The Innocent. Random stories
“What the hell is she doing out there? It’s gotta be past two.” It was. A glance at the clock on Jake’s nightstand verified the time. 2:21 a.m.
“The question is, where the hell is that slut of a mother?”
We stood at the window of my brother’s bedroom, peering down at the little five-year old girl who was sitting on a piece of cloth in our backyard. She was staring up at the full moon, hugging something tight to her chest. Most likely the little stuffed giraffe she always had with her, the one her daddy had given her. Her mother didn’t comfort her. The stuffed animal was her only friend.
Jake and I had just returned home from attending a high school party. I came in to grab the backpack I had tossed next to the window earlier. The bright full moon drew me to the window and that’s when I saw her.
Mari. She lost her daddy just over a year ago. Her mother had replaced him with my father long before he had passed away. They had moved into our house only yesterday–the rich man and the conniving bitch. Jake hated her more than I did. But Mari, she was innocent, and frightened. With a mother like hers, who could blame the child? Her big blue eyes held a nightmare in them.
“I think she’s talking but I don’t see anyone out there. Do you?” Jake was sweeping the backyard with his eyes. We both became alarmed.
“A pretend friend, maybe?” I didn’t see anyone out there either. “We better go check on her. It’s obvious that useless woman is oblivious to her daughter’s whereabouts.”
We went quietly down the stairs and out the back door. We stood silent for a few moments, listening. Mari was talking to the moon. My brother and I exchanged a look before going to sit on either side of her.
“Whatcha doin’?” I whispered. I didn’t want to frighten the child.
Her little face stayed gazing up at the moon. She appeared enthralled by it, so much so that I took to staring up at it, too. It was full, clear as could be, not a cloud in the sky to get in its way.
“I’m talking to my daddy’s friend. He came to tell me that I shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Mommy won’t hurt me again. My daddy is watching over me and one day he will come to get me.”
“Your mommy hurt you?” Jake spoke softly, but I heard the seething undertone in his voice.
Mira turned toward Jake. “I was in the hoss-a-ple. My daddy came to get me. But daddy went to heaven. I miss my daddy.”
Shit! I felt all choked up, my throat hurt, and I swore if that woman ever touched Mira again, I’d kill her. Jake cleared his throat. He was feeling the same as me. We shot each other a look and nodded. We were on the same page.
“We remained out there for a few minutes longer, all of us just staring up at the moon. My gut was churning with anger and sadness for Mari, but Mari…Mari was smiling and nodding her little head as if some secret conversation was going on between her and an unseen friend.
Mari stirred. “Daddy’s friend is gone. We can go back inside now.”
Jake threw a meaningful look at me. I nodded, and then took Mari’s little hand. Jake gathered up the small blanket.
I leaned down to look into Mari’s eyes. “No one is ever going to hurt you again, Mari. Jake and I promise.”
I felt a chill race through me. The bright, clear moon turned suddenly hazy, and a shimmer moved into the far trees and vanished. I grabbed Mari up and shot through the back door. Jake was on my heels. We stared wide-eyed at each other. He had seen what I had seen. But Mari, still clutching her giraffe, showed no fear. She rested her head on my shoulder, sighed contentedly, and fell asleep.