The food was already on the table. The family was sitting around saying grace. An empty chair faced the corner of the darkly lit room as though someone who wasn’t there was being punished. The chair had a dirty rag of cloth hanging from its backrest. Stains of a struggle decorated it. There was a slight ominous smell of something inhuman. The Mother stood up and started serving food into the dusty plates. She had the face of a dog. Her eyes shone green and blue and violet as she moved. Their torn clothes were all washed. All three of their puppy-faced daughters drooled at the meat that was being served. She lightly whispered into her husband’s ear, asking him to start eating. He still had his head bowed down, as if he believed his prayer was stuck inside the four dark walls of his head. He opened his eyes, watching as his starving daughters ravenously dug into the fresh soft steamy meat, sucking the red off their fingers in between and smiling bloody-faced at everyone. One of the girls, suddenly turned around and looked at the empty chair and sat staring for two seconds. Her sister shoved a piece of a warm red heart into her face and laughed at the stain it made on her nose. The young girl joined in and they continued eating.
“Daddy, where is she?” One of the little girls asked slowly and carefully. “She’s with us, honey. But she has to be punished if she did something wrong, right, babygirl?”
“Yes, Daddy. Did you ground her just like you did us when we were being naughty?”
“Yes, honey. Me and Mommy punished her. For you girls. We wouldn’t want to be unfair, now, would we?”
An unseen trickle of tear rolled into the insides of his eyes.
His hands smelled. Of the life that screamed out a million times.