All In a Day’s Time, My Dear


The woods gave room to breathe, even when he followed her there. No amount of darkness could sway her, she owned the forest; she knew the forest thoroughly. The forest knew her as well.

Julie Day, Staff Writer

I stood atop the dew-covered path waiting for the summer sun to climb the sky. I was in my domain, over-looking the entire forest.  It was early, 7:00am, but that was the opportune time for capturing the perfect sunrise. There was a light breeze caressing my cheek, and the pale blue sky began blushing; creamy pinks lit the base of the horizon. Right before the sun peaked over the treetops, everything came to a standstill. I readied my camera and watched as the sun awoke from its slumber. The rays of light shadowed the darkness that lived in the woods, covering every inch with a new dawn. Sunrises are one of the wonders of the world, with sunsets being another. A small smile crept onto my lips; morning light was breathtaking.

Several minutes passed as I remained mesmerized by the whimsical painting in the sky. With a smile, I retreated back down the path. I glanced at the thin gold watch, with my mother’s initials carved into its face, dangling from my wrist. She passed away when I was little, but every detail from the night she died was imprinted into my eyes.

A conversation between my parents turned sour, to no surprise, and my father’s eyes went cold.  His words leaked venom; I could feel them suffocating her, but she continued smiling. Wherever she went, he followed close behind. Degrading phrases were hurdled into the back of her head. My despondent eyes were covered, and my hand was drawn. She tucked me into bed and took refuge in the bathroom. The police said she died of strangulation, but my father never touched her. He did not follow her into the bathroom.

Twenty-five minutes had passed since I last looked at my watch. An exasperated sigh emerged from the pit of my stomach because I was just a girl with no place to be.

Sweat had accumulated at my hairline by the time I reached my house. I climbed the stairs to the ever-familiar Victorian house, lathered with vibrant cream colored paint, and wine like shutters. My feet shuffled across the threshold and tension took my body hostage instantly. I crept past the dining room in silence and swiftly threw myself up the stairs. Clumsily, I stumbled into the door of my bedroom, creating a loud crash, and froze with terror. Seconds passed with no repercussions, so I drifted inside; a sigh escaped my lips, and I slid down the back of my door. To my demise, my phone rang. I fumbled with it and cursed under my breath. A mad glare fused with my frightened brow.

“Hello?” I whispered.

“Fiona, are you okay?” Christopher asked with priority.

“Chrissy? So not the time to call,” I smiled, knowing Christopher’s good intentions, and signature bad timing.

“I am just checking on you, Fi. I was worried,” Christopher shyly admitted.

“Hey, I will be alright,” I reassured him.

“Fi, why don’t you just leave? You can live with me,” he offered.

“Because parasites have a way of finding their hostesses,” I reminded him, quietly, with disdain.

“One day you will breathe again. Oh, hey! Did you see the sun this morning?” I could hear his excitement.

“Absolutely stunning! I got some really great pictures.”

“You will have to show them to me after I have lunch with my parents and their boss.”

He made me promise.

“You will love them; we could meet at the pier,” I suggested while watching the shadow under my door.

“Sure. 6:00pm sound good?” I hear his tone rise with curiosity.

“See you then Chrissy.”

I hung up the phone and studied my door. A powerful knock startled me into submission, and another sent a jolt throughout my body. I quickly ducked into my closet and locked the door. I bit my lip; all that could be heard was the ticking of my watch. I brought my knees in close to my chest and started rocking. My nails dug into the skin on my knees, but I did not dare move.

I heard feet shuffle away from my room, and the slam of the front door. The engine to his truck started purring, and, after a few seconds, it steadily grew fainter. I crawled from the closet and allowed my body to unfold. I hastened my movements, and called Christopher as I shoved some belongings into a bag. He didn’t answer, leaving me to assume he was on his way to lunch. I snatched my camera off its hook, and took the stairs two at a time. I passed the dining room, and, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my medicine on the table. I swiped it off the table, and it cracked open pouring its contents to the tile floor. With a smirk, I ran from the house.

We lived safely in the middle of nowhere, with no neighbors. The closest store was over an hour away. My father owned several acres of land, including an expansive forest, and Christopher lived on the other side of it. To no surprise, my father chose the location, because of its exclusion, and had the house built there. I wandered my front yard; I did not know where to go, so I just went. Soon, I was surrounded by the familiar greenery of the forest. Leaves and branches brushed my arms as I traveled further inside the woods. I came across an area that I had not explored before, so I took out my camera with high expectations.

Most of the trees looked old, and the sky was starting to disappear behind their tops. I wandered aimlessly until a massive willow tree held my attention. It made a picture perfect scene with the wind streaming through its branches. I took several photos of it and stuck a leaf in my pocket. My journey through the forest continued past my usual route. I lost track of time and became unaware of the progressing darkness. Light was sparse, and I couldn’t tell what direction I was facing. I could no longer see the willow tree or anything more than five feet in front of me. I knew I needed to get home but, at that point; I did not even have a home. The trees were fading back into a wall surrounding me. My pulse began to race, and my head felt light. I felt like Alice in Wonderland; the trees were huge, and the darkness began to pull me out of reality.

My phone rang out into the darkness and echoed, yet, before I could answer, it fell silent. I slowly closed my eyes, knowing it was my father who called. I shook my head and started sprinting, but confusion blinded my eyes. Pain tore at my calves, and each breath was heavy and sharp. Sweat dripped from my face, and tears rolled from my cheeks. Even though I could not see him, I knew he was behind me. The woods seemed to extend farther and farther away from me. Tree branches were hitting my face, stinging, cutting, and scraping my face. Amidst my anxiety, the root of a tree tripped me, and dirt clouded my vision. I could hear the cracking of sticks and the screeches of birds. A sharp pain in my ribs sent my ears ringing. A hand flew between my shoulder blades and forced my stomach further into the ground. Suddenly, his lips were next to my ear forcing, me to listen to his claims. He was sure to remind me of who he was and what he was capable of. I grunted with pain, and squirmed to my back. I kicked him off of me and began sprinting back the way we came.

My head felt heavy and my legs were weak. I fumbled with my phone and dialed Christopher. After several rings, he answered tiredly.

“Hello, Fi? What’s going on?” he yawned.

“Christopher, we are in the woods! I’m heading to the willow tree,” I shouted and hung up the phone. An ache in my neck brought me to my knees, but I forced myself to run. Words dripping with venom stung my ears and became stuck inside my head. I shook my head violently and glanced up. Before my eyes was a blurry image of the willow tree. I started crawling to the trunk of the tree, but the gap between us was not closing. I realized my heart had slowed, and I was sluggish. Finally, I collapsed at the base of the tree and sat there in a silent daze. I watched as my father came cantering up to me.

“You didn’t take your meds, did you?” He scoffed at my numbness. He was so close to me; he was casually sauntering up to me with mal-intentions. I gave myself only 7 seconds to live. Life started playing in slow motion.

7: My eyelids drooped, and my hands were twitching. I could hear nothing over his words, and I started to believe them.

6: His eyes were so close; I could feel the anger trapped inside them. Blood was coursing through his veins so fast, they were swollen.

5: His mouth tore open, and he released a stream of words that wrapped around my throat.

4: My head loosely rolled to the side. I could feel the bruises forming on my neck from his words.

3: Christopher came running. Life for the both of us began closing in. My breathing was shallow and sparse.  The darkness, shrouding the woods, feasted on any light left inside of me.

2: My father stopped running, and his jaw closed.

1: Christopher dropped a gun to the ground.

Then I was breathing; I could see my chest moving. Christopher was kneeling at my side, trying to get a response from me. His hands pressed into my chest, and relief flooded his face. My heart was still beating, somehow. He grabbed my wrist and noticed my pale skin. Blood was not flowing correctly through my body. Words were pouring from his lips, but I could not hear any of them. All I could hear was my father’s voice screaming lies that seemed truthful. Christopher understood, and mouthed, “Everything will be okay.”

Lights of all colors chased the darkness away from me; the darkness ran with frightened eyes, and hanging mouths. Christopher squeezed my hand, and shouted vigorously. Men came from different directions, seemingly dancing on that stage of flashing color. They surrounded me and started talking; everyone’s mouths were moving at the same time. Christopher helped them hoist me into the back of an ambulance. Before they shut the doors I caught the words, “Sir, he isn’t breathing.”

Those words brought me back, and I started drowning in everything that had happened. Pain pulsed throughout my entire body. I could hear everything, but nothing was clear; the world around me was static.

“Christopher,” I mumbled.

“Fiona, you’re going to be alright. Nothing but some bruises, and your blood pressure dropped. You are going to be fine.” Tears were streaming from his eyes.

“Chrissy, you saved me.”

Christopher smiled sweetly. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to rest.

I swept the crust from my eyes, and the scene around me came into focus. Instantly, I knew I was in a hospital. Christopher was sleeping in a chair next my bed, and a nurse was walking away from my room.

“Chrissy.” He came to and was immediately by my side. He produced apologies and tears, but I shut him down. The time was 4:55am, and I wanted to go home. Nothing else mattered.

“When can I leave?” I questioned openly.

The nurse came back into sight.

“Actually, your blood pressure has risen to normal, your tests came back clean, and your cuts are minor. Give me thirty minutes, and I could have you checked out of here.

Relief washed over me, and Christopher held my hand. Together we waited.

About an hour later, I was sitting next to Christopher in his car. The sky was purple, the air was crisp, and my arms were glued to my stomach like a safety belt; I could not stop rocking. Christopher’s eyes were trained on the road, and his knuckles were white.

“I want to show you something, but you have to take me home first,” I said absently. He nodded, and shifted his body uncomfortably.

I passed through the threshold with long strides. Every corner of the house was tainted with his words, but I could no longer hear them. I padded through the dining room, and my medicine was sitting neatly on the table. I picked up the bottle and threw it in the garbage disposal. Christopher nodded at me, and I screamed at the top of my lungs. I screamed because I could finally say something for myself; I screamed because his words were not there anymore. My father had been living inside my head, and I let him for so long.

“I killed your father, and I am not sorry. I had been waiting for the moment I had to use that gun. He is the reason I bought it,” Christopher spoke absently.

“He was everywhere Chrissy, now I can’t hear him anymore. Thank you for saving me.” I hugged him strongly and motioned Christopher from the house.  “Christopher, I’m going to show you how wonderful freedom feels; how infinite it looks.”

“Are we almost there?” Christopher whined. I rolled my eyes and shushed him. I watched as his eyes locked onto the sight before us, and a grin masked everything from last night. I ran up beside him and wrapped my arm around his waist. We stood atop the dew covered path, waiting for the morning sun. It was early, but that’s the best time to capture the morning sunrise. “I just thought you would want to see it in person at least once.”

I looked at him with admiration. The rays of light shadowed the trees shrouded in darkness. We stood there and waited for the sun to climb the sky and kill all the darkness in the woods.