Hans is there the next day. Of course.
I try to ignore him, but it’s so hard. He calls up to me for hours, pleading with me. I closed the shutters earlier, but his voice still manages to reach me. I do everything I can to try and distract myself: I teach myself to dance a dance from a book on the shelf; I paint a picture of a golden sunset. But all the time, I can hear Hans’s regretful voice floating up and making me wince. His voice is full of such pain and regret it is hard not to open the shutters and tell him that he is forgiven. His apologies are sincere, and if Mother had not warned me I would have let him in.
Another reason to not address Hans is the blossoming bruise on my cheek, which hurts when I chew. It spreads all the way up to my left eye, and is a sickening black colour. It appears as if I have a permanent shadow on my face. I don’t want to be ashamed…but the bruise looks ugly and I do not want the pity of Hans.
It hurts to ignore him. It hurts to know there’s someone who may be concerned about me out there, and I have to disregard them. Life is not fair, I know that.
I dream of someone else to share my tower with. A sister, or someone who Mother would approve of. She’d be my age and have hair almost as long as mine. My sister would have the same interests as me, and we’d bond over little things. I’ve always wanted a sister. They would help me with the predicament at hand.
Hans leaves at sunset. As I watch his silhouette disappear from my half-hidden crouch at the window, I feel unwelcome tears. Part of me wants to shout at him to return, and another wants to just hide from him. Is he dangerous or safe?
I’m not surprised when Hans returns the next day.
That week was long, and horribly cold. Hans returned each morning, and left at sunset. He spent his days pacing the tower and trying to shout at me. Sometimes, he talked to me about his life. He never gave in. Each night, I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to speak to him so badly. I no longer cared about my safety: my efforts were for Mother alone. His shouts grew more and more painful as the days wore on, and gritting my teeth and continuing about my business grew harder. The tower was always in darkness, with the shutters closed firmly. Mother returned every night, and did not realize my distress. My wariness of her remained.