Her hand flicks through the crisp new book that her father bought her the day before. He said it was because she’d been such a good girl lately. Her parent’s divorce hadn’t exactly been a pretty one.
She takes a deep breath of the new book smell, cherishing it before it inevitably was stained with smoke and ash, just like every other thing in the house. Her father’s nicotine habit had worsened due to the stress of legal work. The air in the house was 60% smoke.
Jane Eyre was the book. She’d heard it was a classic, written by Charlotte Bronte. All about a woman defying the social and gender standards that had been enforced upon her. She hopes that she can relate to her.
Books had been her escape since she was able to read, often she was compared to Matilda, unfortunately she wasn’t so lucky to be adopted by a lovely young woman with a passion to teach. Instead, she was forced to hide behind her books whilst her parents flung insults at each other from opposite sides of the room. There was nothing supernatural or exciting about her life.
Her father takes a drag of his cigarette, sighing shakily to himself. The rough pads of his fingers tap on the edge of the arm chair; despite it being a soft touch, dust and residue rise from the filthy fabric. Since his soon to be ex-wife left to reside at a friends house, their home has been dirtier than usual. Plates are stacked in the sink, washing is strewn across the kitchen floor, the fridge is bare. He hasn’t been functioning too well with the change of life style. He didn’t realise how much his wife did in the home.
The television is a scratchy noise, creating an interference for the both of them. Neither pay attention to the news; the girl is in the depths of her book, and her father is in the depths of his mind. But the background noise is a happily welcomed distraction from the silence.
The night goes on, the sun dies down. The television provides light for the girl’s book, her eyes filled with wonder as she engorged in the tales of Lowood and Thornfield. The soft breathes of her father indicate that he is asleep. Neither have eaten, most likely they won’t till tomorrow. The girl comes to accept that sometimes she will be hungry.
Eventually, her eyes feel heavier and heavier. One second she is staring at the page, reading of Mr Rochester’s first arrival, the next her soft snores hit the paper. She dreams of a place as grand as Thornfield, somewhere that she could escape to just like Jane does from Lowood. A place she could live, that doesn’t always smell like tobacco, perhaps her parents could be happy. Her smile shines through in her sleep.
When the moon shines through the dirty windows, her father wakes up to see his daughter, fast asleep on her book. He smiles sadly at her, wishing things would be a bit better. He loves her dearly. Maybe one day.
Just like when she was a baby, he picks her up and cradles her small form in his arms. Gently, he takes her upstairs to her bed, tucks her in, and kisses her forehead goodnight.