Content Warning: The following work of fiction contains themes of violence, distribution against the disabled, and child abuse. The story you are about to read is fictionalized. However, there are cases of children being subjected to unethical medical procedures and unfair treatment due to societal stigma.
Stella loved to listen to the rain hitting the side of her apartment building, and she would beg her mom to open the windows and let the cool air in and smell the freshly fallen rain. Stella would spend hours sitting by the window as the rain fell. But she could never watch the storm clouds roll in, and she had never seen a raindrop.
Stella’s big blue-grey eyes were functionless, beautiful voids of nothingness. The little girl loved to hear her dad practice the piano and would dance around the tiny apartment. The little girl shared her father’s love of music.
One night Stella’s mom was in bed with a headache, so Stella went to work with her dad. Stella’s dad dressed her in a pink dress and her saddle shoes.
The nightclub where Stella’s dad played the piano was a hole in the wall. It was always cold and damp, and even though she couldn’t see, she knew when her surroundings got darker.
When Stella had to go to the club, she liked to pretend that she was going on an adventure. She would pretend that she was an explorer. Stella often imagined that she was looking for treasure in a spooky cave. Her dad would sometimes bring Stella to the club during off-hours. He said he liked to practice on the piano at work, and he insisted that the acoustics were different.
Stella made a game out of being quiet and finding treasures, and she liked to find things left behind by nightclub goers. Stella’s dad normally let her keep all the treasures, except for that time she found a book of matches.
Most of the people who came to listen to her dad play the piano were very nice to Stella. Stella was a very social little girl, and she loved sitting on her daddy’s lap and snapping her fingers when he played the piano. Most of the people who spent their evening sat around the piano found Stella charming and got a kick out of her dancing and happy giggles. Patrons would buy her cups of fruit juice to drink during intermission. Her dad sipped whiskey and puffed away on his favorite pipe. When her dad finished his set, he would take a bow, and Stella would curtsy. She always felt like a princess or a famous dancer, and she loved every minute of being a performer.
One night, Stella made a simple mistake that she would bring Hell to pay. A man sat stone faced, nursing a gin and tonic. Stella bumped into the man; while dancing to the song A Tricycle Built for Two, she spilled some grape juice on the man’s perfectly white suit. That night, the man in the white suit bought Stella a hot fudge sundae and joined her dad in a few shots, while the man in the suit said that he was a doctor and knew the perfect place for Stella. Kids like Stella need to be institutionalized for their own good.
Stella’s dad sobbed into his shot glass.
Stella put on her favorite lace dress; she loved feeling the soft, airy fabric between her little fingers. Her father took her hand in his and guided her down the cobblestone path. She liked the tapping noise her saddle shoes made on the path.
Stella loved holding her dad’s hand; she loved his smell. He smelled like strong whiskey and cherry-scented pipe tobacco. He hugged her tightly, and it was the last time Stella would ever smell her father. Then, Stella was yanked from her father’s arms by a nameless stranger.
Stella could hear her dad’s loafer’s smacking on the stones. Once the sound of the squeaky shoes were in the distance, the tiny girl was taken into a waking nightmare.
The next scent to invade Stella’s nose was one of human shit and piss. The man who took her from her dad locked her in a tiny room. A thin blanket was tossed in the room before the metal door shut. Stella rubbed the blanket against her rosy cheeks. She was sure that there was no way this thin fabric would keep her warm. Little Stella started to cry. The warm salty tears streaming from her beautiful blue-grey eyes were soon frozen to the sides of her sweet face.
When Stella awoke, she thought it was all an awful dream. But as she began to gather her senses, she was horrified to discover that it was not a dream.
The heavy door slammed open, and there was a loud “clang” of a metal food tray hitting the cement floor. Stella winced in pain as each of her muscles struggled. She was tense from the cold.
Just before reaching the tray on the floor, Stella tripped. Her face fell directly into lumpy oatmeal. As disgusting as the texture was, she was grateful for the moment of warmth, of the hot oatmeal hitting her face.
She was picked off of the floor again. Then, before she knew what was happening, she was strapped into a cold metal chair.
She kicked her feet, and one of her saddle shoes fell off and hit the doctor in the face, making him slap her in anger. The man in the white coat laughed like a super villain as the brown leather straps tightened around Stella’s tiny limbs, and the man in the white coat stuck a big piece of rubber into her mouth. It stretched her cheeks, and it hurt.
The little girl had to cry helplessly as the man in the white coat stuck a huge ice pick behind her beautiful eyes. But, unfortunately, Stella wouldn’t live through the procedure. Only her parents would mourn their beautiful girl.
Featured image created by Keely Messino in Canva