Daddy bounced me on his knee a little and dragged the brush through my hair. I waited patiently for him to work out the tangles. “It has to be perfect, Cassie.” He worked until he was satisfied. He had me stand in front of him. A flower barrette pulled one side away from my face. My soft lacey dress looked bright blue against my tan skin. Daddy nodded with pride.
He took my hands in his. “Please understand, Pumpkin, that you’ve done nothing wrong. I only seek to protect you. There are dangers in this world…you’re so innocent...” His gaze drifted off along with his words. “I tried to explain this to your mother, but she didn’t understand. That’s why it has to be today. It has to be while she’s visiting Nan.”
Daddy kissed my cheek and squeezed my chubby hands. I knew that Daddy loved me. So I followed him. He walked me to the bed and I marveled at the pretty cushions. Soft and white with lacy trim, they were cool to the touch. I ran my hand over them. My bed at home was warm with cotton sheets that had Strawberry Shortcake pictures. Then I remembered my bear. “I forgot Yay Yay, Daddy!”
He kneeled down to me when he saw my lip tremble. His hands were warm and strong on my shoulders. “Be a big girl, Cassie. You won’t miss your teddy for long. Soon you’ll out grow him. You’ll see. Now don’t cry and lay down for Daddy.”
I lay down like a big girl. “I won’t cry Daddy.” I whispered as he tucked me in. He kissed my forehead, “That’s a good girl.”
I didn’t cry as he worked. I waited patiently, sure that he’d be done soon and we’d be going home. I missed Mommy. I wanted her to see me in my pretty new dress. But I started to panic when I couldn’t hear the dirt falling anymore. It was getting harder to breathe. I tried to stay really still, to listen for Daddy.
I could hear him walking away.
“Daddy?” I whispered.
I pounded on the box and shouted, “Daddy?!”
I didn’t like this game anymore.
I started to cry. “Daddy?”
I don’t like the dark. I wish I had Yay Yay.
Tears splashed over my lashes.