Fish Hook

“Esther? Why are you still outside?” He didn’t even sound scared, or sorry, or – or anything other than angry. She walked quickly over to where Tom waited. “Time for your friend to go” my father’s voice growled across to where we stood.

“What’s up with your dad” Tom muttered as he walked away, before looking back and giving me a nervous wave.

Now, Esther walked over to the table and handed the cold glass to her sister, who took it and drank thirstily, a creamy smear on her cheek. It was late, dark. Their parents would have come in by this time usually. This was the second time, though, Esther remembered, that her mother had not made the dinner. It was getting worse. She sat at the table and watched Aria as she finished eating, kicking her legs happily beneath the table.

Two more hours passed and Aria was irritable, tired, bouncing on top of her bed whilst refusing to get below the covers. Esther pleaded with her, tried to placate her by telling her their mother had come in to tell them she and daddy would play a little longer and not to worry. It wasn’t true, but Esther needed to get Aria to sleep so she could think what to do.

“Please let me put you to bed. Mummy will put you to bed tomorrow, Aria” Esther said, her limbs aching with tension. The doll perched on Aria’s desk seemed to Esther to smirk at their naivety. When, finally, Aria slept, Esther stayed a moment longer in her crouched position beside the bed. She listened to the light breathing as it slowed to a deeper sleep before standing and bending to kiss her sister lightly on the forehead. She made her way out of the little pink room, its nightlight a white gold star in the far corner.

Esther stood on the dark, empty landing. Silence in the house never used to feel this way. It used to be peaceful, an aura of rest and love about the place, the happy energy from laughter in front of the television or chatter over dinner still lingering. Now it was void of emotion, ominous, hostile. She walked slowly to the banister and down the steps. The familiar soft pile of the carpet beneath her tread did not ignite in her the feelings of safety and homeliness they always had.





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