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Next-Door

by Erica Chisholm (Age: 24)
copyright 07-04-2007


Age Rating: 13 +

Silence. The young girl turned her gaze to the only source of light in the room, the flickering torch light, which was growing fainter each minute. She wondered silently what the time was, or when someone would open the door. She could hear noises outside, the scuffling of feet in the hall, as though someone was trying to run. A single tear rolled down her cheek, leaving a trail in the dust and dirt that clung to her face. There was a loud crash from outside; she wondered what had been thrown this time and at who. She pressed her face to the cold door. She could hear someone shouting, then footsteps, coming towards the door. She scrambled backwards, and tripped as the light from the torch gutted. The door was flung wide open sending light into every corner of the space. She screamed and covered her sore eyes as a figure appeared in the doorway.

Iíve seen her. She sits at school cowed in the corner, and at break she is no where to be seen. No one talks to her; teachers just pass on the work and move on. When she walks up the path to her house, she seems to me like a mouse. Her house is silent when she opens the door, mine isnít. I get bombarded by little brothersí requests to play with them, and mums pleas for help. Occasionally, when I get some time to myself, I can hear noises coming from next-door. At night I can hear someone sobbing, dry raking sobs, through the wall. Then today she didnít turn up, no one phoned school either. I am worried. I asked my dad and he says that her dad is a drunk. I believe him. Before, when we were younger, I saw her mum walk out the door, pleading with her to come. I also saw her fatherís hands, his knuckles white, as he restrained his daughter, forcing her to stay. As I leant out of the window, I heard him telling her to leave. The last thing I saw of that scene, were her large eyes staring into mine imploring me to help, but I didnít.

She knelt on the floor, curled up, silently hoping he would not fetch her now. She allowed another wave of tears, before finally dismissing them. She knew she was missing school, but there wasnít much she could do about it, not stuck here. Her body ached, more bruises forming on her skin, as she lay silently hoping.

I am worried now; she has not been here, at school for three days. The others say I should not be so nosy, but I canít help it. Not after hearing the shouting through the wall, or the silent crashes of items crashing against that barrier, the barrier that stands between me and her. I want to help. I need to know how to help.

There was a fumbling and cursing on the other side of the flimsy door. Someone was opening it, someone drunk. Light filled the space as the door was flung back on its hinges. He extended one grimy hand and gripped onto her fiercely bruised arm. With a swift movement he flung her across to the opposite wall, where she lay in a crumpled heap. ďLonely are you?Ē he asked, a menacing grin spreading across his face. She covered her head as he swung his arm towards her.

I saw him. I saw him go in the house; he was drunk, dead drunk. His appearance was much the same as usual. His clothes hung from his body patched in places. A purple bruise spread across his jaw. I could see his knuckles as he placed his hand on the door, they were scraped and red. Then I heard the crashes as things fell on the other side of the wall. I reached for the phone; I knew what was happening, how I could help.

She was curled up, locked inside again. The room was the size of a cupboard. There were rags littering the floor, some were brown, even in the torchlight you could tell it was blood. A foul stench rose from one corner. Shards of glass caught the light; they were once a vase, the girlís motherís vase. The focus of her eyes was on the dim torchlight, which was starting to fade. How could she get out?

They rang the doorbell to our house. I followed them up the path towards next-door, wondering if this was actually going to help. They broke down the door to the building, to be welcomed by a shower of pottery and glass. A door slammed further into the residence, the bulk of the man freezing a he glanced a look over his shoulder, after running down the hall. The police pursued him into the garden, as I watched silently from inside the kitchen. He was caught just as he tried to jump the fence. I could not hear what they said to him, but I quietly observed his struggles and the outbursts of his temper. I wandered out of the kitchen, soaking in my surroundings. I could hear the noise that was echoing round the garden. I ignored it as best I could, my mind in a whirr, tracing thought patterns. The noises I heard through the wall had to come from somewhere. Suddenly it dawned on me and I tore back into the hallway. There was a small white door that I had noticed earlier under the stairs, the lock was on the outside. I flung it back on its hinges sending light into the little room. It really was a state; rags covered the floor, some were brown. I shuddered trying not to think of the blood or the smell that now spread into the hallway. She was cowering in a corner, her eyes covered. I reached out my hand to help her. I hope I was not too late.






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