"Phin, what's wrong?" I ask my sister. We're swinging on the swings, my younger sister Seraphina or Phin for short is crying and she won't tell me why. She doesn't answer my question and instead kicks the dirt on the ground with her small feet. I step off the swing and kneel down in front of her.
"Phin, look at me. What happened?" She looks up with puffy eyes. Sometimes I worry that she's growing up too fast. Her seven year old eyes can sometimes lose their glow and I'm terrified of the moment she understands what happens at home or if Valentine notices her. After all, she's very pretty, prettier than me with her long flowing white hair that encompasses her flawless youthful, unmarred face. Her hair nicely contrasts her deep dark brown eyes.
"It's nothing," She finally answers, wiping her eyes.
"Well it's gotta be something, otherwise you wouldn't be upset." I point out.
"I said it's nothing!"
"I'll buy you chocolate if you tell me," I bribe.
Her face visibly brightens and I smile.
"Okay. I got an F in Maths and Miss Blackthorn said she was going to tell my parents tomorrow at parent's evening." She confesses.
"That's all? Honey, it's okay I'll go talk to her. You have your whole life to get A's in Maths!"
"Yeah…" She seems unsure
"Come on, I know you. It has to be something else."
"The older kids were picking on me again. Maureen wrote things about me on the toilet wall,"
"I'll tell Blackthorn tomorrow, but for now we can go get chocolate," I wink.
"Yes!" She squeals, all tears long forgotten.
I buy the chocolate with my school lunch money for tomorrow, the doesn't matter to me only my sister does. I give her a piggy back ride all the way home. When we eventually make it home I check my watch.
"Phin, do you have any homework?" I ask.
"Can you go play in your room? "
"Because it's boring and I'm always in there."
I check my watch again, Valentine will be home in ten minutes.
"Please, Phin please go to your room!"
"No, don't you want to play with me?"
"I can't Phin I'm really sorry"
Her face scrunches up at my rejection.
"I HATE YOU! YOU'RE JUST TRYING TO GET RID OF ME. I HATE YOU!" She screams and charges up the stairs in floods of tears, I wince as the door slams.
Her words hurt, I hate sending her way. I want to play with her all night long, but if I let Valentine do the things to her that he does to me…I shudder. No. I would rather have my sister hate me, then have my father rape my sister. I know he would. I hurry to the kitchen, suddenly remembering the dinner that I'm meant to be preparing. I'm half way through making it when a loud thump slams on the front door. I jump.
"Open up!" Valentine yells. I hurry over to the door and undo the latch. He bursts through, knocking me back.
"D-dinner is nearly ready"
"Never mind about that…I already ate" He says, pushing into the hallway. When he brushes past I can smell his pungent alcoholic breath.
"Then, uh…I'll just go clear it u-" I start, but don't finish as he slams me into the wall and I shriek. He grins maliciously.
"You're not going anywhere..." He says, his eyes trailing lazy down my body. I stiffen under his gaze, he grabs a stray lock of hair and tucks it behind my ear.
"It really is a curse that you have to look so much like Jocelyn."
I squeeze my eyes shut, hating every second that I have to endure in his presence but knowing that any attempt at struggle to leave would make it worse. I've tried before.
"But, I suppose it's fitting. Poetic justice for my wife's murderer, a daughter almost an exact clone of the victim." He murmurs into my ear.
"I-I didn't kill her" I protest. He bites down hard on my ear, I can't help but let out a scream. He clamps a hand down over my mouth.
"We wouldn't want the neighbours to hear, now do we? Or, as I suppose it means more to you, your little sister upstairs."
I must look slightly shocked as he chuckles.
"Of course I remember my second daughter."
"Sorry, I thought you were too stupid to count," I retort.
My head is snapped to the side as his fist collides with my eye. He doesn't waste time as he grabs my face and forces me to look at him again, his fingers digging in.
"Do not test me little girl…or I'll get bored of you and maybe move onto someone more innocent? A little sister perhaps?"
"Then we don't have a problem then," He says and grabs me by the back of the neck and throws me into the living room and onto the floor. I squeeze my eyes shut as the inevitable begins to happen. I take myself away to someplace else. Somewhere other then the dusty living room floor…
When it's all over he leaves me on the living room floor by myself. I lie there pressed against the floor staring at the dirty ceiling. My whole body aches - he's very violent. I finally muster up any remaining strength left and drag myself off the floor and all the way upstairs. With herculean effort I take a shower, revelling in the warmth and security of it.
I change into a Hoodie and jeans and go back to the bedroom I share with Phin, I kiss her forehead and slide open the window. I clamber onto the fire exit and climb up to the top of our apartment. My pent up anger at the world unleashes as I sprint off onto rooftop after rooftop. I'm not scared, Raphael taught me how to free run. I finally collapse from exhaustion on a rooftop a few apartments away. It's actually a very pretty spot, overlooking the sundown over the city. I breathe in the fresh night air and sit on the ledge. It's already quite late, Valentine must've been at it longer than I recall. I grab a pole nearby and lean right over the edge, I feel in control here, like for once I can decide for myself. It's a pretty selfish decision, to end my own suffering or bring another soul into the same fate. I balance safely back on the ledge. I have to survive this. For my sister and for my mother. I didn't kill my mother, she was murdered in front of me. Valentine blames me because I didn't save her. I sigh.
A flash of gold appears from below me and I scramble away from the edge.
"Hello?" A deep masculine voice calls from a balcony below. I panic and sprint away back to the safety of my own bedroom. Thud, thud my body protests at each footfall but I ignore it and soon find myself climbing down the ladder. Once inside I change into my pyjamas and snuggle up next to my sister on her bed. I don't usually sleep in my bed, I feel like I can protect her better here. My mother's words always haunt me to this day, she said them after I'd teased Phin and made her cry.
She'd made me promise to "Always look after your sister. She is your flesh, my blood, yours and hers are the same. Promise me you will protect her with all that you have, all that you are. Keep her happy, don't let the world shatter her." I promise, until the day I die.