As the hour of his departure neared the girl scurried around trying to avoid his wrath by making sure everything was prepared exactly as he liked it...his dinner was hot and laid properly on the table...his lunch was packed neatly in his lunch box...his work boots were cleaned and waiting for his feet to step neatly into them as a last act before heading out the door. The girl quickly scanned the room making sure everything was as it should be...darn! she forgot to put the Bible next to the lunchbox...Lord help her if she ever forgot that particular item. She grabbed it from the top shelf and placed it neatly next to the box...she tried not to look disdainfully down at its scarred black surface...much of her misery was brought upon her by the words written on those pages...Daddy often read them to her just so she would understand why she was being punished. She was almost sure her God and Daddy's god were two different beings...but thats not something she was likely to bring up in conversation with anyone...least of all Daddy.
Suddenly she heard his footsteps coming down the hall...the thump thump of his stockinged feet matched the thumping of her heart beat for beat. She quickly busied herself arranging some pillows on the couch. Daddy did not believe in idle hands...there was always something that needed cleaning...Lord help her if Daddy found that something before she did.
If anyone were to tell her that Daddy really couldnt read her mind...she would just look at them sceptically with a sad shaking of her head and go right on believing that he could. What else would explain what happened that time he had beat her so badly she thought her arm might be broken...as he walked away swinging the belt and breathing heavily she angrily thought of how unjust her punishment had been and in the deepest darkest corner of her mind she had wished him dead(just for a second)...no sooner had the horrible thought skittered through her mind...did Daddy suddenly stop...turn around...and stare at her intently for at least a century or so. She was positive the blood rushing through her veins had turned ice cold...if she had cut herself and felt the blood...for sure it would have been chilled like iced tea. While he stared at her with almost no expression on his face and absolutely no emotion in his eyes ...seemingly trying to probe the corners of her mind ...seeking out that errant thought and bringing it up to the surface like a gas bubble in a pond...she concentrated on keeping her heart going...apparently it was intent on just calling it quits and giving up all pretense on doing what the hearts of 12 year olds are supposed to do...beat strong and steady for at least another 70 years. After an eternity...he turned around and went back to his room. After that she never allowed herself to think anything at all about him if he were in the room...better to be safe than sorry.