Alicia was a small and sickly child, whose parents had died many years prior. Her older sister, Abigail, was the one who cared for her. Alicia could not speak, nor could she hear. She could not smell, and she could not taster either. She had no hands, so she could not touch either. Her only sense was her eyes. Abigail had to homeschool her and hide her from the real world. They had gone out once. Many things had been said. Cruel things. Things Alicia did not know, for she could not hear.
No child should be called those things, especially if it is out of their control. Alicia did not choose to have any arms. Alicia did not choose to have any tongue. Alicia did not choose to be deaf. She just was.
Once, many years ago, they had lived in an apartment, but they had been evicted. Abigail couldn’t find a place to stay without bringing Alicia too, and nobody wanted to rent to someone like her. They couldn’t. It would be bad for their image.
Now Abigail and Alicia hid in an old burnt-out farmhouse, which many were too scared to tear down, courtesy of ghost stories curated by local children. At night, Abigail would run off to steal cabbage and corn from neighboring farms and bring them back for Alicia and her to eat. Abigail had to labor away to make the food soft enough for Alicia to swallow, but she did not mind, not really. She stole books from churches, and clothing from what the richer people no longer wanted.
Alicia, on the other hand, sat in her pile of potato sacks and dried grass all day, living in her imagination. Many of the potato sacks had a small hole cut at the top for her head, as armholes were not necessary. She had no way to communicate her unhappiness with Abigail, other than flailing around noisily, crying. That usually ended in a beating for nearly blowing their cover, but Alicia knew it was necessary.
In her books, people were treated worse for lesser things. Like Jesus. He was crucified for being a good person. In some of her books, people were sacrificed just because a lunatic told them to. At least Abigail just gave her a good whack and left it at that.
Sometimes kids would come into the farmhouse, trying to be brave, and Abigail would throw things at them while hiding on some of the sturdier foundation beams. That kept intruders away from another week or so. But sometimes the kids would come while Abigail was out stealing, and Alicia would have to scare kids away while pushing stacks of wood and moldy potatoes over. She was quite small and could hide quite easily.
Alicia only had two things to do, read and imagine, but on the cold windy nights, where she would have to burrow into the hay, she had another favorite thing.
Once, on one of her scavenging hunts, Abigail found a package in an alley-way, filled with green and red plastic. She brought it home, hoping to decorate to a farm house a little more. On arriving home, she found Alicia watching in memorization as the makeshift lamp spun around in the breeze. It had holes poked in the sides, which made it seem like stars shining on the dark wooden walls.
Soon enough, Alicia fell asleep, and Abigail went out foraging for food. She always checked garbage piles, as occasionally people threw out charred roasts, which she was always happy to eat. Whilst rummaging through the pile, she found a can of glue, unopened. This gave her the most marvelous idea. She brought it home, forgetting about the corn, and set to work, gluing the red and green plastic sheets around the can, which made an incredible light show for Alicia. However, to keep it from running out of its thrill, Abigail only used it n the coldest and windiest of nights.
Alicia loved the glow of green and red. They quickly became her favorite colors, and she would beg Abigail in her own way every night to put the lamp on. Her special way was by spinning around ad making a gurgling noise, which must have represented the wind in some way.
While Alicia watched the beautiful glow splatter her face, Abigail sat and wondered what she was missing out on. A normal life? If she wasn’t constantly protecting Alicia from the real world, perhaps she’d be married with completely regular children, or perhaps she’d be even worse of, and not have the humor of Alicia in her life. She found her ways to be funny and especially liked to put on shows for Abigail. Quiet, armless shows, but shows, nonetheless.
She’d make quite a good clown,’ Alicia thought to herself one night.
The next day, she went about her usual business, stealing this, stealing that, when she heard screams from nearby. “Fire! There’s a fire in the ol’ ghost house!” Nobody was worried about the house. They were worried about the dry grass catching on fire and burning up the other houses. Abigail, on the other hand, dropped everything she had stolen and ran as fast as she could to the house.
She grabbed buckets of water from the neighbors’ farm and threw them at the fire. Trying to find a way in. But nothing worked. The tin roof eventually collapsed and snuffed out the fire for the most part. A few buckets of water later and she could climb in, trying to find her poor sister. And when she did, it was a sight nobody wanted to see. Near the main fire that Abigail kept going while she was gone, was Alicia, burnt to a crisp, holding a stick in her teeth, the lantern next to her, the other end of the stick inside.
She must have tried to light the lantern herself. She knocked it down and the flaming stick must’ve caught her hair, which must’ve caught the hay, which must’ve led to all of this. And now Alicia was gone, and she had died in the most painful, lonely way imaginable.