Here’s chapter two of Let It Go! Read chapter one here if you haven’t.
The bitter cold made it even harder for them to breathe. Their bodies shivered even with the tiny fireplace I lit after Pa extinguished it out of anger. Their bare skin touched the dirty gravel flooring. There were frostbites on their toes. I stared as they hugged each other tightly, embracing in each other’s warmth. I crept into the room slowly and quietly tiptoed towards them. They were shivering in their sleep. I’ve never seen anyone so bare apart from myself. Their skin was pale. I looked back at the doorway ensuring no one came by. In a quick move, I unwrapped the blanket I draped around me and covered them. Just like how Ma tucked in me into bed. I glanced at them one last time and scurried off the room, not forgetting to drop in more wood into the fireplace.
The next morning, I decided to bring in some bread for them. After stuffing a mid-sized loaf into my school bag, I walked cautiously over to the hut, which was then covered in thick snow. With just a step into the hut, an eerie chill rose up my spine.
What was it?
The fire was gone. The blanket lay crumpled around the same place where they were. But they weren’t there that morning. I walked in and searched every corner of the hut but they were not around. My feelings were confused – disappointed, suspicious, worried…. terrified.
That night, I cried in bed. I couldn’t find Ma either. No one gave me an answer about her whereabouts despite my constant pestering. Instead, they would divert the topic. “Have you eaten your lunch my boy?” The chef would ask. “My munchkin, you look tired, go to sleep,” the servant would add.
I asked everyone…. but Pa. I couldn’t meet his eye after he swung the cane against my ankle several times for my rebellious behaviour, or so that was what he called it. I was merely protecting myself from the sharp prickly needles. According to him, I had to carry around a permanent emblem. They called it a tattoo. It sounded so creepy. But I had to give in. Pa pricked my skin for over an hour and left me in my room with a bleeding back. It was Ma who came to console me and explained that it was for the family’s honour.
“You’re the son of this family,” she said, sobbing. “This emblem is your identity.”
I waited anxiously for the sky to brighten up and for the sun to appear, like a glimmer of hope to see Ma again. I jumped off the bed and began my own pursuit of searching for her. I looked high and low in and around the mansion. I dugged into her closet and saw her purse and shawl lying intact. She hadn’t left the house… where was she? My mini investigation lasted for about two hours until two huge trucks entered our driveway. I peeped out from the kitchen window while tiptoeing on a stool. From the left, four men carried over two flat wooden platforms which were draped in white. I scrutinised it and realised there was something on each of the platforms. They rested them on the dirt ground and gave a nod towards the first truck. In less than five seconds, the passenger door swung open and a young girl was thrown out of the car. Her pink polka-dotted dress was already smeared with dirt and her hair was unkempt. She helped herself up and stood rooted to the ground, lowering a gaze as Pa walked in front of her.
“There, do you see those bodies?” Pa spoke gently. He bent down, “Do you know whose bodies are those?”
Sobbing, the girl shook her head. My heart began to palpitate. There were dead bodies in the house.
“Oh come on, don’t be a spoiled sport,” Pa had his hands on his hips. “Do you know where are your parents?” He then had a sly grin plastered across his face.
The girl looked up and stared at Pa while he shifted his gaze over to the bodies. The girl widened her eyes and ran over to them. She removed a portion of the white cloths on each of the platforms one after another and in a few moments, she screamed. She fell back and wailed. I wasn’t able to see the faces of the bodies so I hurriedly got off the stool, exited the kitchen and ran up the stairs to look out from the study room window.
My heart skipped a beat.
It was them. Those two from the hut. Were they dead for two days? I could guess they had died of the cold, and malnutrition, so much my 15-year-old brain could decipher. But why did Pa keep them there in that horrible, terrible state? How could Pa ever be so devastating?
“Oh please, someone stop her wailing!” Pa shouted. His eyebrows furrowed and his ears turned slightly red. Anger.
One of his men grabbed the girl and covered her mouth. He then dragged her in front of Pa.
“Listen,” he said. “Your parents deserved that because they failed to uphold any honesty with me. They are betrayers. They are infidels.”
The girl had her eyes glued to the floor.
“Now that they are dead, you will serve the punishment.”
She looked up.
“And do you know what the punishment is?”
She took a step back and immediately Pa grabbed her hair. She was fighting against Pa, trying to break free from his strong clutch. But it was futile. She began to sob.
“You will be our servant,” Pa said. “You will sweep, mop, wash the dishes, cook, make the beds, iron our clothes, massage our backs, lick our dicks!” Pa slowed down, “You will do everything we tell you to do in this house, or anywhere.”
Pa pushed her aside and walked into the house while the men dragged the girl behind him. I drew the curtains and busied myself with a book when Pa walked in.
“What are you doing here my son?”
“I.. I.. was here to find a book,” I stammered.
“Very well. Order the young girl in the living room if you wish. She is here to work for us.”
“Okay,” I kept the book I randomly picked back into the shelf and walked towards the door.
“I have something to tell you son,” Pa said. I turned around. “Mother won’t be back for awhile. She has some matters to settle elsewhere.”
Without saying a word, I ran out of the study room and headed straight to my room, and immediately tucked my head under the pillow and cried.
Pa was lying. I knew.
Read Chapter Three