Innocence Lost

She could see his shadow hovering outside of her door. She held her breath and peeped out from under the blanket and stared at the shadow outside her bedroom door. He stood there, lingering, not moving. Her heavy curtains let in no light from the moon or stars. Submerged in darkness, she fixated on the light creeping in. One knock, two knocks, three knocks. It was the same every time. He would always knock before he came in. Slowly, the handle of the door went down, as the shadow moved from the outside to within her sanctuary. As soon as the door opened, she was assaulted with the stale smell of alcohol. He only ever did this when he was drunk, and him being drunk was happening more often than not these days. The door closed just as swiftly as it was opened, and she could feel the shadow moving closer to her. She shut her eyes tight and gripped the sheets. Hoping that if she pretended to sleep, he would go away. The hot air of his breath greeted her as he stroked her hair. He sat beside her and said her name softly.

“Eliza.”

It was going to happen again tonight.

The next morning, he barely looked at her. It was always the same the morning after. She sat hunched over a bowl of cereal in the living room, numb to all around her. Putting down the finished cereal, she turned the tv on. It was 10:30, time for her favourite show. He never disturbed her the morning after. She was free to sit and watch as much tv as she liked, and that was just fine with her. “Episodes from the Wild West” began to play as Eliza smiled with joy. This episode was about a shoot out in the saloon. Eliza mimicked the motion of withdrawing the revolver – bang bang – she fired her imaginary gun in time with the actors. A loud knock on the door pulled Eliza from the saloon and into the real world. She turned sharply to the door as she saw her father bundling past to open the door. Moving closer to the door to hear what was said, a tear welled up and slid ever so smoothly down her cheek. The noise from the tv blurred into nothing as she felt her cheeks grow hot with joy.

“Good afternoon sir.” She heard the voice say from outside.

“My name is Officer Vasquez and this is Officer Simpson. We’re from Child Protection Services and we have a few questions about your daughter.”

Officer Vasquez sat down with Eliza on the couch directly in front of the tv. The man she had come in with had taken Eliza’s father to the kitchen to afford them some privacy. Looking at the slight bruise on Eliza’s arm, Officer Vasquez knew no questions were needed. She held Eliza in a warm embrace and felt the tears gushing from their ducts. They stood up and went to Eliza’s room to pack a bag. She could hear her father shouting and screaming at the other policeman. His shouts no longer scared her. She was being protected by the nice police lady now.

They finished packing what clothes they could into a small suitcase and departed hastily through the door of which they had entered. Her father was served papers to appear in court. She wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but all the policemen told her was that he wouldn’t hurt her anymore. She had never felt so happy in her life.

“You’ll be given a new mommy and daddy for a while, sweetie.” She was told by the lady officer.

“Will they have Episodes from The Wild West?” Eliza asked hopefully.

“I’m sure they will.” Officer Simpson replied with a smile.

……………………………………………..

Eliza had some trouble adjusting to her foster family. Night terrors being the predominant issue she faced. She was unfamiliar with the new house and was still fairly uncomfortable with her new parents. Sitting in her new living room, the only thing that took her to a place of comfort were the episodes of her favourite show. For the half hour the episodes ran, she was transported to a world other than hers. Her new parents saw this, and so left her undisturbed whenever her show was on.

The years passed and Eliza grew up, never missing an episode of Episodes from The Wild West. She had grown to love her new home and begun to flourish in all aspects of her life. Her school work had been impeccable and she had made a bunch of friends she saw frequently. On completion of high school, she began working with her foster father at the local newspaper. She was new to it all and mainly did the research for the reporters. While scouring the internet for details regarding a local man arrested numerous times for assault, she came across a picture of a man she thought she knew. The tears began to stream down her face as she came to realize the man she was researching was her father. Heart pumping and teeth clenched, she closed the tabs and went to the bathroom to compose herself. The bright fluorescent lights above her made her eyes hurt more than the tears did. Opening the tap to wash her face, she stared at herself in the mirror and felt a strange sensation. She was not sad, what she felt was red hot anger. The memories of the countless nights she was violated came gushing back to her. Her hands shook and the tears flowed freely. Rushing back to her computer she continued to search for all the information she could find on Donald Porter. After a few minutes of investigation, the address of the monster stared her in the face from the screen.

She sat across the street from the door. He had moved from the house he had abused her in. The window was open and Eliza could clearly see the inside of his living room. The idiotic paintings on the wall surrounded the singular arm chair he sat in while watching tv. She stared at him, fighting the urge to drive her car through the house to get to him. She sat and watched for a week, learning and absorbing the details of the things that made her rapist tick. She discovered his favourite watering hole and sat drinking in it a few times she knew he would not be in. Eventually, she had learnt all she needed to of his routine and knew it was time. The night before, she lay in bed and prayed. Not for forgiveness, but rather to thank God for leading her to him.

7:30 rolled around that night and she opened the door of her Corsa, parked a few steps away from the bar door. Her hand was planted firmly in her pocket as she walked hastily towards where her father was sitting and guzzling beer. The bar was fairly quiet due to it being a Tuesday, the low volume of the Juke Box playing The Eagles in the background. There was a low murmur of voices and the loud crack of the white ball striking the rest of the pool balls. She scanned the bar and laid eyes on him. His back was to her so she walked quickly towards him. Shouting to be heard of everything, she called out to him, “Hey dad. It’s been a while. I’ve missed you!”

He turned around slowly, squinting his eyes to focus on where the sound was coming from. He lay his eyes on her and his beer fell from his hand. His eyes had moved from her face to the muzzle of the gun pointed directly at him. That’s all she wanted. She wanted to see the look in his eyes as she pulled the trigger. Smiling wickedly, she fired the gun at his head, spraying his brain and skull across the top of the bar. His heavy body slid off the bar stool and thudded heavily on the ground. Blood poured from the crater in his head and soaked the floor – mixing with the already pungent mess of beer and whiskey.

………………………………………….

The knock on the door jolted her from her slumber. She had dozed off while watching Episodes from The Wild West. She could hear her father bundling to open the door.

“What? How can I help you?” She heard her father ask upon opening the door.

“Good morning Sir.” The Strangers voice replied.

“We were wondering if you had a moment to spare to listen to the word of God?”

Eliza turned her focus back to the tv. She couldn’t focus on the show that was playing. Her mind began to drift again. Reality faded and yet another dream world began to take its place. Hopefully this dream world would be as good as the last.

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