“Mimi, not now. I’ve got a headache.”
“You always have a headache!”
Mimi is my small sister. She is younger than me by a year, and she hates me. She’s a spoilt brat if I’ve ever saw one, and nothing in the world can change her greed for being pretty and popular.
I force myself to get up, despite it being 5:00 in the morning. It is a school day, but we normally head out at 8:30, so I don’t really see the point in waking up.
“I should tell dad about you sleeping in the
“One; ow. Two; don’t you dare,” I say, my voice venom. I would rather sleep on the floor of my sister’s bedroom every night without a blanket than sleep in the basement.
My head immediately starts to throb, and I have to clench my teeth from screaming. Might as well save my breath, I tell myself, because my parents will do nothing about it. Nothing.
“Get off the floor, you rat!”
I get up, spreading my hands out either side of me to balance myself, like I am a small bird, and I want to set off from the clutches of my evil parents. I wish I could.
“Move it,” she says, pushing me. I tumble to the wall, and my head bangs against it. The pain is worse now, like a hammer going crazy in it, but I still keep my mouth closed.
She goes to her bathroom, and I just look through my small pile of clothes, tucked neatly at the back of Mimi’s walk-in closet. I find myself a pair of jeans and a shirt that has ‘Be Happy’ printed in golden letters.
Yeah, right. You could never be happy if you were in my shoes.
I strip myself quickly and put them on. They fit nicely, because when I go out, I must look normal, and my scars and bruises can’t show.
I get out after half an hour, because if I walk into her room first, she’ll think I’ve been snooping, while in reality, she’s the one who breaks every single possession I have.
I walk in to see her brushing her fair silky hair, and her emerald green eyes dart to my normal brown ones.
“What are you staring at?” she says, with a smug look on her face. She always wants to find the perfect way to prove that I’m jealous of her.
Of her snobby princess attitude? I think not.
I shake my head and walk into the bathroom. I brush my jet black hair and brush my teeth too.
When I walk into her room again, the pure white curtains of the room have been drawn. We share, if sleeping of the floor and owning nothing can count as share, a bedroom. The walls are painted white with pink stripes, a big white double bed in the middle of it.
On it right now, are about a dozen outfits, all sorts of colours and sizes. There must have been hundreds of outfits in her closet, if not thousands. Like I said, she’s spoilt. I only have a few outfits, but all of them don’t show an inch of skin.
Because skin showing would mean a scar or a bruise showing.
“What am I going to wear?” she says in exasperation.
“Clothes.” I say flatly.
“Yes, but what? These wear two seasons ago, and Louisiana Rock just announced that ruffles are in! I’ve got none!”
Sometimes I just can’t believe my sister. Who cares what that a woman says is in? At least you can wear shorts and crop tops like a normal twelve-year-old girl.
On the other hand, there’s me, who if the school allowed, would be wearing a face mask to school. To cover the scars, I have.
I head downstairs to the kitchen quietly and sit at the table. I don’t touch anything, because I’m not allowed to.
I drum my fingers on the polished table, thinking about school, when I hear someone behind me.
“What are you wearing?” my dad says, quietly. He’s a really strong man, tan, with short black hair.
Immediately a shiver runs down my spine. He has two ways of talking to me.
Silent but deadly. Or screaming in my face. I would take the latter any day.
“Clothes,” I say, trying to stop my hands shaking.
“A short t-shirt with tight jeans. That t-shirt shows your bleeding arm,” he says.
I look at my left arm. He’s right, it is bleeding. I didn’t even feel that it was there.
“I’ll go put something else on,” I say, getting up. I keep my head low, so that if he decides to throw a punch at least my head is safe. And I also don’t want to look at his face.
“Wait,” he says. I stop dead in my tracks. Now my hands are shaking hard, but I’m not crying.
He walks towards me, his hands limply by his sides.
He takes his hand and cups it into my face. He tilts my neck up so that I’m looking straight into his eyes.
“You’ll be a good girl, won’t you? No telling the
“What happens at home stays at home.”
He let’s go of my face with a bit of force, so that I stumble back a little. I make my hands into fists, and this time I can feel the blood that is coming from my palm.
I walk up the steps quietly, my stomach rumbling. I hadn’t eaten lunch or dinner yesterday, so it was only natural. But I was mad at myself for letting hunger hurt me more than my parents do.
I meet my sister and mum the top of the staircase. They wrinkle their knows at me, and go downstairs, giggling about something.
I realised my sister had done something knew to her look, something that I would never be able to do. She added DE’s.
DE stands for Decorative Extensions. I know for a fact that my mum has a room full of them; full of colourful eye contacts, diamond eye contacts and even gold. But there weren’t only eye contacts. There were hair dies, skin dyes, lip dyes. In every colour. Mum has gold encrusted into her lips, and diamonds in her eyes.
By the way, having a tattoo and dying your skin are two similar things. Tattooing is most of the time with different pigments used than with dying skin. It’s much less painful to dye your skin, but if not taken extreme caution the pigment can easily flow to other parts of your skin and make the image blotchy.
I just find the idea horrifying.
My sister goes down the stairs with hot pink hair, the colour making my eyes hurt. Her eyes are now neon blue, if her hair wasn’t bright enough.
I’m walking towards her room when I hear the screams of my baby brother; he is only 4 years old, with blonde hair and green eyes. I forget about him and head straight into Mimi’s room. I walk into the closet, put on a baggy hoodie, black, and head straight out.
I sprint down the stairs, nearly tripping on the last step. I walk through the kitchen, my head bowed down. My parents don’t even give me a glance; they won’t care if I don’t eat breakfast. They don’t care about me at all. They hate me. But they need me.
I take my backpack from the floor and swing it over my back and head out of the door.
I meet my friends outside the school gate. Marika and Amelia. Marika has dark skin and dark eyes but had dyed her hair orange. Amelia on the other hand, hasn’t touched her pale skin and blond hair. Her dark blue eyes look like the night sky, and to add to that scenery, they’re encrusted with diamonds.
“Today we’ve got a meeting with the mayor, you know,” Marika tells me.
“Then cover for me,” I tell them.
“No way. Last time we did that, Mr Crotburry made us go 100 laps. That took weeks.” Amelia moans.
“Fine. I’ll go.” I snap at them. I don’t really want to, though. Then the bell goes off. Students pile into the school, unorganised. Marika pulls me into the crowd, throwing ‘hi!’ and ‘hey!’ at every person she knew. And that’s a lot of people.
When I can finally breathe, we make our way to the auditorium. The only place I dread to go. Or actually, the second place I dread to go. The first is my basement.
In the auditorium, we normally have meetings with important people, celebrities, musicians, and the Mayor. Mayor Busky. But we just call him the Mayor.
I walk into the auditorium, my head down. I don’t want him to see me. For some reason, when he does, it’s like he’s in heaven. It just freaks me out.
I sit down in one of the seats in the back, where I won’t be noticed. Then he starts his ceremony.
“Welcome, students of the City of East Bridge. Like always, I just want to remind you how lucky you are, that you are not in poverty, and are not the residents of West Bridge.”
West and East Bridge. Let’s take you down a trip to memory lane.
About a Century ago, the city we live in now was one big city called London. There were a few big tourist areas; Big Ben; London Eye. Tower Bridge. River Thames. But they all got destroyed.
What we call now, East Bridge, is the East side of Tower Bridge, the smarter and more advanced side. Then there is West Bridge.
One day, East Bridge had found a way to make fully functioning robots which could do our biddings.
This is where everything went downhill.
The robots backfired, destroying West Bridge. Everything went down in flames, and all that was left of London is what we call East Bridge.
Then they became rivals. They hate each other. Everyone loves East Bridge. Everyone but me.
I can’t take how the Mayor of East and West Bridge treats his much poorer city, so today I thought I would speak up.
I stand up from my seat, despite Marika’s protests.
“What is it?”
“Why do you treat West Bridge so badly? I mean, they’re humans too, aren’t they?” I tell him.
I know when I come back home, I’ll be in serious trouble. I’m not supposed to make myself recognised, but I just can’t help it.
The Mayor stairs at me firmly. Now I just feel self-conscious, like how I always feel when I’m picked to do tasks. But I couldn’t help it. And now I’m in trouble.
The huge navy curtains either side of the room start to close in around me, and I find it hard to breath. But I need to hang on. I’m not going down without a fight.
“Daughter of Beverly and Kareem Chess am I right?” he says. I take a big breath and say.
“Yes.” Now I can feel every eye in the room on me.
Beverly and Kareem Chess. The best artists there are. They can make a tissue into the most complex design.
“You haven’t answered my question,” I tell him with venom. I so wish I can poison him. If he wasn’t already a snake.
“Well, the answer to that would be, mind your own business,” he says with a malicious smile. He whispers something to one of the teachers, and she comes up, takes my arm with her long fingernails, and drags me down the steps. I don’t object. I don’t want to be here anyways.
Her grip is firm on a bruise I got yesterday. My head now throbs, and I feel the world spin around me. My ears don’t hear anything, the place is quiet, but I’m still stable. I think.
The teacher smalls like blood, I think. Or no. I’m bleeding. The teacher smells like roses. I get confused and just settle on the latter. It’s more humane.
She drags me into the principal’s office, where my parents and headmaster sit. Oh no, I think. Anything but my parents. Literally anything.
“…and she ridiculed the headmaster while all the children were seated! She’s a bad influence.” The headmaster tells them.
Now I have to black out. The world is going to explode from how fat it’s going, smudges of brown and green. But I don’t. I never seem to black out. The pain always follows me, wherever I go. Always.
“We’ll try to discipline her, sir.”
“She’s a spawn of Satan if she even thinks of talking to the mayor like that. Another outburst and she’s expelled. For now, she has a two-week suspension.” The headmaster’s teal green hair gets in his eyes, so he ties it in a bun. I collapse at the thought of suspension.
Of course, my parents pretend to care, and rush over to me. They pick me up, my hand around my mum’s shoulders.
“We’ll take her home now.”
Home means Basement.
Basement means torture.
Suspension means more time at home.
More time at home means never-ending torture.
Now I’m definitely going to die, no matter how many times I grit my teeth and swallow the pain.
My mum is holding my hand tightly, and I feel the circulation of blood in there decreases. They don’t utter a word to me, bottling up their anger until we get home and they can take it all out. On me. My baby brother is probably asleep, so he won’t hear a thing.
Though no one can hear my screams from the basement.
There are two basements. The Illusionary and my basement. Or as I call it, The Dungeon.
The Illusionary is just there to show off to people, it’s decorated with a baby blue and white theme. Pretty and not at all gruesome. Then there is my Dungeon.
Its concrete grey walls are stained with blood. My blood. I try scrubbing it off, but that thing stains.
The only chemicals I know are the ones I learn from science: Carbon Dioxide, Oxygen, and a ton of others. But these aren’t your typical chemicals. They look dangerous, a reason I’m attracted. The only equation I seemed to find out how to make is purple frosting.
A light in the darkest days. Or a treat for me when I’m going through unbearable pain, which is almost always.
We’re walking down our street, Boulevard Avenue, and then take a right. Our house. It’s huge, four floors, not including the basement. My parents split it like this.
According to them, being independent is the only way in life, so what they did is give each of us a floor. Except me, of course. My sister has the top, going down, and then is my brothers, mum’s and finally dad’s. No, my mum and dad don’t sleep together.
I sleep with my sister, but other than that most of my time is spent in the basement.
Locked up, in the cold, with rats scurrying around, and the smell of old blood wafting around.
We walk into our house, and I take off my shoes before I go through the double doors. I look at the writing above the door.
L’amour est la clé.
French for: Love is key.
Well, in my case, finding information that I
The décor inside is black and white; cute and chic. It’s spotless, our maid is always dusting. She always answers to my parents and siblings’ calls (so long for independent) but never mine. And I like it that way.
I don’t want someone working for me, and I never do. The worst feeling, that I have, that is even worse than pain, is the feeling of being superior. I just hate it.
The second I’m about to rush to the top floor, my dad calls my name.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he growls. I shiver. I hate him.
I turn around and walk back to him. He looks down at me, grips me from my wrist and pulls me down to the basement.
“Dad, please don’t. Dad, please. I can’t, please!” I beg him. I never want to go in there, never.
“After you learn to shut up, and be invisible in school, I’ll think about it. But what about we use your birthday present from 5 years ago” he says with a toothy smile.
“No, no. Please Dad, please not that chair. It hurts, oh how much it hurts. Please.” I beg him. Tears are streaming down my eyes and I don’t even care.
“Remember our deal? Give me the information, and you’ll never see the basement again. Don’t tell me, and you’ll be more electricity than human,” he tells me. He slams the door open, letting the smell of rotting flesh enter me.
“Please dad.” I tell him. Aren’t dads supposed to love you and keep you out of harm’s way? Well my dad couldn’t care less.
“Our deal,” he yells in my face. “Give me the stupid information, and I will be glad to stop hearing you moan. If you won’t give it to me, shut up!” he shouts.
I stop sobbing. I’m scared to death, of what he can do. So, I won’t test his theory.
“Dad,” I say quietly. “I swear to God that I would give you the information if I knew it, but I don’t. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Just give me a small hint or something,” I plead.
He stares at me hard.
“This information is something that no one knows but two. You and a creepy old guy who committed suicide. This information is key to something I am very close to finishing, and all I need is for you to spill,” he says. I’m shaking. He’s lying, right?
Why would there be top secret information in me? And if so, why don’t I know it?
“Well?” he says. I shake my head. His face turns into an angry monster, his teeth bared, wrinkles on his forehead.
“I have no idea what the information is. I promise.”
“What do you mean you have no idea? I just told you, and now you tell me. If you won’t tell me, you’ll die.” He yells.
“Why will I die?” I whimper. Yes, I’m thirteen, but being in a semi lit room, with your torturer can bring the worst in you.
“Because I’ll kill you. Now you know, you’re dangerous. And I don’t want anyone hurting my family,” he tells me.
“I am your family,” I scream.
“No, you’re a good for nothing brat! Now come,” he says pulling me towards the chair. I don’t squirm, because his grip will harden, and I don’t make a fuss. If I’m lucky, he’ll keep the chair on for ten minutes, leave, and maybe I could turn it off.
He pushes me into the chair, handcuffs my hands and legs to the arm rests and legs of the chair, and presses a few buttons on the laptop that’s on his lap. The chair starts to vibrate, the wires glowing blue, and then the electricity crackles. He connects two extra wires on my cheek, and stares at me with a smile.
“Do you remember yet, or do we need a shock to get you to?” he tells me. I swallow hard, making sure not to let any tears loose.
He presses the space key on his device, and I feel the electricity pain me. The pain starts from my cheeks, and I feel like I’m going to die, like I am a bulb, with too much current, that wants to explode. I don’t scream or shout, but I can’t stop the tears from my eyes.
“Dad, please,” I plead. It’s been thirty minutes, and I’m wondering how I’m alive. I can feel the electricity burning me, and I can feel that I have a fever. I’m gonna die any second now.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe I can go to heaven, I mean after all I’ve been through?
But knowing my luck, the pain will increase but I won’t die.
Hours pass by, and no difference. The only thing that changes is that my dad leaves.
Wait, he left! I try reaching to the laptop on the table in front of me, but I can’t reach it. A kind of torture that my parents used to use is handcuffing me to the wall on the weekends in hope I’ll die of starvation.
I taught myself how to free my hands from the handcuffs, due to me being so skinny, I slide my hand through the cuffs. But when my parents would come and check on me, I would slide myself back in and pretend that I wanted them to set me free.
I slide my hands through the cuffs, careful of not touching them. Every time I do, a burn mark appears on my hand. How strong is this electric current? And why am I still not dead?
I successfully achieve my goal, I turn the laptop with the tip of my fingers, so that the screen is facing me.
“So, I go to grab some water for you, and this is what you do? Smart but stupid, huh.”
He comes closer to me, so close in fact that I can smell the faint scent of cigarettes he has on him. Light Bomb is the type he smokes. I tried it once, and it tasted like cocoa and honey. But also, a lot like smoke. Horrible. I wouldn’t recommend it.
“Do you want this water?” he says tempting me. In fact, I was parched, my throat and tongue feeling like sandpaper. My head buzzing, my body vibrating.
“Well maybe you should have thought of that before you tried to escape!” he yells. He pours the glass of water on the floor. All I want to do is kill him with my bare hands and wit, even though it’s a wicked idea to kill your parents. I also wouldn’t recommend doing that.
He takes of the handcuffs and presses a few buttons on his keyboard. The buzzing stops, I feel the tingling sensation of electricity in my body drain entirely. I fall to the ground, too weak to move.
I hadn’t eaten all day, and now that effect is really kicking in. I hold my head, trying to stop the pain but it’s no use. It’s like lightning, over and over, never-ending.
The pain is overwhelming, and I feel a few tears trickle down my cheeks. I wipe them away before I look at my dad.
“I’m hungry,” I say, barely audible.
“Dad, please don’t lock me in here, I can’t. I won’t
“Maybe next time you will be a well-behaved little girl, don’t you think?”
“I’m not little, not mentally anyways.” I tell him. I practically choke the words out; my throat feels like sandpaper.
“Well, let’s see if you can leave this place in one piece.” He tells me darkly. He walks out the door, closing and locking the door behind him. I try to get up, but my feet literally feel like jelly. I force myself up anyways.
I walk over to the small desk and chair near the chemical shelves. I take out a few, purple, blue, yellow and red in colours, and put them in a small bowl. I use my finger to stir the, which can be very dangerous if I didn’t know what I was doing.
It starts to form, a foamy lavender colour, purple frosting. The only food I digest. I lick my fingers, which is very unhygienic of me, but I don’t really care. I could’ve died, and now I care about eating with cutlery. I think not.
I slurp all the frosting, which tastes very sweet, I must’ve put too much of one of the chemicals. My vision starts to clear, and I can smell the smell of fresh blood. I pull up my sleeve to see my wrist is bleeding.
Sometimes I don’t mind being in the basement. It’s an escape from my parents, and my siblings.
I don’t hate my brother, Ash, but he doesn’t even care when he sees me covered in blood from head to toe. But he’s four, so maybe he doesn’t understand.
But seeing your sister drenched in blood has to have an effect, right?
I suddenly get a headache which is normal. I made a conclusion about my headaches ages ago; I always have headaches but from the amount of years I’ve lived with them I don’t feel the pain as strongly.
I don’t want to be reminded, if I can help it.
I walk in circles around the room, which is a very bad idea.
Well honestly, I’m grateful for the radio. If only it worked. Sometimes it does, but because the basement is pretty low on earth, I can’t always get a signal. Today is one of the luck days I do.
But guess who’s on it? The mayor. I don’t want to listen to his horrible voice, but I’m a little scared down here on my own. Scared that my parents will lock me here for life. But I listen to the radio none the less.
“So what about that son that everyone is talking about?”
“Oh yes. He must be the first to run away from East Bridge and join poverty. He left on…”
A kid left East Bridge?! It shocks me more than it sounds like. It’s like saying this:
There are two factories. Both make chocolate. The first makes it high quality, but the second makes it low quality. They’re both the same price. The mayor’s kid bought the low quality.
Your question is this: Why? That’s my question too.
I mean, he’s the mayor’s son. Why would he run away? Maybe the mayor treats him like my parents treat me? I highly doubt it. All East Bridge kids are snobs; all they care about is themselves. Only. I doubt he would let his parent treat him like that.
I turn off the radio. Not because I care about his son. I don’t give a care in the world.
But running away. Can I maybe run away? It’s probably around 10:00 am right now, but I’m not planning to run away now. But tonight. Can I pull it off though, that’s the question.
It’s been a long time. I don’t know how long it has been, I don’t have a clock, but from how bored I am, a lot of time must have flown by.
My dad hasn’t come or given me any food and no water either. I’m a little hungry, but I’m ignoring it.
And I’ll admit. I must have sat for an hour or so crying silently. Not because I’m in pain, but the fact that my parents hate me, they single me out to hurt and abuse me. And they don’t feel a thing.
No sadness, no empathy. Nothing.
But now I’m over that. I have to be the stronger person, the stronger human in this family, because I doubt my parents are human. No feelings, they sound like wild dogs.
I hear footsteps down the stairs and the door opens up. My mum, her hair a bright green. Goodness, it’s terrifying.
“Take this,” she says before leaving. She throws a small backpack. She doesn’t even look me in the eye. She’s a great mum, huh?
I open the bag like a lion ripping its prey’s heart open. In it are a sandwich, a bottle of water, and a watch. Well now I know the time. But why did she give it to me?
I put it on, and read it. 10:00 pm, pretty late.
I wolf down my sandwich and drink my water in sips. If I do run away, I’m going to need it. I know for a fact that Mimi sleeps at 9:00, but my parents, I have no idea. No idea when Ash sleeps either.
But i tell myself that I’ll leave at 12:00. I’ll leave everything I have here, which is nothing.
I have got nothing from this household, and I don’t need anything. I’m a strong independent girl, but I’m also very scared. Who knows what’s out there?
I pace around the dark room. I just want to escape. But at least I know what’s coming for me here. In the outside world, I don’t have a clue. I don’t even know where I am going to go.
I probably would leave to West Bridge. I’m sure with the right amount of help, the city will rise again. But, West Bridge can be very dangerous. It’s full of dangerous people, and once, a rumour went around that they take kids from orphanages and make them work for them.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons:
The pros are that I will finally escape my parents, escape the anxiety and depression and fear of the pain that they will give me. I might give myself a better future by doing this.
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