My dad had once whispered to me in such a hushed tone, I strained to hear what he said, “My little Tessa.” His familiar bright, sea-green eyes fixed into a scary stormy gaze as he bent down and smiled with an apologetic glint in his eyes. The street light above us gave his eyes an almost wild feline yellow-tinted gleam.
“Wh-what’s wrong daddy?”
His head flicked towards the dark alley diagonal to what we called our house, and snapped back to me. His perfect blonde hair was disarranged by the cold winter wind. Instinctively, I reached out to fix it, but his hand darted out and grabbed my wrist violently.
“Ah!” I shrieked. “Daddy! What’s wrong!” I tried to scramble out of his grip, but it was no use.
“Is there something…. back there?” my thin voice rang out. He nodded.
Then suddenly, I heard the loud footsteps of many men. Heavy and carefully measured, I could immediately tell the sound was coming from a well-trained bunch. A few clicks told me that these men carried guns.
As I was lost in my own fear, my dad drew me close with a blazing fire in his eyes and breathed, “Tessa, run when I tell you to.” His eyes wavered and his bottom lip trembled as he said his last words with a noticeably strained playfulness to his voice.
“Tess, you have to listen to me.”
“Daddy! WHAT’S WRONG?”
As he looked at me dead in the eyes, he hissed, “Promise me that you’ll run.” I avoided his gaze and instead looked down at his hands. They were trembling. My breath hitched and I had to force myself to look back up at him.
“I promise I’ll find you if you run as fast as you can back home. I love you, my little princess.” His face transformed into his familiar impish crooked grin.
“No. No daddy, I’m not gonna leave you. NO!” I screamed desperately. I scrambled forward to grab his hand with a knot at the back of my throat when suddenly, his head snapped back towards the dark alley with a ferocity I never knew he possessed. I stopped The footsteps were closer now. I didn’t know what to do.
“NOW! RUN! Run Tess, and never look back,” he hissed. He stood up and used his body to hide me from whatever was out there in the darkness. Stumbling backwards, I searched his backside with hope that he’d turn back to me now and run together to our house. But, he never turned back. I looked up towards his golden head; now, in place of my familiar father, stood before me a frightened child with his hair ruffled and eyes wide. The usual mischievous grin I knew so dearly was ripped off his face as fear gripped his heart. Tears streamed down my face as I whipped my head back and forth between the stairwell leading to my home and my dad. Time was ticking and I didn’t know what to do.
Then suddenly, the pounding footsteps stopped right behind the point where the darkness of the alley met the faint light of the lamp. There was a single click of a gun being loaded and my dad’s pleading eyes. I ran. But I didn’t run home; I ran sideways, heading towards the backside of lamppost. My elbows and my knees burned with fresh scratches as red, hot, blood ran down my leg onto my white socks. The precious velvet socks that my mother had purchased with what was little left of our money was now blooming with crimson flowers. With trembling eyes, I looked out towards the scene. As soon as I reached the lamp, I saw the source of the footsteps. Armed men dressed in tuxedos as dark as midnight were circling around my dad. They looked out of place in the lousy setting of my neighborhood. My fingernails dug into my face as I struggled to stay put and silent. The lamppost was so cold against my wet face, it began to burn.
The big man in the front of the small group broke the tension and began to speak, “Mr. Curtis. We’ve been warning you for years that if you don’t have the money with you by–” I gasped as my dad spit in his face.
He was down in a second. His locket of me and my brother snapped off his neck as he crashed onto the cold, cement floor. I thought I heard something in him break, but he didn’t let out a single cry. He was now facing me and his eyes widened with fear as he found me hiding behind the lamppost. His face, lively with anger was now nothing but a pasty statue. The man pulled out a pistol and placed it against my dad’s head, right at his temples.
“We gave you a chance, Curtis. You blew it. You know why we’re here. Come with us quietly, or trust me, I will pull the trigger,” he snarled. “Take him,” he hissed as his humongous face twisted into something resembling a satisfied smirk. His presence was not exactly something someone could forget. With a height of around 6’2 and the build of a bull, he was terrifying. His hair was cut into a clean, cruel cut and his face was aged with years of pain and unwanted memories. With thin eyebrows,a sharp, bulbous nose, and lips the color of veal, he looked like Satan himself. His stance was one of a man who owned everything in this world; his broad shoulders were pushed back into a prideful stance more likely to be seen on a lion.
I couldn’t do anything but dig my fingernails deeper into my already tear-soaked cheeks, as that demon wrung my dad around; his beautiful blonde hair now being used as a handle for his puppeteering. As they dragged my dad into the black alley, he looked towards me one last time with pleading eyes. Once, he wanted me to run. Now, he wanted to be saved. Shock immobilized me until the thumping of the footsteps and the occasional shrieks of my dad as he was being dragged across the alley stopped. I looked around, unbelieving of the situation, and saw something shiny. It was his locket of my brother and I. The cold ground hit me before I knew I fell. He was gone, I thought. Daddy’s gone. Sobs rolled out of me in waves as I stared at the broken locket before my eyes. My brother. I must tell him. He’ll come save daddy.
I ran. I ran up the steps as fast as my little legs could take me. Tears streaked down my face as I screamed for my brother. Run run run. I felt my foot catch on something, and I went down. My ears rang as I heard a familiar voice scream my name. Then, darkness.