She was only a child when it all came unhinged. She slept with a nightlight, it kept out the fear. It kept out the sorrow.
It kept out her mother.
The woman would sit in the kitchen staring her daughter down. Eyes baring into the little girl's back.
Icy didn't do anything wrong really. But her mom always found something.
And when that something was found, it was followed by a slap or a kick and a barrage of drink-slurred insults.
Icy had long since learned not to beg nor cry. Neither helped much. If anything it just made her mother madder.
And so she continued to play with the beaten rag-doll in her hand--a remnant of a time when her mom used to cuddle her and whisper kind words.
"I SAID LOOK AT ME!" Her mother barked.
Icy kept her gaze to the doll, moving it slowly...softly as if her mother didn't have a grip on her hair.
"YOU STUPID GIRL." The woman snarled. She snatched the doll out of her daughter's hands, her voice dropping to a much lower, more dangerous octave. "I bought this wretched thing for you, I can take it away."
Not a sound came from Icy's lips. She merely stared up at the woman she called 'muma'. The woman who promptly whipped the toy into the fireplace.
"Darcy!" Icy called as the cloth singed and blackened.
"Darcy is dead." Her mother hissed.
And this time the tears came. Icy let herself fall to the floor and drew legs close to her trembling form.
The sting of her mother's hand didn't come. Rather the woman's expression visibly softened.
"I'm sorry baby. I didn't mean it."
"You killed Darcy." Icy choked out.
"I didn't mean it, really. I...I'll buy you a new..."
"I don't want a new doll! I want Darcy." Icy muttered.
"Look baby, I can't..." The woman ran a hand over Icy's hair.
She went to bed with an sense of dread, a feeling of a dismal kind of lonely. Her mother's was not a voice she wanted to hear--then or ever again.
And it was dark, so dark. Much darker than ever. So she plugged another nightlight in. Maybe that one would stop the gloom.
Breakfast wasn't very tasty either when accompanied by her mother's tired cold stare. Every time Icy looked up from the bowl she'd catch an angry glimpse.
It came in cycles; yells and smacks and then sorrys and hugs. And on occasions sobs and regrets. As of breakfast the two were back at the yell phase.
"YOU NASTY CHILD! I WORKED MY ASS OFF TO MAKE YOU THIS FOOD, YOU BETTER START EATING IT."
Icy stirred the spoon around in the milk (which at this point had gone warm) for a little while before bringing the spoon to her mouth.
"Darcy used to like this cereal." Icy muttered.
"Darcy isn't real." Her mother hissed.
"Darcy used to..."
Icy's mother cupped her hands over her ears. "Heavens child! ENOUGH! Darcy couldn't do anything."
"She can too." Icy pouted.
This time her mother stood up and at such an abrupt rate, the chair found its place on the tile. The action sparked Icy into a standing position as well--set to run away.
Her mother stood above her now. Icy shielded her face against a slap that never came. Instead she found herself in a crumpled heap on the floor via her mom's knee to her stomach.
"I've had it with you." The woman growled.
"Muma no." Icy whispered only to have her words mimicked back to her. She heard the shatter of glass. Looking up revealed her mother edging closer with a broken bottle. The child made a feeble attempt at crawling away before the glass met her back. A scream tore its way out.
"I'm sorry baby, did muma hurt you?" Her mother's voice filled with feigned remorse.
"Come now come now The Darkness loves you." Comes a whisper. "The Darkness can help you."
Icy's eyes scan the room. The bottle comes down again. This time Icy took to rolling out of the way. She got up and shot for the stairs.
"No more tears." It whispers.
Icy pulls the door to her room open, dashes in, quickly closes it, and locks it.
The room is dismal with no windows. The only light comes from her nightlights.
Her mother's footsteps draw near. Leaving Icy's heart thudding in her chest. "Help me." She whispers to no one "What do I do." The blood from her back continues to ebb downward. Pooling around her feet...beneath the crack under the door.
"The Darkness loves you." Beckon the whispers again.
"The Darkness is salvation."
"The Darkness heals."
Icy pulled out her nightlights and slid under the bed.
"Icy. Baby. Let me in." Came her mom's voice. Icy couldn't tell if the regret was sincere or not. "Baby please. I love you."
"I don't love you." Icy shouted.
Her mom pounded on the door. "Don't make me use my magic."
Icy edged further beneath the bed as the chill of her mother's magic seeped in.
"The Darkness protects." The whisper declares.
Her mother gave a yelp. "Fine. Fine baby, I'll wait for you downstairs. We can play a game. You and mommy. We can play a nice boardgame. Just come downstairs soon okay baby?"
Icy held her tongue.
"I'll wait downstairs." Her mother repeated before retreating down the hall.
"You have a name right?" Icy muttered when the coast was clear.
The Darkness offered no answer.
"I'll call you Darcy." Icy decided.
The shadow nodded and coiled itself around Icy.
"Darcy." It repeated as it oozed over the vertical slashes in Icy's back. The pain eased away. "The Darkness won't let you be alone."
That night was spent under the bed and without the nightlights. Icy didn't--and would never--need them anymore.
The child found herself skipping down the hallway, a new toy in her hand. A toy given to her by the darkness.
"I'm ready to play now muma." Icy smiled and drew out her new toy.
"Baby, what are you doing?" Her mother gasped. "Put that down. You're going to hurt yourself."
Icy stepped closer.
"Come on baby. Here. Give it to me." Her mother outstretched her arm. "Icy. Honey. Why are you doing this?"
Icy cocked her head slightly, "Darcy tells me to do bad things muma. Darcy told me to kill you."