T H E N I G H T G O W N
“What have I done?”
She held her knees to her chest as her paranoia set in, her hands sweating as they brushed against her damp skin. Her hair matted to her head, a tangled mess curtaining her bare shoulders. She was cold. She was so cold. Her feet adorned with flints of glass, her hands tracing the stitchings of her nightgown as she squirmed. She ran her fingers along the cold concrete wall behind her, breathing in what little air she had left as she struggled to rise. She stood there, alone with her very fear, one that settled beneath the surface of her wounded skin, cinching her limbs together for one final endeavour. She felt her way across the concrete wall, her fingertips falling into every crevice she brushed up against, as she staggered across the moist wooden floor.
With every step, she winced. With every breath, she quailed. The seams of her pale satin nightgown caught the wind of the open window behind her, the rain an abounding flush of a displaced nightmare. Her breath hesitated to leave her lips as her frail fingers grasped the doorknob, turning it ever so slightly as the door creaked open and she stepped through. Not once did she turn to look behind her, as nightfall hid the very carnage that left ruin in her wake.
Her eyes strained as they attempted to adjust to the dimly lit corridor before her, wrapping her arms around herself, as though she was trying to keep her organs from spilling out. Her skin was on fire, her heart palpitating heavily beneath the surface of her chest as she continued to totter across the hallway. As she made it to the entryway, she stood for a moment, catching a glimpse of her reflection in the dirtied mirror, how absolutely atrocious she had looked. That poor simple girl, sauntering through the world without a semblance of worry, with her tousled hair and pretty nightgown, could never be capable of such a catastrophe. And yet, here she was.
She meandered through the corridor, catching her wayward breath in her throat as she skimmed the wet, worn wallpaper. She was home again. She could no longer feel the lingering ache that surfaced from every old wound, for she could only feel the curl of a smile play upon her lips. She was safe again. Tucking her hair behind her bloodied ears, she’d found solace. As the door to the bedroom swung open, crashing against the wall with the wind of the broken bay window, she scurried inside. There was nothing that quite felt like home, the feel of her childhood bedding, the way she tucked her pale pink nightgown between her legs as she sat. There would be no one to hurt her here. She could roam freely behind these four walls, learn to love the outside world from the collected pages of prose that coated the carpet. She was herself here. All she could ever hope for, all she could ever love would forever grace this room, for she knew what happened when she left. She no longer felt like herself when she left, she no longer felt safe when she left.
Her mind held onto the childlike anguish that laminated her conscience every time she stepped foot outside of the bedroom. Clutching the fabric of her nightgown as she may, holding onto her memories as best she could, she could not make sense of why she had been left alone. She called for her mother, for her father, but no one came. She cried, she wailed, as she stood in the doorway of her bedroom, wishing someone would meet her halfway.
That is when she would glance down the hallway, her eyes set on the front door, as it would creak open and she waited patiently for her guests to join her. Maybe she’d invite them to a tea party, maybe they’d come to take care of her. Her cheeks flushed with excitement, as they entered. She watched as they made their way through the house, carrying their luggage, the man and the woman sharing a kiss as they set their things down. She wondered if they’d be her new parents, if they were finally here to make sure she’d be okay. She let go of her nightgown, as she rushed out of her bedroom to meet them, but as she inched closer, she watched as they took a step back, as the woman let out a scream. For a brief moment, tears began to well up in the girl’s eyes, her aging face wrinkled as she had parted her lips to tell them not to be afraid, but she didn’t have a chance.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” The man asked, as the woman clung onto him.
The girl didn’t respond, she took the fabric of her nightgown into her hand once more, her grip tighter than its ever been before. She waited for them to calm down, so she could tell them that they had no reason to fear her. She wanted to make them feel right at home, so that they could stay, so that they could care for her.
“You-I don’t know who you are but you have to leave,” said the woman.
The girl shook her head in disagreement, wondering why this woman was telling her that she had to leave her home. She could sense the fear, she watched as their eyes darted behind her, wondering what it was that had happened to this lovely home.
The girl turned to return to her bedroom, hoping that they’d soon join her, that they’d calm down.
“Excuse me? Where do you think you’re going? What do you think you’re doing in our house? I’m going to call the police I-”
The girl stopped in her tracks, ceasing to move an inch further as she grew angry. She didn’t understand why they made her so angry, she didn’t understand why they weren’t giving her time to explain. The grip on her nightgown, aggressive as she had begun to tear at the hem, picking at the fraying lace trim.
“You’re not here to take care of me?” The girl asked.
“Take care of you? I need you to get out of my house. How long have you been here? Honey, please call the police!” The woman instructed, but the girl could tell that they were seemingly too afraid to move.
“What’s got you so scared?” She asked, inching closer to the couple.
“Please, please stay away from us!” She screamed again, and this didn’t sit too well with the girl as she looked down at her maturing hands, her non-dominant wrapped so tightly around the kitchen knife that the blade was sinking into her skin.
“You’re going to come with me,” the girl demanded, holding the knife out in front of her as she approached them.
“Please, don’t hurt us, please-”
The girl couldn’t understand why they were so afraid, she simply wanted to enjoy their company even if it had been for a little while. The walk down the corridor had been quiet, the storm drowning out the soft sobs coming from the woman, but just as the girl opened up the door to her bedroom, the man lunged at her trying to snatch the knife. The girl had been too quick, as she drove it into his abdomen, watching as he fell to his knees, as the woman cried out for help. The man held his hands at his wound as the girl removed the bloodied knife, holding it up at the woman.
“All I wanted was a little time, all I wanted was a little company. Why are you so afraid of me? Why is everyone so afraid of me?” The girl cried out, as the woman appeared to back away, as though she wanted to run. The girl didn’t hesitate, she latched onto the woman’s arm, running the kitchen knife along her skin, peeling away the layers of her flesh as she screamed. It wasn’t long before the girl grew impatient, driving the knife into the woman’s throat, looking down disapprovingly at the mess she’s made.
The girl shrugged her shoulders, as they both bled out beneath her, but she didn’t seem to care. She set the knife down on the entryway table, dragging their heavy bodies across the carpet so she could begin to clean. She opened the door to the nursery, as she dragged the little table and chair set to the middle of the room, settling the table with tea party toy china, as she struggled to drag the bodies inside. She took a deep breath, steadying them both, eager to finally have the company she had craved for so long. They didn’t speak, but their eyes remained open, a false sense of attentiveness that gave her all of the satisfaction she needed.
“I’ll be back,” she said, politely.
And so, she returned to the corridor cleaning up the mess her new friends had made before meeting them for tea. She poured them each a cup, as she answered questions about her life, questions she’d never been able to answer before. Their cups clinked as she spoke to them, and she didn’t mind the silence in return.
For that while she enjoyed their time, but she knew it would be soon time to go. She stood, bidding them goodbye as she tossed them into her pile of toys. A heap of old, a heap of new,
as she gnawed at the ends of her nightgown.
Copyright © 2019 Anisa Nasir
All Rights Reserved
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Thank you for reading!