I dug at the cuffs on my ankles, the skin beneath them long since rubbed raw and wet with blisters. I could hear him coming down the stairs.
As his huge frame lumbered into view, I scurried into the corner, shielding my face. It was hard to predict when he would be drunk and angry, and perhaps that was intentional on his part.
He tossed a bowl of watery gruel to the floor. Most of it spilled, but I had learned to put on a show of lapping it up hungrily. He laughed hoarsely.
"You keep behaving yerself, I might start bringing you two bowls."
I glanced up briefly. His eyes leered down at me through the filthy mat of hair and beard. He flashed me a childlike grin and plodded back up the stairs, locking the heavy door behind him.
I don't know why he chose me. He watched us for months, sending letter after letter to me. We tried skipping town, but he managed to find us.
He told me I was special, that he would whisk me away to magic and adventure. Maybe we thought it would be easier to cooperate. Maybe deep down, I wanted to believe him.
I licked the last trace of gruel from the bowl, the knot in my stomach still twisting. I should have stayed in the cupboard under the stairs.