Her father seldom heard her; her father seldom saw her. When she was standing in front of him he rarely looked at her and when she spoke he rarely listened. To him Madeline was someone who existed between blinks. She was an occasional creak on the floorboards. She was a fleeting breath in the breeze. The only time he would begin to consider her was when he felt angry, and the only time he spoke to her was when he searched for someone to blame over something he had already forgotten about. Nevertheless she was culpable. Goaded by the scorn of her crippled and bitter mother, Madeline's father would frequently threaten his daughter first with eyes that narrowed and then with words that seemed to sharpen his knuckles, which would then continue to pummel her already purpled teenage torso. He always made certain to avoid striking her face; it was his gift to her.
Her father seldom heard her; her father seldom saw her, and yet at thirteen Madeline acquired two broken ribs resulting from 'a bad fall'. At fourteen she suffered the pain of three broken fingers resulting from a 'silly accident', and at fifteen she discovered a festering dark unforgiving bliss that had long been maturing in the core of her developing and resentful soul.
Her father seldom heard her; her father seldom saw her... and so her father never expected it.
Even the sun seemed sluggish that day. It lingered lethargically on the horizon and allowed the shadows to breed into those provisional pockets of black in which ill thoughts and vengeance hatch, and in which Madeline herself had been hiding for most of the night waiting and trembling. She had concealed herself in the recess at the top of the stairs, an alcove just large enough for a young girl and just small enough to contain delicate wits close to tearing.
At 8am her mother called her from the downstairs bedroom; she demanded breakfast.
At 8:01am her mother's voice raised to a shrill.
At 8:03am her father shouted at Madeline from the upstairs bedroom for being disobedient.
At 8:03am her mother began swearing and threatening her.
At 8:03am her father began swearing and threatening her.
At 8:05am Madeline heard her father storm out of his room and across the landing before kicking her bedroom door open. She wasn't there.
At 8:06am he was standing at the top of the stairs wearing nothing but his underpants and screaming violently at his wife.
At 8:06am his wife screamed violently in return.
At 8:06am Madeline sprang screaming from the confines of the recess and hurtled towards her father.
Her father seldom heard her: her father seldom saw her... her father never stood a chance...