My Little Girl
My little girl has all the potential. All of it. I see it so clearly, the way the razor-straight strands of her auburn hair hang on the wind as she runs with resolve, chasing her younger brother, Lucas, beneath the slides. The shine in her green eyes as she narrows in on a potential trap, pinning him to a corner of the sandbox butted up against a pair of cinder block walls, leaving the boy zero chance of escape. Even when she grabs ahold of him and tickles him until he’s reduced to tearful pleas, there’s a dark edge to her laugh.
“Honey, we need to go,” I say.
I wish it weren’t true. The sky here is so beautiful. So blue and pure with occasional cotton-like strands of clouds floating listlessly by. As I sit on an uncomfortable wooden park bench, an old elm reaches over me like a shield whose only job is to protect me from a sunburn.
My little girl screams in frustration as she turns to me, giving Lucas the chance to sneak past her. He hops onto my lap and wraps his arms around my neck, leaving grains of sand on my pants and drops of drool on my collar. He’s breathing heavily in my ear and smells of kid-sweat.
“Dad!” she yells.
If feeling my little boy’s flesh pressed against mine once again is not a miracle, it’s damn close to miraculous.
“Honey,” I say. “Time’s up.”
She groans as she ambles toward the pink-and-baby blue backpack sitting beside me. With a long fin descending from the bottom, it’s designed to make its wearer look like a mermaid. Sliding her arms through its straps, she refuses to look at me.
I wish we could stay here forever. I wish I didn’t have to go through with it.
Killing my little girl is going to be the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do in my life.
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