Wednesday, March 23, 2005

daddy's little girl: perspective #3

Maria didn't think anything of the visitors at the door until she heard the fear in her mother's voice. When one of the men said, "Megan Ortega, we have a warrant to search your house," she knew what was happening. This was the moment she feared and secretly expected to come.

She knew he did it - she had seen it in his eyes when he so casually told her that such a notion was ridiculous, but it wasn't real to her until this moment. It didn't matter until now... her father could do whatever he did, and it wouldn't involve her; she now had to decide how involved she would be. She didn't have to make that decision - it came to her naturally.

She put the baby in her crib and stepped into the hall to see what was happening. Two men walked past her, trailed by her mother. She recognized the second man, and for a moment thought that he would say hello to her, but he instead frowned and quickly broke off eye contact. Her mother followed them into the kitchen; she seemed upset and distracted, probably unaware of what this meant.

"We're going to need to take any knives, scissors, or other bladed objects with us; please stand over there, Ma’am." As Maria heard the sounds of silverware being taken from the drawer and put into a bag, it finally hit her. She wasn't sure if they knew what they were looking for, but she now knew. She'd seen her father stare at that knife for minutes at a time, as if he had somehow stuffed all of his memories into its nicked and worn blade, and was trying to read them back out of it. This was the first time that she visualized him in the act, killing that helpless woman with that same contemplative look on his face... she vigorously shook her head and forced the image from her mind. She had to focus; she had to save him.

They were too busy looting the kitchen to notice her running to her parents' bedroom. In two minutes of horrifying panic, but unshakable resolve, she searched the room with every ounce of stealth and speed that she could invoke in herself. Finally, in the back of a drawer by the bed, behind some books and a pile of photographs, it met her hand. It was wrapped in an old cloth, but she could feel the flat of the blade through its wrapping.

After taking it into her hand, her panic quickly gave way to deep questioning. She stared at the object in her hand, picturing its form under the wrinkles of the cloth that contained it, wondering why this little object mattered so much to him. Why this? What did her father see when he looked at it so intently? How could he do such a thing?

The sound of footsteps in the hall brought with it the sense of urgency that she had momentarily forgotten. She slid the knife, still in its cloth, into the back of her pants, and pulled her sweatshirt over the part left exposed. By the time the bag of blades came to claim her father's knife, it wasn't to be found.

She made herself unseen until the men had already been gone for a while. In the kitchen, she found her mother still upset, still not understanding what had occurred, and having no idea what she had done. She wondered if she did the right thing, or if she was as bad as him.... that question confused her even more, because she still couldn't imagine him doing something so horrible. Her mother was busy pouring the burnt stew into the sink, but Maria couldn't keep this to herself anymore; she hugged her mother from behind, and began crying, with her face pressed up against her mother's lower back. Megan was startled at first; she asked Maria why she was so upset, but in ten minutes time she would deeply regret having asked that question.