In the dead of night, in a small community in Toronto, Canada 2001, an old silver Ford Fiesta entered the town after driving on the highways for the past few hours. The car pulled up outside of a middle-class apartment complex when two people exited from the back of the vehicle and emptied their luggage from the trunk. The man paid the driver for taking them on their journey then the car departed, leaving the man and his daughter standing outside in the snow.
Once the two entered the building, the receptionist let her mind slip off her tongue when waiting for the adult to sign the papers. She couldn't help but let her eyes wander as much as her mind, finding things to preoccupy her mind at such late hours, and she found herself suddenly fixed on the man's daughter.
Small, young, dark blonde hair with blue eyes, wearing a thin black cardigan with a knee-high black skirt and… bare feet?
"Yeah," the father replied. "We've moved around a lot recently. We…" He darted a glance at his daughter, "we've learnt to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle."
"Oh," she quickly looked back at the father before either of them noticed her staring.
"We like to travel, see the sights and spend some time away from back home," he continued whilst signing the compulsory sheet.
"Well I'm afraid there's not much to see around her-"
"We like the mix of communities," he interrupted with a harshened tone.
He quickly skipped to the last page and signed all needed information without another word being spoken between them, then after handing it back over she gave him his room key and the two made their way to their new apartment.
Once they had come across their apartment door, after passing through the empty corridors, the man dropped the two large briefcases he was carrying under each arm and he opened up their new apartment.
After unlocking the door, he picked the briefcases back up off the ground and he walked inside their new home while his daughter remained outside. After he dropped his luggage back off on the kitchen counter, he turned back to the front door and he told his daughter that she could come in.
Upon entry she immediately wandered down the middle of the apartment where every room could be seen from.
Left – kitchen.
Right – living room.
Past those two rooms on the left – bedroom.
Opposite that bedroom – another.
At the very end of the hallway – bathroom.
After inspecting the apartment, she returned to the kitchen where her father had begun emptying one of the briefcases on the kitchen counter. He started out by removing clothes and placing them in a pile, then beneath he revealed a hammer, a box of nails and masking tape. After a few more accessories were removed, he took the briefcase off the counter and placed the second one on.
When opening the next briefcase, the first thing he removed was a slightly smaller briefcase from inside and he placed it beside his clothes. Before continuing he felt pressured by his daughter's heavy glance from across the room, so he turned his head to her slightly and intended to tell her to go pick a room but before he said so, she walked away.
After heading back up the corridor she entered the bedroom on the left, with her little pink suitcase on wheels shortly behind, then she placed her luggage on top of the bed and claimed the room as her own.
She unzipped her bag and began emptying her possessions similar to her father in the other room. Out of her bag she had packed a portable radio, a book of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a blanket and some baggy trackies with a thick black hoodie. No toiletries, no footwear and no other clothes than the ones she was wearing.
While unpacking her father entered the room with the 'essentials' he had unpacked earlier. He took to her bedroom window with the masking tape and newspaper and started working on the 'barricade'.
Whilst her father was at work she set up her radio on the bedside table and she placed her book beside it. She removed the plain white cover from over her bed, climbed up and she threw her purple knitted blanket over herself as she lay down and rested her head on the thin pillows provided.
Once the father had finished with the windows he picked up his things and went to leave the room before his daughter called for this title, stopping him in the frame of the door.
"Can I have a new book soon?"
Her father smirked but tried to conceal it. He bit back a sigh. There was so much she missed out on, so much she was isolated from. No wonder she was so desperate to lose herself in the pages of someone else's life or adventure.
"Sure, I'll nip to the shop tomorrow for you," he replied with a smile, disguised by the lack of lighting.
"Thanks Dad, night."
Then he left the room, closing the door and letting her bedroom be completely engulfed in darkness. She lay in wait for her father to finish with the rest of the house's windows, they had really lucked out this time with only three windows, one per room at the very back. As usual she could hear him nailing boards into the bathroom window, then when she couldn't hear the tearing of the masking tape anymore she saw it fit for her to sleep.
Welcome to your newest temporary home…
Once the next day had come, Francis left his bedroom being the only one awake despite it being noon, something he had come custom to. Eve didn't really like being awake in the day, or in short as long as the sun is out, or more it wasn't she didn't enjoy the sunlight it was that she couldn't. Until then, whether she was awake or not, she'd remain in her darkness of her room until outside appeared similar.
Having this opportunity, he thought it'd be a good idea to get out of the house and to stock the cupboards up with enough food for possibly their entire stay. While he was at it, it wouldn't hurt taking a walk around the neighbourhood to familiarise himself with where everything was – just in case he ever needed their 'assistance'.
Francis left the house and locked it behind him, having the only key to the apartment put his mind at ease for Eve's safety. Descending from the second floor to the first he left through the complex entrance where they came from last night, their he threw the woman at the til's morning greeting back at her and he left.
First thing he did once there was some distance from him and the main entrance, he turned and looked around briefly until he spotted their apartment windows which weren't exactly hard to spot.
How no one ever questions us about that I'll never know, but maybe they just think the room has been vacated. Oh well, as long as there's no bother – why bother.
He chuckled to himself and finally exit the premises and took a swift walk around the town whilst all wrapped up in his 'grandpa's jumper', trousers, gloves, scarf and finally his thick black trench coat. After wandering around he found the usual things that were where ever they moved; once getting past all of the households he found some clothes stores, other stores that selling things irrelevant to them, a school, a hospital and a police station.
With the help of a passing town folk he was redirected to the convenience store he passed earlier on which was located only a few streets away from where they were living. Convenient. He collected a basket from the entrance and did some regular shopping, stocking up on so much he hoped he wouldn't have to make many trips a month, then he made his way to the tills.
Shopping had been made ten times easier over the past eight or ten years, but as all greater things in life it came with a cost. Sure it bothered him that his daughter wouldn't, or couldn't, eat what money would buy but that meant he'd only have to get the exact same things and maybe a treat every now and then.
It took him half an hour to gather everything, a little longer than usual, then after everything was scanned and the price was displayed he pulled out a roll of cash. He always forgot to carry change with him to make himself less of an attraction whenever he whipped it out but was memory was terrible as it is. He handed over the exact amount and then he left.
After having enough sightseeing he returned home and emptied the contents of the bags immediately after placing them down, sorting them into specific categories on shelves and in cupboards. Tinned soups, microwave meals, plenty of bottled water, one bottle of whisky for when it was needed and some biscuits. He pulled over the jar that had 'Tea' imprinted into it and emptied an entire box of tea bags in and placed it along with some Nescafe coffee beside the kettle.
Once the cupboards, fridge and freezer were filled and the bags were empty he grabbed the last item he had left out, a litre of milk, and he emptied it down the sinks drain when he felt that same heavy glance he was custom to.
"I'm hungry," his daughter said the second their eyes met.
"You should go back to bed, I'll get it once the sun's down – as I always do," he replied, turning on the tap and filing the milk container up before emptying it again.
As his daughter turned to leave without giving a verbal reply he called for her to stop and waited for her to walk back to the spot she just left so they could talk face-to-face.
"I want you to go to the school round here," said her father. "It's not far from here."
"You're gonna fuck this up again…" she muttered.
"No!" He raised his voice but swiftly calmed himself back down. "If you're not attending school then people are going to get suspicious, starting with the lady in the foyer. You're the only one who can mess things up just like always, we're trying to adapt so please put in some effort."
Without a reply his daughter turned away and returned to her room, then once she was gone he ran his hand through his balding hair and sat at the television with a bottle of water. The television was very small and old fashioned but it didn't bother him, he wasn't interested in what was on or the quality of it, he just needed something to do as a pass time.
Approximately two hours from when he forced Eve back to bed he could hear her waking up again. For the past hour he had been staring at the blank screen, into his own reflection, and he had lost track of time so he quickly rushed over to the kitchen and put on his coat.
His daughter entered the kitchen as he put his last arm through the sleeve, decreasing the speed he was getting dressed as he adjusted the coat once catching glance of her. She then cast her gaze over to where his hand was, at the knife rack around the biggest knife's handle, then he unsheathed it and hid it inside his coat.
"You actually going to use that today?" She asked, following the potential weapon with her eyes.
"You know it's just in case," Francis replied.
"Well don't take too long, you know how I get when I'm hungry."
Eve then walked over into the living room area and sat in front of the television but didn't turn it on, just sat there with her back to her father as she stared into the black reflective screen just as he previously did.
"I won't be long, so don't go anywhere."
"Where do I have to go?" She replied with a dull tone.
Without another word her father made his way towards the door but as he rested his hand on the handle he stopped and looked towards his daughter for a brief moment, then without being able to release the words stuck in his throat he went on through and closed it behind him.
Once he was outside the words were able to come out of his mouth as if it was nothing. "I love you". It upset him to think that he found it hard to tell his own daughter that he loved her anymore, but the only reason he didn't was because he was afraid of the answer she'd give.
The two of them had been drifting apart for a while now, ever since the first year of her 'accident' happened they hadn't treated each other as they should, like father and daughter. He couldn't even recall the last time those three words ever came up in conversation it was so long ago…
As he made his way outside and was heading off site, Eve was peering through a torn part of the newspaper 'wallpaper' he had put over her window so she could watch for him to leave. Once he was gone she went and removed the skirt she was wearing and replaced them with some baggy trackies, then she did the same and put on a thick hoodie.
She pulled the hood over her entire head whilst the rest was so big only her fingertips were exposed before pulling up the sleeves. Once she had changed she left through the front door and continued to exit the apartment building through a side exit rather than the foyer, she had noticed something that caught her eye.
Outside in the centre of the complex was a park, directly beneath where they were living, containing a roundabout, some swings and a small metal climbing frame in the middle. No see-saw, no slide or anything else that separated the older kids from the younger ones so they were all on the same grounds.
Without a single soul in the park she decided to place herself on top of the climbing frame and claiming it her throne, announcing her position as queen of the park. After smiling to herself about her new achievement she closed her eyes for a moment and just sat there, listening and taking in the fresh air.
She inhaled deeply through her nose and exhaled whilst letting her legs sway back and forth in between the frame, her relaxation was interrupted by an unexpected presence making contact with her.
"Aren't you cold?"
The soft girl's intrusion startled Eve slightly and caused her to gasp and jump a little in response. She was too busy being indulged in a new, and better, world to even hear what the girl had asked so she told her to repeat herself in an unfriendly manner.
"I said aren't you cold?"
The girl stood slightly taller than Eve and had long brown hair reaching just past her chin, she had a pale face while being covered with make-up around her eyes and lips, standing out against her skin. She was wearing a long thick winter coat with a furry hood, pink gloves and pants tucked into her wellies.
"No," she replied, after analysing the girl first.
"How aren't you cold?" She continued to ask. "You've got nothing on your feet! You could get frost bite or something."
"I don't really feel the cold…"
"Oh…" The girl went silent for a brief moment, misleadingly making Eve's hopes of her going away coming true. "What's your name?"
"Wow, that's a nice name. My name's Mindy."
Eve jumped from the top of her climbing frame and extended her hand towards Mindy, indicating a formal greeting as her attitude almost completely changed and she said, "It's nice to meet you."
"You too…" she giggled slightly. "Why haven't I seen you around here before?"
"I just moved in, I live right up in that apartment," she replied, pointing out her apartment as they both sat down on the climbing frame.
"Hey, looks like you're my new neighbour! I live right next to you!" She excitingly replied, pointing out her own home.
"I guess we are."
"Having a lazy day?" Mindy asked after taking a look at her outfit.
Eve's voice may have sounded unsure but she knew why she made such a stupid statement, it was clear she was one of the 'got to look my best everyday' types when Eve couldn't give two shits how she looked. She'd rather be comfortable than flashy. Though, for once, she was being nice for a girl such as herself so she found it kind of nice.
Again they fell into silence but faster than Mindy could spit out another conversation starter, Eve's stomach growled louder than Mindy had ever thought possible and when hearing it she noticed that Eve arched her back and squinted her eyes whilst holding her stomach.
"Are you okay?" She asked, placing her hand on her back with concern.
"I'm fine… I'm just hungry."
To reassure her new found companion she sat back up and gave her a smile that was painful to forge, and in response she gave a worried one back. After their exchange of awkward smiles, she noticed her father returning home along the path in the distance.
"Oh- crap," She said when seeing him, quickly trying to censor herself. "I've got to go."
"Why, who's that?"
"My dad, I wasn't supposed to leave the apartment, I'll see you another time."
After rushing away from the park, leaving Mindy on her own to wonder about the strange girl, she ran through the corridor, up the stairs and managed to get inside the apartment before her dad could.
Once he entered the apartment Eve turned and watched him take his coat off from the couch he assumed she never left. Nothing was said until Eve inhaled deeply through her nose and caught the scent of her dinner lying on the kitchen counter where his coat was placed.
"How'd you get it?" She asked as she made her way over.
"The safe way, like I always do."
"It never used to be that way…"
"Well this way's easier on me!" He burst out against her reply once again before immediately shutting himself up afterwards.
Francis handed over her 'dinner' as they came to call it and then escorted her down the corridor to the bathroom. While she went inside he went into her bedroom and retrieved one of the blankets and threw it in the bathtub, afterwards he left and locked the door from the outside whilst he vented his frustration out through tears.
After splashing his face with some water from the kitchen sink he returned to the bathroom and placed the side of his face up against the door, pressing his open palm on there as well.
"You're going to school tomorrow remember, I'll wake you up…"
Francis remained silent after informing her then waited for a response but he wasn't getting anything until he was completely scared out of his skin, or at least he should've been. The loud aggressive banging from the other side of the door, along with the screams of his 'daughter' didn't bother him anymore, not after so many years.
He removed his palm and went into his bedroom. He curled up in his bed and folded the pillow around his head to drown out the sound but being directly next to the bathroom it was all he could hear, her struggle. He couldn't begin to imagine the agony it causes, even after all this time she couldn't handle the strength to resist.
He was forced to listen to her until finally managing to get to sleep once she stopped and instead began crying. The only reason that the whimpering of his daughter was able to put him asleep nowadays was because when she cried, he knew it was her again…