Looking For Heaven

17 Nov

Jade crouched in the corner of the dark, dirty room and wondered when her food was coming. She hadn’t eaten all day and she was hungry. She kept listening for the familiar sounds of The Master’s footsteps above her, but all she heard was an eerie silence. She supposed The Master had been drinking that gold liquid again, the stuff that made his breath smell funny. Sometimes it made him sleep for a whole day. Jade lay down on the filthy mattress and covered herself with her worn old blanket. The Master would come tomorrow.

Every night as she lay waiting for sleep, Jade thought of Mama and Papa. When they had been here, so long ago now, she had been allowed to play outside. Papa would lift her up and swing her round and round as she squealed with delight, and then, at night, Mama would read to her from the huge storybook beside her bed.

Then one day, Papa had gone away. Mama said he’d gone to Heaven, but Jade didn’t know where that was. She had promised herself that someday, she would find out where Heaven was and go there to see Papa.

After Papa left, there was no money, and Mama started saying they would have to go to the poorhouse. Jade didn’t know where that was either, but it didn’t sound good. When The Master came to stay, it seemed like all of their prayers had been answered. The Master had enough money to buy them food, and they didn’t have to go to the poorhouse.

But then Mama had gone away to Heaven as well, when Jade was twelve. The Master had started locking her in this room for longer and longer periods to punish her for being bad. One day, he simply hadn’t let her out again. Every day, he’d come in to give her food and empty the bucket he left in the corner of the room for her. Sometimes he’d come in to “keep her company”, but she had taught herself not to think of that.

She wasn’t sure how long she had been living in this room. She thought she was about sixteen now.

When Jade woke up the following morning, her stomach was growling and she felt sick. She put her ear right up to the door, but all she could hear was absolute silence. She sat on the mattress and waited.

A long time later, The Master still hadn’t come. Jade’s head was starting to swim. She stood nervously by the door, trying to get up the nerve to knock or call out. She knew she would get into trouble, but she really needed to eat. She listened one last time, and hearing nothing, she tapped tentatively on the door. Emboldened by the lack of response, she knocked a little louder and started calling out, softly at first, and then louder and louder.

Still, there was nothing. Not a single sound.

With a superhuman strength fuelled by the instinct to survive, Jade sobbed and launched her entire body at the door. She screamed in fright as the door gave way and she stumbled into the narrow hallway.

She scooted back into the room and crouched in the corner, terrified. The Master’s punishment for this would be like nothing she had ever known. But despite the screaming and crashing, the silence prevailed.

Jade slowly unfolded herself and stood up. She peeked out into the hallway. Seeing and hearing nothing, she crept up the stairs. At the top, she opened another door and stumbled as the sunlight, which she had not seen in four years, assaulted her senses. It was a long time before she was able to crack her eyes open wide enough to look around.

She found him in the kitchen. He was lying on his back on the floor, staring blankly at the ceiling. The blood on his head had long since dried. At first she started, thinking he would be able to see her. But he didn’t move, even when she tentatively nudged him with her toe. He seemed to be sleeping with his eyes open.

Jade saw a loaf of bread on the counter. She clawed wildly at it and shovelled it into her mouth. It felt so good to eat.

She was halfway down the stairs, going back to her room, when a thought struck her. What if she went outside, just for a little while? She yearned to feel the grass under her bare feet, the way she remembered it from when Mama and Papa were here. She could go now, before The Master woke up, and he would never know.

Jade didn’t understand that The Master was never waking up again.

When she went outside, she almost darted back immediately, scared of the sounds and the sunlight. She still couldn’t open her eyes all the way. But then she stepped onto the grass, and her mind was immediately flooded with memories of her childhood.

Driven by a force that she didn’t really understand, Jade kept walking. She didn’t know where she was going or what she would do when she got there.

Maybe she would try to find Heaven so she could see Mama and Papa, and feel safe again.

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from evenstarwen, who gave me this prompt: Write a story, in any genre, about or inspired by this photo: http://i.imgur.com/Xrhe0.jpg.
I challenged  Lance with the prompt:Write about the missed opportunity you regret the most.

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3 Responses to “Looking For Heaven”

  1. Tara R. November 18, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

    A creepy sort of tale, so well written. You can feel Jade’s confusion and fear.

  2. Carrie November 18, 2011 at 10:54 PM #

    I’m agreeing with Tara. Creepy goodness. There’s such an innocence and sadness about jade. I fear for what she might find in the world

  3. inkpuddle November 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM #

    Found you through Indie Ink. Sad and sordid as it may be, I love this. Well written, and both Jade’s innocence and abuse stand out as the story unfolds. Well done.

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