He only lets me out when it’s dark.

My day begins with the sound of a key turning the lock in the front door. I listen attentively. I can guess the weather by the sounds he makes after he drops his keys in the glass bowl on the hall table – a coat shook off and falling to the floor, an umbrella sliding into the stand. There may be heavy sighs, or a light footstep, or even a low moan. I don’t dare forget any of these things, because soon he will unlock my box and look at me with either appreciation or boredom or disgust, and it’s better if I know what’s coming.

Today there was much sighing. Perhaps because the weather is bad. There is a coat on the floor and an umbrella in the stand. But no, there’s more. A sadness I have not detected in a while.

The light in my room goes on. It seeps through the cracks between the boards. I smooth the front of my dress and organize my facial features into an expression of concern. The key turns in the lock and the lid swings up. He looks at me and smiles.

“Boy am I glad to see you, Cheryl.”

“I’m glad to see you too, Bruce.”

“Let me help you up.”

He takes my hand, but I don’t need his help. I am built for getting in and out of boxes. I step onto the scuffed wood floor of my room and brush a few bits of straw off the back of my dress.

I tilt my head to one side and make my eyes just a bit wider. “Did you have a hard day, sweetheart?” I stroke his face with my fingertips.

“The hardest,” Bruce replies. “Everyone at work keeps ignoring me. I think they hate me.”

“Impossible,” I smile. Then I kiss him on the cheek. “Let me straighten up the house and get dinner started. Then you can tell me all about it.”

Bruce exhales and his shoulders drop almost imperceptibly. I have soothed him. That is my function. The gears whir and spin. I am learning.

I touch his arm as I pass. “Why don’t you get out of those wet clothes?” I offer. “I put some fresh ones out for you just before you left this morning.”

That coat will stain the floor in the hall if I let it.

About Prompt-A-Day: The rules are simple. Every day, I generate a promptĀ using Story Shack’s awesome writing prompt generator. Then I set a timer for one hour. At the end of the hour, I post what I’ve got. Sometimes it’s decent. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I fail at the prompt. Sometimes I do okay. I do not edit, unless I find a typo, because I can’t help fixing those. Feel free to join in and post a link to your writing in the comments.