned at the sound of his name and saw Aly running over to him. The girl was wearing a blue dress and she was trying to keep the wind from blowing it up as she ran.

"Kit! Hurry up! Get inside and get cleaned up! Mrs. Campbell said we have to be ready for the grown-ups at noon."

"What grown-ups?"

Aly rolled her eyes and frowned at the boy. "The new parents. Adoption day is today."

"No, it isn't. It's not until the 20th."

"Which is today, silly. So get up and get ready. Mrs. Campbell will have a fit if you're not cleaned up."

Kit sighed heavily, gathered his books, and stood up. He followed the older cub back into the building and went upstairs to the room he shared with six other boys. His trunk full of his things was sitting at the foot of his bed and he opened it, placing his books inside. He stared down into it. He thought it was pretty sad that everything he owned in the world fit into one tiny trunk, considering most kids his age had a whole house-full of things.

He had his plane, an aviation magazine or two that he bought from the local drugstore. Not that he could really understand the articles, but he loved looking at the pictures. A few ribbons he had one for different things like last year's spelling bee and for getting the highest grades in math. Nothing about his parents was in there. No photographs or momentos. Nothing to remind him of them, he barely even remembered them. They were just an occasional fleeting thought or a moment in a dream now to him. Except for one memory he had of his mother. He was being held gently in a pair of loving arms and a woman's voice talking gently to him. He shut his eyes, he could hear her voice as plain as day.


**"Someday, baby, you will grow up and be as great a flyer as your father." He felt her stroke his hair and kiss his cheek. "Oh yes, my sweet Kit, you will be a handsome one. I can see it now. I can see great things for you, baby."**


Then she would hum some tune to him as he drifted off to sleep. Then the memory would end and he would feel frustrated. He never saw her face, it was always a blur, and almost like it had been deliberately erased from his memory.

Kit sighed heavily and closed the lid to the trunk before opening the door to the closet. He pulled a blue sweater and white turtleneck from his shelf and changed his clothes. He heard the other kids scrambling around in their rooms, trying to make themselves as presentable as possible for the prospective parents.

He didn't want to participate in adoption day. Every month it got harder and harder for him to go down those stairs, stand in the meeting hall, and be stared at by couple after couple like an item on a store shelf. Kit slowly moved down the staircase, Mrs. Campbell was standing right there watching him, her arms folded.

"Come on, Kit. You know you are supposed to be down here at noon and it is already ten after." She gave the cub a hard look and the boy shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

"Sorry." The boy mumbled.

"I swear, I don't know what's gotten into you lately, Kit. But I better see some change, young man. Now get into line and be good."

"Yes, ma'am."

He wasn't upset with Mrs. Campbell for fussing at him, he knew he had been rather moody and unbearable since his birthday. Maybe it was because he had been in the orphanage for about six years and still had not found a new family.

Kit moved into the meeting hall and took his place with the other kids in his age group. Mrs. Campbell always organized them into lines by their ages and Kit was part of the line for eight to ten year olds. He caught sight of Dan and Aly in the next row and waved to them. Aly smiled at him and waved back. Mrs. Campbell opened the doors to the meeting hall and about fifteen couples walked in. This was more than Kit had ever seen before on adoption day. He watched the couples wander around the room, staring at the children with the all too familiar critical gazes.

The cub saw a couple in their early thirties stop in front of him. The woman knelt down to Kit's level and looked at him with a smile. She was a beautiful bearess, light brown hair and bright, shining eyes. Kit smiled back, shyly.

"Oh Martin, he's perfect!"

The male bear frowned slightly and folded his arms. "I don't know, Emily. He's kind of small. How old are you, boy?"

"Nine, sir."

"Hear that. He's nine, but he looks like he's six or seven."

Emily looked up at her husband. "That doesn't matter, Martin. I'm sure he'll grow." She smiled at the cub.

Martin made a slight snorting noise, his disapproval obvious, and folded his arms. "Emily, this is not the child for us. Or at least for me." He pointed to the dark, gray bear cub standing next to Kit. "Now this child would be perfect."

The woman looked over at the boy her husband was pointing at and smiled. "Oh yes, he's a wonderful looking child. And tall, just like you want, honey."

"What's your name? Martin asked the gray cub.

"Thomas, sir."

Martin smiled at his wife. "Well Thomas, looks like you have found a home."

Kit watched as the couple led Thomas out of the room. He tried desperately to fight off the tears that were threatening to run down his cheeks. He felt his heart breaking in two, felt like his spirit was dying. He felt ugly, unwanted, and pathetic. All at once a rush of hatred ran through him. He hated his parents for putting him through this, hated them for leaving him on his own to face things like this.

But the boy's heart was to take another painful blow that day. His two best friends in the whole world, the only two children he had ever truly bonded with were going home to new families.

Aly was grinning happily at him. "Oh Kit, I never thought it would happen. I mean I'm eleven years old and here I am being adopted!"

Kit tried with all his might to be happy for his friend, tried not to let his unhappiness show on his face. Dan was grinning at them knowing that like Aly he too would be going home to a new family in a few short hours. He wrapped an arm around Kit's shoulders.

"Kit, we'll still come and visit you. I know Mrs. Campbell won't mind."

The boy nodded and smiled slightly.

"C'mon Kit. It'll happen to you too. I know you'll find a family."

The three cubs spent the rest of the afternoon together and just before dinner, Kit tearfully said goodbye to two of the most important people in his life. He watched from the doorway as the two cars carrying his friends drove away and the cub sat down on the stoop and cried.



April 27th, 1934


The day began like any other for Kit. Up at seven in the morning, ate his breakfast under the watchful eye of Mrs. Campbell who was convinced the boy needed to eat more, and ready to sneak out to the airfield by eight. The day was promising to be sunny and warm, a gentle breeze blew through the cub's hair as he walked to the airfield.<BR>

A young fox in his late twenties looked up from the engine he was working on and grinned at the approaching boy. He hopped down from the ladder he was standing on and wiped his greasy hands on his overalls. He shook Kit's small hand in a gesture of greeting.

"Kit, how'd I know you'd be here on this fine day. Mrs. Campbell know you're here?"

"C'mon Rusty, you know she'd never let me come by myself."

The fox grinned. "Yeah, don't I know it. How many times have I caught hell from that woman because of you, kid."

"I'm sorry 'bout that, Rusty." The boy said quietly, his eyes cast downwards.

"Hey now," Rusty said with a smile, ruffling the boy's hair. "Any kid with as big an interest in airplanes and flying as you, kiddo, is worth takin' a little heat for. Besides, Mrs. Campbell is a big 'ol softie, 'specially about you."

Kit grinned at his friend and the fox wrapped an arm around the boy's shoulders.

"Now, you wanna help me with this engine?"

The cub's face lit up. "You bet!"

"Okay, Squirt. Then let's get to it."

Kit was on his way back to the orphanage by four in the afternoon. He was thought it was strange that Mrs. Campbell had not sent someone after him during the day, especially since he'd been gone for at least seven hours. As he approached the building he saw the flashing lights of an ambulance and a police car.

Miss Timmons, one of the teachers in the preschool rushed out and grabbed Kit by the arm, pulling him quickly inside. The usually calm atmosphere of the orphanage was now replaced with one of total chaos. The boy looked around nervously and then at the lioness' distressed face as she pulled him into the meeting hall.

"Wha-what happened?" The boy asked, a burst of panic hitting him.

"It's Mrs. Campbell, Kit." She said slowly. "She had a heart attack a little while ago…"

The boy's eyes filled with tears. "No. No, this can't be happening…" He whispered.

"She's gone, honey. The paramedics tried all they could to fix it, but they couldn't save her." The lioness pulled the sobbing cub into her arms. "I'm so sorry. So sorry."

Annabelle Timmons held the boy in the darkness of the meeting hall for what seemed like an eternity to her. He had quieted down and was now asleep, exhausted from crying. She was seated on the floor, Kit's small body cradled in her lap and her arms tightly wrapped around him. She looked down at his sleeping face and brushed his hair from his eyes.

She had not known Kit well, but had heard about him quite often from Mrs. Campbell. She had known that Kit, like most of the other children, had lost his parents at a very young age and knew that the loss of Mrs. Campbell must be a devastating blow for the boy. He had in a sense lost another mother and she wondered if he was ever going to recover from that. She wondered if a kid could ever recover from the pain he must be feeling.

The boy stirred in her arms and opened his eyes.

"Wha…where am I?"

"The meeting hall. Don't you remember?"

Tears welled up in Kit's eyes and he nodded. Mrs. Campbell was gone and that meant he had lost yet another person in his life. He felt the tears roll down his cheeks, felt the emptiness in his heart. He looked up at Miss Timmons.

"I must be bad luck." He whispered. "I must be a bad person."

The teacher was shocked at the boy's statement. "No! Kit, you're not, honey. Why do you say that?"

"I've lost everyone, Miss Timmons. My parents, my friends leave, and now Mrs. Campbell. If I'm around, then people leave."

"Kit, that's not true."

"I don't know." The cub said, softly. "It seems that way to me."

She held the cub at arm's length and stared at him intently. "No, you listen to me, little one. You are not bad luck or a bad person. You are not to blame for what happens to people, alright. Things happen in life, Kit, and sometimes you can't do anything about it. Things are going to hurt you in life, honey, but you'll get through them and grow as a person. I know you are probably to young to understand what I'm saying, but one day you will."


May 4th, 1934


The children of the Santa Bambina Home for Orphans stood in their neat little lines, every one bathed and in their best clothes. They had been told the day before that the new headmistress of the orphanage would be arriving the next day and were instructed to look their best. For the past week since Mrs. Campbell had died two social workers had been living in the orphanage and watching over the children until a replacement could be found. None of the children had been allowed to attend the funeral, the social workers thinking it would not be appropriate to subject the children to a funeral. They had however, allowed a small memorial service to be held, where each child had stood up to say something nice about their now departed head mistress.

Young Kit stood in line, staring ahead and barely listening to the excited voices that surrounded him. All the others wondered about this new woman, Kit could've cared less. He didn't want to meet someone new and then have her leave him too one day.

A pair of heavy footsteps moved into the meeting hall and all the voices stopped suddenly. Kit looked up and stared at this person who was now in charge of the only home he had ever really known.

She was rather tall and thin, bony almost. She looked frail, but something in her face suggested that was not the case. Her black hair was pulled severely from her face into a bun so tight it looked horribly uncomfortable. She was dressed in a dark colored dress and heavy shoes, her wire-frame glasses sat low on her weasel's snout. She glared at the children.

"I am Miss Gaston." She said, her voice shrill like a witch's cackle. "I am your new head mistress and I will not take any disobedient behavior from any of you. You will obey every rule, you will come when I call, you will only speak when I speak to you, and you will always answer: 'Yes, ma'am.'"

She moved down the lines. "You will stand up straight in your lines and keep your mouths shut." She tapped one child in the line ahead of Kit sharply on the foot with her cane. The child let out a small yelp and straightened up in a flash. She moved to where she was standing right in front of Kit. "There will be no more leaving the grounds. Anyone found doing so will be severely punished." She glared at the boy and then continued on down the line.

Kit shivered and felt a sense of uneasiness settle into his body. This woman frightened him and what frightened him the most about her was the fact that she knew perfectly well that she could make everyone's life completely miserable.


July 12th, 1934


Kit carefully slipped his slender body through the whole in the fence that surrounded the orphanage. It was a heavy wire thing that Miss Gaston had put up not long after her arrival to replace the wooden one. It was supposed to keep the children from wandering out, but one cub had found a way out. It had taken a couple of days, but he had found a small hole and with a little patience and a pair of pliers, he had enlarged it. Thankfully it was hidden behind a bush and had yet to be discovered. It was just about dinnertime and Kit had spent the day at the airfield, watching the planes take off and land.

He moved quickly towards the building and was about to open the door when a hand grabbed his shoulder. He was turned roughly around and stared into the angry eyes of Miss Gaston.

"I knew you would do this, I just knew it. I know you got out. I don't know how yet, but I know you did and now I'm going to have to deal with you."

She yanked the boy into the orphanage and pushed him into her office hard enough to make the boy stumble and fall onto the carpeting in front of her desk. She closed the door and then went into the storage closet and pulled out a wooden stick. Kit shivered. He knew exactly what it was. It was the switch she beat them with. She yanked Kit to his feet and made him push the sleeves of his sweater up.

The woman loomed over Kit and raised the switch over her head, ready to bring it down on the young arms outstretched before her. He knew she hit the children on the arms, he himself having been beaten once or twice for some minor unnamed infraction of the rules. Miss Gaston was clever enough to know that by striking the children on the arms, their long sleeved shirts and sweaters would cover the bruises and cuts, hiding the injuries from the social workers that popped in occasionally. She struck the boy twice before stopping to stare harshly at him.

"I told you that you are not to leave here. I have told you children this every single day. How many times do I need to repeat myself before you get it. Are you stupid?"

The boy turned his head to the side, refusing to answer her.

"I will not take this behavior from you, young man. You do live here because I allow you to. You will show me respect and be grateful, do you hear me? I have been watching you these past few months, Kit, and I can safely say that you are nothing but a waste who will never amount to anything. You are lucky that I am kind enough to allow such a useless and unworthy child such as yourself live under this roof. If I was Mrs. Campbell, I would have turned you out onto the streets and let the other worthless, no-goods out there do what they wanted with you. She should have turned you away long ago and let you die out there. One less piece of garbage sponging off humanity, the better. I cannot tolerate this, Kit. You obviously need a more severe punishment, young man, and maybe this time you will see just how serious I am."

With those words she brought the switch down on Kit's bare arms. The boy flinched and hot tears stung his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. He tried to block out the smacking sound of the stick coming in contact with his young flesh.


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