It wasn’t unusual for her father not to be in bed early in the mornings; even during the week when he had to be up at the crack of dawn for work. For one, he was a restless sleeper the same as her. Secondly, he had a penchant for falling asleep before the TV in the living room, bathed in the glow of otherworldly static. As Gretchen moved away from the keyhole of her parent’s bedroom door though, she found the sofa before the TV as vacant as her father’s bed. It was a puzzling thing indeed, and yet she wasn’t overly bothered. She was old enough to sense something was amiss but too young to understand the world outside the four walls of the apartment. As she was home-schooled by her mother, the only time she left was to go shopping at the local supermarket. Even then, the journey merely consisted of a taxi ride there and back, so Gretchen rarely spent much time in the real world. She certainly never got the chance to experience it by herself. Moving into the kitchen clutching her beloved My Little Pony, she grabbed a chair from the breakfast table, dragged it with considerable difficulty with only the one arm, and then pushed it against the counter in the corner of the room. What she had in mind she wasn’t supposed to do, but considering she’d already broken the most important rule—the golden rule—of being out of bed before her parents, the braking of another didn’t seem much of a biggy. Climbing the chair like the skilled expert her six-year-old self was, she shimmied along the narrow counter careful not to accidentally kick anything to the floor and opened the cupboard door above the fridge. Rummaging through the contents, she found what she was looking for and greedily licked her lips.