Lily was curled up in the corner of her room, a blanket tossed haphazardly over her head. In her arms was a tattered old stuffed rabbit. She stroked its left ear as she sat curled up under the blanket, holding it as tightly as she did was she was five. That was nine years ago, and she still kept that stuffed rabbit as close as she could. She would put it in the bottom of her backpack when she went to school, hidden from all the other students, but still close enough to make her feel safe.
Lily rocked herself slowly back and forth, humming softly to herself, clutching the rabbit. The rest of the house was deathly quiet. She wondered what it felt like to feel safe. "Alvin?" she addressed the rabbit. "What do you think it feels like to not be lonely?"
Alvin had no answer. He never did. It just made Lily feel even more alone. But she kept holding on to the rabbit, because at least it was something.
Suddenly, a door slammed. Lily cringed and curled up tighter under her blanket, trying to disappear. There was screaming coming from downstairs. She pulled down on the sides of the blanket, clamping the soft, thick fabric against her ears.
But she could still hear it. A loud stream of obscenities. A small voice protesting. Getting closer and closer.
Lily was shaking. She tried to stop; she knew she needed to be still. When he came home like this, it was best to just disappear. It had worked so many times before.
But this time, she heard her door being thrown open. "Goddammit, Ellen, where the hell is she?" Ray's voice echoed like an epitaph.
Why can't my mother find a normal boyfriend? Lily pleaded with her common sense, trying to find an answer. Why does she always come home with drunks and drug addicts? Why did Dad have to leave? "Why?" she whispered very softly to Alvin, praying for an answer. But Alvin had no answer.
Lily's pleas were interrupted as her blanket was torn from over her. There was Ray, surrounded by the thick stench of alcohol that was his calling card. He sneered at Lily. In a voice as calm as sin, he said, "I thought I told you to take out the garbage."
"I.. I'm sorry.. I had homework.." Lily murmured, holding back tears.
She'd been dreading this moment. He exploded. "Can't you people do anything around here?" he screamed. Ray's arm shot out; Lily recoiled, expecting him to hit her. But he didn't touch her. He grabbed Alvin instead.
"This is ridiculous, you little bitch," Ray slurred. "Still playing with toys?"
Ray had Alvin's head in one hand, and he grabbed the rabbit's torso with the other. He pulled. The twelve-year-old stitching burst, and flakes of stuffing fell like snow. All Lily could do was watch, horrified, grateful that he wasn't hurting her this time, but almost wishing he had just slapped her. Alvin was all she had.
Ray sneered again, dropping the pieces of Alvin onto the soft gray carpet. "You'll be next, if you're not careful. Take out the goddamn trash next week." And then he left, stomping down the stairs, slamming the front door, zooming off in the car.
Lily crawled slowly over to the pieces of Alvin scattered on her floor. She heard footsteps in her doorway, but she didn't look up. She took Alvin's head between her hands and looked into his eyes.
Ellen came quietly into the room, sitting softly beside her daughter. After a moment, she wrapped her arm around Lily's shoulders, pulling her close. Lily rested her head in her mother's lap, cradling Alvin's decapitated head, crying softly. Ellen stroked her daughter's hair. She wanted to say she was sorry, but she knew that wasn't good enough.
And like always, Alvin had no answers.