As has been the case with me for the past few weeks, I've been going back through old docs on my home and work computers, and have found another little thing I wrote, but never did anything with.
Standard issue solemness will be found here, along with my pseudo-typical subject matter of tragedy and trauma. I must have re-read this half-a-dozen times in the past hour, I'm sure I'm missing errors at this point, but what can I do?
Anyway, here you are. Comments and critiques are welcome, but as always, please be gentle ;)
"…and thank you for mommy, brother Johnny, grandma, and for our home."
Hilda was such an adorable little cherub. Her fluffy bangs and disarming little pigtails; she was the very image of childhood innocence. She always kept her eyes tightly shut while kneeling at the edge of her bed, her hands folded on the mattress in front of her. She had just turned four, and already she was a proper and polite little girl. Her mommy wasn't the one who taught her these prayers, of course. After all, her mommy hadn't believed in God for many years. No, it was her mommy's mommy that taught her to be thankful for everything she had in the world.
"Johnny! Hilda!" A woman's voice called. Young and sweet sounding, likely not much more than seventeen years old. "C'mon and get it!"
The young woman stood in the kitchen of their apartment, performing what seemed like a dozen tasks all at once. Finally, after scraping the scrambled eggs onto a plate, she again called out, "You too, Mom!"
"Coming Ellen," an older woman called to her daughter.
Within a few moments, the kitchen nook was packed. Little Hilda and Johnny dove into the bowls of cereal their mommy had fixed for them, while grandma Jay shook some black pepper onto her plate of eggs. Mommy Ellen, however, she elected to stand. She too shoveled spoonful after spoonful of cereal into her mouth, sure to wipe any milk from her lips with the edge of her finger. Looking on her two children, Ellen smiled and asked, "So, are you two excited to see daddy today?"
"Ellen," grandma Jay quietly remarked in a definitively warning tone.
Ellen cleared her throat, silencing her mother, and nodded to the two children, both of them beaming bright at the prospect of meeting their father. "We can't wait, mommy!" Little Hilda said.
"Will we get to go somewhere with daddy?" Johnny asked.
"I don't think so," Ellen mock-sadly replied. "Daddy's very busy and will be going away soon."
Finally, their smiles crashed. "When do you think we'll see daddy again after today, mommy?" Hilda asked.
It killed her inside. Her immaturity made her say the things she did, only for her to regret them now. "I don't know, sweetie. Not too long," she reassured with a grin. After looking at one of only two clocks in the apartment, Ellen turned to place her now empty bowl in the sink. "Finish up, you two; we've got a long day ahead of us."
A long day for sure; four hours on the road, and spent in a small and dilapidated vehicle. Luckily, Hilda and Johnny seemed susceptible to being in a car. They were both fast asleep just a few minutes into the drive, and had only woken when they had reached their destination; Riker's Maximum Security Detention Center.
"Where are we, mommy?" Hilda asked as they approached the gate.
Johnny could only have equated the massive and ominous facility to a castle.
"This is where daddy is, baby," Ellen lightly replied.
The car pulled up to the Security station, and after she lowered her window, the guard asked, "Name?"
"Ellen Thomas, here to see Richard Vorsten," Ellen replied.
The guard looked into the backseat at the two young and curious faces. He looked back to Ellen and asked, "Reason for visit?"
"My children want to meet their father," she replied, clearly struggling to hold back anger for the sake of her children.
There were many words in that glance between the tall guard, and small woman in the driver's seat. For those few moments, he wasn't a guard, and she wasn't some random face. He was a person, and she was Ellen Thomas. He'd known her name well. Hell, if you were alive four years ago, you knew her name too. And here she was; waiting to see the man who had changed the course of her life forever.
"You sure you know what you're doin'?" The guard asked.
"They should see him before he dies, right?" She quietly replied, so that only he might hear.
He didn't avert his gaze from her; he merely swung his hand to the side to hit the large green switch that opened the gate. Once the gate was open, he addressed her once more, "You take care now, you hear?"
She always wore that tough and thick façade, but hearing the guard's unprovoked kindness, she choked back tears. "Thank you."
It was only a few minutes before Ellen and her children were seated in a private room, on one side of a wall of plate glass. Hilda sat on Ellen's left knee, Johnny on her right, not making more than a peep while they awaited the sight of their father for the first time in their lives. Finally, after five minutes of waiting, he appeared. He was a small and slender man, not much taller than Ellen, and not all that intimidating an individual. Of course, the very sight of him was enough to cause her to flinch in her seat.
He can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you he can't hurt you…
As Richard took his seat, Ellen's eyes narrowed on his. He was the father of the twins that sat atop her legs, and though she loved them with all of her heart, she hated him with every ounce of her being.
The look on his face, the somewhat mournful look he wore; she wanted to believe that he understood the pain he had caused her. But, nothing would let her commit to feeling that way. If anything, he was more upset that he'd be dead come this evening. He couldn't have cared that he took things from her. Things that she'd never get back in this life or the next, and as much as she loved them, not even the two angels on her lap filled the holes he had left her with.
Finally, after staring at him through that glass for the eternity of just a few seconds, Hilda spoke. "Mommy, is he our daddy?"
Ellen's eyes never left his as she spoke, "That's your daddy, kids. Say 'Hi daddy'."
The cherubs did as their mother asked, more awestruck than anything else. Almost as if the man before them were sent by the god they prayed to. It would be a few seconds before Richard said anything, and it would take a comment from Ellen to get those words out in the first place. "C'mon, daddy; say 'Hi' to your children."
"Hi," he replied simply. His voice wasn't as stern or coarse as it could have been, and was even a bit softer than Ellen remembered. "Kids can you leave your mom and I alone for a few minutes?"
They nodded, acknowledging their father's request, and headed to the back of their private room. He watched as they walked, finally giving them his eyes. He watched every movement they made, every breathe they took, and even watched as they took their seat. Without waiting for him, Ellen picked up the phone in the booth, making their conversation private.
"Well?" She curtly asked.
"Well what?" He replied just as nastily.
"You have nothing to say?"
"What do you want me to say, lady?"
Ellen smirked, "You had no problem talking to me that night. You had no problem telling me to shut my mouth while you killed my father and beat my mother, when you…" She choked back her tears for a moment, once again finding that moderately regretful expression on her once attacker's face. "Why did you do it? Why did you pick my house?"
He said nothing. He just sat there, teetering on the line of absolute misery, and not caring at all.
"Answer me!" Ellen demanded, slamming her fist against the table top, and gathering the attention of the guards.
Finally, Richard spoke. "Convenience." Her eyes doubled in size as he explained himself. "Your place was just down the road from mine; seemed easy enough."
"You killed my father, almost beat my mother to death, and you raped me over and over again, because it was convenient?"
Nothing for a minute, then five, then ten. One might have thought they both forgot just what the question was, to which they waited an answer. However, that wasn't the case. "Yeah; I did it because it was convenient."
"I was thirteen years old," Ellen quietly rasped. She couldn't hang onto her tears anymore. She was red with anger. Her body burned hotter than it ever had, but, just as her lips cracked open, she remembered the children behind her. The children he gave her. The children she loved, despite being the seed of the piece-of-shit on the opposite side of the glass.
"C'mere kids," Ellen croaked. As always, Hilda and Johnny did just as they were told. Before they reached their mother, she whispered into the phone, "Make this really fucking good."
After hanging up, the room mic became active again, and Hilda asked, "Are we going to play with you today, daddy?"
Richard turned on a smile, brighter than Ellen ever thought a man who had done the things he did, could have been capable of. "Not today kids, but sometime soon, I promise."
He sounded sincere. He sounded like even he wanted to believe the words he said. He looked to Ellen for a moment, watching as her eyes poured tears. Hilda turned to face her mother, her innocence unshakable, even as she looked on her mother's beet red face. "What's wrong, mommy?"
"Nothing, baby," Ellen lied. With no warning, she stood from her seat and took her children's hands into hers. "Say goodbye to daddy, kids; it's time to go."
"But when will we see daddy again, mommy?" Johnny asked.
"Soon, baby; now c'mon let's go," Ellen ordered, now rushing to get out of the room, and away from him.
As soon as they reached the door, Richard stood from his seat, acquiring the attention of the guards. Just as they attempted to restrain him, he called out, "Ellen!"
She stopped all at once at hearing him say her name. Her children watched her, her eyes still red, her cheeks still soaked in tears. She looked at him, finally reassured that the man she was looking at was genuine. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry for what I did."
"What did daddy do, mommy?" Hilda asked.
She looked down to the children; one child that had his eyes, the other his lips. What would she ever tell them? What would ever make it better?
"Kids?" Richard called, saving her from needing an answer. "Take good care of mommy while I'm away."
"We will, daddy!" They both brightly beamed at once.
With that, the guards on the other end of the glass took Richard away, and Ellen and their children could only watch him be taken away. Why did she feel sorrow? After all he had done to her, and to her family. Was it because she was still a good person? Because even after being ruined, after hating so much for so many years, she was still a human being? Or maybe, it was because of the lives at her feet.
Ellen smiled just slightly, watching as her children gently tugged at her skirt. "C'mon, let's go home."
Their drive home came and went just as it had earlier. They arrived home just in time to have a small dinner. As the children ate their meals, Ellen's eyes turned to a broadcast as it played on their old television.
"The execution of convicted murder and rapist Richard Vorsten was carried out tonight by lethal injection, a full four years after he was sentenced. Sources say that…"
Ellen listened on completely lost. She hated him, but Hilda and Johnny, they would never know their father, and a part of her hated that even more than she hated him. No, they'll be better for it she thought. It's better that they never knew the man who killed my father, than have one of their own.
Someone please tell me I'm right.
"Mommy?" Hilda asked.
Torn from her thoughts all at once, Ellen asked of her daughter, "What is it, baby?"
"It's time for bed," Hilda happily exclaimed.
Ellen only smiled. "You and Johnny go to bed. I'll be there in a minute to tuck you in."
When Ellen came to her daughter's room, Hilda was on her knees at the side of her bed as usual. She had just begun her nightly prayers, and though Ellen could have killed her mother for giving her children the notion of prayer, the kids seemed to like it, so she never stopped them.
"…and thank you for mommy, brother Johnny, grandma, and for our home."
Just as she was done, Ellen asked of her daughter, "What about daddy?"
"Oh!" Hilda exclaimed. "And thank you for daddy."
And that's that. The more I read it, the more I saw themes I didn't really intend on, and correlations I hadn't planned. I want to say this is a work that I'm proud of, but I'm not even sure I know if I myself even like it or not. I suppose I would have just deleted it if I hated it that much...
Anyway, thanks for reading,