Anna wakes at midnight to the distant sound of heavy glass falling to
the floor. She squints her eyes and they adjust to the darkness in the
bedroom. Pale light filters in through the tree branches outside her
window.

Her body is sticky with sweat. It’s the middle of summer, but she
wears an over-sized fleece sweatshirt and jeans. She recognizes the
sound of boots shuffling, stumbling down the hallway. Anna knows what
comes next.

She is tense and her mouth feels dry. Her father grunts as he leans
against the door and pushes it open without effort—he broke the lock
when she was five.

“No,” she says. It comes out of her throat barely above a whisper. His
silhouette is thick and fills the doorway. He undoes his pants, but
loses balance and falls into her dresser.

“Stop,” she says. He ignores her demand and starts for the bed with a
raised fist.

The shot explodes in the dark—a flash of white—and strikes her
father’s chest. He falls forward and his head hits the wood floor with
a heavy thud. Anna drops the revolver in her lap; her hands throb from
the recoil. She reminds herself to breathe.

He reaches for her, but she does nothing.

“Anna,” he says in a hoarse voice. “Anna.” She can barely hear him
over the ringing in her ears. She looks in his eyes and sees the life
behind them. Anna can’t turn away.

He jerks for a minute, then rests. A crimson pool expands under his
body, traveling toward her bed. His breathing weakens; hers becomes
stronger.

They both know it will be anytime now.

– Alisia Leavitt, MS in Publishing program

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