I Promis e I'll Love You Forever
by Patty Herriot
The only light came from the small crack under the door and was quickly consumed by the darkness. The air smelled of fear. Something brushed up against the little girl's face. Her heart pounded in her chest as she felt the panic wash quickly over her body and take over her mind. She heard the man, who was on the other side of the door, shift his weight to get into a more comfortable position. She knew it would be a while before she got out.
Please open the door, Daddy.
. . . Silence.
It's dark in here... I'm scared.
"I love you, Daddy. I promise I'll love you forever." Slowly, as the tears coursed down her cheeks and fell silently to the floor, the little girl slid down the wall, sat on the floor, and rested her head on her knees.
As she gently slid her small hand into the hand of the man beside her, she turned her trusting, loving face towards him and smiled. It was as though the times she was locked in the closet never existed--except for the nightmares in her sleep. "Do you think, Daddy, that when I go to school I'll get smart?" Why do I ask that? she thought. The answer was always the same .
Nope, you're gonna be stupid. Just like your old man.
I don't think you're stupid, Daddy.
Of course not. I'm smarter than you,
It wasn't always negative. There were days when an outsider would have thought that the man truly loved that little girl. There were times of smiles and laughter, friendship and joy, and times of love. There were picnics and promises that were kept. There were happy times that the little girl clung to as she was growing up. But then there were times that made the little girl cringe. Times when she wondered if anyone would ever love her.
She could smell the alcohol on his breath as he pulled her into the room. What now, she thought, what now?
Come sit beside your daddy. She obediently sat down on the space he was patting, and looked up at him with large, sad eyes.
"Pretty soon I'm going away." Oh, that was all. That was okay. He was gone a lot, with his job, but mostly on drinking binges although the girl was too young to totally comprehend this. The man watched her carefully and he wasn't pleased with her response to his news.
Pretty soon your mother is going away. Ah, the reaction he seemed to need. Her eyes filled with tears.