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Under Taken

When well-intentioned but selfish parenting goes terribly wrong...

“I should have kept my damn mouth shut,” the man berated himself. “Who’s the adult here anyway? What the hell is wrong with me?”

He knew better than to criticize her selections. After all, it’s her life. Boyfriend of the week or not. She was old enough to make her own decisions, even if he felt that she wasn’t yet experienced enough to make the right ones. After all, if given a choice, who wouldn’t have slept around more when they were young?

The man slowly ran through his mental Rolodex of missed opportunities, regretting the ones that got away. Or more accurately, the times he had chickened out. There was always a reason too. Or again more accurately, an excuse. Teenage insecurities have a way of hampering one’s burgeoning sex life.

But this was his daughter; his baby girl. The man’s chromosomes helped create her. Ten fingers. Ten toes. She even had his nose. He witnessed her first breath entering the world. A true miracle. A bundle of joy. That first smile melted his heart and he never thought that he could love anything more. She was daddy’s girl forever, for as long as he could remember. Now, she was some hormonally-strung out guy’s wet dream come true, once again.

The frustrated man lay quietly in the dark contemplating his ill-gotten fate. As he slowly regained consciousness, he felt the painful throb in his left temple. He gently rubbed it and realized that it was warm and wet. He rubbed the viscous fluid that coated his fingers and the putrid scent of iron helped him remember. Shit. They had argued. She was angry. It was now slowly coming back to him.

“Oh, you stupid, stupid man!” he again reprimanded himself. “This isn’t the nineteen fifties. You can’t forbid your daughter from seeing him. Did you actually say, grounded? You’re an idiot.”

They had yelled. She said he was being unreasonable and called him names. Emotions ran hot. Language inflamed. And then he said something unforgivable that he’d regret for the rest of his life.

“Go ahead. I don’t care. Be a whore. Just like your no-good slut of a mother!”

In tears, his daughter hesitated to respond. Her mouth opened, readied to reply, but it then closed. Unexpectedly, “Goodbye daddy,” was all that his little girl said before she escaped the perceived oppression through the front door of the home that she was raised. The man stood in the foyer, fuming at his daughter, himself, and his estranged wife. He thought that he could have and should have handled the situation so much better. Why was he left alone to deal with this parenting shit all by himself? The saddened and embarrassed man immediately begged for strength and that unlikely forgiveness, but his little girl was gone.

No more than sixty seconds had elapsed before the horndog-of-the-week barged through the front door. He had hatred on his gaunt face and fire in his lifeless, deep-set grey eyes. Without warning, he lunged at the repentant man with a closed fist. He was holding something. That was the last thing the man remembered. A hammer, perhaps? It had happened so fast.

The man rubbed his temple again and felt the indent in his scull. Some blood had pooled and hardened with some of his hair matted in the crater. The hole definitely felt like it was in the shape of a rounded hammer head.

“Fuck. That punk ass kid hit me. Son of a bitch!”

The man tried to sit up but struck his forehead and quickly fell back into his pillow. It was much softer and the pillow case was more slippery than he remembered. He searched in the dark to see what he had struck and felt the puffy, folded satin fabric. It was all around him.

Oh hell no!

He then heard pressurized air being released, a click, and a whoomp-like sound, similar to what one hears when they ignite their gas barbecue. The man could now see thin, orangish-coloured lines of flickering light, and felt the quick and intense building of heat.

The man started yelling for the boy and his mortician father. However, his screams of terror and desperation were absorbed by the concrete chamber’s flow of natural gas that force-fed the crematory’s flames. Any remaining life was further drowned by the crackle of the wooden box that was now being consumed by the almost two thousand degree fire.

As more orange light entered the widening gaps of the coffin’s weakening structure, the father saw above his face, his baby girl’s handwritten note pinned to the billowy fabric of the lid.

BURN IN HELL, DADDY!!!

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