Stupid cat, thought Akila as she glared glossy eyed at the last thing her father’s hands had held. She had screamed at him that night… screamed at him for the thought that this plush, stuffed, fat, cotton thing could possibly fill the hole left by her other dad. How could he possibly think this inanimate toy could replace the role of his now ex-lover?
He had to hate her for it. That was the reason she was alone now, right? Getting juggled between aunts and uncles and friends of other relatives who would debate if she would be more happiness or more burden if added to their day-to-day lives? Now she sat in her uncle’s house– her words echoing… ringing in her ears. Just like the slam of the door that followed that night– and the shot of the gun that would tear through her house and Eurin’s head the day after that.
I wish you weren’t my father, she had said. And just like that, he was no longer. He shut the door on her… and on Eurin. And now Eurin was dead and it all her fault. It’s all my fault… it’s all my fault… it’s all my…
Ding! Ding! The sound of the doorbell shot through her mind, cutting the images of what shot through her father’s from view. She sniffed, running to the mirror in a frantic effort to make her face appear like a more normal, less swollen version of itself but soon gave up. She swung the door open with her best attempt of a smile only to realize she was putting on a show for no one.
Instead, covering the tauntingly cheerful welcome mat, sat a very plain and simple dark oak box the size of her hand. She leaned over and picked it up, examining it for a note or engraving– any clue to where it had come from– but found nothing. Frowning, she took one last glance up and shut the door behind her.
She continued to turn the box over that night as she sat by her bedside, opening it and closing it but still finding nothing. Confused, she turned out the lights, lay in bed, and turned over.
Immediately the thoughts came rushing back.
If I hadn’t said that papa wouldn’t be gone.
I didn’t mean what I said… I’m such a bitch… he was perfect and now he’s gone.
They’re both gone… it’s all my fault…
It’s all my fault…
It’s all my fault.
A rumbling seized the house, rolling deep and low… threatening like a hungry beast. Akila sat up in her bed and looked out the window for lightning but found nothing. She tiptoed down the hall, looking to see if anything was out of place but again nothing. Uneasy, she crawled back into bed.
If I wasn’t such a horrible daughter, my dads would both be here and I could snuggle with them right now.
Maybe papa wouldn’t have hated himself if he hadn’t adopted me.
A schism tore across the ceiling of Akila’s bedroom, revealing a deep indigo
sky, dripping through the space like blood.
How did this happen? Akila thought. What did I do to cause this?
The far side of the bedroom collapsed in on itself, narrowly missing the bed where she sat. Debris and rubble fell, threatening to destroy everything in its path. Horrified, she ran.
I destroy EVERYTHING!
Why in the world would my uncle want me? Now I’ve ruined his house!
Another wall crumbled, leaving the front door standing alone.
I don’t bring anything good to this world!
The foundations shook.
I hate myself!
The ground broke loose from under her.
This world would be better off without me in it!
The rubble crumbled until there was nothing left.
Just as she was about to hit the ground, she jolted awake. Sweat filled her sheets as she gasped hollow breaths to stop the quaking. The room, the house, the walls were all intact. And still on the floor next to the bed laid the small oaken box.
Akila picked it up and turned it over once more. Nothing had changed, that is until she looked inside. In the space lied the dust of drywall, a container of Spackle, and a putty knife. She looked up at the ceiling and found a small crack had begun to form above her bed. Slowly, she climbed up, took out the putty knife and started to fix the damage she had done.
Photo by Ksenya Drozd on Unsplash
~ Fioza Leigh