When she awoke the next morning, both her parents were already out of the house.
"Morning, sleeping beauty."
Her eyes followed the form of her elder brother as he leaned over her and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, like every other morning. Because of him, she was able to keep holding on to what sanity she had left in the household. For that, she was grateful, but a reminder of the horrifying nightmare she had during the night made itself known and the pathetic attempt of a smile soon turned into a mess of frowns and furrowed brows.
"What's wrong, Dill? You look upset." his voice was gentle, soothing in every way and calmed her.
She shook, tears peeking at her eyes, "I had a bad dream."
"You can tell me about it." he shifted into a squat and looked straight into her eyes, a comforting smile on his face.
Her shoulders dropped, "I dreamed that big brother would disappear and never come back."
She should have been curious, maybe even suspicious by the way he stiffened, his eyes wide in surprise. Something in her told her to ask him why he looked so scared, but she was afraid to anger him and kept quiet, watching as he turned and left the room, saying something about preparing breakfast. She never knew how much her question had affected him.
Deep inside, immense dread filled her entire being, warning her of the pain that would come.
She took her time showering and changing into a pair of comfortable clothes, her mind stuck on her horrible dream of an empty heart and fighting parents. A towel was thrown around her neck as she took as many deep breaths as possible, trying to calm herself and bring up her usual cheery facade. Somehow, she managed to force a cheeky smile. Proud of herself, she skipped down towards the kitchen, where her brother was cooking up another omelet for himself, her own breakfast already prepared on the small kitchen table.
He looked over his shoulder and smiled at the sight of her. Her shoulder length hair was still soaked and droplets of water was causing wet patches to form on the loose green tee shirt that she had thrown on; knee length socks met the tips of a dark green, almost black, skirt. Seeing the smile on Dante's face, she swallowed her fear and smiled back, just as cheerful as any other child should be at her tender age of nine.
"Morning, Dan!" she said as she took a seat in front of her plate, patiently waiting for her brother to finish his own omelet and join her for breakfast.
He stayed silent as he finished cooking and placed his meal next to hers, digging into it almost immediately. Unused to his lack of reply, she stared, hurt, before turning and eating her own meal as well. If he was intending to be mean, then she wouldn't talk to him. Meanies didn't deserve to be talked to.
Through out the day, he was purposefully rude to her, hurting her feeling with everything he did. He had gone so far as to shove her over and sneer, telling her to be more careful with her surroundings. It had pushed her to the point of tears, and in a mix of hate for Dante and hate for herself, she called a friend and asked them to pick her up so she could sleep over at their place. She had packed up her things and left without looking back, not wanting to see her brother with the way he had been treating her.
Somehow, she had managed to relax and enjoy herself with her friend. They exchanged giggles and smiles, all her worries melting away into the relaxing atmosphere as she and her friend talked. It was odd, being in another home where the family seemed so happy, so unlike her own. She felt out of place, but it was a welcome relief from the tense, painful feeling of being at home with her unhappy parents. With her friend, she felt like she was finally happy, and in a way, she didn't want it to end. She dreaded going home the next day.