Every night she waited in the cave, waiting for the Cyclops to come and get her.
She could hear him stamping around the outside of the cave, making the floor shake with his footsteps, the walls vibrating with his weight. She could smell him, too, the mixture of anger and alcohol and frustration and despair. She had a name for that smell.
She called it gunpowder. It only needed a spark to explode.
Her cave was small and dark and lonely, and every day it grew smaller and lonelier and darker still. The smaller it was, the safer it was, she thought. There was always a chance that the Cyclops would not notice it.
Though, of course, he would. Each night, she knew that this was the night he would.
Every night the Cyclops stamped around, making things creak and jostle, and then he would make his way heavily over to the bed, and she waited, knowing that on his way to the bed he would turn aside and come to her, that he would come and get her tonight. Then he would strip her, first of her clothes, then of her skin, and then of her flesh and bone, all while she screamed, knowing what was happening to her, but nobody else would hear. Every night she knew that tonight it would happen. Surely it would happen tonight.
But he never did.
And that was the worst torture. Because, of course, she knew she deserved whatever was going to happen to her. She deserved it, because he had told her, over and over, that she deserved it. He would not do this to her unless she deserved it, and therefore of course she deserved it.
And every night that he did not punish her merely increased the guilt she bore, and, therefore, the measure of her punishment.
Crouching in her corner of the cave, she trembles, waiting. Tonight he did not come. Tomorrow, surely, he will come. Her heart measures her fear with every beat.
Tomorrow night, tonight. But she is afraid that he never will. That this is her punishment.
And, sometimes, worst of all, she wonders if he is real.
She wants to beg him to come.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2018
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