Shutting his eyes tight no longer blocked the image from Junaid’s head. The bloody face of 10 year old Grace kept lurking in his life day and night.
She was always there in the mirror when he shaved in the morning. She’d be there in the driveway when he’d get into his car. She was there on his desk at work, and in the dark parking lot and on the kitchen table watching him make dinner. Always waiting on him. Ready with her bright smile, wearing the same pink floral dress with doilies in her hair and a dead rabbit in her arm. One would have thought of her to have come straight out of a postcard picture–if it weren’t for all the blood.
And it drove Junaid crazy. He had the death of his daughter on his hands and it had to be fixed.
Ever since he had killed Grace, she’d been appearing to him. The court dismissed him as “not guilty” but deep down he knew it was all his fault.
It was his fault that Angie wanted a divorce from him. It was his fault he failed as a husband and a father. It was his fault he took Grace for camping that day. It was his fault he got too busy starting the fire. It was his fault she went chasing after the rabbit. It was his fault that she tripped over the rocks. It was his fault that he couldn’t hold on to her hand. She had trusted him and he had failed her. It was his fault that the drop killed her.
He had failed her and it had to be fixed.
He shut his eyes tight again. His face was drained of any blood and his hands shook in terror. His breathing was laboured and his heart was ready to explode any minute. He felt the thick abrasive rope in his hands as Grace stood watching in the corner, streaks of scarlet caked into her beautiful hair and onto her beautiful skin.
The door was locked and the neighbours were out. The knot was tight and the rope was strong. He slowly opened his swolen eyes and stepped onto the chair. His trembling hands slid the noose around his neck as Grace giggled. He had to fix it, so he shut his eyes tight again and with a forced kick to the chair, he let his body dangle from the noose.
The momentary peace was quickly swallowed by a crippling sense of regret. Panic started setting into Junaid’s body as he kicked and thrashed his legs and clawed at the noose around his neck. His vision became blurred and his head felt boggy as the noose slowly ceased any blood supply to his brain. As the rope dug into his windpipe, every inch of his lungs burned. He felt his heart give in. The flailing slowed as his limbs exhausted. And he saw his daughter playing in her school playground. And he saw Angie yelling at him. He saw his mother sleeping in her coffin. He saw a 5 year old Grace topple and giggle as he tickled her in bed. He saw the judge mouthing the words “not guilty”. And he saw Grace sitting on his kitchen table. Her face was angelic and there was no blood anywhere. She was smiling and alive.
They were even now. He had fixed it.
His eyes had popped out and blood had engorged every vein in his face. His body had quit all struggling and his limbs had dropped. As he drew his last breath, a soft whisper echoed in the eerie quit of the room
“Daddy you’re home…”.