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She ran, her breaths slowing one after the other, choking on the very air that was meant to provide her life. Collapsing in the pasture, she gazed up towards the night sky. Though she admired the scintillating stars, she desired more to be surrounded by water lilies. "God, do they have water lilies in heaven, where daddy is?". No response. She sighed, her ruddy face deflating. She plucked a single grass leaf, chubby fingers idly twirling it. Adjusting herself, she sat criss-crossed applesauce, and gifted the grass leaf with a scrutinizing glare. Her face softened, guilt washing over her. "I'm sorry Mr. Grass leaf. I can't be mad at you for God not answering me. Don't feel bad though, it hurts more when daddy doesn't answer." The crunching of grass became audible to her- someone was approaching. She became unrecognizable, body rigid as stone with ghostly eyes wrecked with fear. She clutched Mr. Grass leaf, struggling to move and lacking the strength to dash. "I thought I escaped", she whispered to him. Tremors claimed her body so she fought, but to no avail. Tremors transformed into spasms, and she couldn't figure which was worse: this or being caught. Deciding capture was a graver option, her little frame mustered the willpower to stand. Fight-or-flight registered in her little brain, and like a rocket, she took off. But her little legs could only take her so far, before she fell victim to him. He snatched her arm, her screams greeting him. "Please let me go", she implored. Clutching her wrists, he watched her feeble attempts to grapple him. "No use trying. I told you good girls keep their mouths shut.Two can keep a secret- if one of them is dead."
From afar, a shadow observed them. Cute kids, she thought. Her eyes scrutinized their roughhousing, ears anticipating the next round of giggles sure to come. But most importantly, her hands yearned to surround them. She watched as they sprinted and fused into the purple moonlit sky. After the children disappeared, the woman entered the moonlight. Though her eyes were unhinged, she possessed a strikingly similar glare to the little girl.
"She misses you guys", the woman mumbled.
"No, I miss you guys!", she bellowed to herself. Battling an internal war, the woman strolled around an imaginary circle, searching for answers unknown to us and herself. Tears cascaded from her despairing eyes and stained her calloused cheeks. She continued strolling and began murmuring an unintelligible chant. Finally, she halted and regarded the now desolate land. "I won't have to anymore", she muttered.
At a marigold house, just a mile away or so, the two children lay asleep in their beds. In one room, water lilies coated the lavender and fuchsia walls, for the girl loved her namesake, Liliana. On her chest, Mr. Grass leaf listened to the lullabies produced by the gradual rising and falling of her bosom. In the adjacent room, her baby brother snuggled with his jumbo teddy bear. "He called it his older brother", his mother would later recall. The teddy bear tended to the small boy, its eyes filled with love for the child cuddling it below. Its eyes shifted to the cobalt and fossil walls. Cobalt, the teddy bear remarked, was too intense of a color for such a young boy. Little did the bear know that the boy's ultimate sacrifice, joining his sister, would surpass the intensity of the cobalt wall.
"Reneeeeeeeee!!!!!", Liliana screeched the next morning. "Wake up! Uncle G made us pancakes, and bacon, and eggs, with orange juice!!", she exclaimed, springing about in Rene's room. He opened one eye, peeking through his raised comforter to steal a glance at his sister. He chortled, and immediately faced away from her, reclaiming his position under the blanket. Liliana turned and dashed to his bed, plunging on top of him. She whispered the magical words: "Rene, I loveeeee you." Quickly, he embraced her and they burst into a fit of giggles. Soon, they began their routine competition of which sibling loved the other more.
"I love you more", Rene tittered.
"No, I love you more", Liliana contended.
"Guys not again", their Uncle G interrupted. "Come and eat, so I can bathe you dirty children", he guffawed. "Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!", the children howled as they bolted from the bed to attack him. "We're not dirty, Uncle G. We're squeaky clean like a baby's bottom."
"Is that so?", he questioned.
"Yes, Uncle G.", they answered in unison.
"Well, babies' bottoms are stinky-winky, so both of you shall bathe", he boomed. "Don't look so sad my little goobers. This evening, both of you are in for a treat." Indeed, both children were in for a treat from an unexpected guest.
Nearby, a woman stood with a pistol clutched in her left hand, and blood sprinkled on her face like droplets of water. The man below had been a good friend, but she had a goal to accomplish, and sadly, he would have impeded it. She bent down to smooth his white hair: "I'm sorry," she weeped, "It had to be done." She rose and removed a cloth from her pocket. As she wiped the gun, she stole one more glance at the man, and trekked out of the eerie woods.
Evening arrived, and the children were drunk with laughter and stimulated by a considerable amount of sugar and popcorn- a deathly mix for any parent of young kids. However, Uncle G didn't mind. He enjoyed their merriment, for it imbued him with contentment. "If I had known that would've been my last memory of them, " he sobbed to reporters, " I would have told them that their Uncle G loved them so much, and that they were the best kids anyone could ask for."
At eight o'clock, Liliana and Rene, exhausted from their sugar-induced high, laid unconscious on the brown love seat. Earlier, their Uncle G had surrendered to their frenzy and took cover on the couch across. At half past eight, the front door was unlocked, revealing a silhouette in the doorway. It left the door ajar, edging across the hallway, where it located the children. The silhouette continued until it neared the children, the soft glow of a fire illuminating its face. A woman. She scooped Liliana into her arms, and Liliana's eyes snapped open. "Shhh", the woman urged. Liliana, although frantic with fear, complied with the woman's request. Then, the woman focused on Rene- her eyes were unreadable, but they never left the sight of him. She cradled his little frame as Liliana surveyed both of them. Sensing the girl's eyes on her, the woman peered at Liliana. "Don't wake your brother up", the woman ordered.
Subsequently, Uncle G awoke to a picked lock and missing children. He soared from the couch, adrenaline overwhelming his body. Without a second thought, he dialed 911.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"Someone took my children."
In the car, the woman regarded Liliana and Rene through the rear-view mirror. Liliana met her glance, and the woman averted her eyes. Adjusting the gearshift, the woman pounded on the brake and the car careened a now dismal road. Along the route, the woman's phone beeped, so she pulled over. When she opened her phone, she perused the Amber Alert dispatched for the children. At this time, Rene aroused, befuddled by his surroundings. As his eyes adjusted, he detected the woman.
"Rene, be quiet", Liliana scolded. Trance broken, the woman spun around, observing the children. Streams of water marred her face, eyes pleading for forgiveness. “I heard that they were going to get their heads cut off,” she recollected to WANE-TV's Brett Thomas. Regaining her composure, she unlocked the doors and exited the car. She opened the left door to the backseat and eyed the naive brunette. "Liliana," she sniveled, "I'm so sorry." Perplexed, Liliana was unaware that these were her last moments. The woman lunged, suffocating Liliana. Liliana squirmed, fighting to free herself. The taste of iron persisted in her throat, her chest determined to collapse on itself. Her eyes found Rene's- he silently wept and took her hand. "Re-re-Rene", she gagged, "I- I- I- lo-ve-ve you." Her eyes glazed over, the fight in her disappearing, just like life had done. The woman released her and searched Rene's eyes.
"Do you want to go with her?", she questioned.
"Yes.", he replied.
Currently, the woman sat behind a bulletproof glass, lost in thought. The concrete walls did nothing to alleviate the shame she carried. Better here than those bars, she concluded.
"Amber, Amber", the interviewer summoned. He watched the woman with uncertainty, for she was more despondent than he had expected.
"Yes", she responded, acknowledging the man across the glass from her.
"What did you mean by you gave them a choice?", he inquired.
"Before Liliana died, I gave them a choice ... that they could live traumatized like their mom or go to heaven with God and be better off, and they chose to go to heaven.”