An unexpected meeting brings a father and daughter back together.
|Ghost’s From the Past
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
He was old. I sensed him before I saw him. Sitting on the park bench, he wore a dark coat and blended into the shadows so that he was nearly invisible. I don’t think the teenage boys that walked nearby saw him. If they had they would have tried to make a game of harassing him. They were cruel boys. I could sense them too and hung back waiting for them to pass. It wasn’t because they worried me, they didn’t. I’d already fed tonight. I’ve never been one for gluttony.
When they were gone I stepped into the light, making my way across the playground to the bench. I sat next to him, taking his hand into mine. We didn’t speak. We didn’t need to. He was my maker, the one that gave me life.
“What are you doing here, Отец?”
“Do I need a reason to see my daughter?”
“After how things were left…yes.”
He shrugged his shoulders and held out his hands, palms up. I was surprised at how frail they looked. “I am dying.”
“We cannot die!” My voice came out louder than I intended and I looked around to be sure I hadn’t attracted the attention. Leaning close I hissed into his ear, repeating my words. “We cannot die. Even the sun, which burns and makes me wish for death, cannot kill our kind.”
“I need to make my peace with you.”
“Is that why you are starving yourself? You think I need to see you suffer?” He didn’t answer and I snorted. “If only you’d shown this much control when it mattered.”
We sat in silence a bit more, searching for the words to say. I wanted to scream that I hated him and would never forgive him, but he’d saved my life. How could I hate him for that? The memory assaulted me and he squeezed my hand, sharing my thoughts with me. I’d never been able to successfully keep him out when he wanted to know my mind.
It happened a hundred years ago on this day. My father…my first father, had gone insane. He’d slaughtered my family. I was hiding under the small cupboard, shaking from fear as he walked across the floor calling my name. “Sophia, come on out little one. I promise all is well.”
I shrunk back against the wooden paneling…his handiwork. He’d made the cupboard for my mother on their fifth wedding anniversary. She’d lovingly stored our worn dishes there…china that now lay broken and scattered across the floor with the remnants of our ruined dinner. I might have believed him if the knife he carried wasn’t dripping with my mother’s blood.
“Come on out my little one.” He stopped outside the cabinet and I heard him chuckle. “There are only so many places you can hide.”
My breathing was ragged and I held my breath. The image of my sister, only five years old came to me and I sobbed, remembering the look on her face when our father had plunged his knife into her stomach, ripping upwards in one swift motion. We had both been in shock from mother’s death, but when Miroslav fell on the floor next to my mother’s gutted body I screamed. I reached for Timur, but Father already had him, pulling him by his hair from the highchair. I witnessed father scalp him. Father’s back was to me and I knew if I didn’t escape, I would be next. Quieting my screams I backed towards the cabinet, praying he wouldn’t turn around before he was finished with the baby.
Now I muffled my cries with my hand. He had heard me, I knew. He bent, opening the cupboard. His eyes were crazed. The man that looked back at me was not my father who had held me on his lap the night before, singing Russian folk songs to me until I fell asleep.
“I am sorry Misha,” he whispered, using my pet name. Pain ripped through my body. Clutching my abdomen, warm blood flowed past my fingers, staining my dress. Mother had made me this dress, saving her coins so she could afford the material. It was my birthday. I was twelve years old.
The world was fading, my vision narrowing down to a tunnel when I saw Yuri. At first I thought he was an angel, come to take me to be with my brother and sister. I crawled from the cabinet to meet him, my hand brushing against Mother’s. Her eyes were open, her mouth wide. Blood pooled around her and I saw that Father had placed Timur in her arms. How could he show such compassion amidst such horror?
Father turned towards my angel, raising his knife to kill him too. I remember thinking, Angels’ can’t be killed. Yuri, my avenging angel, reached out and knocked the knife from Father’s hand. Then before I realized what had happened, he ripped his head off. My last image before everything went black was of Yuri drinking from Father’s neck.
When I woke I was no longer human, but I was alive. Yuri became my father, until we parted, angry words spoken between the two of us. I was tired of being a child. A hundred years is a long time to remain twelve years old. I blamed him for what I had become.
“You should have let me die!”
“I am sorry,” he now whispered to me, pulling me into his arms.
I hugged him, feeling the gauntness of his frame. I had done this to him, broken his heart when I left. “You know as well as I do, starving yourself will not bring death.”
“But it will bring sleep.”
“No. We have spent too much time apart. I will not allow it. Come Отец .” I stood and held out my hand to my father. “There are some boys not too far away that have murder on their mind. They will make a fine feast for our reunion.
Word Count: 1,000