The girl waited anxiously as she listened for the sound of foosteps from down the hall. Every night while Daddy prepared for work the girl sent silent prayers to God in hopes that this night Daddy would get out the door without finding a reason to delay himself. She tried to stop herself from glancing furitively at the clock every few seconds...if Daddy thought there was something up...there would be heck! to catch. She was such a paranoid she couldnt even bring herself to say "Hell" in her head...for sure Daddy could read her mind with just a glance in her direction...she believed that with all her might. So heck it was...until she was away from Daddy and free to think what she wanted.
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.
Most times she didnt dare think of him even when he was far away at work and she was free to do as she pleased without his piercing dead eyes focused intently on her. She sometimes felt his eyes could most likely see her in the dark...the way some animals could see in the dark. She had read in a book once that some animals could see just as well in the dark as in the light...some even better. She remembered waking suddenly many nights for no apparent reason...but feeling that something wasnt right...she would hold her breath and stare intently into the dark corners of her room...but could never see anything...that didnt mean there wasnt something...or someone...staring back at her. She often dived under the covers just to get that creepy feeling to go away. Quite a few times she had woken up in the night...but for a very good reason...Daddy would be standing by her bed just staring down at her. She always hoped for a fleeting second that she was still asleep...this was all bad dream...but it was never a dream. Deams are for people who have hope for something...what did she have hope for...her 13th bday was about as much as she could look forward too. 13 was the magic number. A teenager...practically a grown up...no longer a little kid...no longer able to kid herself that her situation was normal...ordinary...that Daddy's 'special" love was exactly the same kind of love other little girls got from their Daddy's. Time she grew up and stopped telling herself lies just to make it all easier to bear.
She had made herself a promise on her 12th bday...alone in her room with just a cupcake and a single candle to mark the event...before blowing out the small pitiful flame...she vowed with every fiber of her being that she would run away on her 13th bday...if things hadnt changed. Promises were meant to be kept...one thing she knew and believed in...promises were meant to be kept...especially those you made to yourself. If your couldnt keep a promise to yourself...something nobody else even knew about ...then how could you expect to keep promises made to other people? It was the evening of her 13th bday...the whole day had passed by with her heart nearly in her throat. She tried to keep her mind absolutely blank lest Daddy catch on to her traitorous thoughts...she wasnt taking any chances...she couldnt back down now. She just knew in her heart that if she didnt leave this night...her 13th bday as she had promised herself...she might not make it to her 14th bday....and a promise was a promise.(to be continued)