Samantha loved playing in her backyard. Lush, green grass was edged by fragrant, flowering bushes. It always smelled so pretty in her yard. What she loved most, though, was that the backyard was hers and hers alone. She didn't have any brothers or sisters and the only time anyone else was out there with her was when Constance, the maid and Samantha's governess, came out to water the flowers. She played by herself all day and she absolutely loved it.

Even though she was only six, she enjoyed being alone. Her mother thought she was punishing her when she sent her to her room, but the truth was she liked her bedroom just as much as the backyard. She would be left alone for hours and while she was supposed to be "thinking about what she had done", as her mother put it, she'd be playing with her dollhouse completely and totally uninterrupted.

"Samantha! Get in here this instant, child!"

The little girl jumped up and turned towards the house, trying to wipe the green stains off her dress. She wondered what was wrong now. It seemed that her mother was getting more and more angry with each passing day and for whatever reason, she was taking it out on Samantha.

"I said get in here, Samantha!" Her mother rushed outside and grabbed the girl by the arm. "Oh, grass stains on your new dress! That's just great." She dragged the girl into the house, allowing the screen door to slam shut behind her.

"Ow!" Samantha cried. "Mama, you're hurting me!"

"Good, you little brat. Didn't I tell you to stay out of my room?"

"I did stay out of your room, Mama, I swear!" She started to cry, knowing for sure what was coming.

"Then how did all my jewelry get tangled again, hmm?" She grabbed her daughter's other arm and squeezed, giving her a violent shake.

"I don't know, I promise!" She tried to pull out of her mother's grasp.

"Stop it!" With one quick motion, she let go of her arm and slapped Samantha across the face. The little girl broke down in sobs, cupping her cheek in the palm of her hand. Taking advantage of the girl's vulnerability, she dragged her up the stairs, tripping every so often on her long, flowing dress. Once upstairs, she gave her daughter a small shove into her bedroom. "You're going to stay up here until I say you're ready to come down."

Samantha flopped down onto her brass bed as her mother slammed the door shut. After crying for a good twenty minutes, she finally started to calm down. She got up off the bed and slipped into place at her dollhouse, rubbing her stinging cheek. She was pretty sure there was a handprint there, but she was afraid to check.

With shaking hands, she picked up the mother doll and the daughter doll and set them both up in the kitchen. The mother was standing at the tiny iron stove, making tea, and the daughter was standing at her side, watching her intently. This is how it should be, Samantha thought, sniffling. Why couldn't her mother be like that?