Cruelty is necessary for survival. . You may think that you’re the exception, that you are some shining example of pure morality but I can assure you that is a delusion. You are cruel and you have always been cruel and you will be cruel until the day that the cruel hands of death take you.
Cruelty is necessary for survival. And right now, it is extremely necessary for mine.
You may mutter and sigh and say that I must have daggers for teeth and blood tipped claws for fingers, but if you were me, if you were where I was, you would be just as cruel. It’s a matter of life and death. As I hover on the precipice of cruelty, I have to remind myself that there is no other choice but to plunge in. Because behind me are ravenous wolves that will kill me if they have the chance, so better to lose a leg, or a heart to the icy waters, than to be eaten alive.
With the eyes of a hunted rabbit, my little sister looks up at me.
“Please,” she says, her voice trembling. But I can’t let my heart waver, not for a moment. The glass shards are scattered everywhere, some even carving their way into her hands.
“You idiot,” I say. “She’ll kill you for this.”
She flinches but does not cry. She’s old enough to know that crying fixes nothing. If she was a little smarter, she would blame me for this, use her lungs to bawl out and point the finger at me. But my sister is stupid, too stupid to be cruel.
“Please help me,” she says again, her lower lip quivering. I shouldn’t waste time at the crime scene. I should turn and run and confess everything.
But my eyes are fixed to the droplets of blood forming on her hands as they drip onto the floor. A phantom pain pinches my own skin.
Inside my pocket is my handkerchief. It would be easy to take it out, to wrap it around her cuts and stop them from bleeding. It would’ve been even easier before I had become the twisted selfish thing I am now.
My undoing is seeing the furrow in her brow. How many times have I looked in the mirror and smoothed out my own brow so that no one could detect weakness from me?
Without thinking, I kneel down, my skirt pressing onto the floor. As she stares at me, I pick the shards out of her hands.
“What are you doing?” she asks. I don’t have an answer. All I know is there’s an ache in my stomach making me feel sick.
Once the shards are all out, , I wrap my handkerchief around her hands as she blinks at me.
I can hear mother calling. She’ll find us and I’ll be ripped to shreds, left broken on the floor like the pieces of glass,
There’s still time. Still time to retreat, to fix my face into one of disdain and stay into my mother’s good graces.
But the ache in my stomach has spread, bleeding away my cruelty. I am too tired for it now. Instead, I sweep the glass under the nearby table, frantically cleaning off my sister’s blood from the floor.
The clicking of my mother’s heels gets louder as she comes closer but there are still pieces to dispose of.
Right as she strides in, with the grace of a panther, I hide the last glass shard.
“What were you doing? Didn’t you hear me calling for you?” my mother asks.
I plaster on my cracked mask. “We were speaking to each other. We must have been so loud we did not hear you.”
The ring on my mother’s fingers tears open the skin on my cheek.
“Next time, keep your voice lowered. It’s rude not to listen to me when I call for you,” she says.
I nod, my face hot with pain and shame.
My sister’s hands tremble. Idiot. That’s practically begging to be preyed upon and ripped apart. My mother’s caught on to, a gleam sparkling in her eyes.
“Are you afraid of me?” she asks my sister. My sister shakes her head.
There’s a stripe of red on her face.
“You shouldn’t lie,” my mother says. “It’s a sin, you know?”
“Why were you calling us?” I ask, desperate to break her out of her violent streak. That’s the trick with my mother. You have to seem like you want it, that the burning in your eyes is from curiosity not anger. Then she’ll bestow it on you, like a benevolent saint giving blessings.
Her skirt glides across the room as she moves. “I wanted to tell you that we’ll be leaving this place soon. Perhaps we’ll move to the countryside. A little fresh air and a little freedom might do you girls some good.”
She’s going to kill one of us.
My sister has come to the same realisation I have. She plasters a weak smile on her face.
“When are we leaving?”
“Tomorrow,” my mother says.
Death date for one of us.
My mother leans down and I hear a crack. I missed a piece of glass. The thumping in my heart echoes so loud I can feel it all the way in my toes.
She leans down and picks it up. It pricks her finger. If only she would fall asleep for a thousand years like the princess in the fairy tale. But alas, my mother is more suited to an evil witch.
“What’s this?” she asks, still smiling.
Before I can answer, she moves towards the table and peers under it. All the evidence she needs for condemnation is there.
With one hand, she plucks a piece out to hold and tuts.
And with that, I am doomed.
“Oh darlings,” she says, with a twisted smile on her face. “Whatever have you done?”
My sister throws herself onto the floor. “It wasn’t me, I swear.”
“She made me hide it. She broke it.”
My mother turns to me, waiting for my answer. But there is nothing I can give. I can’t draw the knife out of my back and stick into my sister’s.
All I can do is laugh. Laugh that my cruelty ran out, right when I needed it.
I laugh at the look on my mother’s face, laugh as my sister is aghast at her own cruelty.
I laugh all the way to the grave,
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Wow. You capture the darkness of a child suffering under a psychotic parent very well. Good work.