She hung, suspended only by her ankles. Fear eliminated thought. His laughter seemed distant, drowned out by the tendrils of terror tightening around her.
She daren’t move for fear she’d slip through the cigarette stained, calloused hold. Fingers that should wash away her tears, comfort her, point her in the right direction.
The whisky expertly knew its way, pulsing through his fingertips, gaining momentum with each heartbeat.
He stared at the child below. Dangling. Petrified. The flowery carpet in the hallway landing beneath swirled around her head. He’d never liked that carpet.
The pleas from the child he held, were irritating now. The fun had worn off. How easy it would be …to just let go. How easy.
Suddenly, she was clumsily yanked back up. Eyes wide as she felt the heat from the slap burn her face. Familiar confusion wrapping itself around her small body.
Her bedroom door slammed shut.
Breathlessly listening, the creak of the stairs lessened. Her father was finished for the night. Normally she just sat at the top of the stairs listening to her mother cry, only creeping down when the crying stopped — to check she was still breathing. She understood none of it. She curled into her habitual tight ball and waited for the anaesthetising sleep.
Tomorrow always began as a fresh start. She’ll go to school and play. Her dad will laugh with his mates, and her mum will hum along to the radio when cooking dinner.
A silk screen so beautiful and finely made.
At the end of another day cocooned in the silk shroud, she snuggled in under the covers listening to her bedtime story. Tales of princesses and dragons and the prince that always saves the day. Hope.
Her father leant forward and kissed her forehead,
“Goodnight. Love you.”