Curled up under the blankets is a little girl. She is glad to be there, for the world outside her ball of blankets is cold and uninviting. She pokes her head out from underneath her bedspread and glances around the room. The walls are bare, painted a light pink that has long since faded to white. There are cracks in the ceiling that she makes pictures out of when she can't sleep. In a corner is a small bureau that contains her few but neatly folded clothes. The single window is dirty, with ugly curtains that had been there when her and her mother had moved in. Dim light shines through the window, telling the little girl that it's not yet quite time to wake her mother. Anyway, it is Saturday. The little girl's mother didn't get mad if she woke her up late on a Saturday.
It is winter and the house is rather cold. The little girl pulls the new blue blanket and sheets over her head again. Under the sheets it is dark but the little girl doesn't mind. She never had a night-light to sleep with so she doesn't know she is supposed to be afraid of the dark. She rummages around the bed for awhile and then comes up with a flashlight. She pulls out a book from under her pillow. It is her favorite book, one of the Dr. Seuss ones. She switches the flashlight on and aims it at the book as she slowly turns the pages. Each page is dog-eared and worn from many, many readings. She reads each word slowly, savoring the sound it makes when she speaks it. She laughs when the Cat in the Hat does something funny and shakes her finger when he does something she thinks was naughty.
She finishes the book, closing it and sliding it under pillow again and turning the flashlight off. She pokes her head from underneath the blankets again and saw that in the time she took to read her book, the light from the dirty window has gone from dim to bright. She pushes back the covers, feeling the bite of the cold through her thin nightgown. She swings her small body out of the bed, shivering as her feet touched the cold floor. She pulls the nightgown tighter around her small frame. She hurries over to the bureau and puts a pair of worn socks on her feet. She moves swiftly out of the room, the old floorboards creaking underneath her feet.
She takes a quick look at herself in the long cracked mirror in the hall leading to her mother's room. The nightgown hangs loosely around her short body, her thin brown hair disheveled from her sleep. Her face too is thin but the green eyes are bright and full of life. Her eyes almost seem out of place in her face she thinks. Her eyes search the ones of the girl in the mirror, with her pitiful appearance. She glances away, almost embarrassed to be seen staring at herself. She crosses the hall and goes into her mother's room.
She frowns when she sees her mother is already awake. She stands timidly in the door frame. She looks for the clock on the wall over her mother's bed. She tries to see what time it is but can't. Her mother spots her, beckoning with her finger to come closer. The girl takes apprehensive steps towards her mother's bed. It has the old blankets on it, the gray ones with the holes. Her room is a little bigger than the girl's, with two of the dirty, ugly-curtained windows and a large dresser. When she reaches the bed, her mother picks her up. The girl closes her eyes tightly, waiting for the first blow. Instead her mother places her in her lap.
The girl opens her eyes and looks at her mother. Her mother's hair is black with streaks of gray in it. Her mother is thin too, like her. Her mother also has green eyes but hers are different. They are sad and tired and right now, they are filling with tears. "What's wrong Mommy? Did I do something bad? There is nothing to cry about Mommy. Please don't cry Mommy," says the girl with her seven-year old wisdom. Her mother's look changes from being sad and tired to being angry. The little girl looks frightened.
"What would you know about anything? You're just a stupid little girl, a good-for-nothing son of a bitch! You're just like your father. You're stupid, you know that! You can't do anything right," screams her mother. The little girl gets up, ready to hide but her mother is too fast. "You aren't going anywhere!" Her mother is yelling at her and grabs her by the hair. The little girl lets out a high-pitched scream. Her mother slaps her hard across the face. She starts to cry. Her muscles are tense. Her mother does not stop the beating. She kicks the little girl, hard enough to leave a bruise. The girl whimpers in pain.
Her mother, still screaming about her dead daddy, grabs her tightly around the arm and drags her from the room. She throws the girl on her bed and slams the door shut, leaving the little girl all alone in her room. She curls up in the blankets again, sobbing into the sheets. She cries and cries. She hears her mother leave the house, going to work. The little girl climbs out of bed when the tears stop. She dresses quickly, pulling on a pair of worn pants and a too big t-shirt. She leaves the room and looks at herself in the mirror. Her eyes are red from crying and two blotches of red turning purple are on either side of her face. A bruise is also starting to form on her arm and her leg hurts as she walks.
She goes into the kitchen and looks through the cabinets. She finds a loaf of bread, a can of peanut butter, a box of cereal and a few crackers. She takes the peanut butter out and spreads some on the crackers and eats them. It doesn't taste very good but that's all the food she has. She goes to back to her room and sits on her bed, waiting. She wonders why her mother has to beat her. She wonders why her mother cries, then laughs, then gets angry. She wonders what her daddy was like and why did he leave her all alone with Mommy? She wonders about many things but gives up trying to find the answer. All she thinks of is the last apartment, how small and dirty it was. She likes this new house. Mommy is away more, but at least there aren't big rats in here. Mommy talks a lot about how lucky they are and how tired she gets from working three jobs.
Finally, the light fades and the little girl wraps herself in the too big nightgown. She covers herself with the blankets and falls asleep and everything in her world is at peace again.