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I hear the small footsteps of my four-year-old sister approaching my door. Her nearly silent thudding is impossible to mistake. The door creaks open, and I hear her pause like she does every night. I look at her, and give her the same nod I always give. She smiles a smile only the innocent have, and runs toward my bed. She crawls under the covers and burrows herself into my side and whispers something I can’t quite make out. I force a smile for her, and kiss her forehead telling her to sleep.
Within minutes she’s curled up against my right side falling fast asleep beneath the warmth of my covers. She mumbles something again, but this time I understand what she says. “I love you Jo”. I can’t help but smile at her sweet voice. I know she’s asleep but I still whisper into her tiny ears, “I love you too Laci”. My eyes wander around the opaque room. The only color that brings a little life into the room is the flame-red hair that both Laci and I have. After their continuous wandering my eyes settle on her. Her ivory skin would almost blend in with the covers if it weren’t for the tiny freckles, emerald eyes, and red hair that frame this small doll-like child.
I don’t know how much time has passed during my insomnia when the sound of his feet, drunkenly stammering towards his room, echoes through the hallway. Slam! I flinch against the tiny body sleeping next to me. I smile sadly wishing I could fall to sleep as easily and as fast as her. In many ways she’s lucky. He ignores her, and even forgets she exist sometimes. But I watch her; I care for her the way our mother does not. She is both lucky and unlucky because he ignores her, but he doesn’t ignore me, but sometimes I wish he did. Ignorance is less painful and frightening. I am jealous of her in many ways, but I know that someday when she’s older he will realize she is there, and I don’t want her to have to experience that.
A few tears escape my eyes, and I automatically wipe them away. His voice booms in my head as if he were right next to me speaking into my ear, “Crying is bad. Crying makes you weak. There is no room for the weak in this world. Are you weak?” I hear my tiny sorrow-filled answer as I fall into the memory, “No…” He slapped me and I push harder to hold back the tears, both in the memory and now. I open my eyes trying to look away from what I cannot escape.
I take a breath, and tell myself what I have learned to tell myself. It’s not me. I’m not weak, he is. What he does is weak and cowardly. I have done nothing wrong, and I do not deserve this. He needs to be punished and taught that what he does is immoral and illegal. He took away my innocence and now I’m going to take away something of his. I decided this long ago, but now I am finally going to do what I promised myself I would do if it went any farther.
Slowly and gently I leave the bed, making sure not to wake her. I sit down at my desk and write her a letter. In the letter I apologize for what I’m about to do and tell her how much I love her. She will be better off in a world without this man, even if I can’t be with her to make it happen. She deserves more. She’s still young and innocent, but I’ve grown up too much in my short fifteen years and nothing will ever be right for me. But he has to go, and only I can do it.
I take the letter and leave it in her hand, folded neatly only for her to find. I kiss her forehead and walk downstairs as quietly as possible and reach into the hidden gun cabinet behind the couch and wrap the cloth I’d found around his pistol. My hand clenches the gun as if my life depended on it. Maybe it did.
Once again I am moving. This time upstairs, towards his room. The door creaks open both he doesn’t move. I almost glide to the spot next to his side of the bed. My eyes glance from him to the woman next to him. Mother and Stepfather, these are the terms that they are given when I was born, but they do not deserve them. He came along after she was already pregnant with me, and she kept him around. He beat her while I was in her womb and she still let him stay. I will never know why she let a stranger into hers and her unborn child’s life. He hurt her at first then when she was worn out I was next. If he hadn’t come along, I would be better off. Laci wouldn’t be here, of course but maybe her soul would have gone to a better family. They don’t love me, or Laci. They definitely don’t keep us safe and care for us, in fact they the do the exact opposite. They are our captors, the ones that tie us to this hell.
I pick up the phone next to his head and silently dial 911. When she asks, I tell the operator the address and tell them to hurry, because someone is about to be murdered. When I lay the phone back down I turn towards his bed, and stand there, silent as death waiting for the right moment to take a soul.
Finally the sirens I’d been expecting arrive in the short distance, and so with a last sorrow-filled sigh, I take the gun and bind it into his hand. He does not wake, not yet. His drunken slumber takes care of that. One last tear sheds from my right eye and falls. I point it towards the heart, and start to pull the trigger, but within a second of its release he jolts awake and shoves the gun an inch, missing the heart. Blood spurts everywhere. She, the one they call my mother, wakes up and screams in horror. He begins to gasp my name, “Jocelyn”. I look at him and with the last of my will I speak, “You’ll never touch me or anyone else ever again”.
Outside the sirens that had been edging closer arrive, and the men begin yell to let them in. The sound of the door breaking is what causes me to fall. I’d been holding on for the last few seconds; I was trying to stay strong. They arrive in the room within seconds. I am on the ground bleeding to death, Father still holds the gun, Mother is crying. Why? I wonder to myself; she never cared, because if she had she never would have let this man into our lives. I suppose I will never know. The police cuff him and begin to read him his rights. I hear the whimper of my little sister in the hall. The gunshot woke and frightened her. Everything is becoming silent and slow, but I hear her and know that what I’ve done will help her in the end. I just hope she will understand one day.
First the darkness comes and I don’t know anything: where I am, who I am, or why I am, but then the warm silver light approaches and I remember, but I do not fear as I once had. I know what I went through was just an obstacle on my way to my new life. I am free from the binds of him, fear, and even mortality. Time passes but it feels like nothing, because it is nothing when you are eternal. For what seemed like only minutes, years passed and I watched from the heavens as young girls faced the same fates as me. I welcomed them with warm arms when they finally arrived. Some sooner than when I came, some later. I learned that I cannot look at my life on Earth as something to plague my soul, but only as a nightmare that I woke up from as soon as possible. I teach my newly reborn guardians this when they come home from their earthbound time.
I am back on Earth again for the first time in many years, but only as an Observer. A smile develops on my face as I stare at the woman my little sister has become. She barely remembers what happened when she was four years old, but she remembers me. I have seen her dreams and her night murmurs of my name, and I know that my sacrifice is what made her life possible. The life of a girl to save the opportunity for a future for a child. I now know what she whispered so man years ago that night I died. She called me the name I now know is true in every way: her Guardian Angel.