“You look beautiful,” said a low, gravely voice.
Sure, thought Beatrice, in this disgusting room, in a nightgown I wash in the sink, with my extremely unkempt hair. I look like a fucking queen.
“The last time I saw you was in this very room. I tucked you in. It feels like just yesterday.”
The memory you cling to, I threw away years ago, Beatrice taunted in her head, counting paint chips all the while.
She heard the floorboards creak. More precisely, she heard the sixth board into the room creaking, most likely being stepped on by his right foot. The constant comings and goings of her cousins had given away that much. She listened to the hesitant steps continue toward her, but never turned.
“I wanted to see you so many times since then. It’s not like I wasn’t near. Every time your cousins visited you, I was nearby. In fact, I coordinated most of their trips, hoping to see you.”
Knowing the room’s precise size, Beatrice side-stepped his hand at the exact moment he reached for her shoulder. His signature move of comfort.
“When your mother took you away from me, she destroyed me.”
Beatrice finally turned, tilting her head, “Destroyed you? Like you and my cousins have destroyed so many others? Destroyed you? When you tried to turn us into the monsters of mayhem you all are? Seeing as it didn’t stop you from ruining lives, I am sure it didn’t destroy you.”
She turned resolutely, scolding herself for saying anything, and resolving not to say another word.
If there had been another person in the room, they would have seen how alike Beatrice and her guest were. Similar defensive posture, the same mousy brown hair, round faces, each with a slightly too small nose, and too big ears. Their resemblance was unmistakable; the primary difference was Beatrice’s hazel eyes, and petite mouth (in those regards she favored her mother).
He had left his hand floating in the air while she spoke; slowly dropping it, he asked, “Would you mind if I sit on the bed?” Receiving no answer, he quietly sat down – every spring in the bed squeaking.
“I know that what happened that day was horrible for you, but that is just what we do. We aren’t just destroyers of the lives of people we don’t know… we are equally as mean to each other. It is what we do, who we are. We have to,” he sighed.
“I don’t know how much you know, but the reason the rest of your cousins brought you and your mother with them is because your grandfather passed away, leaving me as head of the family. I needed to see you again. To talk to you. I ordered them not to leave without you this time.” His voice had a sudden youthful joy as he finished, “And now we can finally be successful again.”