Emmeline and her manager, Shayna, finished up closing the diner. As the girls locked the doors and made their way out to the parking lot Shayna turned to Emmeline with a serious face. She knew everything about Emmeline. “If anything happens I will come pick you up. If anything happens please… just call me...promise you’ll call me.” Emmeline turned to Shayna with a sad smile and nodded. Lying to Shayna, or anyone for that matter, was easier when she didn’t use words. She knew what would happen when she got home. It was unavoidable. Shayna reached out and gave Emmeline's shoulder a squeeze. She got into her Honda and left.
Emmeline began to walk down the gravel road. It was dark. The only source of light was the reflection of the moon. Emmeline looked up and smiled, she remembered the stories her mother told her about the man on the moon. She shook her head, looked down at the ground and kicked a rock with her white converse. She took a detour, not really sure where it would lead her. She didn’t care. Anything delayed her from going to that hell hole where he was sounded great to her.
The sound of crickets chirping was the only thing Emmeline heard other than her footsteps on the gravel. Her mother came to her thoughts again. She used to tell Emmeline about the crickets. The memory of that night played in her mind. “Do you hear that, Emmie?” her mother asked. “Hear what mommy? All I hear is loud bugs.” Emmeline said as she looked up at her mother with her big blue eyes. “Do you know what those loud bugs are doing, Emmie?” her mother questioned her once more. The little girl furrowed her eyebrows. “What are they doing mommy?” Her mother stopped and cupped Emmeline’s cheeks in her hands. “They’re singing a special song.” The little girls eyebrows raised. “Close your eyes Emmie...focus on nothing but the bugs.” The little girl closed her eyes as her mother asked her to do. She scrunched up her nose and focused. She stood there for a minute before she began to hear more than just loud annoying bugs. She opened her eyes and smiled up at her mother. “Mommy I hear it! I hear the song!” The two of them giggled and danced around in the front yard.
Feeling the cool breeze, Emmeline came back to reality. Tears slid down her cheeks. She felt the cold air of the night surrounding her. It engulfed her in its embrace. She continued walking down the gravel road. The wind threw her golden hair off of her pale shoulder revealing the scar from the first time he hurt her. The kids at school asked her what happened when they first saw it. She just told them that she tripped and fell. They just forgot about it. She always came up with excuses for the cuts and bruises that she couldn’t fully cover up. None of them knew that the injuries were inflicted by her father. He wasn’t always like that. It all started after they lost her mother. Emmeline missed her. She missed the way that her mother would always pick her up and spin her around in circles. She missed the way that her mother sang to her every night before bed. She missed her mother’s laugh and the smell of her favorite hoodie. That was all gone now. Long gone.
Emmeline turned around a corner seeing her house at the end of the street and came to a stop. She heard her mother’s voice in the back of her mind. Don’t worry, Emmie, everything will be okay. Emmeline felt her heartbeat against her chest. You can get through this Emmie. Her mother’s voice calmed her. She began to walk forward. She knew what would happen when she walked through that screen door. Every instinct in her body told her to turn around, run to the nearest payphone, and call Shayna but there was a part of her thoughts that was much much smaller, almost microscopic compared to her instincts. That small part of her was afraid of what her father would do if she left. Who would his next target be if she ran? Her feet carried her to the porch and placed her hand on the handle. Little did she know that her father was about to give her an even ‘warmer’ welcome than usual.