A/N- Rated for mentions of child abuse, non graphic violence and some swearing.
A Fragment of Beauty
Her breath was cold and ragged; her small shivering frame shook with fear as the figure advanced towards her. Trembling, she took a step back and gasped as she bumped against the stone wall. Not removing her eyes from her attacker, the young child fumbled her unseeing hand towards the desk that she knew was there. She grasped the shiny knob of the draw and pulled it, eyes still locked in front of her. The palm of her hand bounced against the bottom of the draw as it searched desperately for her last resort. She felt something smooth and cool against her fingers and prised it out of the draw in order to hold in it both hands. At this moment, she allowed her eyes to drop for just a second; to look upon what she had drew from the desk.
Shaking, she raised the gun and fired at the man in front of her, his eyes frozen in a final chord of terror. Five seconds later, her father lay dead at her feet, as the girl looked on with glazed eyes, the scene replaying over and over in her head like a broken film.
Lily-Anne sat in her GCSE English class, her head was balanced in her hands, her face held of a look of someone who was bored out of their wits. She had waist length golden hair that flowed down her back with grace, blue eyes which sparkled hypnotically and a creamy face that radiated perfection. She looked up tiredly, but still glowed with loveliness. The mid-morning sun pierced the through the windows and streamed in to the classroom, she squinted, unable to see the board any longer. She raised her hand, fingers arching beautifully.
"Yes, Lily-Anne?" Her teacher asked, smiling in recognition of her lovely student.
"I can't see, can I close the blinds please miss?" She spoke, her voice low and soft.
The teacher smiled wider, "Of course," Lily-Anne stood up, "Oh, wait. Sam can do it, he's closer." Her teacher said abruptly, changing her mind and stopping her student. Lily-Anne frowned and sat down as Sam closed the blinds, catching her eye and smiling. Lily looked away with a look of irritation. She sighed inwardly, praying for patience. Everyday something like this happened. Everyday everything had to be done for her. Everyday she had to put up with boys smiling at her, teachers being extra nice and the jealous admiring stares of other girls.
It just… irritated her to no end.
Eventually, and with great relief from all of the students the lesson ended. Lily-Anne threw all her books into her bag and slugged it onto her shoulder, her hair doing a shimmering dance from the movement.
She readied herself for the sound of the school bell, hoping to get away before she was dragged into the mindless chitchat of her class. "Um….Lily?" Just as the bell rung and she was half way out the doorway, her classmate Vale stopped her. She knew exactly what Vale wanted, it was Vale's birthday next week and she was inviting all her friends round for a party. "Lily, I was wondering if you'd—"
"No thank you." Lily-Anne interrupted, and carried on walking, unblocking the flow of traffic through the door.
Why was Vale asking her anyway? It wasn't like they were friends or anything. Sadly, she knew the answer already though; it would look great on her if the Lily-Anne showed up at her party.
But all she wanted… was to be left alone.
That lunch time, Lily-Anne sat in the courtyard, behind the small grove of trees and the budding blackberry bush that shaded and hid her from anyone who wasn't looking properly. It was her usual place, she went here most days when it was sunny, and no one usually came and bothered her. She sat eating her sandwiches quietly, and contented by the peace, she let her eyelids droop and close. Soft footsteps awakened her a few moments later, crunching on short well-mowed grass. Lily-Anne screwed her eyes shut further, hoping the sound would turn in another direction.
The noise of the bush being pushed and pulled reached her ears as the person climbed through the brambles. Unable to ignore it any longer, Lily-Anne opened her eyes and turned around, ready to shoot abuse at the invader. "Oh… Hi Zoe."
The said person continued clambering through the bush silently; she pulled several thorns out of her jumper before looking up and smiling wordlessly. She walked over to where Lily was and sat down next to her, when she finally spoke, "Hi,"
She had plain brown hair with matching eyes and an ordinary face. Compared to Lily-Anne, she was bland and dull, a face lost in a million others.
Lily-Anne knew her better than this however; this was Zoe, Lily's only friend. A born introvert, Zoe spent many lessons and lunch times sitting with Lily, barely ever speaking. Both were just comforted by the closeness of each other.
"I heard you turned down an invitation from Vale today." Zoe spoke several minutes later, surprising her friend.
"Yeah," Lily replied, inclining her head.
"She was pretty mad, seemed kind of insulted."
"Oh well," Said Lily-Anne, "It doesn't matter, she's not my friend anyway. So I don't see why she's so annoyed."
Zoe was quiet and for a few more moments a comfortable silence flowed between them as they gazed at the sky stencilled through the trees, pasted on blue canvas. "It's because you're beautiful," She replied at last, "She wants to increase her popularity using you. You've become a kind of… great prize that no one has. They are all competing for you. In a way."
"It's just as well I'm not friends with her then, if she thinks I'm just a prize to be won."
Quietness once again reined over the secret place, only broke when a sixth-former accidentally kicked his ball into the bush and came to retrieve it. He smiled when he saw Lily, as he reached into the mass of brambles. "Hi," He said embarrassedly, "You're Lily-Anne, right?" He grinned more at Lily, completely ignoring the other girl.
"No," Lily said simply, throwing her head in the other direction.
"Oh… Sorry then." He picked up his weary ball and jogged back to his game looking bemused.
When he was out of sight, Zoe laughed a little, but then abruptly changed into a much more somber mood. She closed her eyes and her brown fringe fell over her face, "You know… I'm envious of you Lily."
This time, the silence was awkward. Lily-Anne stood up and shrugged her shoulder-bag on, "You shouldn't be," She said sadly, "This insect …isn't worthy of being envied."
A gentle breeze ruffled the still afternoon air as Lily walked slowly along the suburban streets, shoes tapping as they contacted with the ground, birds chirping, the low roar of the main road behind her. Her arms swung gently and unenthusiastically and bored eyes met pavement in their long-term relationship. She turned down a corner onto her street, a long row of terraced houses that were virtually identical, with the exception of the second to end house, which was painted a vibrant red. It belonged to a cheerful older man who often said hello to Lily when she went past, as he was pottering around his garden and attending to his flowers. She and Zoe usually split up here, Lily taking this street and her friend taking the other towards her house. But Lily-Anne hadn't waited for Zoe after school today; she'd walked out of the gates as soon as afternoon registration was taken. Although she hadn't acted it at the time, Lily felt upset at Zoe's earlier comment. Lily-Anne had always felt Zoe understood her better than the others in school, but when she had said she was envious—and in such a simple way—it saddened her deeply. That comment had changed everything, being jealous meant she was the same as all the other girls, all the others who she detested.
Although she liked to be alone, she now realized that she liked to be with someone, even if they never talked.
Lily never realized how lonely this short trek back to her house really was.
She ran her hand along the metal fence of one of her neighbours, the feeling of smoothness suddenly transforming into that of the bumpy callused feeling of the brick wall that bended round her garden. Her fingers glanced along it, bouncing at small bumps and pits in the old wall that she knew as well as an old friend. Lily turned off the path and walked up the driveway, parting reluctantly with the wall.
A car was in.
It was a rather beat up car, an old Granada, with a huge dent in the front; the paint was scratched in places and the number plate that read OP42 MUM. Lily-Anne thought was kind of stupid that her mother would pay hundreds of pounds to bid on an unusual number, when she didn't even want to fix the massive dent in the front. She'd received the dent when several years ago when, too wrapped up in a phone call to a friend, she'd run off the road and crashed into a tree. This was very typical of her mother; she was so involved in her own life that she didn't notice anything else.
Lily squeezed her slender body through the gap between the wall and the car and wiped her feet on the doormat, taking the key that was hidden in a hanging basket full of badly watered flowers whose petals were withered and stems were yellowing. Lily-Anne thought the description of the flowers probably applied to her opinion of the whole house. The atmosphere inside it felt thick and awkward to her, every conversation became tenser than the last. She hated that house and still vowed that she would move out as soon as she was able. She often hung back after school and took part in clubs she had no interest in what so ever to avoid it.
She just couldn't stand staying in this awful place any longer than she had to—for more reasons than one.
Lily turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open; it creaked shrilly as she did. "I'm home Mum." She called, throwing her bag to the floor and beginning the long trudge upstairs to her bedroom.
"Lily?" Her mother abruptly called, stopping her daughter.
"Yes Mum?" Lily-Anne replied tiredly.
"Could you help me pack away the shopping? I went to Tesco's on the way back from work."
Lily turned and walked through the door less arch to the kitchen, which was a modern almost 'designer' kitchen her mother had ordered a few months back. The walls were adorned with alternative white and black tiles and, a matching floor. The counter was made of ebony granite. The old kitchen had seemed fine to her before though, Lily guessed it was just one of her mother's many ways to show off to her friends. She walked over to the first bag and pulled it from the floor, before grabbing the netted bag of oranges from the top.
"How was day then darling?" Her mother asked, turning to her with a smile. She was dressed in clothes that could hardly be called modest for someone her age, with blonde hair tied back at her neck with an ornate butterfly hairpin. But behind all this though, there seemed weariness in her face and smile than time had only partly covered up.
"Okay I suppose," Lily answered, despite the fact the day had not gone well at all.
"Goody good," Her mother said cheerily, "You know, I went past the travel agents this morning, they have half price flights to Majorca! What do you think?" She blurted this all out suddenly, as if she had been trying to suppress this valuable information all day.
Her daughter shrugged and opened the second to bottom draw to get a pair of scissors, "Do whatever you want."
"Well, I was thinking, we could go, me, you and Sheila."
"Your friend from work?" Lily asked boredly, snipping the net the oranges were encased it, letting them pour into the fruit bowl below them.
"Oh yes, Sheila's a real darling. You should meet her; she's just had a new double extension."
Lily rolled her eyes at her mother's enthusiasm and shoved several tins of beans in the cupboard, "Really."
"It's a nice one as well. She and her husband Mark hired the best builders you can get, they were cheap too. Immigrants from Poland I think. They have double glazing as well."
Lily suddenly dropped the bag she was holding a few centimetres onto the table, "I have a headache Mum, Can I go upstairs?"
Her mother looked surprised, "Well, okay then dear. I'll finish packing the stuff away; you go have a nice lay down."
Once out of the room, She let out a muffled sigh of relief, glad to be away from her mother's everlasting babble. Lily knew she meant well, but her non-stop talking really was too much. She'd go on forever if she didn't stop her. Lily-Anne once again attempted the steps to upstairs, knowing she wouldn't be interrupted this time. She plodded up the stairs tiredly, jumping over the annoying 6th step that creaked at the slightest pressure and walked out onto the landing. Her room was the second door down, after the bathroom.
In her room, it was immaculately clean, the bed was made and the floor freshly hovered a few days ago by herself, proof that old habits die hard, even when the dictator that enforced them is long gone. On her shelves there was a wide array of books, mostly fantasy novels. There were a few posters of different bands scattered over the walls. On top of an old antique wardrobe sat a dusty photograph that was faced downwards, untouched for many years. She walked over to the bed and perched on the end on it, before collapsing backwards and closing her eyes, trying her best to ignore the awkward feeling that perfumed the house with its own depressing flavour.
The day had been hard on her and the brief statement from Zoe had dragged the day from 'Bad' to 'Terrible'. It had been along time since she had felt this alone.
Not since that time—
Lily screwed up her perfect forehead, desperately not wanting to remember and trying to stop the deluge of bad memories from passing to her thoughts from the dark cavern in her heart she kept them in.
Unfortunately, memories don't quite work like that, and they sprung out at her, giggling and cackling at their mistress's misfortune. "Don't you remember that time--?" They taunted, "Surely you remember the time-- the time when you killed your own father." They sneered and danced around her, pulling childish nasty faces.
Lily lifted her legs and span around on her bed, facing away from them in attempt to ignore their taunts.
"C'mon Lily," They called again, "You can't deny it, you pointed that gun and exploded his fucking head." They erupted into laughter at that, though it sounded more like shrieks and squawks than laughter.
Lily-Anne shoved her hands over her ears to block the sound, but it permeated through anyway. At last she turned around and faced them, unable to ignore any longer. "But it- it wasn't my fault!" She exclaimed at her invisible demons, tears tugging at her eyes, begging for freedom.
"Oh really!? How wasn't it your fault? You did it, didn't you?"
"I didn't mean too, I was scared! He was going to hit me again; I didn't mean to do it!" The tears finally sprang from her eyes and swam down her cheeks.
"You would have deserved it, you deserve much more than pain, bitch."
In furious despair, she stood up violently, "Shut up! SHUT UP!" She roared, as the thoughts clambered back into their dark hiding place and shrieked with delight, the iron door clanging behind them.
Her breath still ragged, she looked up into the large mirror that hung on her wall, at the person who everyone loved and admired, the stunning, glorious goddess.
As she looked up, she only saw the yellow eyes of a snarling beast stare back.
Her pale elegant hand flew into the air, moulded into a fist by rage and anguish and a deafening shattering sound vibrated through the whole house, stampeding through the concrete and charging over the pylons. When her mother found her several minutes later, Lily-Anne was huddled under the empty frame of the mirror in a mountain of glass, her gorgeous face sliced by the sharp fragments of the mirror, her lovely hands showered in blood.
And curled into this ball of sorrow, she was howling for Daddy.