Seven – Children Running
Through the murky puddles Maria ran, silently cursing the raindrops that fell hard and without mercy on her burning limbs. Above, the sky was the ripped hieroglyph of sin and it growled with a menace akin to that of one thousand, blood-thirsty convicts. Eerily there was no wind that howled or any slight tremors in the air, only the running black haired girl and her blonde sister; both had long abandoned ladylike manners as desperation had a far greater power than dignity.
Their destination was the train station which would ultimately lead them to Washington, the only sanctuary they had ever known. They had decided to leave the horrors of New York – the violence, the poverty, Cook, their father – in favour of the family they didn't know; the family who had been cruel enough to neglect the motherless girls.
The Everwoods may not have loved them, may have resented them for the stain they had put upon the family name – upon Eleanor's name – but the Everwoods were not sadistic. They were not abusive and macabre as their father was. They were not twisted; and so under a veil of stars the Minchin sisters had run away from their drunkard father, seeking solace in the shadows and protection from the clouded moon.
Both of them were blind to their fate, Maria masquerading as an explorer to calm her sister's delicate nerves. If Emilia knew that they ran without money or strength than her sister would be lost to hysteria and then they would never reach their family.
'My little princess. My little princess.'
The deep recollection rang through Maria's head and she had to hold a hand to her mouth to prevent herself from vomiting. She wouldn't slow down though. Not when they still breathed the same air of their demonic father. She could still smell him – the putrid smell of drink, excrement and lust – on her virginal skin as his haggard breath began to whisper promises of incest.
'My little princess. My little princess now Maria.'
Empty eyes struggled to focus on the darkness in front of her, but she continued, Emilia hand held tightly in her own.
She had to run to save Emilia. Her little sister should not – would not be subjected to what she had experienced.
"As an older sibling Maria, you must protect your sister above everything else…"
'I will Mamma,' Maria thought. 'I won't let him creep into her room to steal her innocence.'
"Come on Mia," Maria said, pulling her sister along.
"But Maria, I'm tired," Emilia moaned. "Can't we stop?"
"Why not? My feet hurt."
"You don't know what pain is," Maria snapped. "Just do as I say!"
Emilia pulled her hand from Maria's and stopped beneath a lamp, her little face full of determination. Slowly she sat on the pavement, her arms across her chest, sulking under the vanishing night.
"Emilia, get up!" Maria cried hysterically. "We need to go! If someone sees us then…then we'll return to him."
Her black eyes glazed over and shuddering she locked the memory away.
"I don't care. I'm tired, my feet hurt and I'm hungry. I want my bed!"
Tears formed out of tiredness began to fall from Emilia's eyes and Maria grudgingly retraced her steps.
"I know Mia," Maria soothed, "but we need to go. Grandfather awaits us."
"No he doesn't! None of them care about us! I don't want to go there. I have friends here!"
"It's safer there."
"I don't care. I'm not moving."
Maria's face contorted with rage at her sister's selfishness. With a loud slap, she hit her sister so hard that the noise of her cold hand striking her cheek echoed through the deserted alleyways. Shocked, Emilia fell from her sitting position and dissolved into deeper howls.
"You're just like him," she cried. "You're just like Father."
A knife couldn't have cut as deep. Maria gasped and collapsed to her knees.
Was she really like him? She looked like him, but did she possess the same torn heart as he did? All she wanted to do was protect Emilia, more than she wanted to protect herself, but had she taken the wrong crossroad? Was she now standing at the door of the house of Minchin, ready to be let into their disgusting walls?
Slowly Maria placed an arm around her sister's shoulders.
"I'm sorry Mia."
Emilia whimpered as she ran a hand to brush away her tears.
"Can't we stop running Maria?" Emilia asked. "Please? I'm tired."
Defeated Maria agreed.
All night they sat on the pavement, and when the sun had risen and the streets had become crowded once more, the eleven-year-old Maria Minchin had accepted that for the remainder of her childhood, she would be nothing more than a pervert's concubine.
Sorry this chapter has taken so long. Damn writer's block.
This chapter felt rushed and I'm not too happy about it.
What do you think?
Also looking for a Beta (just take a look at my punctuation and you'll see why). Any offers?