I could hear the droplets of water plonking down from the ceiling. I didn’t know where they came from nor did I care. I huddled on my bed with my hands covering my ears. I tried to make myself invisible, wishing that I could vanish into thin air yet here I was, cringing from the nasal voice coming from outside my door.
“Nyx… Little Nixie. Are you in there? Open up. Daddy has a little present for you. Come on, open up," said the Big Bad Wolf to Little Piggy.
I heard the doorknob twisted and the clattering of metal as he tried to open the door. I put a fist in my mouth to stop the whimpers escaping from me. He would know that I was awake. Sometimes it was safer to pretend I was sleeping.
The door shook as he slammed himself against it. Please let it hold. Tears streamed silently down my cheeks. I tried to block the mental images cruelly drilling inside my head; the veins bulging in his arms as he slowly took out his belt. The way he came to me with his hand raised high. The way that leather belt struck across my body, stinging my skin like thousands of needles stabbing me at the same time. Sometimes it got so bad that I passed out. That was a blessing. He would leave when I stopped moving.
A doorbell rang into the house. My brain muddled in confusion. Who could it be this morning? At least it distracted him. I heard my dad grunted before his footsteps was heard going down the stairs. It was probably one of the neighbours, asking him to represent the neighbourhood again at the Council. I hugged my knees tighter, wishing there was a place I could escape from.
I muted out the voices outside, my mind retreating back into the depths of my soul; a place where no one could venture and hurt me there. My prison. I bound my feet with shackles so even if the outside world tried to pull me out of my reverie, I would be going nowhere. I would be locked inside my own prison for my own safety.
I hummed to myself as my body rocked slowly backwards and forwards.
Someday I'll wish upon a star, wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where trouble melts like lemon drops, high above the chimney top that's where you'll find me.
A voice broke into my mind, shredding the melodies into particles of nothingness. I blinked as I waded through the fog. The thick bracelet scraped over the ridges of scars on my wrists, the pain brought me back to reality.
“Phoenix, I’m your brother! I’m here to get you.” The deep voice bellowed from the outside.
I lifted my head from my arms and stared outside the window, not comprehending what I just heard. Was that a dream?
“Phoenix, my name is Callum. I’m your brother! Come out, I’m here for you!” The voice yelled again, more hoarse this time.
I froze. Memories and static images flickered in my brain, as if becoming alive for the first time. I heard my dad yelling at him that I wasn’t home. He told the voice outside to piss off before he call the cops. But the voice was undeterred. It kept calling my name over and over until my brain finally registered the words.
My eyes widened. I remembered the farm I used to play in, the boy I chased in my memories. The same blond as me. He watched over me when we sneaked outside the bedroom window to gaze at the stars. He was everywhere in my memories: His laughter, his joyful sounds. My brother. He found me.
I strained my ears to listen but I couldn’t hear his voice. It faded just as quickly as my memories flooded in. No! I threw myself off the bed in sheer panic. I couldn’t lose him again. I scrambled to the window and shoved it open. Wind slapped my face as I stuck my head out. I saw an older boy with his back turned. He had the same hair colour as me. No, don’t walk away.
“Brother!” I yelled out.
The boy turned and I saw him. He was the boy from yesterday. The one who rescued me. Could he be my brother?
“Phoenix? Phoenix, I'm right here. I'm coming to get you!” He ran towards the house with his hands spread out.
I heard footsteps climbing up the stairs behind me and without thinking, I climbed out of the window onto the roof. I slid carefully down the slanted roof, my legs trembling.
“Phoenix, come back here!” My father yelled angrily from behind.
“Sarah! What are you doing? It’s dangerous!” My mother's voice was frantic beside my father.
I didn’t look back. My eyes focused on my brother. Callum.
“Brother!” Tears streamed down my face as I edged closer to the ledge.
“I got you, Phoenix! Jump. Don’t be afraid. It’s okay to fall because I’m the one who will catch you.” He smiled, his eyes brimmed with tears as he held his arms out at me.
I dangled my legs off the ledge, my body leaned forward.
“You’ll never hurt me?” My voice quivered.
“Never. I’m the one who will always have your back. I’m the one who will do anything to keep you happy, baby sister. I’m here now. I’ll take care of you,” he said without hesitation.
I looked at my brother. His eyes were full of concern and love. Love for me. He saved me yesterday and now he was saving me again. My big brother finally found me.
Without further hesitation, I jumped straight into his waiting arms.