Bruises, abrasions of the skin and other minor wounds on Tom's body quickly healed and after a week he went to school again. His classmates were happy that he came back to them in one piece. Unfortunately, the inner wound, pain and suffering inflicted by the kidnapper required much more time to heal. Tom had grown up and became serious.

That one day, forcibly spent in the basement of the kidnapper, had changed a lot in his life. Nothing was the same any more, so carefree as before. Tom realized that in the world evil existed next to good, and evil people were walking on the streets alongside good people, but there were more good people than bad ones. The difficulty was in the ability to distinguish between good people and bad people, between people with bad intentions and kind and honest people. Even adults had problems with that, let alone young Tom, who was just discovering the world around him. His parents bought him a new backpack, books for school and a smart phone. The man who had kidnapped him never revealed what he did with his belongings. Tom was happy with the new things and, most of all, with the new smart phone equipped with all the latest electronic features. However, each time he had grabbed for the new backpack to take out a book or a notebook, he would have automatically had flashbacks of what had happened to him that day. He again felt coldness of the basement and darknesssurrounding him. He could not cope well with the depressing feeling. He hadn't told his parents about it, because he didn't want to upset them too much, nor told the psychologist about it, because he was ashamed. He was left alone with his problem.

Inspector Green went to Tom's school to talk to children about their safety on the way from home to school, and  on the way back home from school. He warned the children not to get into a car of a stranger, nor to move away on foot with a stranger from their place of residence, even then, and actually especially when a stranger or a familiar person or persons was offering gifts, or promising giving extraordinary things to persuade them to go with them, or was grooming them in a different way, trying to gain trust or bribe them.

He brought a police dog with him and on the school playground gave a practice demonstration showing how the dog jumps through obstacles, climbs the wall and retrieves. He explained for what tasks dogs were trained and used in the police. Tom thought that Green's visit at school and the information he had given to his classmates were the only positive aspects of his abduction and abuse, the unfortunate incident that had happened to him. He was hoping that his classmates would be more cautious in the future and would manage to avoid dangerous incidents.

After classes, Tom bent down under the bench and pulled out his new backpack to put books in it. He noticed that someone had attached a small white teddy bear-mascot to his backpack.

  "Is it from you?", he asked Eric, nudging him with his elbow.

  "Of course not!",  said Eric, " I like you, but teddy bears as gifts, you should not expect from me", he added amused laughing in his sleeve.

  "Then from whom is this?", wondered Tom. 

  "Maybe from some secret admirerese?", Eric joked and patted his friend on the shoulder.

Tom looked around the classroom, some classmates were still busy packing their books and notebooks, and some had already done it and went outside. He hadn't noticed anyone who would have been behaving in a strange way, looking in his direction and thereby betrayed herself.

  "Eric, please, ask discreetly in the locker room, if anyone knows anything about this teddy bear, who has attached it to my backpack? Somebody must have seen something."

  "I have a better idea", said Eric. 

The two boys went to Mrs. Vanderbilt to borrow Bello from her and then they returned to school with the dog. Eric gave the dog the mascot to sniff it thoroughly, then ordered him to sniff along all the lockers of their classmates. Unfortunately, to their surprise and disappointment, Bello did not point to any of the lockers, thereby reporting to them that none of their classmates had attached the mascot to Tom's backpack.

  "Someone outside our class did it", said Eric.

  "But who?" Tom did not give up.

  "Bello search", Eric gave the dog the command and simultaneously put the mascot under his canine nose.

The dog tugged at the leash so hard that Eric almost fell over. They chased after the dog. How surprised they had been when the dog brought them to Eric's home.

  "This mascot is from you. Why are you lying to me?", asked Tom.

  "You can bet that the teddy bear is not from me!", Eric said angrily, opened the garage door with the key, and  they went inside. He released the dog from the leash. Unnoticed Bello had ran upstairs and sat at the door to Lilly's room. The boys did not even perceive it, because they were busy gluing together parts of their model glider. It was only after some time that Tom realized that Bello went around somewhere.

  "Do not worry about the dog", said Eric. 

  "I'll go and look for him", decided Tom.

  "If you insist, then go and look for him",said Eric, and continued to glue the plane, leaning over the table.

Tom went up the stairs. Bello was lying at the door to Lilly's room. When he saw Tom, he raised his head, stood up and lightly scratched the floor with his forelegs.

  "Come. You're a good dog. Good dog!, he said to Bello, stroked his head and grabbed by his collar. Together they went down the stairs to the garage.

  "Where is your sister?", he asked his friend.

  "Mom took her after school and they went shopping together in the city", answered Eric.

The next day, at school, during a long lunch break, Tom, hiding the mascot in his hand, went downstairs, because on the ground floor the classrooms of the younger pupils were located and he found the classroom of Lilly. She sat alone in her bench, eating a sandwich, and in the meantime decorating her autograph booklet with colorful stickers. He came to her.

  "Hey! Is this little teddy bear from you?", he asked her and showed the mascot kept on his open palm to her.

Surprised, she raised her head and looked at him with her big brown eyes, as if asking for forgiveness. She was sure that no one would ever guess and discover her secret.

  "I, I ...", she stuttered, "I've just wanted to make you a little present, give you something nice, make you a little surprise", she said, getting up from the chair. She was afraid of how he would react on her statement.

  "Thank you. This is the nicest thing that has happened to me in my whole life."

  "Would you like to write me a little poem in my autograph booklet?", she asked, and after a moment of silence, shyly extended her hand in his direction, offering him her booklet. She raised her head up and looked straight into his eyes.

  "Of course, with pleasure", he answered and took the booklet from her. It was warmed by the warmth of her hand. He did not know what to say to her at this moment. They only looked at each other. 

Tom returned to his classroom. He bent down to get out his backpack from under the bench, put the booklet inside, and fastened the teddy bear. From that moment, whenever he reached out for his backpack, when seeing the white teddy bear, he thought about Lilly. The thought about the girl had replaced all negative thoughts of his kidnapping. Before going to sleep,  when he was thinking about the whole episode, he decided to invite Lilly for a trip to the ZOO and for Italian ice cream next Saturday. He had always wanted to have siblings, and when this turned out to be impossible and he grew up, he began to dream about having a girlfriend. Lilly was to him a kind of a younger sister, a girlfriend and a friend in one person.

                                                                                       The end.

Dilia Vintage
Author Works


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