Of course she doesn’t need two, it being such a small room and she’s not going anywhere so really she doesn’t even need one. But they keep her company. The only noise in her existence. Except for people going to work, then home. Car doors, house doors, the shouting in between. There’s no-one for her to shout at. About. Not that she would anyway. She’s too calm for that.
She only knows the seasons by the temperature of the room. With her body playing tricks on her, that’s not even accurate. She hears the radiators kick in around the house but hers isn’t working.
It’s the sun she misses the most. She sees chinks of it but it’s not the same. She can’t see the whole; her favourite fruit, high up in the sky. Burning into the skins of those allowed out. Playing, talking, oblivious to the freedom they take for granted.
She’s brought food every now and then, when he remembers. Sober enough to recall he’s not alone.
For the first few weeks she thought she’d be rescued, familiar hands picking her up, arms wrapping round her like Christmas paper, but the stranger’s arms have become familiar.
Sometimes she sits in the old empty bath; it cools her after he’s been. She needs it some times more than others, depending on what he’s expected of her.
She’s thought about drowning, but water’s a friend and a friend wouldn’t do that to her. He tells her they’re friends, special friends, and she smiles so he believes it. He’s nicer to her when she smiles so it’s an expression she’s learned to wear, glued in place as soon as she hears footsteps.
He’s told her his name is John but she doesn’t think it’s real. None of it is. It’s a three-year-long dream that loving hands will wake her up from.
He buys her clothes, always a size too small like he wants her to stay a child, as does she. “They grow up so fast,” her grandfather had said and when she sees him again she wants to be exactly the same. The tomboy who wouldn’t be seen dead in pink, but now wonders if she will be.
Everything about the room is childlike, like it was bought with her in mind; pretty pictures, toys to play with – only they’ve never been touched. She wishes she were a toy.
Her smile snaps in place as the stairs creak. She hears the bolt and the door hinges complain. She’d tried that once.
Her smile’s still in place as the arms reach out to her. She’s frozen to the spot, near the bath, in her pink and purple cotton summer dress.
The hands recoil as they touch her skin as if electrocuted by the cold.
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