Petals reach for the narrow strip of sunlight, streaming in through the barred window high above the gravelly floor. The flowers are scarce and sickly, near wilting, and it is a small miracle they even exist. Only a pace or two away, a figure shifts, crumpled in a heap and emitting low, faint sounds, as if whimpering. A frail hand stretches out, skin nearly translucent in the light, the veins unnaturally prominent against it. Tears muffle the small, broken voice.
"Mommy... I won't be a bad girl anymore..."
Humming absently to a tone, a woman nurses a coffee mug in petite, perfectly manicured hands. Brief, repetitive glances to the clock above the door inform that it's well past the time for lunch. Content with its position on the counter, a cat stretches, lazily, basking in the afternoon sun. Nerves snap, and the mug, still full of hot liquid, is flung at the animal. It hisses, and is chased in through the basement door. Just before the door is closed, a faint cry echoes up the stairs. Slam, bolt, locked. Auburn hair is tossed over a slim shoulder, a finely sculpted nose sniffed haughtily.
"May damn well eat each other down there. Such nuisances."
Floorboards creak, and a girl jumps back a bit, startled. There is such a hush around the house, it's nearly disconcerting. Peeking in through the windows yields no result, the cherished best friend is nowhere to be seen, only the impeccably clean dining room. She goes to the side where the porch continues, repeats, and is scared out of her wits as the sharp blue eyes of her friend's mother meet hers. The woman is hard, all steel and sharp edges, not bothering with even a show of warmth. She used to be sweet, once, before her husband died. Then something changed, the widow emerged from grief with a blackened heart. Remarried probably for convenience. Her daughter refuses to speak of life at home.
The girl runs off the porch and onto the pathway leading to the street. A moment of nervous pacing follows, a helpless shrug of shoulders. She leaves, deciding to wait it out. Mutters reassuringly to herself.
"It's not like she's never been gone for days before... she's like that. Irresponsible, really."
Obsessively neat, the room has no sign of disarray. No toys reveal the presence of children, all the seats are positioned perfectly. There is not a mote of dust to be seen. Even the empty ale cans stand in neat rows beside the low glass table, upon which remote controller, newspaper and flower vase all have their own spot. It is a room that, even though bathed in light coming through windows, seems hushed, lifeless. Dark. The only thing not arranged just so is the large basket near the television, colourful blankets bundled up in a heap, small tufts of fur here and there.
Pathetic little mewling sounds come from a basin right beside the balcony door. Its cover is transparent, with a few uneven holes punched through. The container is too small, and there is splashing caused by ineffectual attempts to be freed. Moments later, both sounds stop.
Blowing out the last of the smoke, the man stumps his cigarette on the railing, shifts his stance, grunts. Flexes the hand that still smarts, both from the beating he gave the brat and from scratches made by tiny sharp nails. Shifts again as he feels heat pooling, finds himself longing the pliant flesh of his wife, soft as satin. These things excite him so.
As he glances down, he sees someone crossing the yard. One of that little slut's friends. She is such a disobedient girl, scratched him, tried to bite. Won't be getting out in a while. His wife will see to that. He stretches, turns back inside. Gazes thoughtfully at the basin, shrugs, heads for the stairs. Smiles lazily.
"Now, then... I think I'll go take my dessert first."
Blessings of the muse