The wind blew hard. It moaned and whistled as it wove its way through the park. All around them the trees bent nearly in half as the wind pushed on the branches. Sand and debris blew by with every gust. Sheila struggled to keep her hair from whipping her face, using her hat to hold it down.
The man’s white hair lay still on his head. His dark clothing hung loose on his scrawny body, yet unaffected by the wind. Sheila noticed her daughter’s hair flowing with the breeze, yet this character seemed frozen in time. His face showed no emotion as Sheila watched him. He just stood there, watching her daughter play. He never approached her, just watched.
Sheila felt a sense of unease watching this man stare at her only child. She stood up, ready to tell him to buzz off. She sat back down. She tried again, but her legs refused to obey. She cupped her hands around her mouth, ready to scold the stranger. No words came. She tried again, but her throat refused to release her protest. Sheila sat on the bench and just watched him. He never moved. He watched her daughter like a statue, towering over the sandbox.
Sheila directed her attention to her daughter. Jennifer sat in the box, filling her bucket with sand and turning it over. She appeared to be building a castle, which she loved to do. Sheila smiled at her daughter as she played. Jennifer didn’t seem to notice the motionless visitor beside her.
“It’s time to go home, honey.”
“Come on, let’s get going.”
Jennifer stood up and dusted herself off. She giggled as she proceeded to destroy her castle, stomping on it like a giant. She laughed and growled, kicking sand in all directions.
The man turned and looked at Sheila. Her stomach dropped and she could feel every hair on her body stand up. She could do nothing but stare back. He smiled at her as he turned back around to watch Jennifer. Sheila wanted to leave. She needed to get her daughter back home to safety.
“Jennifer, that’s enough. Let’s go!”
The girl stepped from the sandbox, her auburn hair blowing in the wind. Sheila watched as her daughter approached the man, heading straight for him.
Sheila stood up, trying to shout to her daughter. The words again refused to leave her throat. The man stood his ground, waiting for Jennifer to come to him.
Sheila gasped as her daughter ran through the man, as if he was vapor. Jennifer giggled as she approached her mother, her plastic bucket swinging from her hand. The man turned, watching as Jennifer ran into the street. He began walking toward her, his arms stretched out as if to embrace her.
Sheila didn’t see the truck coming. All of her attention was on the white haired man, pursuing her daughter. She had always been such a careful mother. She made Jennifer check both ways before crossing the street, and still had to hold Sheila’s hand. The truck collided with her only child, splashing her life on the concrete.
The man looked directly at Sheila, that same smile spread across his face. He had his arms open as he continued forward.
Sheila ran to the street and cradled her child’s broken body. She felt warm blood soaking into her clothing. Rocking back and forth, she stroked the blood soaked hair. She looked into Jennifer’s face, the sightless eyes staring into the distance. How did this happen? How could she let her daughter be hurt this way?
“It’s okay, mommy. It doesn’t hurt.”
Sheila looked up to see Jennifer holding hands with the man. She looked beautiful. Sheila reached out to her, but the man led her away. She still held the motionless body of her daughter in her arms.
“Jennifer! Come back to mommy!”
“I already called an ambulance,” came a voice to Sheila’s side.
“He’s taking my baby away from me!”
“Help is on the way, ma’am.”
Sheila watched as the man led her daughter past the park before disappearing into the woods around them. They looked back in Sheila’s direction just before fading away. Jennifer smiled and waved.
“It’s time to go home, honey,” Sheila said, bending down to kiss her daughter’s cold forehead.
"Time To Go Home"
Copyright: © 2009 Shane McKenzie