The Pulverised Flower
The Question Wasn't Meant To Hurt (Res. for Howler01)
The question wasn’t meant to hurt. It was just her way of offering protection. The parent’s love for their child could most likely never be matched by another kind of deep, spontaneous care. They’d do anything for that child that they call their own. This was what a mother did for her child on that day, she protected as she had been called to do. Her only child, her only little girl was all she had left, and she had to protect with all the resources she’d been given. When her husband had gotten sick, he’d told her about the little hiding place he’d built to save whoever needed saving. Now, she was brought back to that memory.
“It was all for the best,” Liala chanted in miniscule whispers as she stepped lightly and quickly down the ladder. It wasn’t even dawn, but the torches had been lighting and Roman soldiers were marching their way. “Would you believe me if I said I was sorry?” she was wiping her cold tears in her daughter’s long, heavy brown hair. It smelled so sweet, like the most innocent of flowers blooming in the middle of a fresh, attended pasture. The question wasn’t meant to hurt, but six year old Mia’s jaw was clenched. The clever little girl was clinging to her mother’s neck, unwilling to let go after recognizing her mother’s dire tone. She was a ‘smart little pastry’, as her father always used to say when she’d repeat something trivial that had been said in a previous conversation. “Do not make this difficult on me, child. Mothers have to take care of their children, and you will listen to me. You will let me help you.” Her tone was harsh, but that was because the ornery little girl only responded to harshness and impulsive yelling. As well as the simple fact that Liala didn’t want her daughter to see her cry. The worst thing a mother could do was let her child see her cry. For if a mother lost hope and lost her back bone, the child’s soul had no hope. The mother opened the door that was under the stairs, holding her child around the middle of her back and pulling up a little trapped door in the floor. “Mummy loves you, alright? You’ll be saved, by someone. And I’ll be with you again, soon. Be good,” the mother drew her hand to cover her daughter’s eyes, and leaned in to press a tender kiss into her only child’s porcelain nose. Without another word, she gently dropped her daughter through the hole in the floor. “When people come, you be silent. Listen to your mother. You’re quiet, until a boy comes to open the door.” Before Mia could cry, her mother had closed the door.
It’d been hours, and Mia had heard footstep upon footstep above her, and yet there hadn’t been anyone to open the door above her head. Her mother had given her a thin baby’s quilt, and she wrapped around her when she’d been abruptly pulled out of her slumber. Underneath that was a thin night gown, little breaches for underwear, and booties that were much too small for her. It was usually a docile winter in Carthage, just the constant breeze coming off of the water and drifting into the thriving sea port and trade center. This winter, it had been stormy and had dropped into very low temperatures. It was such an odd thing that you rarely saw children playing, as they had to resort to inside activities such as reading and quiet pretending. Mia sat with chattering teeth and confused, wounded eyes as she sat against a pillar that went from the ceiling of the house deep into the ground. The hole dropped into a crawl space beneath the house, and her bottom had wetted from the moist ground, as well as from an accident that she’d been subjected to when she heard a boisterous boom directly above her head. Urine soaked and dirt caked, the little girl tried to warm herself as her father had once taught her when they had no more wood for a fire. Her big, dark green eyes were wide open, trying to find some hint of light, and even in the middle of the day, she couldn’t see anything.
It was confusing for her, considering how young she was, it was much of a game. As if her mother had wanted to get some work done, and didn’t want Mia in the way. But luck and good fortune kept the girl in her place under the house, hoping her mother would come and retrieve her soon. But, when there were noises above her she could tell by the choppy movements and dragging of feet that it was most definitely not the woman that raised her.