One day, still drunk from the night prior, Russel and Judy drove Lucy to school, a cold winter morning. They began arguing over who needed to pick Lucy up after school, her father having a meeting with a client and her mother with her book club, followed by a tupperware party. Still fighting as they pulled up, Lucy couldn’t take it any longer. She got out of the car and went to class. She wondered who would pick her up, hoping it was her mother, and continued throughout her day without another thought. She was only six, she didn't know what awaited her at home. The pot was about to boil over, and she would be the tipping point. An unknowing pawn in their game.
At the end of the day, no one was there. No one came to pick up Lucy and it caused the small blonde to start fretting. She curled tighter up against the pole after the teacher had insisted she needed to wait outside for her parents to come and pick her up. They would have to come sooner or later, they probably just got caught up in traffic. It was quite a ways from home, so they must just be a little behind.
When it hit sundown, Lucy still sat outside the school, unknowing of where to go to get home. But she started her way down the path that they’d taken to get to her school that day, hoping she’d figure out how to get to the penthouse apartment they lived in. She walked for what seemed like hours, the streets getting darker and darker, leading her to get scared and with a quivering lip, she made her way toward a lit up coffee shop. She walked into the store and almost burst into tears as she looked up at the lady.
Her voice was shaky and soft, having to repeat herself three different times to see if the lady could please call her big sister, Charlie, since Frannie lived three hours away. She gave the woman her sister’s number and moved to stand by the window, shivering and waiting for her sister to show up and take her home. It took yet another half an hour, close to nine at night now, until Charlie actually showed up and scooped Lucy into a warm hug, her normally cold and angry sister now warm and loving. It was something little Lucy Fabray wasn’t used to. And it wasn’t something she could actually get used to either, it disappeared on the car ride home.
As they rolled up to the building, Charlie turned to Lucy and told her she needed to be a big girl, and be strong. But the blonde girl couldn’t quite process what that meant in time. For, when they made it up the elevator to the large apartment, there was enough yelling to cause her to want to run and hide, something she did often. Her closet was her favorite hiding spot, where she hid her books. But her father caught sight of her, taking his anger out on the pair of girls, a dark bruise forming over night on Lucy’s arm and cheek. No one asked. Her father had told her to say she fell playing in the snow, and she knew she had to. Because no one would believe a small child who loved telling stories as much as she did. Charlie had it worse though, her entire body pretty much a crime scene, black and blue to yellow, brown and green. And it was Lucy’s fault, even Charlie agreed with her. If she’d just gotten home before daddy had, she would have been fine. They could have hidden and let him pass out on the couch again.
She scolded herself for weeks for getting caught, for not knowing the way home. Anything that she could've blamed herself for, she did. The beginning of a deadly cycle, when she'd repeat the same mistake every week until the weather warmed up. Then Daddy went out more, he wasn't home until after her bedtime. She would have more time to get home, Charlie wouldn't have to come looking for her. She'd be safe to be herself, for now.