by Adam Forge
A short and disturbing piece written for a creative writing lesson.
| “Okay, Mary, you can come out now.”
Jack knocked on the locked bedroom door and waited for an answer. He heard nothing, not even the sounds of crying that he had expected.
“Mary, I know you can hear me. Please open this door. I promise I won’t hurt you again.”
He rattled the knob and brushed the back of his shaking hand across his forehead. He noticed the red smear on his hand as it dropped back to his side. Mary’s blow had drawn blood. Never mind, she would pay. If only she’d open the damn door . . .
“Mary, don’t keep your daddy waiting. Open this goddamn door.” A hint of the mounting fury he felt had crept into his wheedling voice now. That would never do. He mustn't let her know he was still angry.
“Mary, I swear I won’t hurt you. Please just open this door.”
Now he heard something. Was it a window being opened? He waited silently for a moment.
“Mary, I hear you in there. Don’t play games with me. Daddy only wants to apologize for hurting you.”
He was beginning to worry. It wasn’t like Mary to ignore him when he played the penitent part. The fourteen-year-old girl was usually such a pushover. She was always willing to forgive and forget, regardless of how many times he lied to her, hurt her. Sure, her temper flared up at times--like it had this afternoon--but she was always quick to get over it. Mary was so much like her deceased mother in that way.
Shame swept over Jack like a giant wave. He leaned against Mary’s door. Great sobs wracked his enormous body as he battered his head against the door. Blood streamed from his already wounded head, filling his eyes. He could see nothing, feel nothing but an overwhelming sense of his miserable failure with Mary.
Why? Why had his Emma left him alone with Mary? She knew damn well he could never raise a child on his own. She knew his problem . . .
“Mary, open up this door. I'll never hurt you again. I promise. I’ll even let you go. You can go live with Aunt Janet, like you asked. Mary, come on. Let Daddy in now. Please?”
Not a sound from inside the bedroom. Sudden terror seized Jack. What was it that Mary had said, just before she’d bashed his head with . . . with something? He’d been dazed for a moment, giving the girl time to run to her bedroom and lock herself in. He now remembered what she’d said: "You’ll never hurt me again, Daddy."
Jack rammed his meaty shoulder against Mary’s door; it gave way like paper and swung inward.
The window was open. The room was unoccupied.
Jack’s terror was gone now. He knew exactly what had happened. Walking slowly to the window, he leaned out and peered down on the sidewalk four stories below. Passersby were gathering in a tight circle. Other apartment tenants were hanging out of their windows staring at the spectacle below. Jack knew what they were staring at even before he could see it. Then the circle of people moved back a bit and Jack saw the small, crumpled body of his sweet Mary.
It was true. He could never hurt her again.