Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Leah (Part III)

This was the last baby-sitting gig I ever had. This experience was so traumatic it was actually brought up in a therapy session I had three years after it occurred.

During my junior year in college, a new family moved across the street from my parents' house. The couple had a 12-year-old daughter, Leah, and a 6-year-old son, Chris.

The first evening I went there to babysit, the mother acted extremely nervous. I figured she was just concerned about leaving her kids with a stranger, which is understandable.

When I walked into the hallway, little Chris was standing eerily still and staring at me.

"Our last babysitter shut herself in the closet and cried," he said, solemnly.

"Why?" I asked, puzzled.

He shrugged and walked away.

Despite that odd exchange, the evening went extremely well. Chris was quiet and well-behaved. Leah was eager to please and seemed to idolize me.

"I love your hair," she would gush, touching it with envy. "And you're so pretty! I want to be pretty like you. I want to be your best friend!"

I was extremely flattered. I was also confused as to why Leah even needed a baby-sitter. At 12, she seemed awfully mature and responsible.

But then the lying started. The next weekend, Leah tried to convince me to drop her brother off at a police station because she suspected he had been kidnapped as a baby. She told me her mother had a sex-change operation and was really a man. She told me she was secretly married to a boy in her class and demanded I address her as Mrs. Anderson.

These lies irritated me and I was quick to dismiss them, which only made Leah angry.

I was also getting fed up with the way she treated her younger brother. She kept leaving Chris on my parents' doorstep at random times of the day, behind her mother's back. She also started calling him "It." She would steal food off his plate at dinner time and laugh when I caught her in the act.

One afternoon in October, I promised Leah that if she didn't tell a lie all day, I would take us all out on a bicycle trip around the neighborhood. Right before we were going to take off, Leah told me she had underwent DNA testing and discovered I was really her mother. Disgusted and not amused, I told her the bike trip was off.

Her face got dark red and twisted into a frightening, menacing scowl.

"We're going bike-riding!" she roared at me.

"No, we're not," I said, calmly.

She went into the garage and started unlocking her bike.

"Put your bike away, we're not going," I said, crossing my arms.

In one swoop, she picked up the bike and swung it across the garage, smashing the garage door. I'm not fucking kidding. It was like The Incredible Hulk or something. I was horrified.

When her parents got home, I told them I was never baby-sitting their kids again. They didn't ask questions or try to convince me otherwise. They merely nodded sadly and paid me.

A couple weeks later, Leah's mother called me, in tears. Her husband was stuck at work and she had to attend a neighborhood watch meeting. I warily agreed to watch the kids for an hour.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly. Chris was in his room, playing, and Leah was downstairs doing the laundry her mother said needed to be done. But wait...what was that noise?

With a sense of doom, I walked downstairs to the laundry room. When I entered the room, Leah was reaching to turn the dryer on. But there was a whimper coming from inside the dryer.

OH MY GOD! Leah had put her brother in the dryer! I shoved her out of the way and opened the dryer, which had just started. I grabbed her frightened, sobbing brother out of the machine.

"I wasn't going to hurt him," Leah said to me, with no emotion in her eyes.

I ignored her and ran upstairs, clutching Chris. I called their mother and before she could speak, I said, "You need to come home right this minute otherwise I am going to call the police," and I hung up.

I was so overwhelmed with shock and horror, I started crying. When their mother arrived, I spit out the situation. Before leaving, I told their mother she needed to get Leah help. Chris would have been killed, if I had not come downstairs in time.

Unfortunately, it took another incident to wake their parents up. The following Saturday, there were helicopters circling my parents' neighborhood. When I asked another neighbor about them, I was told Chris had ran away from home, because he was so scared of his sister. The police were looking for him.

They found him later that day, unharmed, and Leah got sent to a children's mental health clinic. She stayed there for six years and was released in 2010.

This past May, I ran into Leah at the grocery store. She was absolutely gorgeous, one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen. She also seemed...normal.

She told me she's living with her boyfriend in a neighboring suburb and she's trying to find a job. She asked me if we could grab coffee sometime, but I told her I was simply too busy, which was a lie.

It just seems that being friends with her, even if she is better, would be a really bad idea.

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