Light rays pierced through the gaps of the blinds. Wind rattled against the windows hidden behind the blinds. A warm summer breeze ran past my skin, soothing its tough exterior. An emaciated figure floated across the room. Its fingers brushed against my rough beard.
'Wake up sugarplum' a feeble voice purred against my ear. I turned to the other side to avoid her but she was resilient. I sat up on my bed, my blurry eyes recognized the emaciated figure. I grunted at the sight of my mother.
'Good morning Lucifer' she said cheerily. I ignored her greetings but she continued anyhow.
'Freshen up fast. Breakfast is ready. My feet found themselves in soft homey slippers as I stood up.
A feeble creäture appeared against the frame of the door. Her filthy nightgown gown was camouflaged in the dark teak wood frame of the door. She remained hidden, observing me from a safe distance.
'Good morning Lizzy' I greeted in an unusually soft tone. My voice somehow gave her the courage to step forward. Her ash-smeared face appeared into the light. Her eyes were puffy and her tear-streaked cheeks were hollow. I pulled her in an embrace. Her body was shivering with fear but she let go of the fear and enjoyed it while it lasted. A high-pitched voice interrupted us.
'Lucifer don't touch her. She's filthy' she said in a harsh tone. I pulled Lizzy in a bit harder, defying her statement. My gaze returned her harshness threefold.
'You're filthy Cassandra' I grunted. Cassandra's stood still in shock but she got over it. Losing my rage I looked at Lizzy.
'How's my little sister doing today ?' I asked her as I wiped the ash off her face. Her lips melted into a weak smile. My hand reached under the cot and pulled out a rugged bag.
'Did you bring something for me?' Cassandra asked, hoping that I brought her relics from the war. I dropped the bag as my other hand moved towards the collar of my shirt. Within seconds I unbuttoned the shirt and threw it at her face. My bare body felt cold as the breeze brushed my skin. The scars I acquired at war hid underneath my tanned and hirsute chest.
'This is your gift. Now leave' my stern voice scared her. Cassandra pulled the shirt away from her face. Before she left I called out her name. She faced me as I was digging into the bag. Her eyes glittered with hope. I produced a crimson box and gave it to Lizzy. Her cracked lips bled as her smile brightened.
'Is this for me?' she whispered in my ear. I nodded my head. Her smile always warmed my heart. It pained me to leave her like this, under the care of these monsters I call parents. I was no lesser than them but this monster only yearned to protect his little sister. I had fixated long before leaving this house, I will free my sister. Her innocent eyes will see the broad daylight of the city and it was my promise to her, the only reason I came back to this house. She gently pulled out the ribbon and placed it aside. The lid of the box opened and a red dress revealed itself. She freed the dress from the box and placed it against her bony frame. The dress reached her mid-thigh. Her eyes shone with joy, tears flowed down her cheek. I pulled her closer and cupped her cheek. Her emaciated face was smaller than my hands. I ran my thumb across her face, rubbing her tears.
'No more crying.' I said. Her glassy gold eyes met my dark brown eyes. They stopped flowing on my commands I held control over them. I looked back at Cassandra, who stood in shock.
'Dress her until I freshen up. Any foul play and you'll meet your maker' She silently nodded in defeat. She held Lizzy's hand firmly and left, almost dragging her. I closed the door and picked up the neatly folded towel that sat on the heated rack. I stepped under the shower, my head almost hitting the showerhead I had grown taller since I was last here. Coldwater poured at me, running across my bare skin. It almost calmed me down until I thought about how my sister had survived here. Sixteen years of torture and she still had it in her to smile. The pain behind her eyes was clear. It pained me to see how her naïve eyes had learned to withstand pain at such a young age. I finally had the power. All I had to do is take her away from here. I rubbed my skin furiously as I fumed till my skin turned red. I turned the shower off. I opened my bag and picked up a black shirt and a pair of jeans. It was all that I wore. The colours weren't suitable for the kind of occupation I am in. They make you look naïve, rather dumb. Colours are an illusion. Either there is light or there is darkness and darkness had etched itself deep in my blood. I dressed up and left the room. My feet stopped in front of Lizzy's room, my fingers ready to knock. The first time I knocked, I got no reply. I called her name out but she didn't reply. My fingers reached the doorknob when I heard a familiar voice.
'She doesn't live there anymore' an old woman said. I turned to her. She held a tray in her hand.
'Hello, Daria.' I greeted her as she joyfully smiled at me. Daria was the head of the cooking staff and one of the oldest maids that worked here. She was more like a mother to Lizzy and me.
'Hello, master. How have you been doing?' she asked me.
'Have you been a good boy?' I playfully smirked at her. Her good boy was gone. All that remained was a rage-filled monster in a broken man's body.
'Where is Lizzy?' I asked her. Her smile wiped off. Her words took me by surprise
'She lives in the maid's quarters
MAIDS' QUARTERS? Who sends their daughter to live in the maids quarters? Elliot and Cassandra were going to pay for this.
'Take me to her' I ordered her.
I waited for her to show the way. She walked down the stairs as I faithfully followed her. I had never been to the maids' quarters hence I didn't know the way around here. As we entered an arched hall, the maids all stopped to look in awe. The bold ones giggled as we made our way past them and the shy ones blushed as they played with the hem of their uniforms. I was too busy dwelling in my rage that I didn't bother responding. Daria stopped at a door.
'You may leave now' I said to her. She handed me the tray
'This broth is for her' she pointed at the bowl in the tray. I took the tray from her hands as she dug into the pockets of her apron.
'Here. Give these to her. Master Elliot does not allow her to eat treats but I manage to sneak some into my pocket. No one must know she warned me as I nodded. I hid them in my pocket and knocked at the door. The door opened and Lizzy stood in front of me. Her face glowed with joy as she smiled at me. Colourless lip balm coated her lips and black eyeliner highlighted her eyes. Dark bags under her eyes were hidden under the concealer and traces of compact powder were visible on her sunken cheeks.
'Lizzy I'm not done' said a voice from within the room. A girl sat beside the dressing table. Her golden curls pulled into a high ponytail. She had a puff in the left hand and compact powder in the other. I recognized her by her childish voice.
'Hello Inessa' I greeted her in a stern voice, almost as if I was indicating her to leave but she remained seated. Inessa was Daria's daughter and Lizzy's only friend.
'What's up?' she said. She set her make-up aside and made a place for me to accommodate. Lizzy enthusiastically pulled me inside and seated me on the bed. The bed was too small to accommodate my frame
'Lizzy you forgot to wear an earring!' Inessa pointed at her barren left ear. They both burst into a laugh. I had never seen her laugh like that. It made me feel better than Lizzy was under the care of Daria. At least this way she wouldn't feel lonely. She picked up the other earring from the table and tried to wear it but she kept dropping it.
'Let me help you Inessa suggested. Lizzy surrendered the earring to her as she worked on fixing her face.
'Now you are ready to go' Inessa sprayed the hairspray on her freshly curled hair. Lizzy looked unrecognisable. She no more looked like the feeble creäture I met before. Her thin body looked healthier in the new dress and the make-up gave her cheeks a fuller appearance. Her hair looked dense and bouncy as they grazed her behind her knees. A rose coiled out of a few locks of her hair sat on the crown of her head. A shade of light pink tainted her cheeks, enhancing her face every time she blushed.
'How do I look?' Lizzy asked me as she twirled in her dress.
'Like an angel descended from heaven' she blushed at my words. I heard a faint growling sound when Lizzy placed her hand on her stomach.
'Lizzy I brought you breakfast' I said as I held the tray in my hand. The broth was still warm. I grabbed her hand and seated her beside me. My hand reached for the bowl.
'Are you going to feed her?' Inessa asked.
'Yes,' I said nonchalantly.
'She's not a child anymore. She can eat by herself
'I'm feeding my sister. Do you have any problem, Nessa?' I snapped.
'Don't call me that!' she cried. My laughter annoyed her further. Her face turned red with anger.
'I'm not talking to you anymore'
'Then don't' I replied. Lizzy stopped eating in between.
'Stop it' she commanded and the both of us obeyed her as she continued eating. When I finished feeding her, I handed her a tissue.
'Thank you Lucifer' Lizzy said as she wiped the corners of her lips. I pulled her closer and kissed her forehead.
'You don't need to thank me. I will always be there for you' Those were true words that came from my heart. She smiled at me.
'So what are you guys planning to do? ' Nessa interrupted us.
'First, get away from you' I snapped at her. She rolled her eyes and pointed her finger at me. Lizzy burst into a laugh. Nessa and I almost hated each other but the one thing we both loved was Lizzy's laugh.
'Even I want to know where are we going?' Lizzy enquired.
'To the city'...