Nobody liked Bella. She was weird and strange things happened around her, things that weren’t exactly easy to explain. Her parents had thrown her out and snapped her key in half, not that it would have mattered, because that evening they changed the locks on the front and back doors. She thinks that they even replaced the locks on the windows too…but one can’t be too sure. They didn’t like her very much. Her mother isn’t exactly the maternal sort, never was and never will be. She often liked to remind Bella that she was a mistake and that they only kept her because it was too late to abort the pregnancy. Her father was worse. He liked to grab, hit, punch, bite…well, he liked anything that made Bella scream. He liked anything that caused her pain…he liked parading her injuries around to his drinking mates, boasting and letting them touch her.
It was at the beginning of January and the schools were still on Christmas break. Bella wandered the streets hands buried deep in the holey pockets of her ragged too small jeans. She kept her head down and tried to ignore the faces of the people who passed her. Some would just stare and some would mutter insults and profanities or try to offer her some comfort, but the words seemed to get lost on the way from their mouths to her ears. But they weren’t the worst, no, Bella could put up with the insults…it was the people who obviously ignored her as she passed. They would just turn their backs on her, blocking her out and making her feel invisible.
It wasn’t only her jeans that were too small and ragged, her tee shirt was full of holes but being her dad’s it was too big, which, in this January chill, she was rather grateful of. Her shoes were more like sandals. The glue had unstuck and the soles flopped as she walked. The clothes were fine, she was covered, cold but not totally needy…it was the smell and the hair. She was not permitted to use the shower or the bath as punishment for her last ‘weird’ act (turning her father’s hair bright green, though there was no evidence to prove that it was her) and her hair was just like ragged rats tails, unkempt, knotty and dirty.
She was hungry and cold and it was pitch black by the time that she even wondered what was going to happen to her. The wind had picked up and she was pretty sure that it was going to start snowing because Jack Frost was not nipping at her nose; she felt as though he was gnawing on it…sanding it down until she had to touch it just to make sure it was still there. She wrapped her arms around her body, trying to shield herself from the cold and let the tears fall. She had been brave all day, but as she sank down on a cold park bench she figured that a tiny bit of fear could consume her…just for a while anyway. The tears continued to run down her cheeks, leaving salty trails as they went. She felt so tired, hungry and exhausted and it was just too cold to stay outside, too cold.
It became midnight and Bella became desperate. From the bench she saw light in a small house across the way; she slid off the bench, muscles and limbs numb with the cold but focused all of her remaining energy on making her way to the house. She knocked three times and waited. She had to wrap her arms around herself to stop her body shaking from the cold. Her breath came out in steamy clouds in front of her. She had lost all feeling in her fingers, ears, nose, toes and chin and struggled to stay upright. Icy tears fell as she leant up against the wall, all hope was lost…the lights were on, but no one was home…well, no one was answering anyway.
Then she heard footsteps and a man with long greasy black hair, sallow skin and a hooked nose opened the door. He glared at her as she looked up at him and whispered “Please?” She tried to reach out but her arm didn’t seem to want to obey her brain.
The man scowled at her but he made a small nod indicating in what she understood