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With Arms Wide Open

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With arms wide open Coral hugged her six year old daughter, Sarah, her red ruffle dress wrinkling into small hills. It had only been a year since Coral had seen her daughter but it felt like a lifetime or two. Tears streamed down her face as she heard her daughters sweet words pass her lips.
“I missed you Mommy.” Sarah’s grip tightened around her mother’s neck as she held on for dear life.
“Oh I missed you too baby.” Coral said as she picked up her daughter and walked out of the airport. The drive home was full of conversation and laughs of the things Sarah and her grandparents did while Coral was dealing with things.
“Mommy, where is daddy?” Sarah’s eyes widened and a smile crossed her face.
“Sarah. Daddy isn’t going to come back for a long time.” Coral watched as the smile slowly turned to a frown on her little girls face.
“But he is going to see us right?” the panic rose in Sarah’s voice.
“Honey, daddy did something very bad.”


***
“What do you mean you did something John?” Coral said in an alarmed voice.
“We just need to get out of here now.” said John throwing clothes in a bag and frantically rushing around the house like a mad man.
“John what did you do!” Coral fell to the ground in tears knowing darn well what he did; she just didn’t want to face the reality.
“Damn it Coral! Just get Sarah and we will be out of town in thirty minutes!” he said rushing for the front door when the flashing red and blue lights lit up the window. He looked back at Coral still crying on the floor. His feet hit the ground as fast as he could go into his daughters’ room.
“John come out with your hands up. We have the whole house surrounded.” The cops shouted. John ran back into the living room gun in hand waving it back and forth like it was a toy.
“Where is Sarah? Damn it Coral did you call the cops?!” he said pointing the gun in Sarah’s face. Click went the trigger.
“You idiot! You really think I would let you keep a loaded gun in this house! After you killed that girl! Go to hell John!” just as she slapped him the cops broke down the door. The wood shattered as they entered guns pointed straight at John.


***

“What he do mommy?” Sarah’s eyes looked with interest as her mother started to cry hitting the dash board.
They pulled into the driveway of a small green house. The shutters were broken and the screen door was hanging off the hinges. The garden the previous owner started was now dead and brown along the front of the house. The roof was moldy and falling apart. They walked up to the front door as Coral searched her left pocket.
“Ah here it is, ready to see our new home baby?” Coral unlocked the door and gave it a gentle push open. It swung open blowing a puff of dust in the air. The first room had a couch covered with a dusty blanket, facing the fire place with the mantel only hanging on by one nail. It had pink walls with roses blending in. The kitchen wasn’t much better, old dishes were still on the table covered in dust with an old newspaper right next to them, the date reading April 4th 1998 across the top.
“Well I guess no one has lived here in 10 years. It could use a little clean up but I guess it will do. We can make a project out of it. What do you think Sarah? Sarah?” Coral turned around looking frantically Sarah wasn’t there. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a shadow cross the long hall way of rooms. Coral turned around and started walking down the hall, her heart beating faster with every step. “Sarah?” she whispered, when out of the left room the door swung open. Coral stepped closer peeking inside the room. Sarah stood at the window not saying a word just staring. A doll sat on a rocking chair in the middle of the room a key around its neck. A small girl’s bed flipped over against the wall. The wallpaper was pealing off the walls and the closet door was open.
“Dead people mommy” Sarah whispered still looking out of the window. Coral stood beside her daughter and pulled back the curtain revealing seven grave stones in the back yard, two large stones, four smaller stones, and one stone on the ground. The weeds had grown tall around them and the woods made them look even spookier than they already were.
“It must be the last owners’ family. Come on dear, we can start cleaning. Than what if we go out and get ice cream latter?” said Coral trying to pull her daughters attention away from the window and the graves. Sarah nodded in agreement as a child’s smile painted across her face.
It had been three hours since they got to the house. Most of the dust was swept away and the mantel put back in place. The dishes were washed and the rooms cleaned. The last room was the basement. The both of them reached the door at the end of the hall. Marks covered the door knob. Coral reached for the door knob but it was locked.
“I guess the people before us really wanted this door open.” Coral said.



***

“No Jacob don’t put our little girl in the basement, she didn’t do anything! Please Jacob!” cried Flora pulling at Jacobs arm as he held Seli, their daughter in his other arm tightly. He took out a key and opened the basement door. Flora scratched Jacobs arm trying to free her daughter, he responded by back slapping her. Flora fell to the ground with a thump. Jacob placed Seli on the step than shut the door.
“Don’t EVER question my authority Flora!” Jacob said as he walked away with the key in hand.
“Mommy! It’s dark! Mommy please let me out!” Seli cried. Hearing her daughters screams Flora grabbed a screw driver and started banging at the door knob.
“I’m coming baby! Just sit down and close your eyes baby!” Flora’s voice cracked as she repeatedly hit the door with the screw driver.



***

“I wonder what happened. Oh well, I guess we wont get to clean the basement today. I’ll call the lock smith tomorrow he will open it for us.” Coral said looking at Sarah.
“Ok mommy” Sarah walked off towards the living room. Coral still stood there at the door thinking of different possible reasons the door would be locked when a thought ran through her mind. The key around the bear’s neck! She rushed into the child room and grabbed the bear. Walking back to the basement door she looked at the bear. It had one eye missing and the vest had been stitched up along the front.
“This must have been a child favorite.” Coral said to herself. The key came off easily with the rusty chain. I hope this works. Coral turned the key as the door clicked and swung open. It was dark with a small light at the bottom of the stairs. The wood creaked under Corals feet. The stone wall was cold and rough as she ran her hands over it to keep balance. The room was just light enough to make out the bottom of the stairs. Coral opened a small window at the top of the wall that let in a stream of light into the room.



***

“Get your a**** down there now!” yelled Jacob pointing a metal bat at his wife and kids.
“Please Jacob, don’t do this! Jacob, stop, you’re scaring the kids!” Flora said as Jacob pushed them down stairs. The three kids cried and held each others hands in fear for their own lives. Jacob pushed them all down on the ground.
“You must be dealt with, only God can deal with you sinners now.” Jacob said as he shot each one of them dead, than himself. A small doll laid at the side of Seli’s hand a hair bow in her hair.



***

At the bottom of the stairs laid the bodies of the family that lived in the house before. Three small children one laying next to a doll a bow in her hair, a holy bible on the ground painted with dry blood. Coral fell to the floor crying just staring at the bodies on the ground.
“Mommy?” Sarah peeked her head inside the door and saw her mom crying on the floor.
“Baby, go back and get the phone out of my purse.” Coral managed to say through her tears. She noticed a piece of paper in one of the child’s hands. As she unfolded it, Sarah came back to the door with her phone.
“Here mommy” Sarah started to walk down the steps.
“No baby, stay up there! Just throw me the phone. Just throw it honey.” Listening to her mother Sarah she threw the phone down to Coral. She placed the phone next to her and looked back down at the paper. It was written by a young child in black crayon.
It read, “Daddy believes God told him that his family was a sin and that he had to send them back to be fixed. Mommy tried to stop him, now Daddy sleeps in hell forever, while we sleep in heaven.”





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