Writing Wednesday: From Yesterday To Tomorrow

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A chill overtook Natalie and she felt her skin crawling before she heard a step behind her.  She stood and turned.  She stared at him holding her favorite teddy bear in one hand and his pistol in the other.  “Hi, dad,” she whispered.

guess-attic-837156_1920     Natalie Grueger brushed a strand of hair from her eyes and refocused on her sketch.  She was trying to get the eyes just perfect.  The drawing was to be her final project in one of her art classes at Mt. Zion Community College.  When the song, “I Wanna Dance To Your Heartbeat” blared from her phone, she smiled and dropped her pencil onto her lap.  Clicking the button, she put the phone up to her ear, “Hello, Brad.  You know I am trying to get this project done.”

She could hear his teasing voice coming through, “Come on, Nat.  My girlfriend’s gotta eat something or I will have no one to put my arm around.”

Grinning she reminded him, “Aren’t you supposed to be working?”

“Yes,” he quickly replied, “But even the elite enforcers of the law are entitled to a half-hour break.”

Natalie laughed, “Enforcers of the law, are we?”

“Well, you didn’t like Supermen In Squad Cars.”

“I think we need to think this one through,” Natalie started gathering her supplies together.

Brad came back to his reason for the call, “How about we discuss it over lunch?  I could meet you at The Coffee Shack in about twenty minutes.”

Natalie rolled her eyes, “How romantic!”  Her phone began to vibrate and she took a quick glance, “That’s odd.”

“Well, maybe it’s unromantic but I would hardly call it odd.” Brad teased.

“No,” Natalie jumped in, “I’m getting a call from my sister’s school.  I wonder what they want.”

“You call me back in a few letting me know and I will humor myself somehow.  I haven’t ran the red light for a while.  See you.”  Brad offered.

Natalie smiled and clicked her phone, “Hello, Natalie Grueger speaking!”

A woman’s voice was heard, “Hello, Miss Grueger, This is Mrs. Radcliffe, the nurse at your sister’s school.  She isn’t feeling well and I can’t raise your parents on the phone.”

Natalie was quiet for a moment, “Mrs. Radcliffe, our mother died three years ago.  I have no idea where our father is right now.  Did you try his job?”

There was a pause on the line, “I tried the number given as his work number but they told me he was no longer employed at their company?”

Nat furrowed her brow, “Really?  And you tried the house?”

“The line is no longer in service.”

“Oh.”  Natalie checked her watch, “Okay, I can be there in about ten minutes, okay?”

“We’ll be waiting,” Mrs. Radcliff replied.

She called Brad to tell him she couldn’t make it and why and then left to get her sister.

*****

25921137906_ec340e29ab_bNatalie was greeted by the nurse as she entered the room who pointed to a bed behind a curtain.  Natalie peeked around the curtain, “Hello, Nia.”

     A head popped up from the bed, “Nat!”

     The older sister situated herself on the edge of the bed and wiped Nia’s brow, “What seems to be the problem?”

     Nia pointed toward her belly, “My tummy hurts.  I feel like I’m going to puke.”

“We can’t have that!” Natalie smiled.  “I guess I will have to take you home.  If dad isn’t there, you can bunk in my apartment.”

     After checking Nia out, she ushered her to her car and helped her with her seatbelt.  Nia leaned her head against the seat and closed her eyes.  Natalie pointed her car in the direction of her old home.  Sighing, she knew she did not look forward to being there….. if it weren’t for Nia….. When she didn’t spot her father’s beat-up Ford truck, she breathed a sigh of relief.  She stepped from her car and surveyed the house.  It had been a few years since she had been there but it looked worse than ever, if that even was possible.  Noticing that Nia was asleep, she approached the front porch and had to side-step a few loose boards.  Finding the front door locked, she turned back to her car.  Maybe she could come tomorrow and get Nia’s things.  She left a note telling her father she had her sister and left for home.

*****

     Natalie handed Nia a glass of ginger ale, “Feeling any better?”

     Nia drank from the glass and nodded.  After a while she looked up at Natalie, “Can I come and live with you?”

     Natalie jerked her head up to look at Nia, “Why?”

     Nia looked away, “I just would like it better.  I don’t like living with dad.”

     Natalie felt sick but had to ask, “Why don’t you like living with dad?”

     Nia sighed, “I just don’t.  It’s…. It’s just not the same since mom died.”

     Natalie inhaled slowly, “Nia, has dad ever touched you in places he should not have?”

     Tears streamed down Nia’s face.  Natalie suddenly felt cold as memory after memory washed over her.  “How long has dad been doing this?”

     Nia started crying, “Right after mama died.”

     Natalie shuddered.  So much for hoping dad had changed.  Dismay turned to anger and it burned inside her.

*****

The next afternoon Natalie made a visit back to her old home to get some clothing for Nia.  She found a bag in the kitchen for the clothing and a few essentials.  At the top of the stairway she paused at her old room.  It had been turned into a storage room.  She wondered what had happened to her things.  Nat got her answer a few minutes later when, while passing her father’s room, something caused her to stop dead in her tracks.  She stared and then blinked to make sure she was seeing what she thought she was seeing.  Realizing it was, she marched across the room to jerk her childhood friend, Ted E. Bear, off of her father’s dresser.  Covering her mouth with her other hand, she started to weep but then made herself stop.  Raising her chin higher she made her way around the room, stopping at his bedside table.  Kneeling down, Natalie ripped out the bottom drawer to look for the hidden compartment under it.  Reaching in with her free hand she pulled out the heavy shiny piece of metal her father used to threaten her and her mother.

A chill overtook Natalie and she felt her skin crawling before she heard a step behind her.  She stood and turned.  She stared at him holding her favorite teddy bear in one hand and his pistol in the other.  “Hi, dad,” she whispered.

Her father had aged, “Natalie.  What are you doing with my gun?”

Natalie started waving it around quite flippantly, “Oh, this old thing?”

“Nat, be careful!  It’s loaded.”

She glared at him, but stopped waving the firearm, “Yes, I am quite aware that it is loaded.  It’s something you never failed to point out when I was younger.  Tell me, DAD, do you enjoy touching my sister as much as you enjoyed touching me?”

He froze, taken aback, “What brought that on?”

“Don’t play games with me!” Natalie shouted, “Nia told me what you did.  I cannot believe you are still doing this!”

Her father’s face went through a myriad of emotions before settling on an unsettling sneer.  “Come on, Nat, I needed someone after you left.”

Natalie screamed, dropping the gun causing it to explode toward her father hitting him on the leg.  The room was almost immediately filled with policemen tackling her father and Natalie found herself crying in Brad’s arms.  He soothed her hair, “It’s over, Nat.  You did good.  He’s going away for a long time.  He will never do this again.”  Natalie nodded her head.  Brad used his finger to raise up her chin to look at him, “But, hey, Nat.  Remind me never to make you mad.”  Natalie smiled slightly.  “Now, I have a break in a few minutes, so can we please have that date you were teasing me with yesterday.”  Natalie nodded.  They walked together downstairs and out through the door.

couple-1198290_1920

Natalie turned to look at the house, “Now maybe my nightmares will stop.”

Brad squeezed her hand, “And we can work on new dreams together.”  Natalie smiled at him as he led her away from her past and toward a bright new future.

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