Every morning when I wake up it’s always the same. The sun’s rays filter through the heavy curtains in my room, kissing my eyes open and bringing color to otherwise stark surroundings. Not that my room isn’t sumptuous to look at but my stepmother was never very fond of rich things.
I wake up, disappointed that the rain isn’t falling and I feel very weak. Ignoring the sun’s invitation to the world outside I curl deep in my heavy blankets a cough wracking my small chest. The maidservant comes in with a steaming bowl of soup and a hot roll dripping with butter. I barely touch these. The sun takes my energy away. Father comes in later in the afternoon, a long syringe filled with purple liquid is clenched in one hand.
“You really must go outside,” he tells me gently taking one of my hands in his, “the sun would do you some good my dear.”
I look at him. I know there is a listless expression on my face, “I don’t like the sun father,” I say watching as he turns my arm over and injects the purple liquid into my diaphanous skin, “it makes me weak.”
He says nothing. He studies me intently and I can’t help but wonder if he can see the liquid inside me and is mapping it’s progress. Suddenly I feel stronger and want to get out of bed; but the sun, still peeking through the curtains, keeps me in place.
Every day it’s the same routine. Until the rain comes. The first pitter patter of rain drops against the window jerks me awake. I fling the covers off me and spread the velvet curtains wide staring out into the world. Heavy leaden grey clouds hang in the sky, brightening the other colors around them. They are more rich, more vibrant against the stormy background. I dress quickly and wolf down the breakfast the maidservant brings me though I cannot tell if I am nourished. Impatiently I wait for father to give me my shot and I run out the door just as the liquid rushes through my body. I continue my mad dash out the front door and in to the weather that would keep most children inside.
I spin, I jump, I run, I scream, and then I come to the lake and I stop.
Smooth surfaced, pristine and black it stares back at me, reflecting my image as it if were a living piece of glass. The rain hasn’t disturbed it yet. I suddenly feel cold. My limbs freeze and I fall to the ground. My vision swims and my throat closes. Something is around my throat choking me! I taste the brine, the bitter saltiness of the water as it leaks in through my nose and takes air’s rightful place in my lungs. I thrash against the hands, clawing at them trying to set myself free, sun blinds my eyes to who it is. But I know. Deep inside I know who it is that is killing me. Her face is cast in shadow created by the sun and the trees. Her hands tighten, grasping and clawing for purchase.
I know. I know who killed me.
My father, hearing my screams, runs outside and gathers me in his arms. He takes me back to the villa where the maidservant will wash me gently and sing to me in that funny language she speaks. I know that the only thing keeping me tethered to this world is my father’s liquid and I snuggle into his arms and ask, “Is she dead father?”
“Yes Abigail,” he answers a smile on his broad face.
“Am I dead father?”
“Only just Abigail, only just.”