Tobi could feel the minuscule twitching of the muscles just outside the outline of her lips. Her mind flashed to images of some sadistic puppeteer pulling the thin threads of her nerves until the curl of her mouth was curiously morbid. She imagined she could see a face outside the window looking back at her as she sat her chair at the bottom of the dark stairs. The face was cruel, it scrutinized her. The eyes reflected an inner depth that was reserved for old souls and haunted minds.
Giggles from the top of the stairs interrupted her thoughts. She pursed her lips, refusing to allow her body to express the hate that bathed her insides in black. She felt alternating rage and sadness at the thought of the seemingly endless weeks she had been segregated from the others. In those weeks, each time her mind had reached toward hope that her punishment would last only a little longer, darkness shrouded her thoughts and the nausea returned. She still struggled to understand why she was being kept at Crown’s Plank, to figure out the exact missteps that had led to her placement in solitary confinement.
The existence that Tobi had been born into was the essence of the experiences that rip grace, elegance, and aspirations from a young soul. By fifteen, most in her situation were already familiar with the stench of strangers; they learned to hold themselves so their stance conveyed a confidence that hid how their hearts quivered. For children such as Tobi, there was no life to live, there was only survival.