“Is it a storm?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” He swung his backpack over his shoulders. “Stay here, it’ll be safer. I’ll check it out.”
“Alone? Here? No, I’d rather be with you. I’m coming along!”
But he’d left. She was angry, upset that he didn’t think her capable or brave enough.
Soon it was cold. She knew she’d have to start exploring this house soon. She didn’t like the dark. Should’ve just gone with him, she thought. I could still go after him now.
He’s right, it’s safer here. The commotion loomed louder. Who’s to know what’s outside? By night she had ventured into what might have been the drawing room; handsome once, dilapidated now. There she made the musty old couch her bed for the night.
The next day, she put her foot into the kitchen, hoping he’d return soon. The following day she found canned food in the basement. The day after, the shower with a rusted pipe (the shower head nowhere to be seen) with only a tiny stream of cold water. Then slowly up the rotting stairs the next sunrise. The next sundown she slept on a mattress in one of the rooms, carpet curled and flattened.
The ruckus outside never went away. She forgot about him, she wasn’t frightened anymore. She knew every inch of this house. Her home.
Had it been weeks, months, years?
The sun barely filtered through the heavy curtains (she hated opening them, never did; it could be dangerous and she was safe here, inside, hidden, unseen from outside) when she awoke. Something was different. She couldn’t place it at first.
Then, she realised. It was quiet outside. She’d gotten used to the noise.
The door opened. “I’m back,” he said. “Let’s go. It’s safe now.”
The sun through the door was too bright, his silhouette now unknown to her, the world outside unknown to her; no, it’s not safe outside anymore.
He held out his hands, but she didn’t want to leave anymore. This cage was all she knew.
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