He sat on the floor, his back against the dark wood dresser in his bedroom. His legs drawn up to his chest, his eyes cast down, not that he could see me anyway. He had responded to my voice.
“Daddy, what did you do?”
“Oh Kristi, it’s terrible, just terrible.”
“What daddy, come on, it will be okay. It’s always okay.” I stepped into my parents bedroom and then stopped.
The air was still as the room grew dark. Day was ending, the sun going down. The bedside lamp remained off. My sister had once again been reading to our father in the afternoon. The noise of my playing and mom cooking in the kitchen the reason they had went to his bedroom. Dad needed it to be quiet when she read to him. He was studying for a college course. His limited eyesight made the reading assignments drone on. Having my sister read to him made it go much faster. I hated how it took away our play, my sister and I loved to play together.
“Not this time, bug.” My father hiccuped as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“It’s okay if you hate me. It’s okay if you never forgive me.” He pulled his knees tighter to his chest.
“Oh daddy, of course I forgive you! I could never hate you!” I rushed to him, knelt down and wrapped my seven year old arms around his neck.
Warm tears dropped onto my neck as his body quivered with each breath. I hugged him tight promising I would not let go.
He hiccuped again, his arms not leaving his knees. I hugged him. He didn’t hug me.
“I don’t hate you daddy. I promise, I won’t hate you.”
“Kristi, I’d like you to go in your room for a while. The police officers need to speak to your father.” My mom had come in and flipped on the light.
I gave my father one more squeeze and got up to leave. My mother tossled my hair as I passed by. I looked up at her face, the corners of her mouth turned down, her lips stretched tight. The wrinkles on her forehead creased deep. She looked tired. Very tired.
Before I crossed the hallway to my room I peeked in my sister’s open doorway. Prone on her bed, face planted in her pillow, her sobs muffled.
“Lisa, are you okay?”
“Sis, I’m here. No matter what it is, it’s going to be okay. Come on, tell me what’s wrong.”
“I can’t. You wouldn’t understand.” Between a plugged and runny nose and the pillow it was hard to make out her words.
“What did you say? I can’t hear you?”
“I said go away, you wouldn’t understand. You’re too little.” She lifted her head long enough to cut into my heart with her words.
“I’m not too little! I can listen. You just need to talk to me!” I stomped out of my sister’s bedroom and went into my own. One of the few times I was thankful I no longer shared a room with her.
My doll was on my bed. I grabbed her and a brush and began tugging it through tangled hair. I heard voices and foot steps coming down the hallway. Two officers in blue uniforms walked past my door. My mom passed by and pulled my door closed. I could hear them talking, deep voices, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“What do you think the officers want, Molly?” I asked my doll as I continued brushing her golden hair. Strands of white, yellow and gold, with a hint of red mixed in her lovely hair.
“Do you think my daddy did something so bad the police men came? I don’t know what he did. Maybe Lisa did something bad, she sure is crying a lot.”
I stopped brushing, the brush once again stuck in my doll’s hair. Patiently, I pulled each strand out at a time, trying not to pull them out of her head altogether.
Rolling closet doors creaked breaking the silence. I strained to hear. Slipping off my bed, I tip-toed to the door. The adults spoke in hushed whispers. I pressed my ear against the door.
“Just wear what you have on…….” it was a man’s voice, I didn’t recognize.
“Mr. Espe, it’s time to go. Mrs. Espe, you can follow us to the station or come down in the morning. Here is my card, you can call me direct for information.” Another deep voice. I waited for my mom to speak.
I pressed my face harder against the worn door, my cheek burning from rubbing the wood. Shuffling sounds, sniffling, whomever was outside my door was crying. Feet stepped past and someone bumped into my door from the hallway.
“Lisa, Please go down the street to your grandma’s and tell Bill what is going on. He needs to come home, now.” My mother’s voice quivered as she spoke.
Why did my sister have to go get our brother? Why didn’t Bob, our oldest brother go? Lisa was so sad. I should go with her. But mom told me to go to my room. She didn’t say I could come out yet. I wish I knew what was going on out there.
The hallway grew silent. I sat down on the floor, my back against the bedroom door. I held my dolly tight against me.
“Molly, why do think daddy said it was okay if I hate him?”
(Excerpt from: ‘That is NOT Okay!”)
Copyright © 2018 by Kristina Lyn Reddy
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