She escaped when she was eight years old. That was twenty years ago, but the dreams she’d almost forgotten about had started coming back a few nights back. She’d been woken by one just now. The clock on her nightstand read 3:30am. Wonderful. Another night without sleep. She threw the thick bed covers off her sweaty legs and made her way into the tiny bathroom of her tiny apartment. The light shone blindingly into her face as she hit the switch over the bathroom sink, so it took her a full minute of rapid blinking to see the little girl standing barefoot in her bathtub.
The girl was wearing a plain beige nightgown and nothing else, and looked no older than 6, her long hair parted in the middle into two pigtails. Trying to decide whether or not she was still dreaming she asked, “Who are you?” The girl’s eyes widened at the words, as if she too was doubting the reality of this scene. There was something familiar about it. About all of this.
She let go of the sink that she now realized she’d been gripping hard, and crouched down on her knees, bringing her face level with the girl’s. Arranging her features in what she hoped would be a soft expression, she offered a hand to the trembling little girl in her bathtub and said, “I have no idea what’s going on right now, either, but let’s find out together, okay?” She smiled, and with that the girl reached out a shaking hand to grip her calm one, and climbed out of the tub.
“How about you sit down on my bed while I make us a cup of tea.” The little girl just nodded, staring at her as if in trance, her trembling slowly ebbing away. She wrapped a thick blanket around the girl before turning to the left corner of her tiny apartment that served as a tiny kitchen. Neither of them said a word as she stood with her back to the girl, waiting for the water to boil. She’d only moved to this apartment two weeks ago. It was too small for the price they were asking, but the moment she’d first set foot into the tiny space, she’d felt a comfortable warmth spread through her chest. She had felt at home. So she’d signed the papers, right then and there. And now she understood why.
She placed a dark red tea bag into each of the cups of steaming hot water in front of her and carried them to her bed. Her hands no longer shaking, the girl took the offered cup in both hands, bowing low the hot steam rising from it. The bed made a wheezing sound as she settled down next to the girl, her own cups steam riding up to moisten her cheeks. They both sipped their teas in silence, shoulder to shoulder.
“It’s going to be alright,” she said into the tiny room. “It’s all going to be alright. You are strong, you are remarkable. Even if it might not be now, it will eventually be alright.” She set her cup down on her bedside table and leaned back against the wall her bed stood next to. Still silent, the little girl imitated her, leaning her small frame against hers, and closed her eyes. She put her arm around the girl’s shoulders, pulling her closer to her, holding her tight. She was starting to feel dizzy, probably from the lack of sleep, so she too closed her eyes and drifted into sleep.
Context for this piece: Each day of this new year I will be setting aside about half an hour to write a short text, any kind of text. I will use four random prompts generated by an app called Writing Challenge, with five minutes of writing dedicated to each prompt, bringing it up to a total of 20 minutes of writing for each text.
The prompts are marked in bold letters and a full list can be found here:
- Start the story with the words “She escaped when…”
- Include a dialogue that starts with the words “Who are you?”
- Include the word “together”
- End the story with a character feeling dizzy