“Take me, lift me,
Come, Wind, come,
Away from this monster,
Into my mum’s arms,
This little one, helpless one,
A flickering light,
Hear me sing of hopeless dreams,
A bird’s broken flight…”
I am not one with parents. Never had, never will.
Well as a music box, I can’t expect to have any. That’s just preposterous. But I do have my creator. He is a very delightful old man, if at times daft. And he crafted me with all his love to give me to his daughter.
An angel fallen from heaven.
It’s a pity heaven took her back too early. She was my best friend, my confidante. I thought it would be my end the night she died. Now don’t you start thinking only you humans have feelings. You can’t say anything more idiotic. There are lots of mysteries in the universe you have never even managed to hear of. But I am straying from my story.
Or rather her story.
You see, my angel didn’t really leave me. For in her place was a beauty as exquisite as my angel had always been – her daughter, Nika.
And this is in fact her story. If you wish to listen to tales of pink trees and ponies, of knights rescuing miserable damsels, of safety and happiness, good over evil, then this one is not for you. For Nika, my Nika, is a prisoner in the house of a monster. If not for my angel I would have done all that a music box can do to leave this house. Here lies an evil as tangible as filth, as tangible as your worst nightmares could only dream of. But it doesn’t mean it’s any less fearsome.
For in this house lives a man who calls himself Nika’s father.
When my first best friend died during childbirth, she left Nika in the keep of the man she loved. A man who even I thought as worthy of the love my angel gave him. Three months after her death this man married again, and had two children with her hag of a wife.
Now I know you are familiar with the story of your favorite heroine, that Cinderella. I know you’re starting to think the likeness of this story with your Disney princesses. Well, sort of but not really. But it would be if you fuse those stories with another girl of your fiction, the one who had a name rhyming with Calcutta.
And even that would pale vis-à-vis the woe of Nika’s tale.
I am witness to the nights of icy fear, of nights even an adult would never want to go through, let alone a child of five. The nights when you pray the shadows would take you as part of them, hide you from the coming footsteps of a man whose intentions was not to kiss you good night. I have seen too many of those nights.
But I would choose to be torn apart, twice, if only I could unseen last night.
“What have you told your stepmother?”
“I saw you trying to open the drawer, the one I always tell you to keep away from, when you were talking to her.”
“I..I only want to clean it father!”
“What a filthy, little liar.”
“I see you’ve already missed our nights. Worry not, child. I’m a generous father. If only you could be more grateful.”
“Have mercy father, please!”
“Don’t make me be the one to get you. Come here and stand in front of me….ah, there, it’s not too hard is it?”
“Forgive me, father. I won’t do it again, I promise!”
“Take off your clothes.”
“It’s freezing, father. And the window’s open. If you could only close it just this night…”
“Take off your clothes.”
Silence – except for the gushing of the winter breeze and the futile scuffling of clothes trying to stay where they are.
“Now tell me why you are grateful to me.”
“I am grateful to you because you are my father and you give me a place to live, food to eat, and protect me from the harms of the world.”
“Very good. And do you love me?”
“Then tell me.”
“I love you, father.”
“I love you, too, child. But you have been very naughty.”
“I will not do it again, father.”
“Of course you won’t. Now turn around.”
Silence – except for a few footsteps and a child’s muffled sobs.
“I am very cold, father. Please let me dress u–Aah! It hurts, father, please stop it!”
“You should never have tried to open that drawer, child.”
“I was very wrong, father. It won’t happen again. Please, please have mercy.”
“You know I love you, child, do you not?”
“I do father. Please, it’s so cold…”
“Ah, so it is. We’ll have to do something about that. Now, bend over.”
Silence – but for a man’s limitless lust and the muted laments of a child.
In my life which is mostly spent atop bedside drawers, I have learned not to trust things as what they first seem. An ugly chair, useless for anything ‘cept for sitting, could be worth more than the whole house because of the name of its creator. A good, respectable man could have a monster so evil to hide. A broken little thing might have a lot of fight left inside.
After what he did to Nika, he left her naked, shivering, bruised and bleeding in the cold, damp, stone floor.
If I could reach the stars, if I could end the wars, if I could be more than a useless, fancy little music box that I am, I would have walked across the room and hugged the child who was betrayed by the one who should have given all that he could, even his life, to comfort this angel.
She was so silent. I was so scared. Being made of wood, I was, unlike you, immune to cold. But that child was not. She was almost fluorescent, appearing pale blue from the moon beam and the cold wind from the cellar room’s only window too high for any child’s reach.
I was most surprised when she made a sound.
“Take me, lift me,”
She was singing.
“Come, Wind, come,”
If not for her and I being alone in the room, I would have believed someone else was singing except the very still form on the floor.
“Away from this monster, into my mum’s arms,”
She wants her mother. My best friend. I was dying inside.
“This little one, helpless one,”
God, please give me feet and arms to hug this child, please, just this once.
“A flickering light, hear me sing of hopeless dreams, a bird’s broken flight…”
It’s too much for me to bear and I was grateful when she stopped singing.
But only for a little while, because my Nika still wasn’t moving. She’s just lying soundless, as still as if dead on the floor.
Even for an earless music box, Death is something you can always hear coming. It’s as clear as it had always been, as it had when it came for Nika’s mother, that night.
I wasn’t sure when it started for I lost track of reality; I didn’t want reality if it means the dead child, my little angel, lying dead before me. It’s not right. Reality in this world is a bag of bat droppings. But then it is what it is. I guess real must not mean the same as right.
But it did happen – the voice.
It couldn’t have belonged to anyone but her. And after five years, I heard it again on that extremely cold, heaven forsaken, first winter night.
“Hush now, sleep now,
Here in my arms,
Dream only good times,
Just hear the Wind sigh,
Moon light, star bright,
Watching you smile,
Sleep now, hush now,
You’re safe, Little One.”