I woke, and looked up at the ceiling. My head pounded, red-hot tendrils of pain weaving their way around inside it. I got up unsteadily, and glanced around. She was gone.
"Andrea!" I yelled. "Andrea! Answer to Dad, come on, damn it, please, speak! Andrea!" Where was she? The last thing I knew she was with me, then there was the explosion. I had to know, I had to know where my daughter…
It was then I stumbled upon something among the smoke. I knelt down, squinting with my burning eyes, only to see my worst fear.
My daughter, my sixteen-year-old daughter, was on the ground. Her eyes were open, her skin pale, and a gaze staring up into the heavens. I put my head to her mouth, but no sweet breath graced my skin.
She was dead.
The pain flaring from my head suddenly crept away as the pain from my chest, my body, my being exploded. I gasped for air, taking in the lessening smoke, and stared through the water beginning to layer in my eyes.
I pulled her body up and grasped her head in my arms. I felt a strong urge to lie down and stay with my daughter, until I heard the sound of footsteps. The tears cascading from my eyes spoke, and their words were clear.
Gently placing my daughter's body on the ground, I reached around the floor for anything solid; something to grab. A piece of metal shrapnel lay on the ground, and I clasped it between my fingers, waiting. Waiting for the footsteps to get louder…louder…
A tall man, holding a pistol and a gas mask, walked among the smoke, searching; no doubt for survivors. His ankles were at my eye level, as I lay on the floor. I felt a cough coming on and there was no need to hide it. Immediately as I did so, the man's masked face turned my way, but not before the piece of metal shrapnel in my hand sliced through the Achilles tendon in his left foot, sending him to the ground. With no time for the man to react, I grabbed the bottom of the gas mask and ripped it off his head, exposing his eyes to the burning smoke.
Going for his pistol, he placed his foot up and flipped me over him, me landing on my back against the hard ground. The pain didn't matter, and I forced myself to my feet, as the armed man attempted to get his mask back on. I charged straight at him, and dove into his chest, sending both of us back down to the ground. My hand grabbed the gun, and it turned into a wrestling match, rolling along the ground, one over another, fighting for the item of power.
I slammed his hand into the ground several times; hearing cracking bones, and repeated the action until his grip loosened. The pistol fell to the floor, and it immediately went into my possession, as I stood myself up, aiming the barrel at the man. My head was pounding, just as much as my heart was aching; neither of which compared to how much anger and hate flowed through my being. My teeth were clenched, and my hand was squeezed tightly over the grip of the weapon, my index finger pressed against the trigger. With one squeeze, it would be over; revenge would be had. The man, whose exposed face was filled with pain and uncertainty, stared into my eyes, while grabbing his punctured heel. My finger began to inch back towards me, taking the trigger along for the ride, slowly coming closer to my wish.
I froze. Who said that? The man's lips had never moved, and the voice was feminine. It sounded too familiar. Confused, I continued to move the trigger closer towards me.
"Daddy, please. Don't sink to his level…I'm okay. Revenge won't make it go away. I'm safe now."
Weeping, I realized it was my daughter's voice. My index finger began to lessen its pressure against the trigger, until the gun fell from my grasp, hitting the floor, just as my knees did as I fell to them.
"Thank you Daddy."
I closed my eyes and looked toward the ground. I heard somebody picking up the weapon, and with a simple pull of the trigger, I was on the ground. Opening my eyes, I stared up to the heavens, and smiled.
The pain was gone.