A/N: This is another focused in moment from an old story of mine, Gracie. It works as a standalone, though. (These two have to be my favorite to write). Hope you enjoy.

Gracie's outside with her daddy again tonight. They watch the sun go down and watch the dusk come rushing towards them like a tidal wave.

Gracie has no clue what a tidal wave is. Her daddy told her about it a while back. Said it was somethin' big and bad that could never touch 'em. He told her it was somethin' that happened at the ocean. Gracie ain't ever seen the ocean, but her daddy used to tell her about it late at night as some kinda bedtime story.

He told her it was wild 'n dangerous 'n free, just like he wants her to be. Like he used to be. He said it was cold and could kill men in seconds. Gracie always wanted to see the ocean, see if it really is like the two of 'em. She guesses it probably is. Daddy hasn't lied to her since she was a little girl.

Tonight seems a little different than the other nights she sits out with her daddy. Could be that it's just gettin' colder. Fall's gettin' closer, winter is comin', but that ain't it. Daddy's been actin' a little different all week, he ain't talkin' as much.

Gracie's been talkin' idly about things the two of 'em oughta do, things that ain't got any consequence. Daddy usually shoots all of her ideas down out of the air right quick, but tonight he's just been noddin' and gruntin' like he ain't payin' any mind to her.

Which he probably ain't.

The dark comes and the stars start to pop up in the sky like flares shootin' up into the night. Gracie's just about to go inside their old house cuz it's getting cold, she scoots back to get her whole body on the porch and starts to stand when her daddy grabs her leg and pulls her back to the edge. She gets a splinter and curses.

"You ain't talkin', why should I stay?" Gracie asks, puttin' her hands on her hips and glarin' down at him.

"Shut your mouth and sit down, girl," he says, and it's just like she's a kid again. She's an adult now, she don't need to listen to him, but she does anyway.

So she shuts her mouth and sits down, tryin' to pull the splinter out of her bare foot with her fingers.

"D'you…" Daddy starts, but then drops off. "Hey, y'know, forget it."

"What?" Gracie asks, real curious about what he was gonna say. There ain't anything Gracie hates more than an unfinished sentence.

"Nothin'. You can go inside, girl, it ain't anythin' important."

"Tell me."

"No. Go inside."

"Daddy, you gotta—"

"I said go inside, girl. Are you deaf or just stupid?" her daddy yells, and she closes her mouth and turns away. She used to think that after eighteen years of this she'd be able to deal with it, but she ain't. She feels tears startin' a little.

She knows her daddy loves her, but he really ain't the best about showin' it. So she starts to go inside again. As she opens the old screen door, she barely hears her daddy's words over the creak of the hinge.

"I was gonna ask if you love me," she hears her daddy say, and she stops, screen door hanging open. She stays quiet for a moment, and he's just as quiet. All there is is the sound of crickets and the vague buzzing of mosquitoes in the creek outside their house.

She remembers her whole life in that moment. Him takin' her away from home at seven, him beatin' her, teachin' her to swim and almost lettin' her drown, drinkin' his nights away, tellin' her about a world that she ain't ever gonna have. All the rough words he ever said to her, all the nights she spent scared of 'im, all the threats he tried to cover up as bedtime stories.

And she tells 'im the truth. He deserves the truth.

"I dunno," she says, before closing the screen door behind her. She can hear him breathin' in deep and quick.

She thinks that she can hear 'im cryin' from her open window that night.

She wakes up to the words 'I dunno either' carved in the wall across from her bed. He comes home from town drunk real late that night.

And he's dead the very next day.

A/N: All feedback is appreciated.