Ariana's Story

Ariana wasn't regular; anyone could tell you that. The way she just... was was different. I couldn't tell you why. Every time she smiled she was grimacing, as if trying no to picture something horrible...

Chapter 1

Ariana, Age 6

Most of all, I remember the screams.

My room was a pitch dark. I clutched the pillow with my clammy hands, its fabric wet with tears. I pulled it over my ears, forcing my eyes shut on the dark bedroom. The screams from next door were so, so loud...

The door opened with a crash and figure like a banshee rushed upon me, it's hair greasy and falling into awkward clumps. It grabbed my hand and stroked it, shakily at first. I peeked open my eyes and quickly sat up.

"Mother?" my voice rang in the still silence.

"Hush, hush." She tried to comfort me, although it was more like she was comforting herself. "It's fine, I'm here, everything will be all right..."



••••••••••••••••••••



My feet slid, softly and easily over the hardwood floors, enlightened every so often by the dappled Florida sunrise outside. Dragging my toes, I gingerly made my way to the kitchen.

The dining table was cluttered with piles upon piles of papers. They were in uneven stacks, some reaching high and some crouching low. Most of them said something similar; Sign here for annual contract!, Feeling down? We can help!. I grabbed the bowl from where I had left it yesterday, between the bills and the spam mail, and filled it with cereal. Crossing to the refrigerator, I searched for the milk. Too high. I'd have to remind Dad to place it lower next time.

I took my bowl and, as silently as I could, opened the screen door. Or house was rather nice, when you looked past the clutter.

The ground was still wet from last nights rain. I arranged my long nightgown under me, and sat down gingerly on our porch.

Our backyard was beautiful. That would be said. Exotic plants melted into the landscape to create the pure essence of calm. That was the biggest reason I liked being here; it was the calmest, happiest place in the house.

I jumped when I heard a door slam inside the house. As quickly as I could I got to my feet, scurrying to the sink and placing my bowl in it. Just in time, my father came out of the bathroom, fully dressed in a gray suit and plain tie. I didn't remember ever seeing him in anything else.

"Ariana," he smiled when he saw me, just the briefest of smiles but a smile none the less, "Great to see you." he said this as if he were meeting an old friend from a long time ago.

He frowned. "Get your mother to do something with your hair." He took ahold of my ratty hair, the darkest shade of brown. After a few seconds he dropped it, waved, and was gone in a flash. My father was never late for work.

I tiptoed silently to my parents' bedroom, sneaking a peek at their empty bed. So my mother had gone out again. She probably wouldn't be back for a while.

So I was home for myself.

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