Sofia's father strode into the house, a beautiful woman in his arms. Sofia recoiled at the sight of her father's mistress, but her mother put on a brave face.
"Who is this?" her mother asked, trying to keep her tone light. "Is everything alright?"
"Everything is fine," her father sneered, pushing her away. "Can't a man have a little fun?"
Sofia's mother's face fell. "Please don't hurt me," she begged. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
Her father's face twisted with rage. "You're always so worried about me," he spat. "It's pathetic. I hate that you even think about me. You don't deserve me. Get out of my way."
"Please, honey, don't do this to me," her mother begged, grabbing her husband's arm.
"Don't touch me," her father yelled.
Sofia's mother flinched at her father's words, tears streaming down her face again. Sofia watched as her father raised his hand to strike her mother. She wanted to scream, to tell him to stop, but she was frozen with fear.
Her father didn't stop. Instead, he kicked his wife's stomach so hard she fell to the ground crying and clutching her stomach.
Sofia retreated to the staircase, her heart breaking with every sob. She clutched her stuffed animal tightly, hoping and praying that her father would leave soon and they would be safe again. After a while, her father stopped throwing punches and kicks after spitting on her mother.
Sofia peeked through the railing of the staircase, her eyes wide with fear as she watched her mother sobbing on the floor. Her father, towering over her, yelled insults and accusations at her.
"How dare you question me?" he bellowed. "You know I can do whatever I want. You're lucky I even bother to come back here."
Sofia's mother could not speak but whimpered in pain.
Her father kicked her mother while she was still on the ground, causing her to scream out in pain. Sofia covered her mouth to stifle her sobs.
"You're nothing but a worthless piece of trash," her father spat at her mother. "And this brat," he gestured towards Sofia, "is just a reminder of how much I hate you."
Sofia's mother tried to shield her from her husband's wrath, but he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her up to her feet. Sofia watched in horror as he continued to beat her mother mercilessly, her cries echoing through the empty house.
"No, please stop," Sofia whispered to herself, tears streaming down her face.
But her father didn't stop until he had vented all of his rage and anger. As he finally left for his room with his beautiful mistress, Sofia's mother lay on the ground, bruised and broken. Sofia rushed to her mother's side, holding her tightly when the room was locked upstairs.
"Mama, are you okay?" Sofia asked with pain.
"I'm okay, baby," her mother said weakly. "Don't worry about me. Just go to bed now."
"Mama, you also come with me to my room. Dad has locked your room, so where will you sleep?" Sofia asked with teary eyes.
Her mother nodded, still trembling with fear and sadness. Mother and daughter made their way to Sofia's bedroom when they heard the woman moaning Sofia's father's name. Her mother cried, covering her mouth. Sofia was eleven years old, but she understood everything that was happening in this house. They slowly went to Sofia's room. Sofia made her mother lie on the bed.
Her mother moaned as her whole body was aching with unbearable pain after getting a merciless beating.
"Mama, I'm here," Sofia said as she sat beside her mother, holding her hand. "I'll never leave you. I promise."
Her mother looked at her with tears in her eyes, her face still swollen from the beating.
"I know you won't, baby," she said weakly. "You're the only good thing in my life."
Sofia hugged her mother tightly, feeling the weight of her sadness and pain. She knew that her father's cruelty had scarred her mother deeply and that it would take a long time for her to heal.
"Don't worry, Mama," Sofia said softly. "I'll take care of you always. And I'll never marry a rich man. Rich people are heartless, and they loathe us as if we are trash."
Her mother smiled weakly, her hand stroking Sofia's hair. "You're such a good girl, Sofia. You won't have a fate like me. A prince will come to marry you on a white horse. He will make you happy and love you forever."
"No, Mom, I will never marry, and I will never leave you," Sofia cried as she hugged her mother tightly.
"Sofia, my child! Always remember I love you and will always love you no matter what," her mother whispered in her dull voice.
At that time, Sofia didn't understand what her mother was trying to say. But after a few months, her mother died. Though she had died from inside long ago, her husband's cruelty and betrayal made her choose death over life. She had lost the will to live, so no one could save her.
Sofia was left alone in this cruel world, and her problems increased when her father remarried just a week after her mother's death. Her father's beautiful mistress was now her stepmother. She hated Sofia even more.
She brought her daughter with her. Her father loved his new wife's daughter more. Sofia's position in her own house was now not better than a housemaid. But she was grateful her father let her continue her school.
Sofia used to cry at night, holding her mother's photo on her chest.
"Mom, why did you leave me? How can I live without you? Why didn't you take me with you?" She shouted, standing near the window and looking at the dark sky, but got no reply in return.
She was left alone in this cruel world where no one loved her, but she vowed never to marry a rich man.