* * *
It’s a bright, clear morning. I look into the sky and see it: an airplane. The clean white line bisects powder blue. It represents freedom – moving across my field of vision without a care in the world. I wish I could fly away from here like that airplane, but I don’t deserve freedom. Freedom is the cost of sin – my sins against her.
A sound from above pierces me. I drop the peeled painted newspaper back in place, and my prison is dark once again. I feel the dust rain down on me with each footstep. The grit mixes with tears I allow only when she’s not here. My stoicism is merely a façade.
A door creaks open and I’m awash in light.
I blink against her shadow as she descends the stairs. Concealing my dread, I clench, lest a flinch betray me. I hope she’s in a good mood. Good moods mean I only receive her words, bad moods mean I’ll receive her fists. If only I knew why she hated me so, perhaps I could figure out how to make her love me.
“Melody,” she says. I can hear the edge in her voice. “My chained Melody.”
I hear her hold her breath. It tells what kind of mood she’s in. I wait for what’s next. Even closing my eyes would enrage her further.
The impact against my chest knocks me into the wall, breath escaping me.
“Why couldn’t you have been…” she doesn’t finish, but screams and kicks me again.
“I’m sorry, mother,” I gasp between strikes.
“Mother?” she shrieks. “Vanessa was your mother, not me.”
This time, to emphasize her point, she only slaps my face.
“I loved your mother, but she wanted a child.”
I hold back a whimper. I’ve never heard this story before.
“We were a happy couple for nine months.” She grabbed my tattered shirt, and lifted me up, my leg straining against the shackle. “But you killed her.”
She drops me and I feel the impact against my tailbone resonate up my back.
“I wish you’d died in that hospital instead of her!”
“I’m sorry,” I plead, hoping she’ll vent her frustration and go back upstairs, but I see it in her eyes… today will end sooner than I expect.
She grabs my throat, her thumbs against a fleshy hollow under my chin. I can’t call out, I can’t even breathe. Once the blackness consumes me, she’ll tire of the abuse. I look forward to a night with no wind; no pain; no her.
As my vision clouds, I’m suddenly free. I float above the scene unfolding in the musty basement. I see the light of life leave my own eyes as I move through brick and wood. I soar across the sky like that airplane – free from captivity; free from pain; free from her.
I only hope this time, when my eyes open, I’ll see something different. Something better. Maybe… just maybe… I’ll see my mother for the first time.