That night, Melissa descended the stairs wearing a long white gown, which had little embellishment as her sisters wished to look better than her. She took her mother’s hand and they walked off to the theatre, but Melissa was in no mood. She looked to the floor, the whole time, thinking of how embarrassed she would be when her sisters demanded to talk to Lazarus after the show.

As she sombrely walked into the theatre and took her seat, her sisters squealed and clapped furiously as he began to play. Melissa heard the music, but she was not bothered. She didn’t want to look up in case he looked out across the audience and saw her, so she hid behind the man in front. Her hair was done up with her natural curls and she wasn’t the only one not looking at the show.

Albert, the local butcher’s son was looking at her, which she knew about, but tried to ignore. When he ended his piece and stood and bowed her sisters stood and clapped, slowly making the whole audience give him a standing ovation. Melissa, as you might have guessed, remained planted in her seat. Until she got dragged out of it by her sisters to go meet him outside. The lower class people left, leaving a room full of upper-class buffoons talking to each other and Lazarus.

As she stood before Lazarus she kept her eyes firmly on the ground. But her sister, the tallest and eldest one, Elizabeth squealed first. “I love you...r music! It’s so wonderful and you’re so graceful.”

Mary squealed second, “yes and you can really feel the love in it!” This was then followed by her giving Melissa a sharp jab in the ribs, making her yelp like a dog being kicked, her ribs was always where her father hit her, Mary’s jabs just made it worse but as she said nothing again Elizabeth jabbed her in her other side making her whimper.

She reluctantly looked up to Lazarus, tears in her eyes from the pain. “Yes, a wonderful show, truly beautiful, you have a great soul.” She muttered, earning more jabs from her sisters, “Sorry...Sir,” she always forgot that bit. All joy from her previous encounter had gone, leaving her almost hollow and sore from her beatings. What you couldn’t see was that beneath the dress was a fragile purple body and her knees were even rawer and bloodier.

He half smiled, "thank you," he murmured, masking his rough accent.

She nodded, "remember to... smile." She whispers, noticing only half the smile. "Sir," she added, as her sisters looked at her in disgust.

"Ignore her," one said,

"She's mental, adopted sir." The other one added and Melissa sighed, resisting the urge to attack them, but she was obedient... she felt like the families dog, not the youngest daughter.

"I'm sure she's a wonderful sister really," he looked around as another man appeared and walked over. "My father wants me; you'll have to excuse me."

"Smile," Melissa mumbled, growling as Elizabeth elbowed her, "and Good Luck sir, all the best with your piano."

 "Thank you," he nodded, walking reluctantly away to meet his father. She followed him with her eyes and her own father slapped her round the head, “divert your eyes girl!” He snapped into her ear and she then did what she did best.

Just as her father’s hand hit her head she fell to the floor with a loud crash, making everyone in the room look at her. It hurt her ribs more, but she knew that if she pretended to faint then he wouldn’t hurt her anymore for a few weeks, but she could only do it every so often and only when her and her father knew how badly he had beaten her. She took the pain and made her eyes glazing over, so she only looked directly in front of her, she could see Lazarus’ shoes as they hesitantly walked toward her, only to be pulled back and she gave a short laugh to herself, closing her eyes. “Smile,” She thought, “I should follow my own advice.”

The End

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