“Daddy, wake up,” I open my eyes to the sight of my beautiful little girl shaking me awake. With a tired groan, I tell her to go back to sleep, and close my eyes once more. I never return to dreamland as I feel her climb on top of me and shake me once more. Again, I open my eyes and sit up. As I do, she gets off me and finds a place next to my side. Checking my watch, I sighed. Two in the afternoon. Getting up, I stretched and smiled as she mimicked me. We were just that close.
“Are you hungry?” I asked with a smile. She nodded and returned my smile as we both walked to the kitchen. When we arrived, I told my daughter to sit at the table while I made her something to eat. Opening the pantry door was hard, I didn’t know what to expect. Quickly I muttered a prayer and slowly turned the knob and opened the door. Searching the shelves, I found nothing that was still edible besides some stale cereal. I took the box and checked how much was inside. Just enough for one bowl. It only took a few minutes to prepare it, using milk that expired yesterday. I put the bowl down in front of her and guided her hand to the spoon. She didn’t seem to notice the stale taste or sour milk. With a ‘thank you’, she finished eating and I set the empty bowl to the side. She then asked me if I ate as well, and I said yes. A sharp pain ran through my chest as I told her I ate, and she frowned at the table in front of her, making me feel all the worse, but she couldn’t know that there was no more food.
We sat there in silence for about a minute before she asked me for something to drink. I froze up, slightly shaking as I told her to wait there and let me get something for her. “Don’t go too far, daddy!” She said as I stood up. I reassured her that I wasn’t going far and handed her a braille book to keep her occupied. I watched her delicate, fragile fingers run over the small dots for a while before I left. Walking grimly to the window, I pulled the curtain back and stared. The wall stared right back at me. I don’t know what I was expecting. A bright, peaceful day perhaps, or my wife playing in the garden with Elizabeth… either of those would have been nice. Nicer than a concrete wall. Sighing, I thought about what to do. We ran out of water two days ago, and our food is gone now as well. Tomorrow we will run out of air, and it’s all I can do to keep my little angel thinking that we’re really at a log cabin in Georgia, on a small vacation, not in an underground bunker escaping from a fallout. I don’t want her to suffer anymore. I don’t want her to suffer ever again and I don’t want to keep lying to her. I took drastic measures in the past when my wife abused her, what’s the harm in taking those measures now? At the sound the sound of a small bell, I gathered myself and walked back to Elizabeth. She is having trouble with her book.
“I didn’t mean to bother you daddy, but my head hurts,” she said, holding her head. I smiled. A perfect moment to make things a little easier. “That’s why I rang the bell…”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you some medicine.” Quietly I managed to return to the kitchen and open the cabinet doors. With teary eyes, I grabbed the heavy bottle of bleach and poured some into a glass. I glanced at her briefly before I took every single box of medicine I could find, ignoring any that weren’t pills. Taking the sleeping pills, I used the flat end of a knife to crush them, and mix it into the bleach. Again, I looked at Elizabeth. “Are you okay, Lizzy?” I asked, watching her sing.
“I’m okay, my head still hurts though,” I told her that I was almost done, and that when she took the medicine, her head will never hurt again. Her face beamed with excitement. I smiled again. I’m not a fan of headaches either. Taking my remedy to her, I asked if she was ready for the cure to her pain. She replied with a happy ‘yes’, and so I engaged her in conversation. We talked about everything, and as we did, I made her take two pills at a time and a sip of bleach until both were gone. Often she complained about the taste. Every time, I told her that no medicine tasted good. She’d always stick out her tongue and make a cute face. A few moments passed and she yawned, telling me in a hushed voice that ‘everything hurts’.
“You’ll be okay after a good rest,” I said, picking her up and carrying her to my room. Putting her down on the bed and tucking her in, I told her that she’d feel great when she woke up, and that she’d be back home too.
“I love you…” she said. I kissed her forehead and said nothing.
With a grunt, I opened my eyes. Fine in the afternoon was the time. I never slept in this late before. Getting up, I stretched and looked behind me. There she was, my little angel, beautiful even in a pale, lifeless color. Silently I cried as I noticed the blood dripping from her semi-open mouth. Coughing, I closed her hazed over azure eyes. Even in death, she got up before me. Realizing there’s nothing to do, nothing to eat, drink, and soon breathe, I got back in bed and tried to go back to sleep.
“Daddy. Wake up.” My eyes opened to the sight of my little girl standing over me. Confused, I try to speak, but learn quickly that my mouth is being kept open by wires connected to my gums. Frantically, I look at my daughter, who was now holding a bottle of bleach. “Everything… you say is a lie… everything…!” I start to cry as she said that. I lied to protect her from the truth. “You even said I would be at home when I woke up… But when I woke up…” Elizabeth pointed beside me. “Over there is my body, right daddy?” I nodded. “Why do you lie, why am I so cold, what happened to mommy? I don’t understand!” She was crying blood now, and in her tantrum she poured the entire bottle of bleach down my throat. It hurt… like hell. “You’ll feel really good when you wake up,” she said as she fumbled for the lighter I kept on my bedside table. She messed with it for a while before lighting it and throwing it into my open mouth. A wave of heat and pain hit as I felt my insides melt together and bobble. Was this how it felt? Did I really put my angel through this much pain?
“I won’t ever forgive you,” she said as I started to lose my vision. With the last bit of strength I could mutter, I said a prayer in my head, as a tall, dark figure behind my baby girl loomed closer to the two of us.
Angels to the east and west, North and south do your best
To my daughter I lied, without her I rest
Guide her to another side, welcome her to heaven’s nest