Here’s the link for people who want to support me on Patreon:
Michael let his knife slip out of his fingers and drop to the floor. It bounced off the wood before coming to a rest. He snapped out of his violent trance, transitioning to gentle concern. Walking toward Natasha, he wiped his blood-soaked hands on his stained shirt. He sank to his knees in front of her, pulling her into a protective embrace.
He felt like he had utterly failed Natasha as he held and comforted her. The jarring trauma would affect her forever. When Haley had gotten pregnant, he had made a pact to keep his family separate from this part of his life. His betrayal of his daughter’s innocence made him feel like his heart was being ripped out of his chest. All his work to be a good parent was now useless. Despite his best efforts, he failed to protect his family from violence spilling over into their lives.
Unavoidable death and destruction was why he had gotten out of the business in the first place. It made him emotionally cold, causing him to lose all hope for humanity’s resilient love. He had wanted to make sure that neither his wife or his daughter would ever experience such carnage.
But then he faced the catalyst for impending slaughter and darkness. His life changes were going according to plan until Natasha’s abduction made his progress unravel. It came apart at the seams like an old tattered shirt, wasting away from time and pressure. Once it had been pristine, but it disintegrated into nothingness.
Natasha sobbed and trembled, burrowing her face into Michael’s chest. She was like a polar bear cub nestling into the warm, comforting fur of her mother to be shielded from the biting cold of harsh winter winds. Her father stroked her hair, feeling like he was shooting protective energy into her. He wished with all his heart that she had not seen the shattering trauma that would be with her forever.
Sarah patiently remained off to one side, letting her mind wander. After a few minutes, Michael pulled away from Natasha. He held her at half an arm’s length. Keeping his hands on her shoulders protectively, he looked into her eyes with paternal care and sympathy.
“I’m so sorry Natasha,” he choked. Michael’s face glistened from the tears that no longer leaked from his eyes. His voice carried the weight of his crushing failure. He had annihilated his tireless efforts to shield his daughter from this brutal world in one fell swoop.
“There’s no excuse for what I did. I’d have gotten arrested or killed if I didn’t, but there’s still no excuse.” he continued with overpowering regret. “Sweetheart, I want you to know that that was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.” He kept his eyes locked on hers, his composure crumbling. “I only have myself to blame for you having to see that, and I want you to understand that I feel so terrible about it that I don’t even feel like I deserve your love anymore.”
Tears leaked from the corners of his eyes as his speech faltered, before he continued his confession. “You and your mom mean more to me than anything else in the entire world. I always do as much as I can to protect you, and this time, I failed miserably.” He hung his head in shame.
Still sobbing, Natasha reached her tiny hands toward Michael and pulled his face up, looking into his eyes. “I know how much you love me dad,” she reassured him. Unblemished certainty pushed through devastation, her determined stare digging into the essence of his being. “I do. And I know that’ll never change. And I’ll always love you and mom more than anything else in the world too, because I know that you would never do anything to hurt me on purpose, and you would do anything to avoid making me sad or scared. I know you didn’t want to do it dad, but I’m still scared and confused.”
She sealed her motivational speech with another warm embrace, reciprocating his soothing comfort. After a few more moments of shared tenderness, she moved back enough to make eye contact with him.
“Where’s mom, dad?” she asked with sudden curiosity. “Is she still out looking for me?” she guessed with hope in her eyes.
Momentarily reassured, Michael felt a sharp sting of crushing disappointment. He would have to cause his daughter further suffering. He apologetically gazed at her with overwhelming remorse. It washed over him like a typhoon assaulting a ship in the middle of the sea.
Michael felt an increasing impulse to succumb to the copious pressure of telling his innocent daughter the terrifying news. He was being pounded by the sheer force of it. He felt like he would splatter into a gooey mess, like a bug that got stepped on and scraped on the pavement without a second thought.
“Sweetheart, Mom got kidnapped too.”