He was coming! Simone knew he was coming.
She could feel it in the air. It was colder, thinner. The atmosphere was pitch black, darker than dark. Everything was always more extreme, more heightened when he was coming. The tree branches scratched at the windows from outside. The wind whistled a chilling tune, and fat raindrops plopped on the windowsill. It was the soundtrack of her trepidation.
She was alone, surrounded by nothing but the dark shadows that engulfed her as she floated in the darkness of the starless, midnight air. But she knew that she would not be alone much longer because he was on his way. She knew it because she could feel the fear breaking through from inside of her. She could feel her heart pounding, fighting relentlessly as if struggling for freedom from the imprisonment of her chest. The pounding was getting louder, so loud that she knew he too would hear it soon. If the lights were on, she was certain she would have been able to see her heart throbbing in and out, back and forth, trying to escape, faster and louder. Her heart was about to explode!
Oh my God, am I dying? Am I having a heart attack? Yeah, that’s it I’m dying of a heart attack.
Oh God, please take me before he gets here. He’s coming! Lord, please take me now! I want to die.
She wanted to escape that place and become a beautiful angel bearing brilliant, white wings and long, flowing hair. She would have wings so massive, fluffy and white, that she would be God’s favorite angel. She would dance in the clouds and slide down the rainbows, laughing and playing with angelic benevolence. It would be just like a fairytale. She was certain the Lord would finally answer her prayer that night. He would not let her down. He couldn’t, not again.
She could still feel her heart pounding, but she refused to move or make a sound. She just closed her eyes tightly, squeezing them shut as hard as she could.
I know that in a minute I’ll be gone. Any minute now, I’ll be up in Heaven, smiling and dancing with the angels. The pounding will stop and he won’t be there. He will never come again.
She allowed a flush of serene calm and happiness to overcome her.
Any minute now…
“Hey, baby girl.”
He’s here! Why is he here? Why am I still here? Lord, I asked you to take me up to heaven. I asked you to take me from this place. Why won’t you save me from him? Why would you leave me here to suffer? Don’t you love me? Don’t you want me to be happy? I’ve been good. I do my homework everyday after school. I do everything my mother tells me to do. I make sure my clothes are neat and clean. I get straight A’s. I brush my teeth every morning and night before I go to bed. I pray every night and go to Sunday School every Sunday. I do everything I am supposed to do and you just left me here. I’ve asked you every night to save me, to take me to heaven. Why won’t you answer my prayers?
“Are you sleeping?”
Simone refused to move or open her eyes. But her heart was still pounding. She was certain he could hear it. He knew she was awake, petrified with dread. She could hear his breathing; it was louder than the pounding of her hammering heart. His breathing was heavy, as if derived from exhaustion. With every inhalation, she could imagine him sucking the breath right out of her lungs, leaving her to die a slow death of suffocation. He was staring at her. His eyes were piercing her through the night. He could see her through the darkness, right through her purple fleece blanket. The blanket kept her covered and did the best it could to shield her from his eyes, but she knew it wasn’t working. She suddenly flinched as his cold presence snapped her back to a brutal reality. She was no longer floating in the midnight sky. She was at home, in bed, eyes still shut tight, heart still pounding uncontrollably and wishing she were dead. He knew she wasn’t sleeping. He knew she had been up all night, fearing that he would come, and praying that he didn’t.
He knew that she hated him and he hated himself. He told her the night before last. He hated himself for loving her and craving her the way that he did. He wanted to take her every night and he tried to fight it, but his desire was just too strong to control. The nights that he did not come were the times that he was able to win the battle with himself. Those nights were becoming sparse.
He would often talk to her about when she was a baby. He remembered holding her when she was just a few months old and looking down at her wiggling in his arms. She was so tiny, chubby, and pink, the prettiest baby he had ever seen. He would put his finger out for her to hold and she would grab it with the strong grip of a grown man. He would always laugh about that. He used to talk to her about what she would be when she grew up. He imagined her being a famous actress, singer or model. With a face like hers, she was destined to be on somebody’s stage. Simone had an undeniable beauty. With the kind of face that one would only come across once in a lifetime, she was too pretty to be called pretty. She was extraordinary. Her skin was the color of roasted almonds. Her jet-black hair, thick and curly, grazed the small of her back. Her huge, green, emerald-like eyes were hypnotic. She had a perfectly symmetrical face with striking features that hit you with the impact of an explosion if you were lucky enough to catch sight of her. She was phenomenal and he was mesmerized from the day she was born.
He promised her, from the beginning, that he would be the best father possible, and he kept his promise throughout the years. He made sure that he played with her everyday, just the two of them. He bought her anything she wanted, before she would have to ask. She always had the best of everything and he made sure that she attended the best schools. Even on his busiest day, he took the time to help her with her homework. Her hair and clothes were always impeccable. Her poise and grace were flawless. Most of her peers hated her for her beauty and even more so for her perfection. He never let her forget how much he loved her.
He sat on the left side of her bed. Still, she wouldn’t open her eyes, but she knew he was still looking at her, longing to touch her. He pulled back the purple blanket and exposed her shivering, petite frame. He tenderly touched her face and wiped the salty tears from her cheeks. She was lying there frozen with her hands glued to her sides as if prepared for burial. She tried her best not to make a sound, but eventually a sniffle crept through against her will.
Come on– Come on, just do it! What is taking him so long? Why is he making me go through this?
Another sniffle interrupted the silence, but it was not her own. She finally opened her eyes to see her father, his back turned to her, crying. The cry was a soft one at first, then with uncontrollable sobs. His broad shoulders shook as his face rested in his large hands. Simone was confused and did not know how to react. Dumbfounded, she fought the urge to comfort him. This man had ruined her life. This man caused her infinite pain and self-loathing, yet she could not help but to feel sorry for her father.
“I’ll pray for you, Daddy.” She looked up at him and softly said this just above a whisper.
He turned to face her with tears streaming down his face. He was overwhelmed with love for her – this time the kind of love a father is supposed to have for his daughter. He wanted to hold her, but resisted the urge to act. How could he continue to destroy the one thing that he adored more than life itself? How could he be so monstrous and self-serving? He was killing his beloved baby and he knew it. He despised himself.
“I love you, Simone. You know that don’t you? You know that I love you more than I can begin to express to you. Don’t you ever forget that I love you, baby. I do this because of how I love you. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t control who you love. You’ll understand that when you get older. I know you think I’m horrible and that I want to cause you pain, but that’s not true. You have to believe that. I don’t want to hurt you, baby girl. I want to love you and I want you to feel the same way. You are everything to me and I’m just too weak to fight it when I know that I should.”
Simone remained silent. Tears ran rapidly from her eyes. She knew that he loved her. She read it in his eyes every time he looked at her. She heard it in his voice and felt it in his touch. There was no doubt that he loved her. He was in love with her. She listened as he continued his attempt to justify the sick actions and irrational feelings he had for his 14-year old daughter with the word “love.” Love. What was love anyway? She thought she knew at one time, but if this was love, she wanted no part of it. Love was pain. Her father was in love with her because she was the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on. Her body had developed into that of a beautiful young woman, sparking a lust in his eyes. He constantly told her how gorgeous she was and she hated it.
She hated the image that stared back at her while looking in the mirror. She hated it so much, that she tried to avoid her reflection at all times. She kept her head down when passing mirrors. It felt natural to avoid pictures and to hide her face whenever possible. God had cursed her with her looks. He damned her to a life of misery and pain — at the hands of her own father.
“I know you love me, Daddy. I just wish that you didn’t.”
He stood slowly, letting the tears fall freely down his face and forced himself to walk out of the room with slow, measured strides. He had won the battle for that night. But the following night he was defeated yet again.