I dy waited until all the creaking down below ceased. When she was certain everyone was asleep, she climbed off the mattress and went to stand near the top of the ladder. She strained her ears for any sound at all. The snoring from the back of the house was faint, but it was snoring nonetheless. Idy carefully descended the ladder and stood in the cold, dark kitchen. Again she strained her ears for sound. There wasn’t any. Even the dog was sleeping soundly.

Satisfied it was safe, she opened the cupboards looking for supplies she’d need for her long journey. She was delighted when she came across Lulu’s pink blanket, knowing it would keep the little girl warm. A few matches, some carrots, and a handful of bread completed her provisions. On a whim, she pulled Mr. Renard’s warm jacket from the chair and made a beeline up to the attic.

Idy was glad the little girl was sleeping. She had work to do. After spreading out the blanket, Idy filled it with the things she had gathered, rolled it into a tight bundle, and secured it with a thick strand of the tattered blanket from Lulu’s bed. She slipped it onto her shoulder and was pleased with the results. Wearing the rolled blanket on her back allowed her the mobility she’d need.

“Lulu,” she said gently shaking the girl’s tiny shoulders.

The little girl blinked the sleep from her eyes.

“We’re going outside, Lulu,” Idy whispered. Lulu was too sleepy to protest.

Idy stood her up and wrapped the tattered blankets around her. She slipped her own arms into Mr. Renard’s jacket right over her wrap.

“There,” she said. “Are you ready?”

Lulu lifted her arms to Idy, and Idy picked her up. “Okay, not a sound,” she warned.

Not glancing back at the attic that had been her prison and torment for so many years, Idy slowly climbed down the ladder for what she hoped would be the last time in her lifetime.

Inhaling deeply, Idy fumbled with the latch on the front door. Each creak and squeak that echoed through the house terrified her. The sounds bounced around as if magnified a hundred times. When the door was finally open, she stepped out into the cold night, then closed the door behind her, and ran to the gate.

The lock was larger than she remembered it to be. Her icy fingers dug into her braid and pulled out the key. For an instant she imagined that the Renards were watching through the window, laughing at her. She was sure that at any moment they’d grab her and tell her that Mr. Renard wasn’t ill, that she had been set up. The key was a phony one. It had all been an evil ploy to frame her.

But even with trembling hands, the key slid into the lock, and it unfastened with a resounding click. Idy’s throat constricted at the sheer magnitude of what she was doing. She looked over her shoulder at the house before she opened the gate just enough to slip out. Then shut it. She looked at the key in her hand and threw it with all her strength into the bushes. No one would ever be locked in at the Renards’ farm again. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 659)