On the other side of this box, there are many things.
First, there are two men. One is tall, and the other is taller. One has hair mussed about his head like nighttime; ruffled up and curling across a white forehead like night turning into day without a sunset. The second is thin and wears big clothes, has pale blue eyes that look my older brother's eyes and has a tiny smile on his face that makes me think he should be happy but he's not.
He is very angry.
On the other side of this box, there is a body. I believe it's dead but I won't check, just in case I'm right. The dead body wears my mother's face and has my mother's clothes, but I do not believe it can be her. I don't think that would be possible.
There is also a bed. It is not made: it was, but then someone messed it up. The covers are the colour of blood and cherry blossom petals - at least, the colour of what I believe cherry blossoms are, because I've never seen one before. The pillows were white, and now they are the pale grey beneath my father's eyes when he came home this morning. He looked as if he might cry at breakfast, but mum kept giving him a look and he just turned away. I believe she was telling him to stop being sad. Not in a comforting way, but in a demanding way.
Because she didn't want me to see. I'd already seen, though. Of course I had. I can see, can't I, so I saw.
There is also a table, wooden and stained with coffee rings, and there is also a lamp: it is still on, and it cuts a cold glow against the bedroom wall. There is also a fraying rug, and cheap silk curtains, and a wardrobe that squeaks and creaks and that older brother tried to fix, but couldn't.
There is one big window that has a view over the sea. It shows us little fishing boats with flags like napkins hung up to the sky, and it shows us white beaches beaded gold with the light of the sun. People always played on the beach, and I used to as well. We'd run across it and spray seawater up our legs and I'd come home to wash my shorts in the sink so Mum would never know. Some children played out until the sun went down, but I was always sent to bed by then.
When mum turned the lights off, I'd sneak to the window and press my hands on to the glass, and watch the sea crawl up the shore. At night, it looked so dark I thought it could swallow up the sky.
There aren't many possessions in the room because they're packed downstairs in a suitcase we've never used before. My clothes are all in there, folded up to be put inside but already creasing. My teddy bear is at the bottom even though Mum didn't want me to take it, and older brother's shoes take up the most space because his feet are huge. Huger than mine. My parents didn't pack much because they said they didn't want to, but they did, there just wasn't enough space. I wanted to take some of my stuff out for them, but at the same time, I wanted it all.
I sort of wish I'd just taken my stuff out.
There are also voices, now. I thought the two voices might be different like the faces are, but I was wrong. They're exactly the same. They've both got accents that I don't recognize: they pronounce their words wrong, and in the wrong order, like they're spelling things incorrectly and saying them out loud. Their voices are harsh, and I wonder if it's just because of where they're from, or if it's because their lips are chapped and there's something wrong with them.
Like maybe they're ill.
There's blood on them. It stains their teeth and pools around the corners of their thin lips, and there's some spattered against their pale shirts and their dark, bronzed skin. It clusters red around their throats and collar bones, which I've noticed stick out so bad it's like they've got something under their skin that doesn't fit.
Even their trousers are dirty. Even their shoes, their white-turned-off-grey socks and even their hair is flecked with the stuff. Faces too. Eyelashes pattering with blood and sprinkling, dusting it over their cheekbones and noses and jaws.
And that's all.
That's all that's outside of this box.
Inside the box, there is me. There are four walls and there is a ceiling and there is a floor. It is a very small box, and it is very old because it has holes in it, like someone punched them in. Small holes, though, and punched by someone with very small fists. Holes the size of my eyes; the size of the length of my nails or my mouth or the space between my lower lip and chin.
It stinks. Sweat - I think that's mine. Old clothes, dust, musk; just the overwhelming stench of age. I must stink too, and I shouldn't really care right now that I stink but I do. It feels important.
I'm dirty too. My nails are crusted black and brown, and there's bruises on my knees because of how long I've been kneeling down. My hair is snarled with dirt, like someone covered every strand meticulously just to spite me. My lips are hurt and I think there's a cut right by my mouth, the shape of a crescent by the way it feels. I wonder if it'll scar and I'll look ugly.
I peek through a hole to check if there's anything else on the outside yet, but it's just the same. Two men, two faces, two voices, one dead body and a room I've slept in for the passed eight years. Looks no different, really, same rug same window same silky cheap curtains same bed same cherryblood covers same lamp same sea right out there, not blue because it isn't day. This time it's the colour of angel wings, and I wonder now that it must be sunset and I've been here for four hours straight.
This means about two hours since the first gunshot a few streets down. Three and a half hours since I was playing in the water with older brother and I told him his feet were absolutely huge. About ten hours since we ate breakfast with the doors wide open because it was hot.
Three days since mum's birthday, this means. Three days since she turned forty and since I saw granny last.
Two minutes since the first voice, I believe.
I fear they know I'm here, and they're just pretending to not know. I fear they saw me the second they walked in the room, and they're just toying with me, and any second now they're going to rip open this old box with their bare hands and tear me to pieces, shreds, like the pillows in Maia's house a year ago when they were last here. I fear them both and their strange faces and their same voices, and the way they look like darkness and wrongness. And i fear the way they hold their guns like trophies, pointing upwards, and guns are smaller than I first thought but for some reason that makes me more afraid.
I've seen a bullet before. It's very small and it's very cold, like the sea. It's the colour of frost and iron and some clouds on rainy days. I felt it in my hand when granddad showed me, when he told of the old wars and the way things used to be and the way he used to fight and how it felt to hold a gun and have the power. The way a bullet looked as it shot. The way it glinted in the air like a diamond and you never saw it again. Funny how I loved that story when it was tucked away in my grandparent's heads.
Funny how I can't see the bullet yet, but I know it's there. I wonder if the light will catch it just like granddad said, and if it will look like angel wings because that's what the sea looks like right now.
I press my eye a little closer to the hole because the beach is very close, and the sky is tilting toward me like it's made of paper and it's peeling. No rain clouds today because it was so hot: perhaps a storm tomorrow.
My eyes move across the room: silk swaying and cherries and blood and cold glow and nighttime eyes staring right back. They blink at me, like curtains closing. Four eyes now. Two black as death and two pale as day.
Six eyes, two black as death and two pale as day and two holes where bullets hide.