Dad (Story by Risa Peris)

Indiana – 1972

“Always be careful, darling. There’s evil lurking out there. Always where you least suspect it.” Dad tucked me into bed and talked about WWII – his favorite war.

Indiana – 1974

It snowed the day of Halloween. I was mad. I would now be required to wear a coat over my Wonder Woman costume. At least, I could still wear makeup. Mom would allow more makeup to compensate for the partially hidden costume.

“I really don’t know if I should let you go,” she said with a concerned voice. “How weird there’s snow at this time of year.”

“Mom!” I was on the edge of hysteria. Meeting my friends and Trick-or-Treating was simpy a must.

Mom relented. She didn’t want to be the mean one. She knew I would call Dad and complain about her. I could always hold Dad, the man who left two years ago for his secretary, over her head and nearly bully her into things by making her seem not nice. Dad would let me, is what I would frequently say. In truth, I didn’t see my Dad very much. Only twice a month. He lived in the capital and was getting into city politics.

I ran to the end of the street in my red boots and met up with Corinne, Daniel, Micah, and Paul. We were all wearing coats but laughed over each other’s costume. For an hour we went door to door filling our bags with candy. Then we crossed the Archibald Cemetery and paused. In the distance were small lights, like fireflies. But fireflies only came out in summer. Corinne, dressed as a queen, stepped forward.

“What are those lights?” she asked. We didn’t know. We were all scared. Corinne went further into the cemetery.

“Corinne, come back,” I yelled. “Corinne!”

But she disappeared into the wintery night. Corinne was gone. She never went home that night and it prompted a month-long search for her. All of our friends were questioned. We didn’t know anything. Mom kept out of school for a week and begged Dad to take custody of me. To keep me safe. Dad married Lorena and I lived with them until I was 18.

Indiana – 1995

Mom died. I flew from New York and sorted through her house and made arrangements to sell the house. Dad was now a Congressman and I was now a journalist at the New York Times. I buried Mom in the Archibald Cemetery. Only a handful of people showed. Mom had become very reclusive. I looked at the expanse of tombstones and wondered about those lights on Halloween and Corinne disappearing like a ghost.

Indiana – 2000

I went to visit Daniel. I had reached out to him. We hadn’t been friends for years. He was a biology teacher at the local high school. He offered me coffee in his comfortable home. His wife sat on the edge of a chair looking strangely nervous.

“What do you think happened to Corinne?” I asked.

Daniel shrugged. “I don’t know. None of us knew. She went off chasing the lights. It was stupid.
I cleared my throat. “Do you remember my Dad?”

“You mean Congressman Roberts? Yeah.”

“Do you know he was staying in town the night Corinne went missing? I was reading through one of my Mom’s old journal. On October 31st my Dad was in town staying at a motel. But I didn’t know about it. They talked about financial matters.”

Daniel looked impatient. “So?”

I opened a file. “There’s been a lot of missing girls and some witnesses describe flashing lights or fairy lights.”

“So?”

“My Dad…”

“No.” Daniel was firm. “You shouldn’t even connect the two.”

“But they align with my Dad’s travel diaries. I swiped them the last I was in his house.”

“Get out,” said Daniel. “I’m sorry you see evil. Perhaps it is because you are evil.”

I flinched. “Daniel…”

“You were always looking for evil and that only intensified after Corinne. Get out of my house.” Daniel opened the front door. His wife made a sign of the cross.

Indiana – 2010

I knocked on Daniel’s house and shoved the New York Times in his hands. CONGRESSMAN SUSPECTED IN STRING OF ABDUCTIONS AND MURDER.

“I’m not evil, Daniel. I just have sensitivity and a journalist’s instinct for a story.”

Daniel cried. “He killed Corinne?”

I walked away and felt a heaviness for having compromised my father. I also whiffed evil as I passed by my old home.

What are the secrets and crimes of your family?

THE END

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