'Why don't you get out of this house then if you hate living here so much?!' my mother shrieked.
'DON'T THINK I DON'T WANT TO!' my father screamed back.
I turned the music on my iPod up louder, until the headphones were vibrating and it was all I could hear. I would focus on nothing but the song.
'And if you think I'm wrong, maybe you should go...' I mumbled along, closing my eyes.
A few seconds later however, I felt the other side of the bed weigh down slightly, the duvet was pulled a little. I glanced over and saw Maddy curled up in a ball, facing away from me. Her tiny body was shaking.
Pausing my music, I curled up next to her.
'Maddy? You okay?' I whispered.
'No,' she sniffed. 'They're arguing again, I can't sleep.'
'Oh sweetheart.' Something tugged at my heart, Maddy's pain and suffering caused me to hurt too. How could they be so selfish? Maddy was only seven years old and here she was, an absolute wreck. I stroked her hair.
'It's okay,' I murmured. 'Want me to tell you a story?'
She turned over and I saw the glimmer of a smile beneath her tear-stained cheeks.
'Which would you like to hear?'
'The one about the princess and her secret lover who escaped!'
I smiled. That one was her favourite.
'Well, once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess named...Madison,' I grinned. 'She had the most gorgeous hair in all of her valley! Everyone loved it! It was what she was well known for; her silky blonde locks. However, she knew there was more to her than just her hair and she wished people would understand that, that they would see the real her...'
'What does that mean?' Maddy piped up. 'I know what you mean about people seeing the real her, but why? Why isn't she just happy the way she is?'
'Well,' I started. 'How should I put it? Okay, when you get older, much older, and you find yourself interested in a guy wouldn't you like him to know the real you? Which would you prefer: a guy who only loves you for your looks, or one who took the time to get to know you as a person, to see beneath your beauty?'
'Guys stink,' she scrunched up her nose.
I laughed. 'Oh Maddy, that'll change for you soon!'
She giggled along with me and I felt a comfortable warmth begin to spread throughout me at her happiness. At least I had taken her mind off the arguing.
'I'm tired now Zo-zo.'
'You go to sleep Maddy, sweet dreams,' I kissed her forehead and watched as she slowly drifted off to a land much more suitable for her than this harsh reality she was living in.
If only I could do the same.