Winter: Chapter 1- What Lies Under

Warning: Domestic AbuseWCHAP1

All I could bring myself to listen to was my own thumping heartbeat in my ears. Darkness had wrapped itself around me like a blanket, and I always found it ironic how darkness represented evil more often than not while light was the prevailing good. To me, darkness was always there with me, even whenever I slept, protecting me from the light that would pierce through my body. Through the slits of the closet door, light was seeping in, trying to shine upon me. All that it could reach were a few horizontal streaks across my face, chest and shoulders. I could see the kitchen, along with the clock that rested on the wall. The tiny bluejay poked it’s head out, letting out a loud “Cuckoo!” for every hour that passed.

Nine at night was when I hid in the closet every evening, regardless of what I was doing. If I was eating, I will hide my food under the sink and hurry in the closet. If I’m cleaning, I throw everything back where it was and rush into my spot in the closet. I try to make sure that it seems as though I had never been here to begin with, as though I were a ghost. I created my own blind spot along the back wall of the closet with the use of some of the things inside. Several boxes of my mother’s things are stored in crates that were thrown in here after her funeral. They still smell like her perfume and the flowers placed in her coffin; a macabre combination I nearly cry about every time I enter the closet. I hide behind the crates with my knees pulled to my chest, and from my shoulders up, the hanging clothes hide the rest of me.

Loki was the only one that kept me company; a Norwegian ElkHound who helps with hunting. I always have to pull him away from the door and into the closet with me. Not only does he keep me company, but he would more than likely sniff at the closet door, giving away my position. He would always sit in my lap, panting with a huge smile on his face. I would have to hold him extremely still, because if not, he’ll start pacing or scratching himself, and the thumping would be audible. When I would start crying, he would manage to look over and lick my cheeks, as though to tell me it will be fine.

I nearly lost control of my bowels when I heard the rattling of the doorknob. As I tried to readjust one of the hanging clothes, I could see that my hand was shaking violently. Seeing myself shaking as though I were out in the snow was somehow more terrifying than the situation itself. I clasped onto Loki’s fur on his chest tightly, trying to will myself into not shaking. He nipped at my hand, and I pulled away, not wanting to cause him to bark. I tried to think of what I was going to do once it was over. I was going to eat, and I was going to prepare for bed. I will wake up in the morning, and I will go to the market for more food. Afterwards, I will clean the house, and by the time I finish, I may have time to read and relax before I have to hide again. The idea of relaxing calmed me as I thought of the feeling of a chair against my back, however my ribcage was nearly shattered by the pure force of my heartbeat. I hadn’t cleaned up my mess in the kitchen. For a split second, I considered what it would be like if I banked on luck that it would go unnoticed, but I knew it wouldn’t. There was no way I could leave it there. As swiftly, yet quietly as I could, I shot up, nearly banging my head on the rod holding all of the clothes up.

I stepped over the crates and opened the closet door. The doorknob was still being rattled, since locking it usually gave me a few minutes more to hide. Within the first step, I was jerked back by my hair, and when I looked over, I saw that a tangle in my hair had gotten caught in one of the buttons of the clothes. I tried not to cry out in pain as I tugged away andmy hair tore at my scalp. Resigning, I reached down and picked up my pair of sewing scissors I kept in the closet in case I needed to sew a hole on clothing. I rapidly snipped off my hair and dropped the shears. The jangling of the key in the lock made me want to cry as I closed the closet doors and ran over to the kitchen, just a few feet away from the closet.

There was cabbage, a cutting board, a knife and some carrots lying on the table. The cutting board I easily placed in one of the cupboards with the clean dishes. I scooped everything else in a pocket I made out of my dress and ran over to the cabinets I got them from. The key was taken out of the lock now, and I shoved all of the food up into the cabinets, only for pieces of the carrots I had already cut to roll and fall onto the ground. I tried to catch as many as I could, but that only resulted in me dropping everything I held with the skirt of my dress. The knife plummeted and sliced into my foot, causing me to stumble and nearly fall. Blood heavily gushed out of my large toe, but I only continued picking all of the carrots up. I shoved them into my pockets as I heard the door open. I ducked behind the table, hoping that the banging of my knees wouldn’t alert him.

Loki began to bark loudly from the inside of the closet, and I used the distraction as I chance to pick up the knife and crawl out of the kitchen and into the laundry room. I quietly closed the door behind me, but not the entire way; the clicking was always too loud to go unnoticed. I looked down at my foot to see that the blood had trickled down to the sides of my feet. I could hear the sound of the closet doors being clumsily flung open, and the skittering of his claws against the wooden floor were silenced by a dull thump and a high pitched yipe. I frowned as I heard low murmurs slowly stumbling into the kitchen. I silently peeked past the door to see the slouched figure throw itself into the chair at the table.

A single bottle slipped out of his hand and rolled over to the door. It gradually slowed to a stop in the middle of the floor as I devised a plan. There was only one door that led into the kitchen, but it was positioned in such a way that I would be able to walk behind it without being noticed. At the same time, there was only one place to hide: under the sink. It would be uncomfortable, but if I position myself right, I may be able to fit for the next few hours. My foot throbbed with pain as I quietly stepped out and into the kitchen. It was still slouched over, heavily breathing and appearing almost swollen. I nearly gagged at the aroma that emitted from it. I forced myself to press extremely close to the cabinets that ran across the wall it wasn’t facing. I could see Floki with his tail between his legs, sitting in the corner between the cabinet and the stairs.

I wanted to call him over so he could hide with me, but I knew it would cause me to be noticed. With every half step I took towards the cabinet, I felt as though it were to whip around and slam my head into the sink, and when my fingers lightly grazed the handle, I nearly let out a sigh of relief. I wrapped my fingers around it and begged that it wouldn’t squeak. It doesn’t when I open it quickly, but that may risk being seen. Biting the inside of my cheek and holding my breath, I whipped it open. As expected, there was no sound that came from it, and as I looked over at the monster at the table, I noticed that it was passed out on the table, disgusting slobber dripping out of its gaping mouth and dripping onto the wooden table. I felt myself loosen my muscles a bit as I crawled into the cabinet. It was too small for Loki, plus he was already seen, so I closed the door and brought my knees close to my chest. I rested my forehead on my kneecaps, my sweat acting like glue, and I began to take deep breaths.

Even now, the light was still trying to show where I am, a single streak running across my body as though a blade were being sliced through me. This time, I successfully urinated myself when the figure began to shift. It shambled out of the chair, nearly falling over, and it turned directly towards me. I felt my heart trying to jump out of my throat, and I could barely choke out a soft “…N-no…” as the figure grabbed the cabinet door and ripped it open.

It stared at me with saliva dripping down his face and eyes cloudy. It brought up a strong, yet chubby arm and pointed just past my face. It let out a low grunt, and I whipped my head around to see a large bottle of whiskey just behind the pipes of the sink. I felt my lower lip tremble as I delicately grabbed it, worried sick about the idea of it shattering in my hands. I handed the bottle to it, and in one quick, but flawed movement, it snatched the bottle from me and proceeded to climb into the cabinet with me. I nearly started crying as I tried to crawl out. “Hey.” It grunted as I was halfway out from under the sink. “Stay with me. Don’t you want to be a good daughter?”

I trembled all over as I reluctantly crawled back in, my body scrunched up tightly. He popped off the cork lodged in the bottle’s neck and began to drink a mouthful of whiskey. The pungent smell nearly made me throw up in addition to the fear and anxiety. He didn’t say anything to me as he slammed the bottle down next to him. He only stared at me as I looked at the door, longing to crawl out. He let out a low grumble, and his voice caused me to flinch. “…W-what?” I managed to force out of my mouth, since it sounded as though he were asking something. “I was in town today.” He slurred. “And some of the women *hic* told me that you was a–” “A witch.” I said as calmly as I could. “They think I’m a witch…” He remained silent, and even in the dark, I could see that he was scowling at me. I was allowed no kind of response as I felt the heel of his boot shove me so hard that my head banged loudly against one of the water pipes.

I let out a yelp as the cabinet swung open, light shining in on me. He crawled out, and as I sat back up, he grabbed my ankle and began to drag me out. In a blind panic, I began to shriek out that I was sorry, over and over. I held onto one of the pipes and tried to use my other foot to pry off his hand. He tugged me hard, causing my shaky, nervous hands to slip off, and I struggled to grab onto anything, he pulled me out. My heart and eyes began to burn intensely as I had no other choice but to dig my nails into the wood on the frame of the door. He kicked at my sides, and as my kidney was injured, I began to puke heavily.

Once more, my fingers let me down in slipping and allowing me to be dragged into the light. The hellish light. The light that pierced me just as sharply as the kicks along my spine. I cried out in pain, and he began to scream at me, “Don’t cry! DON’T CRY!” I bit back my tears and whimpers in pain. It only became worse in that situation. He punted me hard in the kidney once more, and I began to vomit. It began to spill out around me, and being unable to move, I was soon swimming in my own bodily fluids. “That’s disgusting.” He said, looking down at me as though I were a roach. He then spat beer-scented phlegm at me as he began to stumble up the stairs. All I could do was slowly, but painfully roll onto my side and curl up in a fetal position. I wanted to cry, but my body had been convinced that I cannot do such a thing. I was like a broken toy, my body lying limp and my stare blank and no longer joyful. I felt numb all over as he called down, “Get me some water, I’m bloody thirsty!”

I focused on my breathing as I struggled to get up. I was worried as though my spine were on the verge of breaking under my own weight. I wrapped my arms around me lightly as I shambled over to the coat rack beside the door. A man’s coat laid on one of the hooks, despite no man living here. I reached up and lightly grabbed it before wrapping it around me. “And bring some back for me friends!” He added, and I was nearly able to regain my ability to cry again. I hated his friends, but regardless, I kept the coat close as I walked to the now open closet and pulled out a bucket. It was rusted from water that had not been drank from previous uses. Walking over to the door, I pulled the hood over my head and slipped on a man’s boots. I stepped out, and instantly the cold weather hit my bare legs and traversed up to my hips. Hitting my face, it caused the bruises, including my black eye, to tingle with more pain. I let out a soft “brr” instead of a yelp in pain and began to walk over to the faucet, the boots crunching in the snow. I set the bucket down, my limbs stiff from the cold, and as I tried desperately to pump water, nothing came out.

I cannot go back inside empty handed, so all I could do was pray that I could find a moving river that wasn’t frozen. I picked up the bucket again and began to walk deeper into the woods. The trees were bare and stick-like while the snow was crisp and untouched before I began to walk through. As I got closer, I could see its imperfections. There were paw prints in some places and tiny sprouts of grass in others. I kept walking, and the sound of rushing water became faint in comparison to the harsh wind. I began to follow the noise until eventually coming across the river. I was happy to see it, even more so with it being unfrozen. I kneeled down in the snow and began to scoop up the clear water. My hands shook violently in the cold as I gathered water, and as my fingers trembled, I struggled to hold on to the bucket. I tried to reposition it to that I could hold it better, but as I tried to do so, my hand locked up due to the cold, causing the bucket to plummet into the water with a loud splash. “NO!” I cried out as I instinctively dove my hands into the water, but no matter where I felt, I did not feel the bucket.

I ripped my hands out of the water, and I could already see frost building up on my fingertips. I let out a low, worried whimper as I looked downstream for the bucket. The foam from the water was too heavy for me to see, and I could feel my heart pounding. I couldn’t tell him i lost the bucket… I couldn’t do it! I whipped my head around to see that no one was around, let alone anyone would help to begin with. I felt my heart beat faster as I looked down at my hands that were now starting to turn blue and hurt painfully. A low sloshing noise then began to become audible, and as i looked around, it was apparent that it was coming from the river. I watched as large ripples began to form, and the sound became louder. Just then, what looked to be black seaweed began to rise from the innermost circle formed by the ripples. It fanned out, but would not wash away with the river.

I watched in both curiosity and fear as something immersed from the water. Panicking, I began to run away, but in addition to me wanting to know what it was, I only ran behind a tree and watched. The thing stopped coming out of the water so that only a head was visible, but even then, it was covered up with long, black hair. Confused, I stared at the creature as it remained still in the water, despite the current, and it slowly began to swim towards land. The thing was that I did not see it’s body, nor any movement whatsoever, so it was moving about as gracefully as a fish. It then brought his hands up to the snow, where he held out the bucket, filled to the brim with water.

My eyes widened as I stared at the creature’s pale, human-like arms holding the bucket i had dropped. I slowly came out, and before I could say anything, it plopped it down and quickly ducked back into the water. Confused, I walked up to the bucket and picked it up, and when I looked inside, there was nothing but perfectly clean water; it was almost like shimmering crystals. Unsure of how to react, I called out, “T-Thank you…” before stumbling away just about as graceful as a potato.

Even with my hands shaking from possible frostbite, I couldn’t bring myself to drop the bucket. The only time i set it down was when I had to in order to open the door. I pulled the rusted bucket in through the door, and the low sloshing was loud enough for him to hear. “Where the ‘ell have you been?” He shouted harshly, causing me to flinch, and i managed to stumble out, even with numbing fingers, “Y-you t-told m-m-me to get–” He then shoved me harshly, causing me to stumble back and fall onto the ground.

As my back hit the wooden floor, the water seemed to spill in slow motion, sparkling lightly in the light from the fireplace. It seemed as though there was a pause before the wind was knocked after me, which seemed to sync in with the water soaking me. The freezing water enwrapped around me and soaked into my clothes. I instinctively began spitting the water out of my face as it clung to my eyelashes and the end of my nose and hair. “I told ya to get RUM.” He slurred out. “Can’t you do nothin’ right?!” All I could do was lay on my back in submission and let him yell at me.

He eventually finished by going upstairs, grumbling to himself, and I laid silently, shivering and afraid to move until I heard the slamming of the door upstairs. I slowly sat up, and I could practically feel the ice that built up on my spine flake off. I could hear his words reminiscing in my head. “DON’T CRY. DON’T CRY.”

He’s told me that ever since I was born. Ever since I killed my own mother. He told me once I was old enough that I was the one that killed her. “They could save the baby, but why couldn’t *hic* they save her…?” He had mumbled to himself. “She was the important one…” I was six when he told me that, and now at seventeen, the words are still engraved in my mind. I crawled over to the fireplace and plopped onto the ragged rug as the fire reached out to me with warm arms. I let out a deep sigh and looked over at the bookshelf. Thick spines with their names engraved in them poked out, most of which I had already read. Regardless, I still pulled out my favorite and plopped it down onto my lap. The papers crinkled as I opened it to the title page: “Beauty and The Beast”. My mother was an American that got an English translated version of the French story, and I had began reading it. I read at the library on how to speak English, and now I can’t seem to stop myself. It reminds me of mother. People criticize me for not speaking Finnish, but I do not care, and just to spite them, I internally translate everything that they say into English.

It was a tale about three sisters who lived with their father, and he went out one day, asking what each child wanted. While two of the sisters asked for fancier things, Belle said she wanted nothing. her father insisted, so she said that she wanted three roses on one stem. He set off and was able to get the things his other daughters wanted, but Belle’s gift was much harder until he found a bushel of roses. He cut a stem with three roses on it, only for a monster to attack him. He begged for his life, and the beast said that he would spare him if he could have his youngest daughter to marry. Belle. He agreed reluctantly, and Belle was sent to live in the Beast’s castle as his bride. They soon both grew to love each other, and her love transformed him into a prince. They both got officially married, inviting her family to join. Her sisters, jealous of Belle, drowned her in the bathtub. However, the enchantress that cursed the prince saved her and turned her sisters into statues. If a man could love them, then they will be able to change back. They got married again and lived “happily ever after”. I am not sure if I am reading the last line correctly or not, since the arrangement always confused me. “Ever after”? I am not sure, but I still love the story nonetheless. It is a wonderful story of how love can sprout from any situation.

As I flicked through the pages, the dust from the book weighed down on my eyelids, and I eventually found myself on my side with the book put away, and I stared into the fire. I could see figures of men and women dancing joyously with their friends and children formed by the fire. I felt my eyes start to droop slowly, despite the happy and energetic nature of the fire. My hair, still damp from the water, pressed against my face and stuck like adhesive. I yawned, my mouth stretching wide as I felt my muscles loosen up. I felt a low tingling slowly grow from the soles of my feet up to my neck as I let my own, constantly tense breathing slow down. My eyelashes eventually blocked my vision, and soon my eyes were completely closed. Progressing to the barrier of consciousness, I swore that I had heard a violin softly playing.

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