"Matilda!? Where are you?"
Hank was home. I hugged my knees for comfort, for I knew exactly what was about to happen.
"Matilda..." I could hear his heavy footsteps head up the rotten stairs. It was small and terribly damp and cold in the winter but at least it was a place to call my own.
As I hear his footsteps heading to the ladder leading to the attic, I bury my head into my legs and try to stay calm. I hear him stumble on the way up the steps several times and each time I wince. Even if he is making our lives a living nightmare, he's my brother and I knew a part of the Hank I knew was still inside him somewhere.
"Mattie...I'm going to get you..." His breathing was heavy and his voice was menacing. I could smell the alcohol on his breath already.
"Aha!" He pulled back the curtain I was hiding behind with a murderous yet triumphant look on his unshaven dirty face.
"H-hello Hank, Y-you're back early." I tried desperately to distract him.
"Yes, well, old Jonesy kicked me out again. But who needs him, eh?" Mr Jones owned the local tavern. Hank was constantly being kicked out but keeps going back after giving a big speech about how this place meant nothing to him, but it really does. Mr Jones' daughter is the prettiest girl in Whitechapel, and all the men like her, Hank above all after a few drinks.
"E-exactly. Why do you need the Old Bird anyway?"
Hank leaned towards me.The lingering stench of numerous drinks is breathed all over me.
"You want to know why? Because you... won't leave me alone...You're always... Following me... Begging me for...Things...Things we cannot buy..."
I froze. He was doing it again. He was blaming me for things he did. Things he asked for. He did this all the time when he got drunk before. This time was no different.
"You...You ruined me. The mess we're in...It's your fault. All your fault. And..." He hesitated, almost as if he was making his mind up. "I hate you. I HATE YOU!" Hank screamed at me, then, with one mighty blow, almost summoning up all his leftover strength, stuck my left cheek, only it hurt a lot more than it had before. Hank looked down and his now clenched hand, clearly ready to take another blow, and found a pen knife in his hand. He looked up towards my cheek and I could tell by the look on his face that was the same hand he struck me with. I put my hand towards my cheek, and felt a fresh cut right across my cheek. I knew then it would add to my collection of scars.
Hank looked as if he had woken up from a bad dream, like he suddenly realized what he had done.
"Mattie, listen I'm so sorry..."
"Just.." I got up to push past him, only he pulled me back down. My ankle landed strangely underneath me.
"No, Mattie, you are going to listen to me." His hands were shaking now. " This never happened, okay? You tripped whilst holding a knife, okay? I never laid a finger on you. Never."
He stared at me, trying to make me feel scared and I was. But not for my life, for his.
He stepped back to leave, most likely for the tavern. He still stared at me whilst departing the room. Once he had left, I let myself become scared. I could not let him see me scared, if he did he would think he had won. I only felt fear when he was not around. But now, I was terrified. I curled up once again, cradling my busied ankle and holding my cheek. The times like this make me realize that, even if the part of Hank I hope to see once again is still there, it is dying a slow and painful death.