1 Chapter 1

The sound of footsteps sent chills down my spine, I knew he was home and there was no place to hide. I quickly grabbed my sister who was older than me by 9 months but much more fragile than I ever could be.

"Aurora he's coming go in the toy box he won't find you" I whispered.

I watched my sister climb into the toy box as I heard him fumbling with his keys at the door. That sound was the most traumatizing sound I ever heard, it was like the thunder and lightning only when it came it was painful not just scary.

    

It happened every Friday when he got paid as if I was his reward for a week of working hard. Like clock work my body would instantly feel dirty knowing what was about to happen to me. I was just a child but my mind was always years ahead of my body mostly because of the flith that I was constantly bathed in no matter how much I protested or cried. After a while I stopped crying, I stopped letting him know he had that much power over my already shattered soul and mind.

    

"Alexis! I'm home where is my dinner?" he shouted.

There was no answer, there never was on Fridays… even she knew that he was coming and had already left. I was 3 years old yet I remember everything as if the dirt still lingers on my soul. He was my father, the one who was meant to save me from this kind of abuse not the one who inflicted it. I believed he hated himself as much as he hated me that's why he used me for his own satisfaction. There wasn't a damn thing I could do about it either, I was just a weak little girl who wished to die everyday of my very short life. Not many people can understand that kind of pain or torture. At 3 years old most think your mind isn't developed enough to comprehend life events and all of those people would be very wrong, I was proof of that.

      

The sun came up with a promise to a new day. I could feel the heat on my feet I must have fallen asleep the wrong way again. My body hurt as it always did the next morning, moving was hard and was a reminder that I was unpure and broken. Looking up where my sister slept I plastered a fake smile on my face to keep her spirits up.

    

"Aurora you awake?" I said in a loud voice pushing the mattress to the top bunk with my feet.

"I'm awake are you ok Rayne?" she said in a sleepy voice.

"Let's play! Get up" I said excitedly.  I always ignored her questions, I wanted to protect her from any and all things that could hurt her. Even as a small child I learned how to hide how I felt inside, it was natural and scary even in my own head I was alone in my pain. I don't know if Aurora knew what happened to me when I made her hide or if she lived in a bubble that nothing could pop. I hoped for the latter one for her sake. She was so gentle and sweet the kind of child that could make you feel like the world wasn't a corrupt crazy place. Getting out of bed I remember the smell of incense coming from the living room and the sound of my evil step mothers voice in her bedroom. This wasn't a new occurance it actually became the normal for us it was just the way it was.

"Can't we watch cartoons? I don't want to play" Aurora said in a sad voice. She may not know what I went through but a part of me always knew that she was empathetic and felt my energy no matter how hard I tried to contain it.

"Ok cereal first!" I laughed hoping to lighten her mood and ran to the kitchen. Her little footsteps were right behind mine racing to get the box first oblivious to the world around her. Aurora was the kind of person who could selectively decide what memories she wanted and which ones needed to be buried. I wished for that gift every single day. Imagine that… selective memory that can erase all the bad shit you go through in the blink of an eye. I envied that power she had, I silently wished god had given it to me as well. I guess mistakes don't get gifts just sorrow.

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 It was cold outside, the floors felt like ice on my feet, but I was excited my sisters birthday was coming up and that meant grandma was coming. Our grandmother didn't visit often at all, I figured she hated this place as much as I did and chose to stay away. The thought of her coming over always seemed to brighten our mood though. She was very different than than my step mother I think she felt guilty for leaving us here on some level.

We played and watched TV most of the morning before Alexis came out of her room. She had this look on her face like the world was hers and we were intruding. We knew that look so we went to our room to stay out of her way. There was something sinister about her that even she couldn't control. Her red hair looked like flames ready to envelop her at any moment. We hated her and she hated us, it wasn't her fault though...we weren't her kids. I wasn't anyones kid I was the burden no one wanted but had to deal with, that's how I felt anyway. When things got rough in my mind I liked to imagine what it would be like to be a dancer, even at such a young age my imagination would run wild. It helped me to get through the day.  Me and Aurora danced in our room twirling and spinning pretending to be ballerinas, our stuffed animals represented the captivated audience. I would step on her toes and fall over laughing as I took her down with me. These moments were the best because it was the rare moments we could be normal, whatever normal was it seemed to fit. They never lasted long but cherishing the small things was my only get away, my only sense of freedom.

"Girls!! Get dressed...I have somewhere to be, hurry up" she shouted.  

"Ok" we said in sync as we often did, that was the end of our fun for the day. We had to find our shoes and brush our own hair, Alexis never helped us she didn't care about how we looked or felt. Selfish,nasty woman that's what she was, always screaming at us or hitting us for no reason. I'd rather stay here alone than go with her, my wishes never came true though they were just dreams far out of touch.

" No, I have the brats with me, what am i supposed to do...leave them here?" I heard her talking on the phone to someone who must have hated us as much as she did. I don't know why she married my dad if she can't stand us, I wondered why she didn't find a man with no kids or family.

" I know I wish I could, I promise we will get together later."  the annoyance in her voice was enough to make you die inside. Her cruelty knew no bounds. Footsteps stomped towards our room,the clicking of her heels sounded as awful as she did.

" I said hurry up let's go." yelling at us again… shocking, we were kids if she helped maybe we would be able to get ready faster. We grabbed our coats and headed out the door with her my hair still standing on end and Auroras shoes untied with two different socks on. Walking felt like a journey to me using my short legs to try and keep up with her as she practically ran from us, maybe hoping she could lose us in the busy crowd of these dirty city streets. I heard homeless people asking for help, moms talking to their kids with love and care, street vendors trying to sell whatever they got their hands on. It was the usual hussle and bustle that came to be expected.

    

 We finally ended our long walk at this shop that smelled terrible, it had this presence like if something or someone had died there. It had jars of weird stuff on the shelves and what looked like eyeballs in some kind of liquid staring back at me. I didn't know where we were or what Alexis needed but the more I looked around the more I calmed down. It was eerie but not in a bad way, it was the kind of place that I could warm up to with time.

"Can we go? I'm scared" Aurora was feeling uncomfortable and was tugging on Alexis's coat.

I was curious and wanted to stay so I held her hand and looked around dragging her with me.

"You have very well behaved kids" the woman behind the counter told Alexis.

" Those aren't my kids" she sneered looking at us the way a predator looks at its prey. I pulled Aurora away stopping at different shelves to admire the weird stuff on them. I had no idea what it was all for but it was amazing. There was this huge book that had gems and cool stuff on the cover that I swore was singing to me. I couldn't read it but I knew it was important, it called to me.

"Don't touch that!" The woman said in a strict voice. Her hand was out ready to snatch it away, there was a look of fear in her eyes as if the book held a secret she could never let out. I stepped back into a rack of jewelry, the necklaces had big trees on them and some earrings and bracelets had stars. Looking around paying attention to details I finally realized what kind of store I was in and it was creepy but made me feel safe.

"Sorry" I said in a hushed voice.  The woman just stared at me with so many questions behind her eyes while Alexis was watching me with a look that could probably kill if she wanted it to.  The woman was about to speak to me when she was cut off.

"Thank you, I'll be back next week" Alexis ushered us out of the store as the woman smiled at me. The way she stared gave me chills it wasn't bad but it was familiar like if we were connected somehow. Maybe she could save me from this evil red headed demon. Wishful thinking never got me anywhere but a child can dream.

Outside sirens were going off as always, I heard music and saw people rushing to get to where they had to be. The Bronx air was stuffy, like cotton was sticking to your lungs each time you inhaled. Even in the Winter you couldn't breathe, you would think the cold air would make it better but it didn't. A homeless man sat on the sidewalk shaking a cup at people who passed by. He looked so serene, an angel could have stopped in front of him and he wouldn't be bothered to care. His eyes were a deep blue it's the color I always envisioned the ocean to be. He caught me staring and nodded his head as if to say hello. I would see him again but for now I was being dragged along by an evil witch.

"Spare change?? I need food...spare change?" I still heard him in the distance and it stayed with me. His voice was comforting to me, if I closed my eyes I could see his blue eyes smiling at me.

      After bouncing around Alexis decided it was time to go home. She said she had a surprise waiting for us. The elevator was always broken so we walked up countless stairs as me and Aurora  leaned into the banister to keep us on our feet.

"Where have you been? I've been waiting for over 30 minutes" The man's voice was all too familiar to us. A husky deep voice belonging to a frequent visitor that I hated with every fiber of my being.

       

"Shut up and move so I can get inside..did you bring what I asked for?" Of course all she cares about is herself no one else ever mattered.

      

 "Don't I always?" he said in a cold voice snapping her back into her place, that's the only thing he was good for, controlling her because she needed him and he knew it.

   The door to the apartment opened and she pushed us inside. They were arguing about something so I pushed my sister to the only place I could think of...the dryer. We had a small laundry room in between the kitchen and our bedroom and if the doors were closed you couldn't see what was inside. I almost always pushed Aurora in there to keep her safe, she would stay as quiet as a church mouse until I came back for her.

"Stay here" I whispered. I closed the door and stood in the dining room listening to Alexis negotiate some deal with the man I  loathed.

      

"Fine deal but next time you owe me double" she was so demanding and rude I swore in another life she was an evil Queen who ruled over her people taking but never giving back.

      

" Do you like applesauce?" he ignored Alexis and asked me in a sweet voice that made me nauseous.

"No" I snapped.

"Ugh for crying out loud make it quick" Alexis yelled as she stormed out of the room.

There was a small cot set up in the living room, his sweaty dirty hands reached out to me as he lifted me onto the bed.

"You're ok just lay down and relax" he whispered close to my ear making me cringe back.  As if I could ever relax. His hands were in places no man should ever place them on a child. I closed my eyes tight and felt the tears roll down my face. I learned not to cry out loud it never helped but it was not easy I was only a child.

"Go away go away go away" it's all I could think I kept repeating it over and over because the pain I felt was beyond tolerable I felt more tears streaming down. I thought I was screaming in my head until his hand covered my mouth.

"Shhhhhhh stop or I'll find your sister instead" his words like salt on an  open wound.

He finished and left as if it was nothing. Motionless and scared I just stayed there waiting for someone to save me.

No one ever did.

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