That night for the first time in seven years the girls heard footsteps that weren’t those of their mother. The darkness had already become eternal. They couldn’t even remember their faces. But they knew what time Mamá brushed her teeth, that Mondays were the day to go to the market, that every Thursday she cried like that at nine at night because at that time it was one more week that their father had abandoned them, seven years now, Mamá and the three of them. But more the three of them, because if he hadn’t gone Mamá wouldn’t have gone crazy.
The steps seemed like a man’s, because they were longer and heavier, a little after hearing them on the porch they could hear the masculine voice announcing, “Police! Anyone home?” Then they heard Mamá run quickly to the door. “Good evening, officer, can I help you with something?” “Yes, madam, you can help me if you let me inspect your home, two of your neighbors have called in emergencies today, to complain about the bad smell coming from your house.”
The girls knew that Mamá hadn’t thrown out the trash nor cleaned for several weeks, it seemed that their crisis intensified recently. But this wasn’t what most frightened them, rather that this cop might decide by some chance to search the basement and find them there. Poor Mamá, she would have to go to jail and they didn’t want that even though she’d left them locked up for so many years.
They couldn’t hear Mamá answering the officer, but his steps crossed the living room, then the hall and then over the whole house. Since Papá left they had decided not to resist her orders or her craziness, they didn’t want to hurt Mamá more. The officer poked his head through the hole in the basement ceiling where their mother threw food once a day, but he couldn’t see anything, only sense the smell of feces and urine that came from below.
The steps creaked under the weight of him coming down, the odor getting ever stronger. The girls had stayed completely silent the whole time, hugging each other in a corner, trying not to let him find them. The officer saw the dirty bare feet in the darkness, then he approached them.
“Come with me, don’t be afraid, I’m not going to hurt you.” The girls didn’t move, but they saw Mamá’s shadow coming down approaching the boy from the back. She raised something in the air and with a thud his body fell like a stone to the floor, she threw the piece of wood and grabbed the shoulders of the boy to drag him up the stairs.
The oldest daughter started to help her and when the body was in the middle of the living room, she smiled at her mother as if expecting something in exchange, then she ran back to the basement. Mamá walked slowly after the girl and put the lock back on the door.