Jessie looked at herself in the mirror as she brushed her hair, her eyes examining every bit of visible skin, looking for flaws. The paused brushing, picked up a tweezers and used it to pluck a single hair from her chin, then she went back to brushing. Once she was done brushing, she would apply moisturiser, then, she would go to bed. It was her nightly routine and had been since she was fifteen. It calmed her down, let her unwind from the happenings of the day. Outside rain drops hit the window sullenly, hard and occasional. In another few minutes the tempest would start, but for now, it was calmer, quieter. She placed the brush down, then picked up the small jar of moisturiser, taking a glob of it on her finger, she began to smooth it over her face. When she was done, she looked herself over again, then she stood from the mirror and went to her bed. Downstairs the argument seemed to gain intensity, the voices hadn’t gotten any louder but the air had shifted somehow. Everything was tense. Jessie reached over to her small radio and turned it on, the music was low and soothing, it was always tuned to a classical station. The steady murmur of her parents voices grew distant, then, they were buried beneath a soft swell of violin. Jessie closed her eyes and breathed deeply, allowing herself to relax. She flinched as something broke downstairs. She frowned, then tried to relax again, moving up her body to each muscle, allowing it to unclench. Something else shattered, a door slammed, then another. There was a brief shriek of rage, then finally, the front door slammed just as the rain unleashed itself. The argument had ended. She smiled slightly and drifted into sleep.
In the sitting room a creature sat and waited, vibrating slightly, it was feeling sated now, the emotional energies had been divine. Upstairs it could sense something, the peace of someone in a dreamless sleep. The creature ignored it and focused on the woman, she sat on the couch, sobbing gently. It inhaled deeply, savouring the different flavours of her grief and anger. It created a feedback, making the woman’s feelings intense, more acute. Soon it would be time for the grand finale, but not yet, not yet. The creature slid from the room, through a crack in the door and out into the dark night.
Jessie woke the next morning feeling refreshed, the argument had happened early this time, so she had gotten plenty of sleep. She rose from bed and went to the bathroom, shower first, then she’d be able to be polite to people.
She emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam and, wrapped in a towel, she went straight to her bedroom, inside she dried and dressed.
Her mother sat in the kitchen, a cup of coffee clutched in her hands, her eyes puffy and red. It looked as though her mother hadn’t slept. Jessie got a glass and filled it with orange juice, she slid two pieces of bread into the toaster and waited in silence. The bread popped up and Jessie quickly buttered it, she ate both, downed the juice, then grabbed her bag and left the house. Outside she took a deep breath, she didn’t want to talk to her mother, she knew that if she had said anything she would get a blow by blow account of the argument, her mother would try to turn her against her father, and, once alone with her father he would try and do the same. It was exhausting. So she said nothing, she moved through the house silently, allowing them to stew in their own grief and rage. She had more important things to worry about, it was her final year of school, soon there would be exams, then college. Soon she would be free of the silent house. She had some money saved, not enough for college and a place, but she’d get a job somewhere, she’d make it work. Her grades were good, maybe even good enough to get a grant. She waited at the bus stop, money ready. Her father used to drop her to school every day, but in the last few months it had never been a guarantee, after all her father wasn’t there most mornings now, either leaving at the crack of dawn or staying out from the night before. Her mother thought he might be having an affair, Jessie thought he was just trying to get away from her mother. It didn’t matter where. Sometimes he had come back smelling of whiskey, other days he’d sneak in and they’d go about the day as if nothing happened until something happened to set them off again. Jessie didn’t really understand it. They had always been reasonable people. Then the arguments started, screaming matches over the most trivial things. She shook her head slightly, pulling herself from her thoughts. She needed to focus.
The day passed quickly as usual, she enjoyed most of her classes, which helped speed everything along, but she dreaded the bell ringing. It was a Tuesday, all her friends were going home, they had things to do, Jessie had nothing but silence to welcome her. She wanted to stay out, wander around the town, sit around in a café drinking coffee slowly, but that wouldn’t happen today.
The house was silent as she expected. Jessie kicked off her shoes and went upstairs to change and dump her bag in her room. Once that was done, she went into the kitchen for a drink, it had been empty. She called out, but there was no reply. The whole house was empty. Well, that was something. Taking advantage of a rare opportunity, Jessie went into the sitting room to watch TV, she wouldn’t have to deal with listening to her parents not-so-subtle digs at one another.
Her mother arrived home two hours later, wrapped in a coat. Her father didn’t arrive home until nine. Once they were both back, Jessie excused herself to her room, claiming she had some homework to finish off. Once there she turned on the radio and sat on her bed with a book. She had finished everything she needed in her free period. She could study, but she was too tired to focus properly. Shouts rose above the music briefly, then settled down, Jessie sighed and turned up the volume on the radio. They’d settle down in a bit, they always did.
The creature was back, sitting in its usual spot, feeding on them, draining them. It shivered in anticipation of the coming battle, it would be fierce, the creature could taste it in the air. They were volatile people, perhaps it could even push them to do things. It would be a triumph if the creature could manage it, if it could push them that far. It eyed the kitchen, in particular the rack of silver, glistening knives. The creature could feel it, grinning it turned its attention to the two people.