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It’s strange how you can just sit for hours, not saying a word, but still feeling each other’s pain. My sister and I – that’s me on the left- perched at the top of the stairs, looking at nothing yet taking in everything.

I am focused on my sisters face- she looks so sad and forlone, so helpless and younger than her 7 years. The trauma of the last 6 months has left her scared and needy. She likes to stay close, that is why she will often come and sit by me, quietly as if she doesn’t want to be noticed. My heart breaks as I look at her. She has become sad and introvert, a shadow of her former bubbly self.

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The only sound is our dull breathing and the occasional creak of the stair as we move now and again to try and get comfortable. My body is stiff from sitting so long. My back is aching from the ridged grooves of the wooden banister.

I begin to daydream of a life anywhere but here, away from this damp house and its bad memories. I picture us in a little cottage by the sea, the sound of the waves gently crashing in the distance, its rhythm lulling us to sleep at night in our cosy beds. During the day our mum smiling as she watches us eat the little fairy cakes she has so lovingly made for us, not for any special occasion but because she wants to and she can, because we are like any other “normal” family…

Suddenly I am roused by the sound of shouting coming from the other side of the door at the top of the stairs. Our mum, pleading with “him” to leave her alone; she needs to tend to her girls, she cries, though she knows that weeping, begging will do no good, probably only make things worse.

We sit here often, my sister and I. Its not comfortable, the wooden stairs hard and splintered, a draft blowing up the staircase from the dark and dingy hallway below. I pull my socks right up although my knees still knock together as the cold envelops my body. The walls around us are bare and aged; no bright wallpaper or fancy pictures to adorn them. Just plain and spiritless almost drawing the life out of those which occupy their space.

My eyes feel tired and heavy, not through boredom but because I have given up… given up on hoping that anything will ever change or that “he” will leave. He doesn’t care about my sister or I, not even our mother for that matter. But why should he? He who gets a roof over his head and meals on demand with little or no regard for the poor woman who provides these luxuries for him. The poor woman who is just too afraid to say “no”…

My sister and I can only sit and wonder when this nightmare will end. When we and our mum could “walk down the stairs” and into our new life …

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