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C1 Chapter 1

Madame Antonia descended into the basement, hoping tonight would be the night she succeeded in breaking the child's spirit. After switching the lights open, she found the child curled up on the cold hard ground, sucking on its thumb, its eyes squeezed shut. For Madame Antonia, all the children that came under her care were objects that needed to be trained. In her eyes, they were gender less and mindless, their only purpose in life to prove that Madame Antonia was good. Madame Antonia lip curled as she observed her latest project. The child was emaciated and smaller than most other seven years old. But for Madame Antonia, it hadn't been starved enough.

"Get up!" - Madame Antonia

A kick to the child's ribs punctuated the words. Its eyes flew open. Madame Antonia drew her breath sharply. She despised a lot of things about this latest project of hers, but none more than those violet eyes staring at her right now. Terrible in its deceptive purity, the eyes made Madame Antonia feel soiled and she shook her head violently.

"No! this was the work of the devil, using the child to make her feel like she wasn't guided by God's hand." - Madame Antonia (in her mind)

But still, those big violet eyes stared, damning her, and Madame Antonia shrieked.

" Didn't you hear what I said!? " - Madame Antonia

Seeing Madame Antonia taking one step towards her seemed to throw the child into a panic. It scrambled to its knees, pale body shaking hard as it bent its head.

" I am sorry, Madame Antonia. " - Kathryn Ice (it whispered)

Please make Madame Antonia believe me, (in her mind), it prayed. It hated itself for being a liar, but no matter what it did, it just couldn't stop lying.

When Madame Antonia reached the child, it threw itself prostrate on the ground. Her skin crawled when it tried to kiss her feet.

" Get away from me! " - Madame Antonia

Madame Antonia shoved the child away with another kick to its face. It back a cry of pain. Madame Antonia hatred grew at how silent and stoic it was. Why was this child is so different?.

" You don't want to see me, do you? " - Madame Antonia

" No, Madame Antonia. " - Kathryn Ice

The child shook its head fiercely even while keeping its gaze trained on the ground.

" I'm happy to see you. " - Kathryn Ice

It was lying of course, but it prayed hard that maybe this time God wouldn't tell Madame Antonia it wasn't speaking the truth. The child knew Madame Antonia was good and it was bad. It knew this, but it didn't believe.

" Liar! " - Madame Antonia

Madame's hiss made the child bite its lip hard. Please God, please make me believe the truth. Please make me believe so that Madame Antonia would love me. (The child wish in her mind)

Madame Antonia suddenly cupped its chin, forcing it to look up. The child's eyes clashed with the woman's. Madame Antonia screamed.

" Stop looking at me like I'm evil! " - Madame Antonia

It tried to protest bit it wasn't given any chance. Madame Antonia hand cracked against its cheek. Madame Antonia tried to scratch its eyes out. And the Madame Antonia was gripping its hair, dragging it up the stairs and out of the basement. The child forced itself to keep quiet, hoping its silence would Madame Antonia forgive her. But what the child didn't know was that the more silent it was, the more Madame Antonia would despise it. In its desperate, innocent desire to please, the harder it had become for Madame Antonia to remain blind to the truth.

Madame Antonia threw the child to the floor they reached the dining room. She waited for the child to cry and fight back, but it only raised itself to its knees, looking up at Madame Antonia with eyes that neither hated nor questioned. In those eyes, Madame Antonia saw the truth the real truth, and not what she had tried to convince herself and all the children that she had killed in the name of her love for them. Madame screamed.

" Why won't you just break? "- Madame Antonia

Pulling the child up to its feet, Madame Antonia waited for the child to lift its head before slapping it as hard as she could. The child swayed on its feet, and the dance began. Soon after, the music of Madame Antonia palm cracking against the child's cheek played in the room.

Crack. Sway. Crack. Sway. Crack. Sway

The child's vision dimmed, but it struggled to stay on its feet. The child and Madame Antonia had danced to this music for as long as it could remember, and the steps were simple to remember. It mustn't fall, mustn't look at Madame Antonia, and most importantly of all, it mustn't ever make Madame Antonia have trouble hitting her. Madame Antonia was speaking/singing now, lyrics to the music that the child didn't understand.

" Why wasn't it still broken?..

Why did it still want to live?..

Why couldn't it just break?.. " - Madame Antonia Sing

If it had been allowed to speak, the child would have asked just one question. How did Madame Antonia want to break itself?. Madame Antonia voice became feverish.

" I can't be blamed. I was so scared. " - Madame Antonia

As the child continue to dance to Madame Antonia music, it wondered dazedly if her own terror was the same as Madame Antonia. Did Madame Antonia feel like she felt now?

" I'm not evil. " - Madame Antonia

The child wanted to believe Madame Antonia. There must be a reason why Madame Antonia couldn't stop hurting her, couldn't begin loving her. Madame Antonia was good, and it was not.

" Those men beat me up, raped me the entire night, all at the same time. They were the monster, not me! " - Madame Antonia

The music rose to a screaming crescendo, and the dance reached its peak. Madame Antonia was no longer content slapping its face. Now, Madame Antonia fists began to color the child's eyes with bruises, and the cracking slaps turned into painful thuds.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Its eyes swelled shut, and the child struggled to dance even when it was half blind with pain.

" They told me to kill my parents so I did! I was scared, and that was why I did it! I was young like you. I can't be blamed. God knows I must be forgiven for what I did. They broke me! " - Madame Antonia

The music suddenly stopped, and the child started to tremble. The silence was bad and scary, and she wished she could hear the music again. She didn't want this quiet, knew with all her heart that it was. Madame Antonia came out of her trance, and the first thing she saw was the child's eyes.

" No! " - Kathryn Ice

Madame Antonia grabbed the child by the hair, and still it didn't speak. It was terrified out of its wits, but it still knew what was right or wrong.

" Why?..

Why didn't it break like Madame Antonia had?.. - Kathryn Ice (In her mind)

" You're going to break! " - Madame Antonia

Madame Antonia muttered feverishly.

" You're going to break like all the others did! " - Madame Antonia

The beating lasted for an hour. By the time Madame Antonia vision cleared, the child was crumpled in a ball of pain. Madame Antonia knelt down, breathing hard.

" Open your eyes. " - Madame Antonia

Slowly, its eyes opened. And Madame Antonia saw she had lost. It still had not broken.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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