It was such a long day. It began normally, we ate a small breakfast and my sister talked and talked. I found it enjoyable to see her babble on about random subjects that she found interesting. Suddenly, realization hit me like a truck, and I reached out, grabbing her hand. I traced multiple circles on her hand, and the shape of a teardrop. Then I looked up into her face with a questioning look.
“Yes Adrianna. He did die today.”
I pulled away and stared at the floor, tears rolling down my face. I took a small piece of paper and a pen, quickly writing down my message. She took it from me, and sighed.
“It wasn’t your fault, don’t do this to yourself. He was murdered, but not because of you!”
Her voice rose, and I slowly got up. I walked over to her and wrapped my arms around her, she never shouted. She sobbed quietly into my shoulder, and we fell to the floor together in a tight embrace. Slowly, she relaxed and her breathing slowed. I let out a small breath and smiled softly at her. I got up, walking over to the piano in the next room. My fingers danced across the keys as I spoke to my sister, telling her things like I would never leave her and that she had better not leave me. She nodded and smiled, coming to sit next to me at the bench. She slowly played a piece or two.
My brother died twelve years ago, and after that day I never spoke to anyone. Well, at least not in words. I taught myself to communicate through other means, pen and paper, music, and drawings. I almost forgot how to speak, I would have had it not been for my twin sister who kept talking to me. She was the only one who truly understood me, the only one who stayed. After my brother’s murder, when I went silent, my mother disowned us. She told my sister to leave me behind, to let me go to a home where they’d look after me. My sister refused. She stayed with me, even when our mother left. The only way we knew she was alive was the monthly envelope full of money that arrived in our mailbox.
The doorbell rang, and my sister shot to her feet. She moved slowly to the front door, and opened it carefully. I played quietly, and then I heard my mother’s voice and I jumped up from the piano. I bolted upstairs, running and hiding in a tight corner of a closet. I heard her heavy footsteps coming up the stairs, and my sister’s frantic voice behind her.
“Don’t hurt her! She never did anything to you!”
My mother’s footsteps stopped, and a loud slap was heard echoing through the house. She had hit my sister. It was as if I could feel the pain of it, the brutal force and burning sensation.
She entered the room, scouring for me. I shuffled further back, but the movement caught her eye and she snatched me from my hiding place.
“Why? Why do I have such feeble daughters?” she screamed as she raised her hand and slapped me across the face.
I fell to the floor and she kicked me, my legs aching from the assault. Suddenly, someone was standing over me, and I looked up to see my sister.
“Leave! You’re drunk, and treating your own daughter like she’s worthless. Get out of here! Take your violence with you.”
My mother raised her hand, and my sister readied herself for another hit. But it didn’t come. Instead my mother shoved past us and left, slamming the door behind her. I sighed and sat up, my sister kneeling next to me.
“You okay?” I shrugged, attempting to stand. My legs still ached, but I made my way downstairs as I brushed the small tears from my eyes.
I watched as my sister sat at her desk, writing down everything that happened in her journal. She kept them so that if something happened to her, others could read them and know my story. I was lying on the couch, an ice pack pressed to a huge bruise on my left leg. My mother was indeed a drunk and a drug addict, and I’d smelled it all on her breath when she’d dragged me out of the closet. I waited until my sister was finished, then I got up, moving over to her. I had a slight limp from my injuries, but I knew that we wanted to avoid going to a hospital at all costs. They asked too many questions, and they’d split us up if they found out how we were living.
Our house was small, packed tightly between two larger houses, and old decaying buildings lined the street. It wasn’t the best area to live in, but it was also a good place to lay low. Inside it was warm, but sometimes overly so. There were certain rooms we didn’t enter, the rooms where mold crawled up the walls with claws that tore away paint and distressed wood. Those were the rooms that were wet to breathe in, and those were the rooms that my sister had been forced to call people about. They had stopped halfway through because we didn’t have enough money, all they could do was get rid of the horrible blackness and leave a barren room with nothing that was safe to touch. So we locked the rooms and agreed to never touch them again.
My sister looked up at me as I limped over, and she sighed. “What are we going to do? We can’t keep this up.”
I knelt in front of her, taking her hand in mine and quickly drawing shapes that formed words in our minds. “No! I’m not letting you leave my sight, I promised to keep you safe. A home wouldn’t understand you, you would be forced to talk, or they’d do things to you. I’ve seen them do worse to people who wouldn’t follow instructions.” I sat back on my feet and looked at the ground. She lifted my face to look at her, and I gently swirled my finger up and down her arm. “It’s not your fault we live like this, it’s Mother’s.”
My sister worked incredibly hard to get us extra money. I didn’t mean to be a burden, but I couldn’t change what I was. I had seen so many doctors, and eventually they all said the same thing. That they didn’t know what was wrong with me. I’d been given multiple prescriptions and treatment options, but my sister refused them all. She said that she wouldn’t let me turn crazy. I don’t know if she helped me by keeping me at home, but I could communicate with her, and that was all that mattered.
Later that day, she came downstairs, and I looked over at her. The clean, well done makeup was smeared on her face, mascara lines ran down her face from crying, eyeshadow was messily spread everywhere. Her lip still quivered in fear, and I motioned for her to sit with me. She did, and I placed her hand on the piano next to mine. A comfortable silence settled over us as we made an agreement, no one should live in fear of their mother. We played together, the same melody over and over again. I love you, I won’t leave you. I love you, I will never let you disappear. But I heard the door creak. Then he appeared, and I wanted to look over at him. But my head wouldn’t turn, and my body stopped responding, all I could do was play the melody.
He took her, hitting her head off the piano. A clang of notes that didn’t mix echoed as she screamed and flailed, attempting to fight him off. It had been twelve years, and he’d come back. Once again, I saw the bat. He hit her, first in the stomach, then in the chest area. I heard the crack of her ribs as she fought against him. There was something about him. Something about the way he watched me, not paying the slightest attention to her. My fingers played even though my mind was elsewhere. I wanted to get up and fight back, save my sister.
“Adrianna!” she screamed as he dragged her through the house, the bat at his side. It was still stained with my brother’s blood from all those years ago. He hadn’t bothered cleaning it. He was still watching me as he took her into the kitchen and I heard more blows landing.
Her screams continued, and my body still wouldn’t move. She still screamed for help, screamed my name and for me to leave.
“He’ll kill you too!”
But I thought he wouldn’t. I’d figured out who he was years ago. When you spend your life in your head, you figure things out much quicker than other people. I wanted to tell her the truth, tell her that he wasn’t killing her either. He was trying to save her. He knew I could survive for a while on my own, he could come for me later. I finally pulled my hand from the piano and raised it. The blows stopped as he made his way over to me, carrying my sister’s bruised and bloody body.
She was brought close to me, and I cradled her head in my lap. I was confused, until I looked up at the man above me. I couldn’t see his face, he wore a mask. A hand came down on my shoulder and I saw another man standing across from the one in the mask. But this one I recognized. I thought about what I could do, and then I kissed my sister’s cheek. As I did so, I prepared the muscles I hadn’t used in twelve years.
“He’s… our… saviour. He… won’t… kill you. Don’t be… afraid. Brother’s safe… you will… be too.”
It hurt just to say that, and then I nodded to the man behind me. The one in the mask picked her up and put her over his shoulder. Then he left with her frail body and I cried softly. The second man came over to me.
“I told you that I’d save you all from her. I’m sorry I couldn’t get your sister sooner.” I gazed up at him, an angel of mercy, and nodded. “I will be back for you child. And you will be able to speak far and wide. He has decreed this.” I looked at the ground, and placed my delicate, frail fingers on the piano. I played a quick few notes and he nodded. “I will. She will be waiting for you. The man who did this to you will not come for you. I protect you my child.”
With that they left, and I went back to playing. It was the first time I had spoken in twelve years, and it would be the last time I spoke in that life.
The police arrived the next day, someone called about the screams of my sister.
“Excuse me miss?” A young man was standing next to me, and he tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up to him, my fingers still dancing across the ivory keys. “Is your name Adrianna Brooks?” I nodded, then looked back to the piano.
I heard a sigh from the man, and a young woman took his place. She held one of my sister’s diaries. She tried signalling to me, and I took her hand, moving my fingers around in an intricate pattern drawn on the page.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Then I’ll just talk. Adrianna, you know your sister was murdered in the next room over. Did you see who it was?” I placed both hands on the piano and quickly played through multiple scales, descending only. “She said, ‘A man who is going to hell’.” The woman translated for her colleagues.
“What, can’t she just tell us?” The impatient young man asked.
“No, it says here that she doesn’t speak since the incident with Dylan twelve years ago.”
Dylan, that must be my brother’s name. I had forgotten it over the years, seeing as it was never plainly stated. It was simply my brother. Hours passed in the blink of an eye, more questions were answered, and finally they tried to take me with them. I struggled against them, but they forced me into their car, and took me to the station.
Then they brought my mother in. She sobbed and came running to me, and I backed away, shaking and crying. She touched me and I flinched, curling in on myself and letting out a scream. Eventually they took her away, and then they left me alone to calm down. The room echoed with my sobs, I was alone. He had left me alone.
The young woman came back and asked me questions about my mother. I told her about the abuse and how she’d left us. The woman wrote everything down, and then brought me a small keyboard. I played until nightfall, and then I heard footsteps.
But these were familiar footsteps. I smiled as I heard them, a promise was a promise after all. He came into the room, but this time he didn’t have the baseball bat. He drew a gun with a silencer attached to it, and I signed to him in a quick succession of words. He was confused, and pulled his hood down, fulfilling my request.
He was maybe thirty, with sandy hair and brown eyes. Dark circles outlined them, which made them stand out even more. His hands were rough, and his feet were larger than one would expect. I raised my head and nodded to him. I wanted to stop running. I wanted to die. I saw him pull the trigger, and felt the bullet rip through my chest and heart.
“Welcome home Adrianna Brooks.”