Pistol Box

Martin heard the cold floorboards creak beneath his feet and knew he had been caught. In the sliver of moonlight shining from the cracked door a shadow jerked and from inside the room a scraping sound interrupted the silence in the small house. Pushing the door open he stood clad in worn boxer and T-shirt in his office. The window was open and the curtains drifted lazily. A solid desk sat to his right and on the left wall the bookcase glinted where moonlight shone on the spines. His daughter stood in front of it still wearing her tennis shoes and hooded jacket, defiant and unabashed.
“You can’t sneak out like this” Martin croaked, almost pleading.
“Fine. I won’t.” She sounded harsh but surprisingly conceding and she began to move across the room pulling her hoodie over his shoulders. She was angry, but again that defiant note. Martin caught her by the arm roughly as she tried to push past him, he tried to say something more but their eyes met. Her chin was jutting out, his forehead furrowed beneath a shiny balding head. Suddenly his frown evaporated as his eyes widened. Releasing her he took a step back and she disappeared into the dark hallway to her bedroom.
Martin stood on hand resting on the top of his desk, his solid, comforting desk. Was it possible for a father to be afraid of his own child? But the look he had seen in his daughter’s eyes did scare him, it was burning and vengeful.

For a long time he stood there shaking, both literally from the cool breeze at the window and figuratively because of the terrible flicker behind his daughter’s eyes. Swallowing hard he slowly raised his head to peer at the dim area above the bookcase. As he pulled the desk chair to the shelves it made an all-too familiar scraping sound and he paused to listen for any sign that he had woken his wife or his other child, a sleeping toddler in the next room. Hearing none he carefully climbed onto the chair gripping the edges of the bookcase with his finger tips. Slowly he felt around in the shadows on top of the shelves until his hand met wood. He pulled the raw pine box to him and held it pressed between his palms. Still standing on the chair he rested his chin on the edge of the bookcase and closed his eyes. Happy memories danced behind his eyelids and subconsciously he smiled. His little girl, in her Easter dress, at the beach, in his arms tiny and pink.
Steeling himself, resigned he opened his eyes, and then he opened the box. A small pistol lay inside with a box of rounds. Unregistered and so far unused by Martin this tiny piece of illegally owned metal was a reassurance, a just-in-case. He didn’t need to check the small cardboard carton for all ten rounds. He didn’t need to count to know one was missing.
Quickly he closed the lid and pushed it back against the wall, out of sight, out of mind. Once the chair had been replaced at the desk he sat in it and after a moment of staring at nothing, a low moan escaped his lips. Rocking back and forth in the dimness Martin buried his face in his hands too pained to cry.
Wiping a hand over his face twice, he glanced at a clock. Time had passed, he would be tired in the morning. Silently he made his way back down the hall to his soft bed recalling very few times when he had felt more miserable. Outside his daughter’s room he stopped as he heard her roll over in her sleep. He pressed his ear to the door and listened, silence. He rolled his head so that his forehead pressed against the wood and listened again, silence. What have you done sweetheart? Can I live with it? Can you? And then he found the answer in that silence. Maybe because of what she had done, she could be at peace, maybe she could heal. Maybe tonight she wouldn’t wake up screaming and sobbing. Just maybe, tomorrow she would get up, eat, dress, smile. Martin stood up as blood pushed through his veins and pounded in his ears. He squared his shoulders and straightened his back. Almost smiling to himself he eased himself back under the covers next to the form of his sleeping wife. He imagined the morning news.





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Zero_Kiryu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 10, 2009 at 1:11 am
The daughter killed someone? Who? Why? Why is the dad smiling about it? This story presents too many questions but it is very well written.
ZERO
 
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