Safety in Shadows
My tears mixed with the rain washing over her lifeless body. Each thunderclap shook me with terror. A few feet away, my father lay motionless as well, blood streaming from the small hole in his chest.
“Wake up. Please. This-this is a game, right? I’m sorry. I won’t run away again. Wake up, Mama,” I croaked, though I knew my pleas were useless. Even now, her skin was eerily cool to my touch. Her warm breath was absent from her lips. The hand I gripped didn’t reciprocate any love or comfort.
I jumped and a terrified scream escaped my lips as a gentle hand rested on my shoulder. Throwing my arms around my mother for the safe reassurance I knew I wouldn’t receive, I looked up at the figure, eyes wide with fright. A comforting smile graced his shadowed features. He stretched a hand down to me.
“Come, little one. I’ll take you to safety.”
Sobbing, I choked out, “I want Mama! I won’t leave her! She’ll-she’ll be ok.” I tried to blink back more tears, but they fell despite my efforts. “I know it. She’ll wake up.” Voicing the lies only made me more aware of the grisly truth that she would never again hold me. Never again would I be lulled to sleep by her angelic voice. Never again would her cherry lips rest upon my forehead as she calmed me after a nightmare.
The man crouched next to me, his voice soft. “You know that’s not true, little one. But I can take you somewhere safe. Give you a home, food, a place to sleep. Come.” He stood and reached out his hand once more. Police sirens drew closer, multiplying my fright. Sniffling, I released my grasp on my mother and slipped my hand into his.
“That’s right, little one. You’ll be safe.”
I cast a final glance back at my parents as he led me off into the shadows…