Red Heart

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Chapter 8

That night as she slept a deep sleep, Minami had a dream. It was the first dream she had had in many nights. But it wasn’t like any dream she had ever before had. It almost seemed to Minami that she was dreaming Sayaka’s dream.

* * *

Sayaka was playing in the very room Minami now occupied. She was no ghost, she was a real, living girl. Even from her room she could hear clearly her parents yelling at each other downstairs. The saddest part of Sayaka’s reaction to the plethora of foul words and insults was that she looked used to it and merely continued to play as a normal child would.

Unlike most of their arguments, however, this one took a drastic turn for the worst. The sound of glass breaking caused Sayaka to freeze. Never had a fight gotten so heated between her parents. There was then the sound of flesh striking flesh and her mother’s loud whaling.

The moans of Sayaka’s mother were extremely short-lived. “If you ever put your hands on me again, I’ll kill you!” she screamed.

“I’d like to see you try,” shouted her father.

“I’ll make you regret ever putting your hands on me,”shouted Sayaka’s mother. “I’ll take everything away from you! Do you hear me!”

Sayaka’s father began laughing. “How do you know what’s precious to me? You want to know what’s not precious to me? You! I don’t need you!”

When Sayaka’s father left, her mother became detached from her. She spent her days at home drinking and smoking. Even with a beautiful day outside, the curtains were always closed. The life the house once had was completely gone.

On one day Sayaka decided to cheer her mother up. She found her mother asleep on the living room couch, though it might have been more of an alcohol-induced stupor.

“Mommy,” said Sayaka in a gentle voice. She had been scolded many times before for making too much noise, so even when she wanted to wake her, Sayaka made sure to use as small a voice as she could to do so.

Sayaka’s mother awoke. Her eyes were bloodshot and her breath could be smelled from a sizable distance. “What time is it?” she asked, not paying her daughter any attention. As she usually started her day, Sayaka’s mother lit herself a cigarette. When she finally paid Sayaka attention, it wasn’t at all kind. “What do you want?”

Sayaka presented her mother a picture she had drawn. It was of their house. Standing out front were three people. One was Sayaka, one was her mother and the other was her father. “I want to give this to papa when he comes home,” she said.

“Let me see that,” said Sayaka’s mother, taking the picture away. “You did a good job drawing your papa. He has a small neck because he doesn’t have a backbone.” On her way to the kitchen, Sayaka’s mother tossed the drawing on the floor.

Later that day, Sayaka took to her room to draw more pictures for her mother. The furniture was different as were various other objects around the room. But there was no mistaking it. The room Minami now occupied was the same one that once belonged to Sayaka.

Sayaka enjoyed how her mother had complimented her previous work and concluded that she would enjoy more, though what Sayaka’s mother had said was more of a jab at her philandering husband than praise of her daughter’s work.

Having run out of paper, Sayaka began scanning the room in search of more. Realizing there was no more, the girl decided a picture on the wall would last longer than a picture on a piece of paper. She took her red crayon and began drawing a heart on the wall.

Eventually Sayaka’s heart was nearing completion. When she finished it, she was going to call her mother to her room, but there would be no need to. Sayaka’s mother unexpectedly paid a visit to her daughter’s room.

“Hey, Sayaka, what do you want for lunch?” asked her mother.

To keep her mother from seeing her heart, Sayaka blocked it.

“What’s that behind your back?” asked her mother.

“It isn’t finished yet,” replied Sayaka.

“What did you do?” her mother asked angrily. She then pushed Sayaka out of the way to reveal the red heart on the wall. There were a few spots here and there that needed to be shaded in, but the damage to the wall had already been done.

“What have you done?” asked Sayaka’s mother. “Didn’t I tell you not to make messes around the house?” There was a madness in her mother’s eyes that Sayaka had never before seen. “You know we can’t stay here! We don’t have any money. Now how can I show this house when you’ve drawn on the wall? Who wants to buy a house with a heart on the wall? Tell me! Who would buy this house now?”

So desensitized to yelling was Sayaka that she didn’t shed a tear. Most children her age would have broken into a wild fit of sobbing, but Sayaka remained calm.

“What do you have to say for yourself? How are you going to make this better? Are you going to clean this up? Of course not. You never clean anything up. All you do is mess everything up and I’m the one who has to fix it.”

“Sorry,” said Sayaka, her head lowered.

“No, you’re not. You’re not sorry. You’re never sorry for what you do to me.” The words that were meant for her husband became weapons against the only victim Sayaka’s mother had left. “Don’t just stand there! Clean this up!”

Sayaka made no effort to clean the heart off the wall. She remained perfectly still, her gaze still fixed on the floor.

Getting on her knees to be eye level with her daughter, Sayaka’s mother grabbed her daughter by the shoulders. “Look at me! Look at me!” When her daughter refused to do as she was told, Sayaka’s mother wrapped her hands around her throat and squeezed as hard as she could. “Why won’t you look at me!”

As if just then realizing what she was doing, Sayaka’s mother released her grip. But it was far too late. Sayaka’s young life had already been ended by her own mother's hands.

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