His voice was deep and firm, like he was giving orders to slaves or firing a worker. It most certainly didn’t seem like the tone a father would speak to his own daughter. Yet, here he was, standing behind a table staring at a small, feeble girl who you wouldn’t even think to be his child unless you saw the birth certificate. In one quick motion he had placed a plastic plate – he didn’t trust her with porcelain – onto the small table in front of her, on it was a food foreign to her innocent, oblivious mind. Yet, as soon as the short word left his mouth, she immediately started eating it like it was cake. Though she was young, the girl knew not to hesitate when presented with food, especially by her father. She had learnt the hard way what happened if she didn’t eat straight away, or left a bit on the plate, or – god forbid – complained about the taste or the texture or that it had some yucky green stuff in it.
“Good. After this, you will sleep. Do you understand?”
The girl was halfway through her food when she nodded to the man. He didn’t move. He still didn’t trust her. After she finished, he finally left. She knew where to go. The living arrangement wasn’t too complex. A big room in the middle with a kitchen, two rooms on the side – the bathroom and dining room – and a hallway leading to the bedrooms. There was no living room or play area, not even a chair to sit on. The girl didn’t know what that was like, anyway. She didn’t think of as a home as a comfortable place, somewhere you can be yourself, she just thought of it as her life. It’s all she saw, anyway.
Step. Step. All she heard were her footsteps. She didn’t know how her father managed to stay so quiet, he must have been reading, because the house seemed awfully quiet. She stared at her feet as they made their way to her bedroom, a sort of entertainment she had invented. She liked to see how her feet moved, how the back part went first and then the front part, and then the toes, and then it went in reverse as her foot left the floor. Her journey was a bit slower because of this, but she eventually made her way to the room. There was no door, since her father liked to watch her fall asleep, like she was going to escape or something. Even if she wanted to, she didn’t know how. Her foot came in contact with the tile, cold and smooth, and it contrasted greatly with the smooth wood from before. Immediately, she got changed and climbed into bed. She was tired, and she hated the feeling of the cold tile on her feet. She fell into a slumber.
The teen looked up at her father. He looked the same way he always did, stern and emotionless. A few grey hairs had collected near his hairline, and his face had clearly aged, but his menacing demeanour remained. The pit of hatred in the girl’s stomach had been set alight again, and she had to physically stop herself from getting up and smashing the food on the floor. She glanced back down at the food. Mushroom stew. Again. She didn’t know what sick joke he was playing, but her taste buds had grown bored of the same dull taste. Or maybe this was another experiment. Another test. Another ‘game’. The conflicting feeling grew a bit more. It felt…good. Like she was finally discovering how she felt about her life. She hated it.
His voice was slower this time. Almost angry. She guessed it was supposed to be intimidating. It wasn’t, at least not to her. She pictured her younger naive self, who would’ve been trembling in her boots if she heard that tone, almost in tears. She wasn’t afraid of him anymore. What was he going to do? Punish her? She had never seen the outside world, but she sure as hell knew 911 was the emergency number. So, she remained in her seat, staring at the brown-orange liquid on the table. The silence lingered, the tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. A smirk made it’s way onto her face.
“I’m not going to ask you again.” Still, she didn’t move. The stew was going to get cold now, but she didn’t care. She’d rather go without it then do as he said.
This caught her off guard. Her name. Her own, real name that her mother had given her. She hadn’t heard it in years. It was always just ‘you’ or ‘the girl’. Never ‘Ella’. It almost made her want to eat. Want to give in. It almost made him sound like he cared. He looked up at him again, reminding herself he was still the heartless thing he’d always been. There were no emotions in his eyes. No feeling. She was just a test subject. Someone for him to experiment on. Someone for him to put injections in to and to write notes about. She wasn’t his daughter. She was a guinea pig. The fire of hatred roared and spat, the flames licking up everything around her. She wanted to leave. She couldn’t contain it anymore.
“No.” She whispered.
Though she couldn’t see him, she knew how he looked. Eyebrows raised, mouth slightly open, before quickly regaining the serious attitude from before. She was in trouble now, but she honestly didn’t care.