Ice Glass Beads

Marilyn Opal. Even the name sounds beautiful. The mystery woman, they call her. But they don't know what goes on behind locked doors and fences, where secrets and betrayal are thick underfoot, and broken hearts and minds are many upon the battlefield of millions.
(this is definitely more adult than things I've done in the past, so I'd really like opinions on it)

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4. Sadie Miller

Marilyn Opal lounges in a ageing armchair, a dirty cream, as the room slowly fills with pale grey smoke, hiding even the hand that holds the small cigarette, or the many others that carpet the floor. 

Though that isn't her real name. In fact, it's Sadie Miller.

In the other hand, she holds a long beaded necklace. Strung along it are pale, ice blue glass beads. There is a large gap, devoid of beads at the top. Her fingers slowly work their way along it, stroking each one for a small amount of time, then moving along for the next time. It's an almost religious motion, over and over, caressing each bead.

Sadie's first memory is of waking up next to her mother in the cramped, dark room that had been her home for the past six years. She had had a nightmare. Shaking her mother's arm until she wakes up, Sadie was scared. Daddy had come to get her in the dream. Her mother had held her tight and rocked her, letting Sadie play with the necklace that she always wore, whispering, "It's okay," repeatedly.

She had remained in that room for sixteen years, never once leaving.

Her mother had told that it was okay, that they deserved to be there, that they were safe here, that Daddy was a good man really. Slowly, she'd grown to believe it. 

That afternoon, Sadie's nightmare came true. The same as it did every day. 

There had been the sound of the lock clicking, though on her ninth birthday, or at least Daddy said it was, the lock was removed. Daddy knew they wouldn't leave. 

The door had creaked open, the hulking silhouette standing in the doorway as always, holding a tray in his hands. "Stew today," he grunted, setting down in the corner. Her mother had smiled gratefully, shuffling over to it.

"How's my little piece of dirt?" Sadie jumped, knowing that it was her turn to come forward, and slowly walked towards him.

"I'm okay."

He raised the cricket bat in his hands and smacked her on the shoulder, and she stumbled back, head bursting in the attempt not to let a single tear fall from her eyes.

"What are you?"

Thwack.

"Useless, Daddy."

Thwack.

"Why are you here?"

Thwack.

"It's safe here."

Thwack.

As he turned towards Sadie's mother, she used the opportunity to scurry into a corner. "And what do you have to say?"

"I love you," she replied, eyes wide in honesty. He brought it down on her leg with a crack. 

"Too right you do."

And then he left.

Sadie had crawled towards her mother and let her hold her, small body bruised and broken. "It's okay," she whispered, hugging her daughter tight. "We deserve it, we know we do."

Her finger's clutch the beaded necklace tighter, finishing the next cigarette and dropping it to the floor. Slowly, she stands up and walks towards the door, gently pushing it open. The air in the outside hallway is fresh and clear, compared to the room she just left, though wisps of smoke are already beginning to creep around the edges of the door frame. 

Heels lying discarded on the floor, her feet gently pad up the wooden stairs, tights occasionally catching on the many nails that stick out the walls and floor, then laddering. She walks into the master bedroom, gently closing the door behind her, and looks down at the body occupying it.

That night will always be clear in her memory , the one where she gained everything she had never had, but lost all that she had previously held dear. 

Ten years later.

Sadie sat against the wall, back hunched from the too-low ceiling, so that she can never stand straight.

She was worthless.

Dangerous.

A crime against nature.

The child that never should have been.

The door opened and she stiffened, ready for what was going to come. Dark purple blotches covered her body, along with angry red scars from years past, thin lines criss-crossing over her skin. 

Daddy staggered in, knife in hand. The one that he used when they'd been really bad. Contrary to usual, he walked towards her mother first. In the last ten years, she had become decrepit, as if she had aged thirty years. Her hair was wispy and white, limbs frail and one leg twisted at an angle; Sadie couldn't fix it. She couldn't walk any more. 

He knelt down and began tracing invisible lines on her body with the knife, glinting in the weak light coming through the grate in the roof. Then he began to press harder into her skin, dark red lines breaking the lined skin of her arms and legs.

Sadie looked away. She was used to having to watch this, and she knew her mother deserved it, but couldn't watch it. But her head jerked up at a shriek of pain.

Her mother never cried out. 

Never.

"Little bitch," Daddy muttered.

She looked around, and saw the knife embedded in her mother's chest, blood staining the rags she wore. Like a doll's, her head was slumped to one side, eyes shut. Crawling over, Sadie let out a cry as she shook the limp body. Her mother did not wake up.

A slap hit her cheek, briefly throwing her face to the side. "It's just you and me now." Daddy had straightened up, and was staring down at her with a glint in his eye. He noticed her looking at the body. "She deserved it, didn't she, Sadie? She was bad, you know she was."

Without thinking, Sadie pulled the knife from the corpse's chest, not noticing the squelching noise it made. She stood up. "What're you going to do?" he mocked.

Daddy didn't blink as she plunged the knife into his stomach.

"She didn't deserve it."

She looks down at her mother, her rotting corpse mostly covered beneath creamy sheets, bed cover pulled up to her chin. Rot had stripped most of the flesh from her bones by now, though her clothes had not changed, still stained a rich brown, still ripped and torn. The only thing missing is her necklace, which Sadie had taken afterwards. 

Soft fingers stroke her hard skull, the beautiful woman standing above her shedding a small tear, letting it fall into the duvet. Slowly, she lifts the necklace from around her neck, and unties the knot holding it together.

It took a while for him to die. He lay there, shuddering and gasping, until the sky had gone completely dark, moaning and muttering. In his final moments he laughed manically, staring straight at Sadie with cold eyes. She sat in the corner, knees brought up to her chin, bony arms wrapped around them. 

But then he was finally still, his blood pooling with his wife's. Sadie grabbed his feet, and pulled him away from her, to the other side of the room. She shouldn't have to be near him, not when he had ended her. 

What am I now?

I'm useless. I'm no-one's daughter any more.

What do I do now?

I don't know.

The door seemed to grow, becoming bigger and bigger, filling her vision until it was all she could see. Heart thumping, her small figure began to shake as she crawled towards the only person who had shown her kindness, clutching her mother's hand tight in her own, tears streaming down her cheeks.

How many times had she wondered what was out there?

Too many.

On dark evenings, her mother had told her stories about when she had been allowed out there, before she went bad. She told her about things that could move all by themselves, about electricity, about other people. Sadie was scared of other people. Often their voices had come through the small hole in the roof, laughing or talking. When they laughed it sounded as if they were choking.

She couldn't go out there.

With a tiny smile to herself, she pulls one of the tiny beads from the necklace. The see-through string is half-empty of beads already. Gently, she lifts the creased covers from the side of the bed, where a half-skeletal hand lies, fingers slightly curled.

A mound of blue beads lie within it.

As she does every month, she places the tiny piece of glass on the pile, 

And as she does every month, she swears that when the final piece of the necklace falls into her mother's hand, she will end it all.

It was five days later when she heard they came. Sadie hadn't left the room once, not even come within a metre of the dreaded door. The tap supplied her with water, though her body slowly became bonier and skinnier. It was difficult for her to even move. So she just lay there, holding the cold hand, lowering her head to catch the drips that fall from the rusty faucet.

There was a crunch from downstairs, and the strange, loud laughing she'd heard before. But closer this time. Footsteps echoed, and she could hear voices talking. They sounded like men.

"Who lives here, anyway?"

"Just some middle-aged guy."

"Where is he?"

"Like on holiday or something, I dunno. I haven't seen him for ages."

"God, this place is creepy."

"Do you wanna leave, then?"

"Fuck off."

"Those painting do stare a bit though."

"Upstairs?"

"Yeah."

It was so hard to keep up, her head ached, as the thump of shoes on the stairs reached her ears. But who were the people? They shouldn't be here.

Her weak arms buckled under her weight, as she tried to crawl towards the door. Their voices were getting louder. She began dragging herself along, bare feet pushing against the floorboards, slowly moving closer to her goal, and biggest fear. Unable to keep up with it, Sadie's brain blocked out their conversation, and the crackle and sudden light through the crack between the door and frame.

Spots danced in front of her eyes as her thin fingers touched the pale wood, heart racing like an engine, breaths short and gasping. With a small push, it swung slightly open. 

The scene before her was the largest shock of her life. Men sat at the top of the stairs, but they didn't have bushy beards or anything on their chins, or a large belly which overflowed over their trousers. Why not?

But the thing they sat around, something her mother had told her about, made her scurry back in fear, fingernails raking over the floorboards, alerting them to her presence. It was orange and red and yellow and blue. It writhed and moved and gave off a strange flickering light that she had to shield her eyes from.

"Who's she?" one of them said.

"Is she dead?" another asked.

Someone stood up. There were four of them.

"Hey girl, who are you?"

Sadie screamed and shuffled backwards, further into the room, but now more of them were standing up and walking closer to her.

"What is she?"

"I'm useless," she murmured, out of instinct and habit.

One pointed at her and laughed.

"What was that, love?"

A hand closed around her ankle, yanking her towards them. "Go away," she whimpered, jerking as another touched her leg, helping to drag her closer.

"We can have some fun with this one, lads."

Fingers shake slightly as she ties the thread back into a knot, then drapes it back around her thin neck. Pulling the duvet back over the hand, she exits the room, casting one longing look back. The stairs stretch down below her, a blackened circle of wood beneath her left foot. 

She shakes her head after a brief pause, as if shaking bad thoughts away, and walks towards the door at the end of the corridor. It is large and solid, with a key placed in the lock, which she delicately turns, then steps into the room that was her home for sixteen years.

"It's safe here," she murmurs.

The same as every night, she looks around the deserted room. At the stains on the floor. At the leaky tap in the corner. At the ashes of her father. spread across the floor. She turns, leaves, and locks the door behind her.

Opal's first memory was of running down a busy high street, red bag in hand, away from men in black suits and guns. But even there, she wasn't Opal. Not really.

Cameramen surrounded her, chasing her from behind, catching her expression as she turned back for a desperate look. The pedestrians have endlessly rehearsed throwing themselves to the side, and carefully placed lights shone down from above.

"You're Amelia, remember?" the Director had said to her beforehand. "This is your big scene. You're going to run into James, who is going to kill you. Don't fuck it up."

Sure enough, she ran straight into James, or Thomas Yoghast, and a fake gun was pressed to the side of her head. He grabbed her waist. This was the first time that anyone had touched her without her falling to the ground in tears and shrieks, in four years.

Because she wasn't Sadie any more.

She was Amelia.

And Amelia wasn't useless.

Amelia didn't care about people touching her.

Amelia wasn't dirt.

Amelia didn't wake screaming from nightmares every morning.

Amelia wasn't locked in a single room for the first sixteen years of her life.

Amelia wasn't Sadie Miller.

Amelia was someone else.

And for that, she loved her.

That's why as the trigger was pulled and a bang sounded, and she crumpled to the floor with fake blood pouring from her temple, she didn't mind. She could only think of Amelia, dying slowly on the sidewalk, while mobsters surrounded her.

 

And so the most beautiful woman in the world fell into oblivion, wrapped in blankets and sheets, that would do nothing to protect her from the horrors that lived in her sleep.

So she slept, in the house of shadows and darkness, in the house that was her prison, with the dead woman lying in bed and the man scattered across a floor where a child who was never meant to be, was born.

So she wished she was someone else.

So she died a million times.

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