Authors: Arvalee Knight
Copyright © 2010 Arvalee Knight
All rights reserved.
To my loving and supportive family.
“Hey, look. It’s snowing!”
“Snow,” she said. “What a beautiful site.”
My mother’s voice never stopped entering my dreams—even after she died. It was my father who followed behind her just merely a day after in the hospital. It was snowing pretty hard that night in January. Both my parents were out on the road while I stayed at home with my older sister.
I could remember waving good-bye to her as they slid into the car. She gave me one of her smiles that seemed to say, “Everything’s going to be alright.” I can even remember the hallow noise the car door made as it slammed closed behind her.
“Take care of your little sister while we’re gone, Erika,” my father said while heading down the porch steps of our small but doable house.
Erika smiled down at me and said, “Want to have a party?”
Of course, I beamed with excitement. Anytime I stayed home with Erika we always had fun. She was so loving to me and considerate. She was my older sister—she was like God to me. Everything my sister said had to be true. Everything my sister did was a miracle. I believed she could do anything.
When my parents died—my sister died too.
It was that morning when the officer came. He knocked on the door just as I was entering the kitchen for breakfast. I never woke up mom and dad in the mornings because they liked to sleep in. That morning Erika came down the stairs in her pink pajamas and opened the door with a smile.
Officer Falden was a kind man in his late thirties. Hearing him say, “Good evening, Miss Erika. I have some terrible news,” sent a chill up my spine. I could never forget his sorrowful expression as he looked at me.
I ran to Erika and embraced her legs, for that was all I could reach back then, with all my strength. “What’s wrong?” I whined.
Officer Falden simply smiled, “Everything’s alright, little flower.”
Erika sent me upstairs but I didn’t want to go. I climbed the first two steps then watched as they walked into the living room. There were tears in my sister’s eyes when he spoke to her. Officer Falden made her cry and I hated him for it. How dare he make my older sister cry—the person I thought of as God.
I ran for my parent’s room. I could not wait to tell them how mean Officer Falden was being. I wanted my father to run downstairs, yelling and cursing to make the policeman leave.
When I got there… they were gone.
Alric sat leaning against the frame of the sliding paper door. His untamed black hair and his slovenly kept robe of silk proved he had just rolled out of bed.
Alric looked out into the rock garden just beyond the light oak porch of the small room that was professionally kept clean. The background, past the sand and jagged rocks of the garden, was a field of long grasses, flowers, and wild growing bushes of thorns. The field was certainly no place to wonder around in.
“Alric,” muttered a shaky voice.
The youth turned his head from the field to the sliding paper door of his room. The faint shadow of the person waiting could be seen in the faint light of the afternoon sun.
Alric’s face strikingly held no emotion. His eyes were lifeless of all things around him and his soul was weary to continue living. Alric, if anything, was already dead inside.
“What is it,” asked Alric with a cold voice, hating to be bothered on such a frozen afternoon. In fact, he hated to be bothered overall.
The voice replied, “Boris is here to pay his respects.”
Alric gave a grumpy sigh. “Send him in.”
Though the room and the main house were decorated in an oriental feel, Alric was anything but Asian. In fact, his heritage was of the purest blood from the Franks that once lived through Europe; the Frankish Empire was one of the strongest in the world.
His home was built nicely centered in a valley of Germany just outside of a bustling city where people roamed freely. The Macter family, however, did not have such beautiful freedoms. High walls and heavy wooden gates kept the world of the city away from the world of the Macter.
The paper door slid open to a thin lanky man with dark brown hair that was slicked back with globs of gel. His neatly pressed business suit showed his visage as professional. Boris, lathered in fear, gulped down his terrors not knowing whether Alric was in a good mood today—after all, his life might depend upon it.
“Alric.” He bowed his head in greeting and stepped into the room, his socks hushing across the floor with each uneasy step. Boris kneeled down in the center of the room, sitting down on his calves. “My wife and I just arrived last night, sir.”
Alric made no response.
“I…” Boris swallowed hard again. “I came to ask permission… um, if it’s—”
“Silence,” Alric muttered, not bothering to pull his eyes from the rock garden. The room became frighteningly cold. “Your voice is irritating me. Spit it out or leave. I prefer it if you just leave.”
Boris would have left immediately if the circumstances were different. “I came to ask if—”
Alric turned his head to glower at Boris. His eyes were like empty pits and lips so hard and cold it would have frozen fire. “Didn’t I tell you to leave?”
“Is this the room?” asked a girl’s voice, while poking her head into Alric’s view. She looked young—eighteen and naïve. Her dark brown hair looked nearly black but it was most likely due to the dark lighting in the room.
She caught sight of the back of Boris’s shivering body and smirked. “Oh, there you are, Bo. I was wondering where you walked off to.”
Boris quaked with fear. With eyes wide, Boris kept his hands in his lap while tightening them into fists. He couldn’t believe his terrible luck. “That stupid girl walked right into Alric’s room without a care in the world,” he thought. Boris began to pray for a miracle—maybe lightning would be kind enough to kill him before Alric had the chance.
“This is a nice room,” she said. She sat down next to Boris and awkwardly tucked her legs beneath her. “Who’s that ugly guy over there, Bo?” The girl made sure she said it loud enough for Alric to hear; a scheming expression donned her entire visage.
Boris stumbled to bow with apologies, pressing his head against the floor. His voice became a whine stuttering out, “F-forgive her, Alric, sir. This is Nieves. She will be staying with us just for a few months. She doesn’t know what she’s saying, sir.” Boris just knew Nieves was doing this on purpose but the churning of his stomach kept him stiff and quiet. He waited cowardly for Alric’s reply. “Don’t kill me,” he thought over and over.
Alric did not seem pleased with Boris’s explanation. His eyes narrowed only a small fraction as the hard, frigid words, “Is she now?” left his stiff lips. An outsider, he considered. He despised outsiders. There were strict laws about non-Macter people being on Macter land.
Nieves smiled widely, feeling slightly awkward sitting on the tops of her calves. She had never needed to do it before. What, were they in Japan or something? This was nowhere near Japan.
She said smugly, “You must be the Head of The Macter Family. Bo told me all about you. Most of it wasn’t that positive.” Nieves had been waiting for this moment ever since she was forced to move with Boris and his new bride to the city and the Macter household. She wasn’t planning on staying long—just long enough to make Boris’s life hell like he had done to her.
Boris jolted at the sound of Nieves’s words. “She lies!” He nearly ran to Alric to kiss his feet, Boris was so scared. “I would never talk evil of you, Alric.”
The young master turned to peer out at his garden just like before. He was weary of them and would have killed to have them leave. It wouldn’t be the first time he murdered someone to get them out of his way.
“Bo said you were spoiled,” Nieves continued her accusations. “A spoiled brat. Said you were useless—”
“Silence,” Boris growled at her. “Shut up and stop your lies.”
Nieves glowered at Boris from the corner of her eyes and a smirk dawned upon her expression; her goal was reached—mission accomplished. “What’s wrong, Stupid? Got a fever? You sure are sweating bullets over there. Maybe you should go home, take a nap and never wake up.”
Boris’s mouth dropped open but his heart leapt into his throat preventing any words to come out. Alric would think of Boris as a weak member of the family. He wanted to scream, “Stupid wretch,” at her but it was a futile wish. He just knew Alric would surely punish him because of that little girl.
Besides that, she deliberately called him stupid in front of the head of the family. Stupid, she had said. He wasn’t going to forget that.
Nieves lifted off the ground and diagonally walked across the room to Alric. Cupped in his pale ivory hands was a fragile white bird that was clearly enjoying Alric’s light strokes. Its small beady eyes were closing with feeling of sleep and tranquility.
“Such a beautiful bird,” Nieves commented while leaning in to get a better look at it. She’d never seen a bird act so docile and reposed.
Alric scowled, tossing the feathered creature into the air without a second thought. The white wings had no trouble helping the bird fly away to the confines of the soft, hazy gray sky. “Get out,” Alric told Nieves in a bitter whisper. “Get out of my house.”
Nieves looked at the boy slightly confused.
“Nieves,” Boris barked his order. “Let’s go!”
The young girl gazed for a moment, taking in the lifeless features of Alric. She felt a frigid chill touch her spine but she simply blamed it on the upcoming snow. Winter, after all, was just around the corner. Her heart even leapt at the idea of winter’s arrival but it was Alric that silenced her joy immediately. Something about Alric frightened yet intrigued her.
“Forgive her, sir.” Boris snatched up Nieves’s arm after bowing his head respectfully. Nieves hadn’t even heard Boris cross the room; it must have been the quietness of wearing socks. With those shoes he wore, Nieves couldn’t miss the sound of him coming. She had memorized the rhythm of his steps—a fearful sound she could never forget.
“She’ll never do this again,” Boris promised. “I assure you, sir.”
The businessman pulled her through the halls of Alric’s house. More like a mansion, Nieves considered. There were so many halls and doors; it was amazing no one had ever gotten lost. "It would be humorous," she thought, "if a search team was called in for a rescue of some poor lost child."
Nieves nearly laughed but Boris threw her out the main entrance doors. He was so filled with anger it was seeping out of his pores and into the air. Nieves could have gagged on his hate it was so vivid.
“You wretch!” He turned to her as she walked down the steps of the main house. “How dare you act that way towards, Alric?”
Nieves smiled; pleased she had upset the insolent man who had destroyed her life. He was the reason she was here; it was Boris who took her away from the grandparents who loved her so much. Her grandparents were the only family she had and they were the only people who ever cared to be kind.
Boris grumbled something incoherent under his breath. “I’ll deal with you when I get home tonight.” He delicately straightened his business suit and slipped into his glossy black shoes. “I’ve got work so remember what I told you, you little bitch.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Nieves waved off his words. “Don’t talk to anyone.”
Boris huffed. “Damn right. I find out you said a word to anyone, I’m beating the hell you of you. Got it?”
Nieves merely turned away from him and headed down the closest dirt path. It led into a field of wild flowers, withering tall grasses, and possible thorn bushes. She didn’t mind—a few scratches here and there would be tickles compared to Boris’s beatings.
It was almost routine now; Boris would come home from work, eat dinner, watch television, beat Nieves, go out on the porch to smoke a cigar, go find his wife, and sleep. Then when the next morning came, he’d head off to work and start the cycle all over again.
Nieves made it only a few feet down the path when a friendly bark greeted her. She smiled at the sight of the black Labrador approaching. His ebony coat shimmered in the light of the cloud drenched sun.
She kneeled down and petted its soft coat. “Well, aren’t you beautiful?”
Alric coughed into the silk that covered the confines of his hand. The cold touch of the stethoscope against his chest made him shiver—or perhaps it was the coldness of the upcoming winter in the wind.