She wasn't in the living room, or in the little room he used for an office/storage room, or even in the closet under the stairs. He checked there first because he had found her passed out in there the week before, clutching a bottle of tequila. But she wasn't there, just a bunch of coats and the faint lingering smell of unwashed gym socks. That left the basement, which he didn't really see as being a likely prospect, due to her fear of the dark, and spiders, and hot water heaters - all things which resided down the creaky old stairs. The only things in the basement other than that were a pair of old skis and a broken bicycle; nothing that would compel her to make the journey. But he looked anyway, in the hopes that maybe she was just cleaning down there as well.
Our eyes are created to slowly adjust to the darkness, not instantly give us a clear view the moment we plunge from total light into absolute darkness. Perhaps this is to give our other senses to become accustom to the environment before we can see it, or an attempt to stave off the impending, yet inevitable doom that awaits us in dark places.
His nasal passages flared and became aware of the obvious use of alcohol. His ears grew sensitive to the sound of a slight whimpering that came from somewhere to his right. His skin crawled with the imaginary feeling of spiderwebs brushing against him. Finally his eyes could view his surroundings, and he saw her. She was in the corner, rocking gently back and forth, and making faint whimpers that reminded him of an abandoned puppy, or a child that has been abused so much it doesn't know how to cry properly anymore. She was sitting in a puddle of vodka, a broken bottle strewing it's glass on the concrete floor. Tiny rivers of blood mixed themselves in with the liquid and created little pink swirls that reminded him of those little peppermint candies they give out at Pizza Delight when you get your bill. He could see in the semi-darkness that she had cut her hand a little on the broken glass that littered the floor.
"I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to. I promise, I didn't."
He wasn't sure if she was referring to the cuts, or the broken bottle, or the pot of cough syrup boiled over on the stove. He didn't really care. He just scooped her up in his arms and carried her up the stairs. She didn't struggle, she couldn't. Her eyes just kind of glazed as she allowed him to help her out of her soggy clothes and into one of his over sized t-shirts, put a Band-aid on her hand, and tuck her into bed. He threw a blanket over the window to keep out the obnoxious amount of light pouring in, and set a pitcher of water and a glass on the bedside table for when she woke up.
There was so much he couldn't understand. Why the cough syrup, why the cleaning, why the basement? So many things about her just didn't add up, but in some weird way, it was why he loved her.