This story is by Rey Braccini and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Father doesn’t like that I have been staring out the window so much. It is always dark outside.
“You’re safe in here, darling.”
I looked up at my father and saw his tender expression. I said nothing in response. He doesn’t seem too pleased that I was ignoring him. His footsteps echoed behind me.
I want to go outside. Why do I feel that way when I know it’s impossible? I have father’s medicine, but I haven’t been taking what he has given me. That must be why I’m thinking about the outside so much. Papa would say I am sick. That I must take what he has graciously given me. He would say that I am sick because I want to go outside.
I stopped taking my medicine when I realized something was wrong. I walked into the living room once, and a shiver ran down my spine. I felt sick to my stomach. I thought we always had a second rocking chair.
I asked father, but he dismissed me, telling me to take my pills. Since then, I haven’t listened to him.
I am so cold and miserable in here. I haven’t taken my medicine for only a few days, and I already feel as though something is wrong. Father does not keep it very warm in here. The house feels bigger, colder, and darker, instead of comfortable and warm. I don’t think my siblings feel the same way at all.
They are good children who have been taking their pills. That must be why. I know I want to outside because I am sick. Since I stopped taking them, I’ve been a little less stable each day. A part of me insists that it is the other way around. I take the bottle out of my pocket and look at it in the center of my palm. I don’t know if I should start taking my pills again or not.
“Papa is going to be upset if you’re not at the dinner table!”
I quickly hide my medicine. I am nervous about him finding out that I’m not taking my medicine.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!”
My brothers and sisters were already seated. Have we always had a round table?
I sit next to my sisters as they laugh about some joke or another. My brothers are playing with their food and father is eating his steak.
“Sweetheart,” he was addressing me of course, “please eat. You look dreadfully pale. Are you feeling alright?”
He raised an eyebrow, questioning the validity of my answer. He is starting to notice. I have a feeling he is going to call me to his room after dinner. I wish father would stop watching me so closely. It makes me nervous.
My siblings are finished with their food and the table is empty.
“Come to my room,” he has called on me, just as I feared he would. I nod obediently and follow behind his tall figure. My head is starting to hurt. I don’t like going to father’s room.
I shut his door behind me as I entered. I never liked his grandfather clock. It was always much too loud.
“How are you feeling?”
Was father’s room always so big and empty? I feel something in my stomach turn.
“I asked you a question,” he motions me to sit next to him on the bed. I answer him immediately.
“Y-Yes, father! I am feeling quite alright…”
“Somehow, I find it very hard to believe you,” he scans me with his dark eyes. I gulp ever so slightly.
“I’ve always been worried about you. You are such a frail and sensitive girl.” I meekly look down at my hands which sit on my lap.
“Why have you been staring out the window?” I didn’t want to answer that question.
“You can tell me.” My headache was starting to get worse.
“N-No reason, fath-”
“DON’T LIE TO ME.” I started to tremble. I wish I wasn’t such a horrible liar. I wish I didn’t want to leave, but I do. That’s why I’ve been staring out the window. I know I shouldn’t father, but it’s because I want to leave. I wish I didn’t want to, but I do.
“Why have you been staring out the window?” he asked this question again, but this time very carefully.
It’s because I want to go outside. I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t want to go outside, but I do. I’m sorry father, I’m so sorry. I can’t tell you why. You will be angry. I’m sorry.
My silence was starting to unnerve him more and more. Father doesn’t like it when we don’t answer him.
“Don’t tell me…it’s because you want to go outside?” I jumped up and I looked at him with my eyes widened. As soon as he knew that was it, something in him snapped.
“There is nothing out that window for you. Nothing.” His sinister voice shook and made me cry uncontrollably.
“Your brothers and sisters listen to me and they obey. They all know that there is nothing for them outside. Why don’t you?!”
“There is nothing. Do you hear me?! NOTHING!”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
“It’s just darkness out there! There are no floors, no roof, no rooms! No music, no food, no comfort! Do you understand?! I provide you with so much in my house. You are such an ungrateful, ungrateful child. How dare you take what I have given you for granted? Nothing is out there. Nothing and no one!”
“I know father, I know!” My tears must have made him feel guilty, because his voice was sweeter now. He let out a sigh.
“Have you been taking your pills, sweetheart?”
Sobbing, I shook my head no.
“That’s it then,” he kissed my forehead.
“You’re sick. My poor girl,” he pulled me in for a hug.
“I give you and your siblings those pills as gifts. Without them, you are sick. That is why you are acting this why and that is why you want to go outside.” I cried into his arms, letting out all of my frustration. He rubs my head gently.
“My sweet girl, you are safe in here. Don’t worry, I will take away all your pain.” I heard father’s clock ticking louder and louder. I was crying but my head still ached with pain. I was still in pain. He pulled me in closer, but my head still hurt and the clock ticked louder. I didn’t feel happy that he was comforting me. This isn’t right.
This isn’t right. Something’s wrong. I have to leave. I have to leave right now. I push him away from me and run out of the room.
“No! Don’t do it!”
I went to the front door of the house, knowing he was right behind me.
“Don’t you do what she did, or I will lose you forever!”
She? I still hear the grandfather clock. My head aches so much. I want it to stop. Who is she? Is that why the table is now round and father’s room is so empty and large?
I remember her face. Her sweet face and lovely voice. This house is not where I want to be. This house is not right. It is not right for me to be here. I reach for the front door as my father tries to grab me. I struggle to break free from his hold and swing the door open to see the everlasting darkness. I have to leave right now. I have to. She would want me to.
It’s so dark out here, but I can’t go back. The door is still open and my father is crying. I am not sick and I want to stay outside. I turn towards him with a determined gaze, slamming the door shut. As soon as the door closes thousands upon thousands of termites eat away at my old comfortable house until it becomes the same as the outside, nothing.
Now I stand in the middle of an expansive, cold void. I scan the darkness around me, I look up, and then finally, I look down to my feet. An off black door is beneath me. I stomp to hear the sound of wood. A familiar sound. I decide to open it.
The light shining through is hurting my eyes. Father never said there was anything like this outside. I go into the doorway and feel this warmth come over me.
Mama is here with me. I remember everything Papa wanted me to forget. He didn’t want us to fall asleep forever. He would rather have had us inside. I was scared, but now I am not. This is where I am meant to be. My eyes are heavy, and I want to go to sleep.
I am happy to have gone outside. I can finally rest. My mother’s voice lulls me into a deep sleep.
“You’re safe out here, darling.”