(Possible Trigger Warning)
It was very hard, to do all the things her mommy wanted. She tried really hard, she kept clean, she played outdoors for hours to keep herself away, to let her mommy sleep. All these things, and more. Yes ma’am, no ma’am, quiet as a mouse.
She resembled a mouse: small and shrunken in, pale and timid, afraid any move would make mommy angry. She wore little clothes and made little movements.
It was like a cat; big eyes always watching, waiting to see a tail or a whisker- children are not seen or heard. Shush, shush, creep along in the dark.
It was always dark.
Sometimes It would look at her, eyes black and deep, face contorted in anger, this must be what demons look like.
At church they said if you prayed enough, the demons would go away.
It wasn’t true.
Angels didn’t come either. Though she prayed a lot, especially when It would beat her; It’s palms turning red from the impacts. Open palm, spread out the strikes, not as many bruises.
She fell outside playing again. Yes, she must be more careful.
It was sick. It never got better.
So the little mouse stayed away, hiding in the darkest closets and cabinets, praying that It would get too tired to look for her, to beat her.
She didn’t mean too, she was so sorry, please.
Maybe It’d switch the broom handle for the switch today, even if the switch did cut more, switches weren’t as heavy.
Tire beast, become sleepy from the work, the movement, give up and let the mouse go.
It is sleeping in mommy’s room, in the dark, handle held loosely in both hands.
It could be beautiful. The sleeping woman was quieter even though stains marked her cheeks and lipstick smeared across alabaster cheeks. Auburn hair streaming about her head like a Renaissance painting.
Mommy slumbers. Shush, don’t wake mommy, lest It will come back again. It always came back again. In the darkness, waiting. Eyes black and still. Hush. Mommy sleeps. It sleeps too.
So she crept out of where the darkness was and climbed up, up through the darkened halls, up to the steep narrow stairs, up to the shabby room of boxes and pillows, of papers and broken things.
She had taken the decay and created majesty: old pillows beaten until the dust left the old brocades, velvet shaken out moth threaded holes, a chair without legs for support, and a small rough stool as a side table. Stacked were books, books of places unimaginable to quiet eyes, people of origins and ways unheard and exotic. Stories of noble lads slaying beasts and women changing their luck. Worlds, that stool held worlds for her alone.
She would tend them, a grubby cloth in hand, lovingly wiping the dust from the covers. Once cleaned, she walked to the only window in that broken angled gloom, and drew back the velvet to let the light wash in, touching everything in her kingdom with a soft golden glow.
A small smile ghosted her lips as she sat down and began to read.