She loved the shivers that ran down her spine as she began her trek down.
The stairs were steep and uneven. She could never find a rhythm to match the descent. At the bottom, there were two options. To the left were concrete flooring, musty smells, dim lighting, the boiler, tools, and a mound of dirty clothes capable of hiding anyone or anything. The playroom was to the right. It always took her a few extra seconds to make that turn, seconds in which every possibility played across her imagination and set her heart racing.
She would curl up in the corner with a book, skimming over the words, never really letting the details sink in. The basic storyline would propel her into a world that no author could ever do justice to. The hum of the freezer and the footsteps above kept her adrenaline running as she explored worlds.
The basement was her sanctuary. It made her feel alive.
One day, he was there.
He looked at her in a way that made all her imaginary fears fade away.
She was too young to recognize what real fear felt like.
He suggested a game, and told her the rules.
At first, she didn’t get it right, and he got frustrated.
She wanted him to like her, so she kept trying.
When he didn’t want to play anymore, he pushed her off his lap and ran upstairs.
She listened to his footsteps fade away.
She never got over the grief of having her sanctuary stolen from her.