Another day begins with her and her baby brother curled in a bed larger than the old room they used to stay in before she decided that even the streets are safer than their house. She scans the room. Nothing looks out of place. The locks on the door are still secure, and so are the windows.
She waits until she hears people downstairs in the kitchen before she nudges her brother awake. She guides him to dress and wash up while he slowly blinks his sleep-sticky eyes open. By the time someone knocks on the door, they’re ready. She opens the locks and steps out into the corridor.
Today, it’s the oldest son at the door. He greets them with a grin. “Good morning, kiddos.”
Her baby brother giggles as he’s swept off his feet to settle on the older man’s shoulders, comfortable and trusting the way a real kid should be. She locks the door behind her and follows them down to the dining room.
Two months ago, she broke into this house, intending to steal some food and extra clothes, perhaps something small that she can easily pawn off for some extra cash. The owners caught her red-handed, but instead of sending her to the police, they kept her in the house. When they found out about her brother, they brought him in too.
She doesn’t know what the family of five wants. They haven’t asked for any payment yet, but when the time comes she’ll make sure she’s the one to pay it. Only one of them needs to know about the ugly side of life.
In the meantime, the family acts normal, so she plays along. She accepts only what they need, keeps her brother within sight at all times, hoards what she can just in case they need to escape.
The day passes. The moon rises in the sky. She checks the locks as her baby brother bounces on the bed. They curl together under the covers as her brother excitedly shares how he rode the neighbour’s dog like a horse and almost scared a squirrel into the bird bath.
She nods, pretending to be amused, when all she can feel is relief that they’ve survived another day.
September post count: 10/12