I should have suspected something sooner.
The trouble all started when i noticed bruises (and other markings) on Gage's arms and legs. I wondered how he could have gotten them: they started appearing on his otherwise flawless skin over the past month; I know I didn't strike my son. Unless he accidentally fell when I wasn't around, I had no clue whatsoever how he could have gotten these bruises.
Then the bruises started appearing on his face. Not only that, but Gage's personality changed dramatically. Every time I went to reach down so I could pick him up, he would start crying hysterically; he wouldn't calm down until I rocked him and sang silly or soothing songs to him.
It really worried me.
It seemed that all of this began when we hired a new babysitter to look after Gage while Jim and I went to work. She seemed friendly enough: a young college student maybe in her twenties, a rather attractive girl with long brown hair done up in a ponytail, big, blue-green eyes, a pleasant enough face and seemingly friendly demeanor. She had excellent references and credentials with other families in the past; why wouldn't our family be any different?
Little did we know what would be occurring in just a few days. We began to suspect the babysitter because every time Tabitha* appeared, Gage would get upset and start screaming hysterically. He had never done that around any other babysitter he had in the past. That was also when I first noticed the bruising on his skin.
Jim and I had a long talk into the night. We decided to set up a video camera; that way, we could record the activity and interaction between babysitter and child while we were gone. That way we would know what was going on and hopefully get to the bottom of this puzzling, disturbing mystery. So that was what we did.
~To be continued.~
*Not woman's real name. Name kept anonymous.