Chaotic (Ruthless Asylum #2) - K.L. Savage

Honestly,

Here’s to Gin and Tonic, Dos Equis, Bees Knees, and Moscato for getting us into this chaotic mindset. They are the real heroes here.

To Zain and Chloe,

May you find peace in the madness.

Six years old

I don’t like the dark. It’s scary. I don’t like that I can’t see, but Daddy says it’s the only way for me to learn from my mistakes. I have to sit here and think about what I’ve done.

But I really need to go pee.

I’m not allowed to use the restroom until he comes to get me, and if I do, he spanks me. Then, he makes me start the time in the dark all over again.

It’s cold too. He makes me sit in my underwear on the cement floor with some type of ankle bracelet attached to my leg. There’s a big, long chain that jingles when I pull on it, but it always tugs tight since it’s attached to the wall.

My tummy growls, reminding me that I haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday. Daddy said I have to earn my food and not eating everything on my plate means I don’t appreciate the food I am given. It’s another reason why I’m down here, but I can’t help it. Sometimes, I go so long without eating, and then when I finally have a chance to eat, I get full so easy.

Mommy cries when that happens, and Daddy gets so mad at me. He always slams his fist on the table, making the dishes shake. A couple of times, he’s grabbed my plate and thrown it across the room. The food flies off it, and the plate shatters when it hits the wall.

Next, he always grabs me by my arm and throws me down the basement steps. He’ll run down them, his boots pounding like a stampede of animals, kind of like the zebras on animal planet when they run from the lions.

Mommy and Daddy say this is the way life is. It’s the only way to learn. He says the world isn’t kind, so there is no need to pretend kindness exists. I feel bad for people. If this is how everyone lives, what’s the point? It sucks.

I’m not allowed to say that word—sucks.

But… Mommy and Daddy aren’t here, so I’m going to say it. “Sucks,” I whisper, and the word echoes into the dark. My voice is the only thing that answers back. “Sucks,” I repeat, my voice cracking from my throat being dry.

“It does suck.”

I gasp as I look around for the voice. It sounds a lot like mine. “Hello? Is someone there?” I remember to keep my voice low so Daddy can’t hear me upstairs. I scoot across the floor, my undies snagging on the bumpy floor. My back hits the wall, and I whimper when the brick scratches along my back. I wrap my arms around my knees and pull them to my chest.

“You don’t have to be afraid. We can be friends.”

I snap my head to the left, then the right, but I still can’t see anything. I place my chin on my left knee and squeeze my eyes shut. “No one is there. No one is there. No one is there,” I say again and again.

This is why I don’t like the dark. The things I’m scared of most come out to play. I don’t want to play with her. I don’t know her. She comes at the worst times. It’s always when I’m in the dark or I’m crying. She scares me.

For about a year she’s been coming around.

I never see her, though. She doesn’t like to be seen.

“I don’t know you.”

“Yes, you do. I’m here for you when no one else is. I’m your best friend,” she says.

I sniffle and rub my cheek against my knee. “Really?”

“Really, really.”

“What’s… what’s your name?” I ask between swallows of air. I’ve never asked her before because I’ve always been so scared. I don’t know where she came from. It’s like she just appeared one day.

“My name is Jessica.”

“Are you an imaginary friend?” I ask, hopeful.

“Yes! I’m just like an imaginary friend. You won’t ever have to be alone again,” she promises.

I fall silent, thinking about all the times I’ve been alone. I stare up the staircase and see the tiniest amount of light coming from the crack under the door. “I hate it here, Jessica. I hate Mommy. I hate Daddy. I want to leave.” I begin to cry, and I have to go to the restroom so bad,