Iris

Published January 15, 2015 by Naomi Rettig

Iris tried to keep her breathing under control as she led under the bed, as flat to the floor as she could possibly be. She concentrated on trying to breathe as slowly as possible in direct opposition to the rapid runaway palpitations of her heart. Her one hand was across her mouth, in case her voice betrayed her and cried out involuntary, while her other hand gripped tightly to the handle of a sturdy hunting knife. Her father had given her the knife and she always kept it on her, usually attached to her belt, when he had to leave her in the house alone to go out food salvaging. She wished he was home with her now, but panicked at the thought of him arriving back any moment and putting himself in danger. The sound of a glass breaking downstairs caused Iris to refocus on her breathing.
Luckily she’d been upstairs when the intruders broke in. Judging from the noise and voices Iris thought there must be at least four down there. Hiding under the bed was her first instinct but now she was thinking that maybe trying to climb out the window and run away would be a better idea. Although she didn’t know where to run to. Surrounded by only fields and woodland there were no neighbours or other buildings to hideout in. The Johnson’s barn was the nearest but that had been burnt down in the cleansing. If she ran her father wouldn’t know where to find her. That thought was more terrifying than sharing her house with the intruders.
Raucous laughter echoed up the stairs and under the gap between the bedroom door and the floorboards. The laughter continued downstairs while footsteps rose up the stairs. Iris’s heart pumped faster and the urge to urinate almost took over her. The heavy footsteps slowly got louder as they approached the bedroom door. The shadow of an intruder crept under the door. Iris’s hand holding the knife was trembling. The door slowly swung open and Iris could see a pair of black leather boots, scuffed and muddy. The boots didn’t enter the bedroom but moved away down the hall. The sound of urinating in the bathroom was a slight relief to Iris. The intruder would go back downstairs and hopefully they would take what they wanted and leave before her father came home.
The heavy footsteps came back across the hallway. They didn’t go back down the stairs. They paused at her bedroom door again. And entered. The boots steadily crossed the room with Iris’s eyes following them unblinkingly. She listened to drawers opening and watched as items dropped to the floor, her notebook, her bra. A grubby hand with chewed down nails scooped down and picked up the bra. The boots were only a few feet away from her face. She realised she was holding her breath. The boots didn’t move. Time seemed stuck like a stagnant pond. Then with a sudden shifting of the boots, that caused Iris to exhale with force, the intruder was on his knees and looking directly at her with depraved grimace.
‘Hello little whore’.

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