One time, when I was three, Mommy took me to a pretty place with a waterfall and tall grass and fireflies.
"Daddy, where's Mommy?"
If you dropped down in the grass and rolled around a little, they all went into the night sky and lit up. I remember how beautiful it was.
"She's running errands. She'll be back in a little while."
They just circled around overhead and, one time, a few of them landed on me. I felt like the Queen of Fireflies.
The brunette walked to the window and furrowed her brows. Her mother's car was still parked in the driveway. "Daddy...?" she called, turning around to him.
They just kept lighting up, being as beautiful as ever. I lit up with them and Mommy just laughed and laughed. She really seemed happy for those few hours.
"Did Mommy take her car?"
Then we got back home.
"No, she walked."
Michaela blinked at him and tilted her head. "Why would she walk?"
"I don't know, Michaela! Maybe she's as hair-brained as you are!"
That hurt, but the child didn't respond, only turned back to the window and looked at the lonely silver car in the driveway.
There wasn't even the smallest trace of happiness in her eyes.
"Get away from the window."
"I'm waiting for Mommy."
"Michaela, get the fuck out of the goddamn window."
The brunette looked at him and then walked away, to the kitchen.
"I never told you you could eat."
"I'm hungry..." Michaela whispered as she stopped in her tracks.
"Well that's too fucking bad. Go back to sleep."
Daddy didn't like that she took me to the Firefly Place. He wasn't happy about it. Mommy had to go to the hospital that night. She'd told them she'd fallen down the stairs. It was a common excuse.
"Stop talking about that bitch! She's gone, Michaela, gone. She's never coming back, and that's the way it should be!"
Michaela's eyes welled with tears and she ran past the couch, towards the hall that would lead to her room. She didn't get very far.
Sometimes Daddy goes too far. One time he brought home a nice lady and took her to his room when Mommy was sleeping. He told me the woman was Mommy's punishment for taking me somewhere he said we should not have gone.
The dark-haired man caught up with her and snatched her up around the waist. Michaela started to scream.
That night, I couldn't sleep because Mommy kept crying from her bedroom.
Don slammed Michaela up against the wall and her screams cut off immediately. He did it over and over again, screaming in her face that she was as useless as her mother. The brunette's head collided with the wall numerous times. When blood started down the wall, the dark-haired male stopped.
I wonder if Daddy will ever change.
He lowered himself and his daughter to the ground and then held her in his arms. "Michaela...?"
She did not answer him.
But Mommy once told me that was impossible. He was a bad man. "The good always prevail, Sweetie," she'd say. Why didn't it prevail for me and Mommy?
"Michaela!" he screamed at the unresponsive child. "Michaela, wake up!" When she didn't, when there was no answer to his pleas, he buried his face in his daughter's chest. Where the bruises lay.
Maybe he'll change now. I've missed Mommy lately. Maybe we'll both go to my dreamland and we can rule as Queen and Princess. Maybe, one day, Daddy will join us as the king.
I'd like that.