End of Innocence Ch. 04

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Chapter IV, Evil Reaches Out – The First Death

It is often said that evil triumphs when good people fail to do anything in response to its approach. It also becomes victorious when common people make extremely poor and self-absorbing decisions. Commonsense is often the first victim that results in a cascade of events that result in tragedy. So was the case of our first death. A chain reaction of events ensues where each link, if broken, would terminate the torrent leaving all safe, albeit, suffering adrenaline shock. I have constantly searched my mind to find out what we could have done to prevent the outcome of that bitter day, a day where my family ceased as it was and became only a shadow of its former self. My sweet Ashley was to experience her first tears of sorrow and the vow to protect her from all harm was made helplessly mute. To watch her languish in unrelenting tears broke my heart further even though I, myself, was in the midst of a loss so great that I was dizzy with grief.

My God, how this could happen, my little girl, this was not supposed to happen to a young girl, now, and not for many, many years. This was a robbery of life to someone so young, a mere eighteen years old with all life’s promises and experiences yet to happen. Dances, driver’s license, dresses, birthdays, dates, marriage, children, and the very aspect of life itself had been taken or made lesser than the original grandiose design just by the careless and selfish act of another. Retreating to our bed that first night after changing the sheets and blankets, the endless tears flooding upon my chest and face mixed with my own acid anguish, the only words I heard from my little angel between her sobs that were wracking her body hour after hour were, “Big Brother, monsters are real.” My sweet little sister, yes, monsters are very real.

Ashley was starting her freshman year in college on a full combined athletic/academic scholarship at the same University as me. As a junior, I was looking forward to the start of the school year, even more so that Ashley would be with me. The weather generally is so pleasant for most of the year, students either walked, rode their bikes, or skateboarded to and from classes while living on campus. We commuted from home, so were in the enviable position of possessing a vehicle and I had all the intention of driving Ashley and myself to and from the University every day. Ever since Ashley’s first year of elementary school, I have always walked her to school and home every day. It was a chore that I reveled in. Whether we went directly home or found a secluded oak to share some simple affection to one another, well, it just depended on our moods.

Invariably, we always walked hand in hand and being her big brother, I would take whatever Ashley was carrying, put it in my book bag, and showing a degree of chivalry towards my younger kağıthane escort sister, lug it home without complaint. I was always rewarded with her smile, hug, and some soft-spoken word of appreciation. Ashley could have taken up the tuba for all I cared, I would have cheerfully dragged that damned instrument back and forth for her just for the opportunity to see her smile. Even the first two years of my life at college, I still managed to drive and retrieve Ashley from school most days. Fortunately for my young back, she was an athlete and soccer shoes are substantially lighter to carry. I had no intention of abandoning my duties as her devoted escort.

It was a Thursday night in late summer, where the weather in Southern California is still warm in the day and there is a sweet odor permeating the air that rises from the ground and gives its earthy musk to spread through the night chill of the evening. As we have discovered, my father was a professional, a CPA by trade and at times would have to work late to do this thing or that in the financial world. He never was really late and if he had a substantial amount of work, he would simply bring it home and work on it in his study. He rarely allowed himself to miss dinner with his family and looked forward to seeing my mother and his children every day. I honestly believed that he must have been enthralled with my little sister’s beauty, soft lilt of her voice, and cerulean-blue eyes. Whatever was bothering him during the day was made unimportant just by the specialness that Ashley imparted to everyone in the family. I saw him often look at my baby sister with that faraway look that a man deep in thought owns, then glance over to my beautiful mother with an incredible smile. He never mentioned it, but I honestly believed he saw so much of my young mother in my little baby girl.

My father was my mentor, my buddy, my football and fishing partner whenever my sister was not showing me up. But the special ties between father and daughter are known by any that has their own little girl. Ashley could do no wrong in my father’s mind or mine for that matter. She brought a great deal of joy to my parents and for me, she IS my joy. Ashley had a father, a big brother, and a mother that were always on the lookout for her. It is funny but I was never jealous of my little sister, she had enough heart to share and each relationship that was created was unique in its own right, daughter, friend, but I believe mine was the best – big brother in love with his little sister as she is with him.

When my father had not called and it was approaching 8 PM at night, naturally my mother began to worry and called my father at work. When nothing but voicemail was received, she tried him on his cellphone. The same thing happened; the cell tripped over to voicemail. I kartal escort bayan knew this to be a very unusual night; something was operating out of the norms with my father. Being a person of accustomed habits, it would have been natural and proper for my father to phone and give an update. He always did. I could see in my sister’s eyes that she was agitated, perhaps a bit afraid. I walked over to my little sister and held her in my arms, something I always did when I sensed her emotions were beginning to get the better of her. Holding her, kissing her cheeks, and telling her that things were going to be okay, she instinctively grabbed my hands that were wrapped around her and held them tight. She whispered her worries to me, and I began to be concerned myself. I am Ashley’s hero, a condition she set upon me herself; I would never show my fear to her face. But I was beginning to become very afraid.

At 10 PM, we wished our mother a goodnight with the promise that both my father and mother would be in to say goodnight and that all was well when my father returned. This one particular night, my golden angel slipped into the bed with me under my covers shivering, pulled my arms and body around her while she was making herself as small as possible. My little sister was quaking with fear and my heart was sobbing inside to see such distress in her. I whispered everything will turn out just fine searching my mind for any plausible excuse I could give her that would have alleviated the terror she was feeling. I mentioned that father could have run out of gas, had a flat, or stuck in a conference where he could not get a phone, anything that would have helped my Ashley fall asleep in peace. The personal nature of us both being tired had finally won out, my angel fell asleep deep in my embrace as I drifted off myself.

I will always remember 11:42 PM. Those numbers are permanently etched in my mind flashing red from the digital clock besides our bed. I say our bed, Ashley’s and mine, for that day ended any pretense of my sister sleeping anywhere than with me from that point on. Except for the days when I was in jail and Ashley in the hospital, we have shared a bed continuously for nine years. My room became our room, my bed – our bed, my closet – our closet, everything in that room changed from mine to ours at 11:42. The bed transformed itself into our fortress; the room our ramparts. Ashley and I were forever attached to one another like no person I have met through our love and now our tragedy. I no longer existed as a separate entity from her, perhaps, I never really was separate, and I only had the illusion of being my own person, but the knowing was absolutely apparent from this point on. To be in love with someone that deep where the end of one and beginning of the other are blurred and somehow kurtköy escort bayan you know, that the coin fate gave each of you really was only half of the same. I would never trade this existence for any independence granted me. For when whatever benevolent Spirit that rules the universe merged us into the same soul, He knew that we would never ever have to be alone. At 11:42 PM that Thursday night in late Summer in Southern California, I heard my mother scream.

In an instant, I was awake noticing the clock and in abject fear. My little sister popped into consciousness with such great distress, so much so, that she actually trembled and wet the bed. My mind scrambled as to what I should do. I had to aid my mother, to find out what was wrong, but I also knew that I could not just leave Ashley in our bed wet with the reassurances I would return. I may have been only twenty but leaving Ashley anywhere but in my direct line of sight was something that was not remotely conceivable. I ran into her old room, grabbed some clean and dry pajamas, her robe, panties, a towel from the bathroom across the hall and back into our room in less than one minute. I pulled all the wet clothes off Ashley, dried her with the towel, and helped dress her myself with the clean clothes that I had retrieved. I grabbed her hand and we walked down the stairs.

Holding Ashley’s waist tightly, we could see our mother in tears kneeling on the floor in the foyer with two obviously distressed police officers at the door. “Mom,” I asked. My mother looked at her two children wound about each other and reached up from the floor. I ran to her with Ashley in my arms and the three of us embraced for what seemed a very long time. “Your father is not coming home,” was all my mother could choke out. The three of us just sat in our embrace and wept.

The events of that fateful day are somewhat a blur but around the time that my little sister started to show signs of distress, a drunk driver that cared more for where his next round was coming from than anyone on the road hit my father’s car sending the machine into a power pole, rupturing the gas tank, and causing the vehicle to catch fire. The impact ruptured my father’s spleen and even though he was wearing his seatbelts, the collision caused severe unsustainable internal injuries. The fire burned my father over forty percent of his body and caused detrimental poisoning by carbon monoxide. The fire department and paramedics were there in minutes and after freeing my father from his wrecked vehicle, preceded to work on him in transport and the hospital for the next two hours.

My father never regained consciousness, never had a chance to say goodbye to the family he loved, never had a chance to say he loved us all very dearly once more. A drunk ended our perfect world because he was too selfish and too uncaring to give a damn about anything than that one extra drink. As it seems in these cases, the man that ruined our lives never even received a scratch. The courts would sentence him to six months in jail and five years of probation. We were sentenced to a lifetime of despair. My baby sister was in utter horror and I could not protect her. I felt like I had just murdered my own love.

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