She can breathe, but is afraid.

Afraid to breathe, afraid the sound will…tell them. Tell them she is here.

She doesn’t know where here is, where she is; it’s so dark, and there is something in front of her. Her fingers touch it. It is dry and hard, and she pulls them away so they don’t give her away. But there is nothing behind her in the black emptiness, and she reaches out again for the…thing. She has to have the thing. Without it, she is lost. Gone.

She is careful. She has to be careful.

Quiet. Still. So still.

She was told this, to be still, she thinks, but cannot be sure. She is too scared to think, to know anything other than this.

She is still. She has been still before. Quiet. No sounds.

She hears them come. She hears sounds. There are walking sounds. Talking sounds.

The talking gets big, and there are other sounds. More sounds. Hard sounds. Breaking sounds.

Her eyes hurt and she can’t breathe from her nose. She cracks open her lips and sips air. Soft. She tries soft.

Can they hear her?

They cannot hear her. They must not hear her.

Yes, now she knows. The Big One told her. She can’t remember the words – she knows so little of what the Big One talks – but knows this. “Still” she has been told; “Quiet” and everything will be “fine.”

The Big One makes a big noise, and after that there is a sound like something she’s heard before, but not the same. A good noise that sounds…bad. It’s too loud. It hurts her head and makes her tummy sick. She can’t breathe at all now, it hurts too much.

She stands alone in the dark, her face pressed up against the hardness of something she cannot see. She wants to go to the Big One. She cannot imagine being without the Big One.

Of being alone.

The Big One will come for her.

She stands still. She breathes quietly.

And, she waits.