My little girl’s bright smile still haunts me. Her giggle now reminds me of nails on a chalkboard. Day after day a few more memories of her are forgotten. I fear the day I can’t remember her own name, my sweet little Kirsten.
I don’t know who to blame! Was it my ex-wife’s fault? She was a stay at home mother taking care of Kirsten. She was an accident. We were young and still in High School when Kirsten was conceived. Was it my fault? Always working non-stop at odd hours. Just to get bitched at because I wasn’t at home enough and wasn’t spending enough time with our daughter! Was it our daughter’s fault? No, that’s not right to blame her. How could it be her fault? She never asked to be born.
While I worked to keep the roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, my ex started her infidelity. I knew nothing about it until that woman told me on the night when we never saw Kirsten again. My daughter’s imaginary friend, Raven.
I had a rare day off, so I wanted to relax. My ex was off to visit her “sister” because we got in a fight and Kirsten was in her room playing. She was giggling and speaking to someone. Curious and concerned I went to her room. We didn’t really live in the best of neighborhoods, so I didn’t know if one of our cracked out neighbors snuck in. Again…
I knocked on her door. “Yes, daddy?” She called sweetly. Slowly opening the door and was relieved to see it was just her but there was something shiny that sat in front of her feet.
“Hey, pumpkin! Who were you talking to?” I asked she smiled up at me. “My new friend Raven!” She said then looked down at the shiny object that was an old looking music box. It wasn’t one that has the water in the glass dome with something trapped inside it, and it wasn’t a wooden one. It was just a small metal wind-up one. “Where did you get that?” I asked sitting down beside her keeping my eyes on it. There was an unsettling vibe coming from it.
Kirsten points to her window with a smile. I followed her small finger. “The pretty birdy gave it to me! I played it, and Raven started to speak, she’s really kind!” My heart started to pick up speed. The tree that was in our small back yard had a black bird sitting in it. It was staring down into my daughter’s room. With a loud cry, it flew away. “Would you like to hear the music?” My daughter asked. I swallowed and looked back at her. She was looking up at me with big eyes. God! I can’t even remember the color of my daughter’s eyes!
“Sure, kiddo!” I smiled, Kirsten giggled then started to wind up the music box, when she stopped the metal handle started to turn and play. The sound that came from it still makes me sick. Cries and more cries of children, they were screaming for their mothers and fathers. My daughter just sat there smiling! When the metal handle stopped turning the horrific screams faded into silence. Kirsten looked at me. “Did you like it!?” She asked.
I felt crummy for taking away the music box from her, but that sickening “music” shouldn’t be heard by a little girl. When my ex came home, I told her what happened. She laughed it off calling me paranoid then called me an a*****e for taking away our daughter’s new toy. She gave it back to Kirsten, not even playing it when I begged her to listen to it before she gave it back! Sadly, we got in another screaming match, this time I took off to the bar and got drunk, and didn’t come back until I saw two of everything.
Stepping through the front door, it was close to one in the morning. I saw the lights in Kirsten’s room were still on. It was a school night. I wasn’t happy because I wanted her to be in bed already. I was a High School dropout and was a failure in school. I just wanted her to do better than I did.
Drunkenly and stupidly I stumbled down the hall but stopped when I heard a woman whispering. “I will take you to a better place where you can be happy and safe, my dear Kirsten.” The voice didn’t belong to my ex. I opened the door quickly ready to kill whoever was in her room! My daughter jumped and screamed. It was just her and only her, thank god. Kirsten sat on the bed holding the music box in her hands which just stopped playing.
“OH! Pumpkin! I’m… Sorry… I just thought…” I was slurring and stuttering at that time my ex came out of our room. Her face was red with anger as she stared at me! Again another fight. Right in front of Kirsten…
I made it up to my daughter by getting her a stuffed parrot toy, since she loved birds. She took it everywhere with her, same with that damn music box!
I asked some of my neighbors. The ones that were decent, if one of them gave it to her, nope.
I asked my mom. She collected antiques, again nope.
I had no clue where Kirsten got that thing. And I didn’t buy the story that a bird gave it to her, and my ex STILL refused to listen to it.
It was around the same month I was noticing my ex was spending less time at home and more time somewhere else. I did the whole ‘you’re not home enough, and you’re not spending enough time with our daughter!’ Like she did to me. Stupid move. More fights. And less time of her being home.
When I would have a rare day off, I would try to spend it with Kirsten, but she just wanted to play with her imaginary friend. One day I had enough! When Kirsten was taking a bath, she’s old enough now to not have supervision. I tossed the music box in the trashcan!
As I was about to go inside that black bird sat above the door and glared down at me. “What do you want? Some worms?” I asked trying to sound cocky. “CAW! CAW!” It screamed at me and flapped its wings violently!
Going inside fast that bird was still screaming at me. “CAW! CAW! CAW!” It flew across the street then sat on the powerlines just staring at me and now making clicking sounds.
Closing the door I turn to see my daughter standing in the living room wrapped in a towel, my heart dropped. Kirsten held that damn music box in her palm. Her eyes watering. “Daddy? Why did you try throwing away Raven?” She whimpered I took a step towards her, but she backed up away from me about to sob more. “She’s my only friend! And YOU wanted to get rid of her!” She cried out! “No! Kirsten! I just-” I couldn’t find the right words.
“I HATE YOU!” She screamed and ran to her room!
Her words felt like knives cutting into me deeply. I didn’t care if her mother screamed those three words at me but from my own daughter…
When my ex came home, she looked at me. I told her what happened. She just shrugged it off saying it was my own damn fault! I called her a selfish b***h! She counter reacted with a slap to the face! Another screaming match began.
Now when I would get a rare day off, I would just be at the bar. I stopped going home… There was no point anymore…