Contest Prompt: Main character cannot speak. Annie was attacked, so why won't she speak?
|“You have to talk to me, Annie. We want to catch the bad guys who did this to you,” Detective Roche said, just above a whisper. He always lowered his voice when he was trying to control his frustration. Yes, she was a victim, but it wasn’t like she was five years old. You would think a twenty-year-old would be able to tell you who attacked them.
“She can’t remember anything. I told you,” Mr. Silva pleaded.
“Sir, I know you’re concerned about your daughter’s mental health at this point, but it is our job to find out who did this. He could do this to another girl. You don’t want that, do you, Annie?”
The mousy girl shook her head, her innocent doe-like eyes locked on the detective’s. “You don’t have to say anything, Annie,” her father said, hand planted firmly on her shoulder. “She didn’t see anything. He had a mask on and it was dark. You know how fast things like this happen.”
The detective stood up, rubbing his temples on either side with his meaty fingertips. “I know you didn’t see anything specific, Annie. But any information will help us more than you know. Can you tell me how tall he was? What was his voice like?”
Annie looked at her father, tears forming in her eyes. He stood suddenly, stepping between the detective and his daughter. “What is with you Staties? You think us local police wouldn't have this guy in jail if she knew who did it? She has her first therapy appointment next week. You can’t keep ripping open this scab.” He turned and quickly hugged his daughter close to his chest.
Detective Roche sighed and looked back at his partner who shook her head in response. “Fine, Mr. Silva.” He stepped around and leaned down near Annie’s face. “Please, Annie. If you remember anything at all, no matter how small, give me a call, okay?”
She took his card for the fourth time and tried to memorize the number. Last time she had gotten all but the last three. She nodded quickly at the detective, her eyes full of life and glistening in a way that had begun to eat away at him over the last couple weeks.
“Thanks for your time, Detective. We’ll let you know if there are any new developments in therapy,” Mr. Silva said, reaching for his daughter’s hand as the detectives showed themselves out.
They listened together as the squad car drove down the gravel driveway. Mr. Silva snapped his hand away from his daughter's and hissed, “Give me this!" He ripped the card from her hands and stuffed it into the front pocket of his collared button-up. “And stop it with the puppy dog eyes. You hear me?”
Annie nodded, looking out the window. She was encompassed in the tomb of endless cornfields surrounding their house.
Her father wasn’t done though, his face flushed as he paced back and forth in front of the living room couch where she sat. “This is between you and me. You know the rules. You do what I say and you won’t get hurt. You misbehave and pull your shit like you did, you’re going to get hurt.”
Tears rose in Annie’s eyes and tumbled down her cheeks. This wouldn’t be happening if Mama were still around. She wouldn’t have let him go this far. He could have killed her.
As if reading his daughter’s thoughts, Mr. Silva growled, “You know you’re lucky. I could have killed you that night. God knows I wanted to. God knows he took the wrong woman from me. Look at what he’s making me do to you. This is your punishment, Annie. You do as your told or next time, you won’t be so lucky to be sitting here on my couch, eating my food.”
She knew this fire in his eyes all too well. She knew to keep silent and nod her head in agreement. After all, she had been the one driving; she should have been the one to die. She nodded her head long after her father stomped up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door shut. Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared into the lonely abyss of her life. She shook back and forth repeating in her mind, four two six, four two six, four two six…