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She shook her daughter, who rattled around in her arms like a helpless rag doll.

     Lilia couldn’t take it anymore. “It wasn’t my fault! I carried the wood home from the river. I chopped the kindling like you asked me to. I’m tired of you hitting me. It was an accident! You’re his mother—where were you?!” Lilia’s tears flowed uncontrollably as the harsh words, which couldn’t be taken back, erupted from her.

     ”With a mouth like that, you’d better run, young lady. Do you hear me?!” Maria remained unshaken by her daughter’s boldness as she stood tall and unforgiving, hands on her hips.

     Lilia felt like a wild stream had been let loose. ”I hate you! I hate you!” 

     Maria grabbed her willow branch, and Lilia made a fast break. She burst through the gate and sprinted down the street while her mother thundered behind her.

     ”Get back here and wash that mouth out with soap!” Maria chased her daughter while waving her infamous willow branch all the way from Mussons and into Villanova, the next village. 

     Gasping for air, Lilia eventually doubled over. She was small and tough, but she knew she could no longer outrun her determined mother. ’If I’m not punished now, I will be later.’

     She stopped running and gave in to the force of her mother’s frustration in silence. Unrelenting, Maria whipped Lilia’s neck, shoulders, and legs until all her anger and strength were finally drained.

     ”You disrespectful child! I told to behave. I gave you so many chances but you never listen!”

Maria went on like that for several long moments, but as suddenly as it had begun, the beating stopped. Lilia released her arms from her head and slowly turned around. Maria had walked away—her head bowed, and hands clenched into tight fists by her side.

     Over the following days, a wall of silence grew between them. The tension in the air was thick, and conversation was minimal. Lilia was unsure of how to react, so she measured her every word and obeyed Maria as best she could. She felt she had no choice but to resign herself to the awful truth: Her mother hated her.

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