I stand in the dust of the taxi that's dropped me off in my dad's town. He and my mom divorced when I was seven and I had only seen him once after that. My mom said he became to passionate about a religion he had discovered and that it wasn't safe to have a seven year old around him. My mom had recently been laid off and she couldn't support me and my younger brother by herself. So the state had me get on a four hour plane ride to live with my dad. I walk around the town and get weird looks from everyone in the town. Probably because of the way i'm dressed yoga pants a shirt that says “ask me if I give a damn” and lavender hair. I ask someone to show me the direction of the address that was given to me and they point me in the direction of what they call the living quarters. A building that's larger than the rest of them but not much better looking. I walk in and knock on the door labeled 274. The sound of heavy footsteps gets louder and my dad opens the door. The smell of alcohol and stale cigarettes hits me in the face and I start to question my decision on starting to smoke.
“Kathy, good to see ya girl!” my dad walks up and gives me a hug much to my displeasure. The smell of alcohol was overwhelming and the fabric that his outfit was made of wasn't the softest thing. He hadn't changed that much sense I saw him last still a large man not the best vocabulary but the biggest change was his hair and face. His hair had been buzz cut and he had a clean shaven face. “Come on I’ll show you around.” he leads me into the apartment and shows me to the room i'm going to be sleeping in. “Here's some money. Go down to the town market and get something sensible to wear.” I look at him expecting him to be kidding but he presses the money in my hand and sends me out the door but not before telling me to go get some more cigarettes while i'm out. I walked out of the building and I notices that everyone has the same hairstyle. The mens are buzzcut and the woman have a short bob. I swear if they make me cut my hair i'm going to freak out. I ask someone if she could take me to where I could get some new clothes. They pointed me down the street to the shop. A small drab building with a roof that looked as if it were going to cave in. I walk into the shop and I could practically hear the gasps from people when they see my outfit. A lady gives me a grey and red colored robe and pulls me outside. She tells me to sit on a stool and gets out a pair of scissors. I immediately stand up and start arguing with the lady. Then she does something I don't expect. She falls to her knees and starts chanting and some invisible force to forgive me and forgive her. Before I can take my robe and go a large man grabs me from behind and no matter how much I thrash he won't let go. The woman comes up to me with she scissors and starts snipping at my hair. Chunks of it falling to the ground like leaves in autumn. Once she's done I break free from the man's grasp and start saying every swear word in the english language. The man and the woman both fall to their knees pull me down with them and start chanting again. What the heck is going on. Once they let go of my hands I run off buy the rest of the stuff and make my way back to my dad's apartment holding back tears. About half way there I open one of the packs of cigarettes and start smoking. This calms me down. When I get to the apartment my dad looks at me and smiles when he sees my hair.
“Well I’m glad they took care of that so I didn't have to.” not believing what I was hearing I stomp into my room not 10 minutes later my dad knocks at my door and told me it was time for dinner. I expect to be fed at the apartment but we go to the town shop and get in a long line. Im handed a bowl and served what I hope to be stew and a hunk of stale bread same as everyone else. My dad tells me to sit in an area where there are more kids my age. I sit next to a girl with short black hair and try to talk to her but after several attempts I just give up and start eating. I hear the unmistakeable sounds of gasps. A tall man in a black cloak yanks the food away and grabs my forearm. He starts dragging me away from the group of people. Im thrashing again and see my father calmly pretending not to notice his daughter being dragged away by a stranger. Im thrown into a small barn with two other people on their knees loudly crying and chanting. I try to get up and walk back but the tall man shoves me down.
“You pray little girl.” I look up at him obviously confused. He walks out of the barn and closes the door leaving it almost pitch black. Only a small candle gives of enough light so we can see a little bit. I look at the people around me one of whom has stopped chanting. An older woman whose hair is as white as paper looks at me with puzzlement.
“Why aren’t you praying?” she asks. This causes me to burst into tears. The woman looks at me then tries to give me a hug. I just crawl into a corner but she just follows me.”You're new aren’t you?” I nod and tell her about my dad and why I was being forced to live here now. She listens very patiently and tells me something I wasn't prepared to hear. “Your father leads our religion and our god demands a sacrifice. I think that's you.” my eyes widen and I start babbling like a toddler trying to grasp the aspects of speech.”Quiet, let me explain.” she cuts me off. “I heard a rumor that your father had contacted your mother's boss and convinced him to fire her. He did this because once she lost her job you or your sibling would be told to live with him.” I start asking her why i'm the one that's going to be sacrificed to whatever god this religion has. “Well your father is the primary bloodline for this religion and he can't be sacrificed because he is the leader. But you are his child so that makes you a primary target.” i just sit there in disbelief until a different mad in a black robe comes in and blows out the candle. Then tells us it's time for bed. I lay down on a pile of hay and spend the rest of the night shivering and crying until I finally fall asleep. Im awoken by the sound of soft chanting and see a circle of people around me. I sit up abruptly and see my dad standing above me with a lit match.
“Dad?” I choke out not knowing why he's doing this. He doesn't listen and just keeps chanting. I look around and see that i'm laying on a bed made of straw. How did they get me out here without waking me up. Then the chanting gets louder and they start backing away. My dad raises the match in the air and I start screaming. There is no way out of this i'm, surrounded. The crowd starts screaming and I have to cover my ears. Then my dad dropps the match and i'm engulfed in flames. I wake up in a cold sweat gripping my bed sheets. Im home. My mom's home. My mom runs in wearing her work uniform asking me why I was screaming. I tell her i'm fine and with a little bit of hesitance she tells me that she's off to work. I wave bye to her then see the long burn mark on my forearm. When she leaves I throw the bedcover back and see more burns on my thighs and torso. I stand up and hear the faint sound of chanting. It gets louder. The burns start to hurt and sting. I curl up in a ball cover my head and scream.