Jessie always knew she was a different child.
Raining. Grey skies. Monday morning. '93
Four year old Jessie slowly opens her sticky-with-sleep eyes and tries to let them focus on her clock above her head, which is ticking in an inconsistent manner, each tick echoing against the walls. She snuggles into her thinned duvet a little deeper, already hearing the eerie creaking of the floorboards outside of her room, which meant that her mother was awake. Tick. T-tick.
That damn clock.
Jessie finally heaves herself up in bed, rubs her little eyes and gives herself a little stretch before swinging her bare feet onto the threadbare blue carpet and standing up, humming to herself and walking across her room to her little wicker basket, to find her old flannel and her bristly toothbrush to take to the bathroom. She hears voices, though.
In her head?
No, that only came at night time. This is definitely the voice of her mother, laughing at something in her bedroom.
Knowing her mum, Jessie knows it isn't even anything funny so she thinks nothing of it.
Bright. Thursday afternoon. Clear skies. '98
Jessie walks into the kitchen at the age of 9 and sees her mum and her dad sitting at the coffee table. She gives a small smile before making her way to sit down - but completely clumsily missing the chair and crashing onto the dusty stone tiled floor, her tailbone shooting in agony.
Granted, her father looks up and tilts his head to the side as if to say 'are you alright?' but her mother, her eyes sparkling, bursts out into laughter, her hand covering her mouth and turning away from the scene.
Jessie's father, Jack, turns and states at his wife with the straightest face ever, which just made his wife laugh harder, now clutching her stomach. Jessie swallows and blinks back the tears of embarrassment as her father reaches over and helps her up, his face still straight. "Ready?" he mutters. Jessie nods.
"3, 2, 1," Jessie stands up with the help of her father's strength, wobbles slightly but then dusts off the back of her black dress, now coated in dust.
Maybe a few insects too.
Jessie's father - a man called Jack Napier - now fully turns himself to his wife and gives her the dirtiest he could master as she wipes the invisible tears of laughter away from her eyes, dramatically.
She's so rude.
"It's not that funny," Jack drawls, blinking at her, now confused at the joke. "Is there a joke that I missed?" Jessie's mother, a woman called Alexis Napier, smiles sadly and leans on her palm as she faces her husband.
"No," she shrugs carelessly.
"Good," Jack mumbles. Jessie meanwhile, sits down - this time actually getting the chair - and begins to butter herself some toast. She feels something run across her feet and screams bloody murder, automatically bringing her feet onto the chair but the chair not supporting her weight and toppling backwards, crashing onto the floor, Jessie's head cracking against the kitchen counter and scraping against the handle of the drawers on the way down. She collapses onto the floor, clutching the back of her bleeding head.
Jack gets up and walks over to her, bending down to check her injuries. He tuts. "We've gotta get you do the hospital," he whispers, dialling 911. As it rings he turns to his wife, who for some reason is in hysterics - as in hysterical laughter. What just happened is not funny to anyone else but her. "Why are you LAUGHING?" Jack ends up shouting. Jessie's heartbeat picks up - her dad never shouts. Alexis giggles to herself and shrugs nonchalantly again which irritates her husband to the max as he tells the paramedic their address. Jessie however can't take the laughter. It's ringing through her brain and making her head sting alongside the pain.
Just shut her up.
Jack hangs up and bends down again, attempting to stop the bleeding with his hands. His wife is still laughing. He can't take it. Jessie can't take it. They can't take it.
Just slap her or something.
"ALEXIS," Jack barks. Alexis rolls her eyes playfully which winds Jack up so much he can't describe, so he clenches his fists.
"Oh come on, guys, it's was a rat, it was funny!" she defends herself, still wearing that stupid grin. Jessie stops biting down on her jaw in pain and actually turns to face her mother just as her father does.
'It was funny'
"You're sick," Jack spits, still supporting his daughter's head.
"Oh guys, she'll be fine. Why so serious all the time? I swear I'm in the wrong family." Jack is about to retaliate but sees the sirens of the ambulance staining the white washes walls with their neon colours. The paramedics rush through and carry Jessie onto the stretcher, backing up and telling Jack to follow them, his hands still pooled with her blood. He stands up straight and quickly rinses his hands before leaving with them.
"Since it's so funny, you can stay here," he trills over his shoulder to his wife before he leaves, who is left smiling to herself alone in the kitchen.
Thursday night. Dark skies. Raining.
Jack opens the front door and let Jessie walk through, the bandage wrapped around her head to support the stitches. It's dark in there - Alexis has clearly gone out.
Jack throws Jessie a packet of dry crackers and a warm carton of orange juice, a silent goodnight as they usually did. Let's just ignore the feeling in her head that some may just register as pure pain.
Sure, why not.
Jessie heaves herself up the stairs and ends up collapsing on the bed, feeling beyond drowsy. Darkness coats her eyelids as she finally shuts them and falls into a deep sleep.
For around two hours.
It's now three in the morning. The only reason Jessie wakes up is that creak of the front door, implying that her mother was home. She sits up, ignores her head, pads over to the banister and peers down. She hears heartbreaking sobs.
One by one they break her heart.
Well you would expect them to.
But Jessie, for some reason, isn't fazed.
Until her mother glances up and she can see what's happened.
Her cheeks look slashed, completely ruined and stained with dark red blood. Her eyes are pleading and glistening with tears.
It was a smile
Just an eerie smile, carved into her cheeks.
No feeling? Shock? Nausea? No? Okay then.
Jessie watches, frozen, as her father walks into the hallway with a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand. This is when she gets scared.
She can't hear much now, just her father mumbling some random words. She can make out some words, such as
"You're always smiling now." Jessie's heartbeat picks up now.
What? That sounds wrong.
Over her mothers painful speechless whimpers she can hear the metallic clattering of something in the tool box.
"Jack, no," Alexis murmurs, not able to open her mouth properly due to the bleeding gashes in the mouth, now feeling faint.
"Why so serious?" Jack hisses, the clattering stopping. Jessie feels sick.
No, dad, no.
"Jack," Alexis sobs.
"Why so serious?" Jack hisses louder, sounding like he's keeping something in the corner of his mouth.
Oh no he's not about to do that-
A manic laugh.
"Now we can both smile," came a high pitched overly-happy voice through gritted teeth.
Jessie opened her eyes in a flash, sitting up, panting as she clutched her chest. Her eyes darted around her and she calmed down as she realised that she was still in the child's home, being cared for until anyone was bothered to adopt her. The saddest thing was, the dream she had wasn't a work of fiction…
…that was her life.
A/N: Hello! So this first chapter was a bit of a one off, that's not usually how I write haha, I just wanted to try something a little different. This story's going to be so much fun to write.