In the middle of the floor, the candle dripped along its sides. The pooling below gave the only evidence that it once was tall. Standing near to her only sunlight, she chewed at her index fingernail; grinding between her teeth with peeled back eyes. Shuffling at the floor, she wondered and wondered if the Handler would be generous enough to give her just one more stick; this time, she swore, she would take better care of it; she swore she loved it, and did not mean for it to disappear once more. Closer to the floor, the wick burned and the flame dimmed.
In the pitch black room with the pitch black walls, everything was cold and alone. No windows for light nor a door for an exit; Sliding a pressed shoulder against the walls, she shuffled around the room.
With each shoulder block found in a corner, she would stretch out her hands wide into the expansive shadows and follow the continuing lenght of her confinement. At times, she would wonder if the lengths of each wall were longer on two sides or even amongst each.
Though she would discover with her feet again, she lost the bed. It was a game of hide and seek that they played. Giggling with arms outstretched, though much below the height of each hand, she seeked her friendly place of rest and security.
The one place she knew to hide in a specific location was the waste bin; held in the middle of the floor. It was the only other private location she owned in a sea of complete shadow.
As she toured the walls on another familiar round trip, the sliding of the metal lock was pulled from its rest. The metal flap lifted and brief slit of illumination blinded her eyes. With a shove, The Handler gifted the timely food and drink mixture. Without complaint, she graciously appreciated her Handler and host, “Thank you, oh, thank you so much kind Handler. Your gifts are well received, yes they certainly are!” As usual, the metal window closed without acknowledgment.
Shuffling toe by toe, she approached the bucket. A daily gift; but, seriously, she could never be truly certain since she was never truly certain when a new day had started or ended. Within her shelter, she was safe; held in place like a hidden prized animal. If only the Handler would allow her to cook again. To roam for a few hours. She wouldn’t do it again. She’d stay hidden in the open; she could promise this.
Returning to her nest, she laid and stared into the nothing. It was all so pleasant, really; nothing was making sounds, nothing was to be belonging to her, and the Handler sought after all of her needs. She had nothing, and nothing was peaceful. Yup, she was finally at peace. She was cared for.
Feeling the frayed strands of what she remembered to be short golden flowing hair were now worn, thick, and matty. Each smooth layer replaced by clumps of ratty mess. Her pure bathed skin of oils and lotions replaced by scars and filth.
“If only the Handler would let me roam the world again…” she said into the blackness.
The wind’s frigid breeze bit at the brittle tight skin of his cheeks. Eager to be rescued, he leaned to peer down the street; the bus was late… again. A drunken path of hot water drew down his face and then froze against his cheeks.
Looking back towards the false-one story ranch, the long driveway curved and bent twice before reaching the two car garage. Built upon a hill in the back, the upper level was at sublevel, but the next two went following the slope of the hill. The house always gave him the creeps.
“Hey Bobby; it sure is chilli this morning, right?!” he said as Bobby slump-walked towards the bus stop. “My eyeballs are about to shatter! It is too cold today! – I think they should cancel school out of kindness to us.” Shrugging, “Of course they wouldn’t… I wish they had to stand out here for just five minutes! Man, we must stand out here freezing our butts off and then ride that cold bus for like an hour! School would be closed for all of winter they had to do this trip for one day, I am sure!”
Saying nothing in return, Bobby just stared at his feet. Unwavering in his obsessive view even when the bus arrived. Honking the horn, the driver announced to Bobby that she was to leave soon if he did not get on the bus, “It is freezing, kid; get on the bus so we can all go to school!” Each step felt as if he were lifting cemented feet. Pulling his way up the three high steps, he took a spot in the first empty seat at the front of the bus.
Looking back in the wide rear view mirror, the driver saw Bobby. Alone. All the other kids sat together in the back, but he didn’t anymore. His cheeks burned red and just below his eyes were puffy with stuffed cotton. Radioing in, she whispered their expected arrival time. Ms. Thorasin would meet them at the dropoff location.
Prideful for her credentials, Ms. Thorasin’s wall was decorated with frames that showed esteemed educational expertise and recognition of achievements in Child Psychology. She accomplished much in her short forty years of life. Of course, at parties she would discuss her recognitions, but only after discussing the other person’s first; she did not want to seem to showy.
Placing Bobby down at the round table in the middle of her office she asked, “How was your morning today, Bobby? It was pretty cold out there, huh?” Taking her seat in the red plastic chair across the table, she hunched over with a pulled smile and lifted eyes.
Hands clasped under the table together in tight fist, his gaze never left from the simple white pine glazed top table, “I am not sure…” The toes of his shoes wrestled each other for the top position; over and over again.
“No? How are you not sure, Bobby? I needed to warm my car this morning for what felt like an hour! I can’t stand cold seats; were the bus seats cold?” She said.
“I am not sure…”
A half frown weighted down her lips. Wheeling her chair over to the cabinet, she rummaged through the contents and said, “How about you draw me a picture, huh? I would like a picture, Bobby.” The introductory white light painted her face with clean snow sheen. Before dropping the tablet off for him, she opened the Paint program. It only required fingers for conducting. “Can you draw me something? Anything that is super important to you, Bobby?”
Shrugging, he slumped over the tablet, and got to work on his picture. Each stroke of his fingers across the glass screen felt meditative. The color choices, having choices, it was all invigorating for him. Sliding, brushing, marking the edges. His heart turned end over end.
“Let’s see what you have created us, shall we?” Ms. Thorsin said as he hovered over his image. Looking on, Ms. Thorsin curled her lip and bit at the dried skin. It was dark. What she feared most in a young child. A box; a pure black box, “Now, what have you created here, Bobby?”
Shrugging, he did not say anything particular about the picture. Instead, he said, “I just miss her…”
“You miss her, Bobby? Who is her, Bobby?”
“Someone I know. My friend.”
“Do I know her, Bobby? Can I meet her? Maybe, you could introduce us to each other?”
Shrugging, he returned to his hunched position. “No; I was told no. She is not to be my friend. I was told, she can’t come out anymore.”