Painful screams in the night - echo off faintly chipped walls.
No lights flicker on, not even when the whimpers form and the nails come clawing into the floorboards.
Not when the memories are relived, the trauma flashes before closed lids, and tears fall like silent raindrops from unspoken clouds hovering above.
. . . No occupants stir.
No arms of safety surround those who require them.
No flutters of love wrack the bodies composed of bruises and scars.
Lips are licked.
Eyes are squeezed shut.
Limbs face pain.
Bodies lie crumpled - crippled - the weight of finding an excuse to live so barely producing an ounce of thought left to think or feel or breathe.
Breaths come harshly, laboriously, like gasps filtering through the unmasked night, the demons lifting the skin from their faces to reveal the horrors of maggots and leeches squirming beneath.
Hearts stutter in arrhythmic beats.
Blood sloshes through veins unsliced.
Bones appear like vacant gashes under too thin skin - skin that's practically peeling, uncurling itself to the world that always finds a reason to look away.
. . . Abandonment's stench lingers in the air like vomit sticking to the white porcelain.
Scattered remnants of opened cereal boxes and air hardened fruit snacks litter portions of the floor - some spots half-chewed due to the rats finding their way in again.
A few members of the household find comfort in the three hours of sleep they manage to get. But when the sunshine awakens them through the bleeding curtains the next morning, they find it difficult to raise their lids and force their limbs into obedient movement.
It's not just the lack of sleep that brings their shoulders down, but the lack of motivation they face knowing their jobs aren't worthwhile.
But they don't recognize this ghastly truth, instead opting to ignore it, avoid it, carry on as if nothing is amuck, nothing is unsettling or distraught, as if the deaths plagued upon their members are merely brought on by the hands of time and the callousness of life itself.
And while this thought will lie silent in its comfort in their minds, eventually as the day goes on, it will be abandoned once more, and the disgust and resentment of those who can live by living will worm their way through their forms until they return to the house. Then, as soon as they cross that barrier between the outside world and their home, they will face the chilly night about to be fought, another agonizing visualization of the demons sloughing off their faces, their wildest secrets screaming as they are met under the microscope brought out by a part of them demanding further action, further inspection - and essentially - further truth.
No matter how hard they will try to escape it, try to bury it under lies and threats and helpless words, no matter the amount of pills popped, drinks poured, scars reformed, still it will linger, still it will lurk among the dark, appearing only when they lie crumpled on the floor, their bodies slack, their minds vulnerable, the moon and stars and support beyond these walls -- merely a memory of another life lived before.
Because these moments of hesitation and fleeting recognition can only hold on so long -- before the cries of the aforementioned lost souls are heard, in full magnitude, and the desperation of help and fear is met to just as frightened eyes, to just as paling lips.
And the household will find comfort in that, that in the end their weakness and core destruction is where they will find each other's support. It is where they will finally discover a pair of open arms, a love near disappearance, a hope slightly flickering.
And in these moments, in this pristine capture of time, where the sun is not yet rising but the night is not yet ending, the family will be presented with the concept of living once more, of standing and rising, because their sole presence in this world does not equate to life, it merely equates to existence -- but existing just to exist, is not the same as living with a reason to live.