A torch and a book was all she had. That, and the rusty old safe on the roof.
It would begin around 11, when he would come home. The noises, the utensils smashing against the wall, the screams and moans. The serene silence of the night, that cricket chirping monotone, broken by her mother’s sobs. And she would tug her book tightly, and hold on to the door of the safe.
It was dark in there, but it was darker outside.
Her father never even noticed her some nights. On others her mother would have to bear a few extra blows on account of her disappearance. But he never found out about this secret hideout, and he was too smashed to even try.
He hadn’t always been like this. He was a kind father and a loving husband. He would take them to the fairs and to the circus, and she would sit on his shoulders, eating her cotton candy, the world under her feet. Then, one day, a demon took him away.
It took him, into the shady taverns and the greasy whorehouses. Slowly it began eating on his soul, until finally he ceased to be the man he once was. Alcohol does that to people, turns simple kind men into monsters.
The tears had stopped coming now. She touched the cold rusty metal of the cupboard; and smiled, the saddest smile that a person could smile, thinking about how much it resembles her heart.
She sits there alone, waiting. Till it is completely silent, and then she waits some more.
The light scares her, darkness is safe.
Image credit: “safe” – © 2007 Paul Keller – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic