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The pale, white wood of her door creaks beneath my forehead as it supports my exhausted skeleton. My fingers trace along its surface, searching for the letters she carved in the worn wood so many years ago. M. We had been so mad at her, Melanie and me, Y. We hadn’t understood what had possessed our daughter to mar the front of her door with a pocket knife, L. We had stood firmly in front of her, as tears poured from her delicate blue eyes, and told her that she could not attend ballet practice for the rest of the week, O. Melanie had turned on her heel, her fists clamped at her sides, and stormed out of the room. I watched as my wife left and then I had turned back to my daughter to offer words of comfort, but as I stood in her doorway and stared at her porcelain face, I couldn’t find the words. She had stopped crying, her face slick with tears, and looked up at me, her eyes pleading with me to take it all back. I had simply whispered goodnight and turned out of the room. E.
My heart lurches into my throat, causing a thick knot of sorrow laced with anger and hatred to grow and swell. I flatten my palm against her name, Myloe, and squeeze my tired eyes shut. She hadn’t known what she had done was wrong, why had we taken ballet, something that was so special to her, away? Numbly, my hand pats exhaustively along the door’s rough face before landing on the cold, glass doorknob. A drained sigh escapes my cracked lips as the crystal knob turns beneath my trembling hand.
Cold air gushes out at me as her door groans open. Reluctantly I flip on her light, chasing the shadows into the corners of the room. My bare feet grudgingly make the transition from the cold hardwood floor of the hallway on to the soft, white carpet of her room. The air is empty but brimming with memories. The yellow walls watch as I make my way towards her closet, tears pricking at my eyes. The silence of the room screams at me as I quietly open the red, slotted doors. The closet is packed full of bright colored boxes, all containing journals and pictures Myloe had collected over eighteen years. All of her clothes still dangle haphazardly on their hangers, her smell still lingering in their threads. Amidst all of the color and disarray I spot what I had come in here for. Stooping down, I retrieve a dark brown shoebox from behind the tall, bursting dresser.
I retreat to my old familiar spot on her bed, the exact spot I would sit when I would tell her bedtime stories to help her sleep. The box sits in my lap for a few moments; I am always reluctant to open it. I lift the lid of the box and place it on the pillow next to me. My gaze slowly falls on the uninviting contents that lay there. Articles upon articles of my haunted past waited for me to pick them up and read them as I have done so many times before. The words never change, nothing is ever added or removed from the box, and I can practically recite them from memory, but that never stops me from reading them. I don’t know why I continue to look at these depressing memories. I guess I just never could quite understand how someone could do such a horrifying thing to my daughter, my only girl. The articles are old newspaper clippings that all say the same thing. All of them describing the same tragic incident and involving the same people. I go back to these frequently, trying to find new things that I may have overlooked before. I never find anything new, but that never stops me from looking.
I’m not quite sure what draws me back to this very spot, looking at the same articles, over and over. I guess it makes me feel closer to her. However, it never fails to bring back the same helpless feeling that I could’ve done something to prevent losing her. I’ve had this feeling ever since that day, and it never goes away.
I finish one article and move to the next, finding the same story as the one before. There is one piece that always intrigues me, though. I pick it up and allow for my tired eyes to look over it one more time. It tells not about Myloe, but about her killer. He was a copycat, following the same procedures as the infamous serial killer known as the BTK Strangler. I skip over the next few lines, not wanting to be reminded of what the acronym BTK stands for.
There are two photos next to this article. In one of them is a charming young man. Although the photo is black and white, I know his eyes are a sparkling green, erupting with life. His hair is a dusty blond and is shooting up in all directions, matching his carefree attitude. His smile is big and inviting, adding flare to his deep, charismatic voice. His long, muscular arm is wrapped around the delicate waist of a girl half his size, his sturdy hand resting on her hip. Her small, slender arms are wrapped around the boy’s torso. She is laughing in this picture, she was always laughing. Her smile was warm and intoxicating. Her nose is small and slanted upwards, just a bit, at the end. I’m no longer looking at the photograph, I can picture her perfectly. Her skin is the color of cream and as smooth as an ivory lake. Although she didn’t get the curse of my freckles, she also wasn’t blessed with her mother’s sun-kissed skin.
Her hair, soft and curly, falls to just below her small shoulders and is the color of milk chocolate. You can’t see it in the picture, but I know that if she turns a certain way, the light will pick up small hues of my red hair. There are a few small curls falling into her face and around her eyes. Her eyes, you often hear people say that a person’s eyes are the window to their soul, I think you would be hard pressed to find a better example than her eyes. No matter how hard she tried, her eyes always gave her away. They were the color of a robin’s egg when she was happy and carried a sparkle in them when she smiled. When she was sad or angry they clouded over and became as hard and cold as a raw sapphire.
My heart jumps back into my throat at the thought of all the people and things her eyes will never see. Below this picture is a small description;
“Sully St. Cloud and Myloe McBay, ages 19 and 18, last seen at a party near their dorms before disappearing, only to resurface two weeks later in the basement of their attacker.”
Tears begin to well up in my eyes and as I wipe them away with my sleeve, I look at the other picture. The man in this picture looks as if he could have been a friend of my daughter’s with his young face and welcoming eyes. Only deepening the fact that anyone, no matter how friendly they seem, can harm us. His hair is ruffled up in the front and his smile hangs at an angle but holds a certain sly charm.
In the picture the 30-some year old man seems harmless. My throat swells with hatred because I know a story that shows a monster hidden deep within the recesses of his mentally deranged mind. As the article describes, in vague detail, this man decided sometime around the year 2005, to copycat the BTK Strangler. Unlike Dennis Rader (BTK) who killed 10 innocent people, the copycat killed 3, my daughter being the last. BTK had killed all his victims in the area of Wichita, KS. This man murdered in the city of Seattle, WA and all of his attacks were frantic and unplanned. The man in the picture also tried to taunt the police with letters just as Dennis Rader had, but this only added to quickening his arrest.
The man in the picture is named Ian Cosby. My heart turns to lead as I look at his picture, especially at his eyes. They are a deep brown, warm and trustful, and even though they will be seeing the cold, gray walls of a prison cell, he will still be seeing the world; a thing that he took away from my daughter, her best friend, and another helpless woman.
The police told me that she hadn’t suffered, that she had died quickly. I know better than to believe that. Even though it would help to somewhat ease my tired heart and restless mind, I know better than to believe that. Myloe wouldn’t have given up so quickly, she wouldn’t have gone willingly. I know that no reasonable human being would have, but my daughter, I like to believe, wasn’t just any other human being. Myloe loved life and had a drive and will to live hers to the fullest. She could have moved mountains, made a life for herself that would have been unsurpassable by the world. I start to slip the articles back into the box, one by one. I push the lid back into place and I stare blankly into the middle of it. Myloe would have gone on to be amazing, but now her name will be remembered for an entirely different reason.
My knees pop and the bed creaks as I stand up from my perch on her bed. The journey to her closet isn’t quite as long as it seems when I first come in here. The yellow walls don’t seem to watch my pathetic process. The emptiness of her room isn’t quite as loud as I open the red painted closet doors. I slide the shoebox back into its place by the dresser and then slowly I step away, closing the doors with a shaky sigh.
Without looking behind me, I turn off her light and make the transition from her soft carpet to the cold hallway floor. Turning around I whisper goodnight and close the tall wooden door, sealing off the memories, good and bad, for another day. Before I make my way down the stretched hallway, I rest my palm against her name. Myloe.