2 Cold Wind at Night

"Don't worry, mum. I promise I'll work harder so that we can get out of this hellhole," Lai told her mother as she helped her stand up from the floor and seated her on the couch.

It had happened again: the abuse, pain, and torture. It always happened when her father was drunk. Honestly, to say she was sick and tired of this situation would be an understatement.

She hated him. She hated him so much. Why does he have to treat them this way? What did they ever do to deserve such mistreatment?

"Thank you, Lai Lai," her mother softly spoke, using the nickname she had given her since she was a child.

Lai's mother silently groaned in pain as she shifted herself so that she could sit more comfortably, smiling bitterly as she watched her daughter walk to the cupboard to grab the first aid kit.

Her mother watched her crouch beside the chair and begin to disinfect her injuries.

"Mum, why do you let him continue to do this to you?"

Her mother looked away, gazing at the wall, her mind far away. She always got the bad end of the stick. She always ended up with more bruises since she was his number one target.

"Truthfully speaking, he is a douchebag, so why-"

"Lai Lai!" her mother exclaimed, interrupting her.

Her mother's eyes widened in shock at her statement. Why was she so shocked? It was not like she was wrong. She was 100% correct, and her mother knew it.

"Don't call your father such a vulgar word. He's sleeping, so what if he hears you? He will get furious!" her mother whispered, softly hitting her shoulders.

Lai rolled her eyes at her mother's statement. Well, he was a douchebag. Any man who abused his wife or family was a douchebag.

Nah, douchebag was too soft a word. Scum. Scum was the better word.

Her father goes out drinking almost every night, and when he comes back, he comes as this abusive, angry beast. They were his prey, his punching bags.

And she was so sick of it!

She had applied for jobs instead of going to college. Although she was an A+ student in high school and was offered a scholarship to study whatever she wanted, she turned it down.

It may sound crazy, but she had to at that time. What led to her turning down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you ask? Who else but her oh-so-sweet father.

Five years ago, during her final year of high school, her father was fired for misconduct as an Administrative Clerk at one of the city's banks. Her mother then became the sole financial provider of the house - a beneficiary.

Her father tried to find other jobs, but to no avail, since all the employers found out why he was fired. He ended up depressed and began to drink excessively, and later gambled.

He took out loans from loansharks to cater to his gambling addiction. Who did he put as collateral in the event that he died before entirely paying off his loan?

You guessed it, his very own daughter. How swell...And so Lai had found out about her father's deal with the devil.

She told herself that she had to sacrifice her education if it meant helping relieve some of her mother's financial burdens and paying off the five million dollar debt her father owed the loan sharks.

It was the best option, especially for her safety.

"Whatever, but just so you know, I have an interview tomorrow at Monolith Bank Corp.," Lai said, crossing her arms together.

"Your father's former workplace?" her mother asked, her squinting black eyes watching her in shock at her statement.

She nodded, and her mother vigorously shook her head 'no.'

"Are you sure? I thought they were paying you enough at the café. You don't need to work yourself to the bone. Besides your father...His misconduct...The bank may be prejudiced."

Lai sighed. Of course, she knew that was a possibility, but there was no way she would miss this opportunity. She was going to go to the interview and give off her best.

She needed a high-paying job. She had to get a high-paying job for herself and her mother's survival.

"Don't worry about that. I am not my father and will show them why I deserve that receptionist job," she said, giving her mother a reassuring smile.

Her mother looked at her in disbelief, her eyes devoid of happiness. It was as if she had become soulless over the last five years. Gray, shoulder-length hair slightly covered her mother's lean face.

If one looked at her, they would think she had never known what joy was. Gentle black eyes, set asymmetrically within their sockets, observed Lai as she finished disinfecting the wound on her mother's right cheek.

Her mother used to be as graceful as a swan with the most beautiful, dazzling smile she had ever seen. Now, she occasionally saw her smile, not that she blamed her.

Well, it was hard to smile in a household where you were repeatedly abused and treated like a dirty rag.

Lai wanted to change that. Yes, she intends to change their circumstances and bring back her mother's happiness once again.

She wants them to be happy again and see her mother smile and laugh more often.

She wants to see her be the radiant jewel she used and deserves to be. She glanced at the closed door of her parent's room. Her father was inside, sleeping after consuming too much alcohol again.

"Done," she informed her mother, closing the first aid kit and putting it back in the cupboard.

"I'm heading to bed. I don't want to wake up tired for my interview tomorrow," she stated, yawning.

Her mother just absently nodded and watched as Lai wandered to her room, downcast. Lai locked the door and crouched beside her bed.

Tears welled up in her hazelnut eyes as she thought of how much her mother and her were suffering.

'How much longer do we have to endure this?'

She cried so much that she had a massive headache a few minutes later.

"Great, just great."

She stood up, walked to her closet, sat down, and gazed at herself in the mirror. She was now a 178cm tall 23-year-old.

She inherited her large hazelnut eyes from her father, much to her dismay since they don't have a good relationship anymore. Her eyes always received compliments on how large, beautiful, and mesmerising they were.

She moved away from the mirror. Her bedroom had a balcony, so she walked to the door and opened it. As soon as she stepped out, she was hit with the cold winter air.

Slightly shivering, she walked back inside her room and grabbed her pink woolen blanket, wrapping it around herself, then stepped out to the balcony once again.

"The stars sure are beautiful tonight," she gazed up, watching the stars twinkle in the cold night.

She stood by the balcony for a good ten minutes, doing nothing but stargazing, and letting her mind run free from all thoughts.

When she had had enough of the cold, wind that was gently blowing her brown hair, she stepped inside her room. Closing the balcony door, she tucked herself into bed.

"The night is really ice cold today. Although I added three more woolen blankets, I still feel like I am freezing to death. At least winter is ending, and it will be spring soon."

Tonight, she dreamt of the wounded man she had met two years ago after working for Ebony Chocolate Café for the last four years. She wondered why she suddenly remembered him.

Perhaps it was because that fateful night was as cold as this one.

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