The day was waning, darkness fell over the room, further deepening the shadows behind the couch from which Amber peered. She huddled, holding herself so that she fit between the wall and the rough fabric of the furniture. She watched as her parents downed something in brightly colored cans, the lights from around the living room glinting teasingly off the metal.
Her mother laughed, a drop of the dark liquid trickling down her chin. Her father smiled, hesitating as he stepped back.
Faster than lightning the light-hearted effects of the substance vanished, a wave of frustration and confusion overcoming her parents. In an instant the atmosphere changed, building in thick tangible tension that pushed Amber deeper into the shadows.
A violent exchange quickly igniting, the heat fanned between her parents. The living room a battlefield of vehement words, fierce and irate voices.
Amber cringed as her father briskly strode towards her mother, fury spoke in his quick, choppy stride. Without hesitation, his hand lifted in contact with the side of her mother’s face. The sound-making Amber want to hide.
Red exploded across the tender inflamed flesh. They were still yelling, but Amber didn’t understand. Her mother shouted, raising her voice to be heard over her father's statements, her face drawn in pain and anger. Her almond brown eyes betrayed much deeper than that though.
Her mother glanced around the room, making her way towards the front door as she ignored her husband’s low, threatening tones.
She had her back turned towards the tall, leering man, her gaze simply fixed on the doorway. In an instant, her father had his rough hand on the woman’s shoulder. Amber slammed her eyes shut, but the painful sound of something coming in hard contact with the wall still penetrated the darkness. Forcing images of a scene she had not witnessed, but that her mind fabricated for her to view still.
Amber scooted farther behind the couch, no longer interested in watching the events of that night as glass shattered and angry voices clamored in the darkness behind her eyelids.
Her body began to shake, tremors racking her thin frame. It was then that a gentle hand touched her shoulder, a feeling of peace washed over her, calming her fears. But when she cracked an eyelid open, no one was there. It was just her and the somehow welcoming shadows.
A little girl stood in the engrossing chaos, a depiction of absolute resignation and disappointment. Her shoulders slumped heavily, her spine curving under the weight of her uncertainty. Brunette ponytails fell unevenly over her shoulders, freckles dotting a thin, drawn face. Salty tears streaked treacherous trails over high cheekbones, her pinched caramel eyes glinting sadly.
She kept her soundless gaze trained on the silhouette of the women sitting on the subway train. The woman didn’t look at her as the train started moving.
The glass reflected the drained, desensitized feeling of the scene around the little girl. She didn’t bother letting her gaze follow the woman behind the glass, simply watching her reflection flicker in a wavering dance on the glass as the train left until it disappeared altogether. Whipping the woman away on the only familiar path the little girl knew.
“It’s ok Amber.” The voice came from an older woman, her hair only beginning to show hints of that age. Lightly tinted silvery strands flew array in a sort of nest around her head.
“Your mother will be back soon.” The woman placed an aging hand on Amber’s elbow, enticing a tear to slip past her thick, dark lashes, the watery resignation falling silently to the floor.