“Will you be good?”
She nodded, whimpering.
He squinted his eyes, unconvinced.
He leaned closer. “Will…you…be…good?” He spat each word, his rank breathe filling her tiny space with dread.
“Yes, yes, a million times, yes!” She trembled, sending tremors through the chains.
He straightened himself and nodded. He turned the key in the lock, releasing the cuffs. “Alright then. Go.”
She scrambled up the stairs, and then pushed up the cellar door. As she curled her fingers around the edges of the opening, light touched them, and she sucked in her breath. She boosted herself up through the door and rushed to the window. Her shoulder scraped the teeth of the rake, drawing blood, but she didn’t notice. Instead, she hurried to the window frame, and pushed her face against the glass. The brightness on the other side made her eyes water and burn, but she soaked it in.
She basked in it.
She pressed her palms onto the pane. Oh, the light, she thought, the wonderful light—
“What?!” His voice cut through her reverie like a jagged, serrated knife.
He walked to her with a slow but deliberate steps. “There’s blood on my window.”
“What? No, I didn’t, I was good—“ she protested, but then she saw it. Blood had dripped down from her shoulder and stained the glass. Her eyes widened in horror. “No, please, no! I was good! I was being goo—“
His lips curled upward, revealing yellow, jagged teeth. He moved in, bringing his face inches from hers. “You know I don’t like mess, little girl,” he snarled.
Her skin puckered in goose-flesh at his dark declaration, and tears welled in her eyes. “But I just got here!” she shrieked. “I just got some light! Please—“
“Oh, god, please! Not yet, not again—“
He yanked her by the hair and the chains, and dragged her screaming back into the darkness.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN