Estimated reading time — 21 minutes
My mom died two weeks ago, and it’s safe to say I was devastated.
I had been out for sunblock as the sun scorched with such vengeance it was impossible to move outside, without your flesh burning.
I got home and found her in the bath, under the water. The police said it was an accident, or that she had killed herself, but I remember seeing the window and blinds open, which didn’t make any sense. When she would take a bath to cool down and avoid the blistering sun, she’d always close the blinds.
But the police weren’t going to listen to a fourteen-year-old, let alone one who spoke with an American accent and an awkward stutter.
I’d been homeschooled in a small town in Mexico. It’s been hard for me growing up here as I couldn’t speak the language well, and while I’d pick up bits here and there, my mom was agoraphobic, meaning she was scared of going outside. At least that’s what she told me. She had kept me inside and isolated for the longest time, and it wasn’t until her death that I found out why.
When she died, the local police came and took her body away. I actually stayed the night alone for the first time ever at our small apartment in the hills. The police said I was safer there than at their precinct where they had no room, nor anyone to look after me from the revolving door of bad guys continually making it their home.
That night was terrible. I missed her so bad. They told me to gather any belongings I wanted to take, so I packed all my stuff into a suitcase and then went through the drawers in my mom’s room. Within was a letter addressed to me, sealed by her lipstick.
In the morning, it wasn’t the Mexican police who came back but a man from the American consulate. He said he was going to take me home. When he saw I was confused, he told me that my mom had done a very bad thing ten years ago, and fled America with me. She was wanted by the FBI for my kidnapping. He could see from my face that I was shocked, but then proceeded, as he must, to deliver even more shocking news: that my Dad was alive.
He asked if I was aware, and I said I wasn’t. Mom had always told me he died in a plane crash, and that we were alone in the world. I had so many questions, and he did his best to answer the little he knew on the way to the airport.
It wasn’t a direct flight home, and they tied a thick package of documents around my neck, which were to track and guide my progress. As I got on each plane, I met different flight escorts who each tore off a piece of paper and gave me advice about my Dad. One stewardess said it was a good thing my mom died, as she was evil. And now, and only now, would I meet my Dad.
On the last leg of the flight, I looked out the window and saw the fields of Ohio below. I was met at the gate by someone from the American Social Service Agency. She was late, but not as much as my Dad. Apparently, while they had reached him initially to tell him of my discovery, they had lost communication with him.
I stayed for two days in a group home that wasn’t very pleasant. Both the staff and other kids were nasty. At some point, I was reading my mom’s letter when the tallest of them tried to take it from me. He was mean and intimidated and bullied the others. I jammed my fist so hard in his jaw that he was dizzy, and fell to the ground. At dinner, no one said anything, as they were all happy I’d stood up to him.
The group home was a lot of drama, as a sharp kitchen knife went missing. Out of six kids, they accused four of us, including me, of taking it.
The only quiet was in the backyard where there was a small pond. As I saw my reflection, I thought about what my Dad would look like. I knew he wouldn’t be Tom Cruise-ish, as I looked pretty weird myself. I figured he might have the same wide eyes and big, pointed ears I did, as Mom had small, cute eyes and little ears, and I obviously got them from someone.
When I got the phone call that my Dad was finally on his way over, I was petrified. The nerves were intense, probably because I was about to be with a stranger who I was to call Dad.
I watched from the window as he stepped out of his truck. He was a taller, stronger looking version of me, and walked with a limp. When I went out of the doorway to greet him, he smiled, then happily hugged me. He was strong and smelled of cigarettes.
On the way to his house, he asked me about Mexico and how I liked living there. He asked me a few questions about my mom, then told me he was happy I was found.
When we got there, it was late, and I said I was tired. He lived alone, so didn’t have a room for me. I was to have the couch. He gave me a pillow and turned on the TV. It was cool watching it, as Mom seldom let me. He sat with me for a while, and I felt his eyes lingering on me. Occasionally I’d look back, but he wouldn’t look away and instead continued his stare. Nor did he smile. I’d imagine someone happy to see their son would smile. I felt there was something else going on in his head: the truth is, he wasn’t good at hiding that.
I got up and went to the bathroom. It was small, and there were spider webs on the ceiling. The wood had rotted on one of the walls, and I could see through some holes. As I sat on the toilet, I could see him continually look towards me. I turned on the tap for the noise of water to mask the opening of my mom’s letter. My eye’s lingered on the main details.
“John. If you ever get this, then something bad may have happened to me. I pray it was an accident, or by natural causes. But if something suspicious happened, I need you to know this. Your father is alive. I can’t express how bad a man he is. I took you to Mexico when you were five because I knew he would kill me. And you, like he had done to others before. It wasn’t a matter of if, but of when. We lived in isolation so he couldn’t track us down. He held me prisoner for four years, during which time I had you. You were the only thing that made my life worth living, and I love you immensely. Know that if he ever finds out where you live, he will kill you. He is pure evil. I love you, my sweet, dear son. And will always be there in spirit with you. Stay strong.”
As I glanced back up to the wall, his eyes were pressed against it, looking in.
“You okay in there?” he asked.
I said I was, and after a few moments, he left for his room.
The sunburn on his shoulders should have fully confirmed my immediate suspicion: that he had found us in Mexico and killed Mom. But deep down, part of me wanted none of this to be true. If he truly were evil, I’d be completely alone.
When I heard him snore I rifled through his coat, and came across this morning’s airline ticket from Mexico.
That night I went to sleep, holding the sharp knife I stole from the group home, under my pillow.
We’re up now. And he’s cooking me breakfast. Then he said he’d show me around out back. The knife hasn’t left my side and will be used today.
It’s not a matter of if, just when.
By lunch, we were both still alive.
I didn’t really expect he’d go after me, as my return was a local feel-good news story. A journalist had come to the door early in the morning, and Dad said a few things to him before he was on his way. It made me feel safer, as so many people would know if something happened to me.
My anger about Mom was escalating. As he chopped carrots, I watched his knife hand to see how it matched up to mine. He held the knife like a pencil, with ease, and went through the carrots with such speed, the way you’d clear unwanted screens on your phone. I so badly wanted him to slip up and slice through a fingertip.
I offered to help, but he refused it, saying I’d been through a lot and should take it easy. But as I sat, I grew bored of watching television, so without asking I made a beeline for the door. It squeaked loudly, but that coincided with his kettle whistling, so he didn’t hear me.
I walked around the farm. It was very rundown and very muddy, from the rain last night. A lot needed fixing, and it didn’t look like he knew how to fix it. Or he had just stopped caring.
A few chickens were running around, and some pigs kept in by gates that were about to fall. A thin dog was tied up by the barn. I could see from far away that it hadn’t eaten much, and had probably been kicked in the side one too many times.
It started to rain, so I headed back to the main house. From outside, I could see in through a large, dirty window. He was so focused on cooking about ten hamburgers, that he didn’t see me standing there, watching.
Before he could glance up, I went back to the door: and froze. It wasn’t that something had scared me, but moreover, I was hit by a strange sense of what I’d just seen. As I entered the house, this time making sure not to creak the door, the notion of why he was cooking so much food played in my mind. My brain said to shrug it off: maybe he’d freeze it or had plans for an animal to eat it. But my gut, for whatever reason, said it didn’t make sense, and that something was up.
Dinner, I must say, was delicious. The hamburger was great. He seemed a little jittery, every time I asked for something from the kitchen. He insisted he would get it. Again, my mind went to the extra hamburgers. I always thought about asking for things – ketchup, napkins, mayonnaise – but didn’t want to upset him. The more innocuous I could be, the more chance I had of figuring out what he was up to.
He told me to watch more TV and then sent me to bed: never once letting me near the kitchen.
I didn’t sleep but pretended too. It was impossibly hard, but after about three hours I heard the door creak open. I carefully opened my eyes, maintaining the guise of sleep, and caught the blur of a tray disappear into the rain. As the door closed, I put on my shoes, and ran to it, and saw him with a flashlight trudging towards the barn. His dog started barking and yelped when he kicked it quiet. Sometimes I hate being right about things.
As he disappeared from view, I went out there. The rain hit hard, but I had to see where that tray was going. As I got to the edge of the barn, his dog looked up. I could instantly tell it was going to bark and give me away, so I lunged forward and stroked it’s head, as my mom used to do to me. I don’t think the dog had felt any affection, and seemed puzzled at first. I whispered he’d be okay, as he spun his head around in my lap.
Almost simultaneously, I peeked around the barn door. The tray was on the floor and contained three plates of burgers and fries. Dad moved a bail of hay. Underneath was a trapdoor, that presumably led to a basement. He pulled on a rope, opening it, then peered in.
Suddenly he yelled, like a madman, telling whoever was in there to stand back or feel his wraith. I don’t know if it was his loudness or the distorted angle of his face that made him look like a real monster, but it terrified me.
I backed away quickly, ran to the house, entered, and jumped on my bed.
It wasn’t long after he came back. I heard the door creak and knew he was leaning over me, staring.
I pretended I was asleep, but my heart was beating out of my chest with such velocity I’m surprised he couldn’t see it.
“John?” he suddenly questioned. “John, are you awake?”
I turned, making a yawning noise, thinking quickly about how I should continue my desperate Oscar-winning performance. Should I say something or lay still? I opened my eyes slowly, and his closeness scared the shit of me. I let out a shriek: so realistic because it was real.
He moved back, turning on a lamp.
“Were you outside just now?”
“What?” I asked, yawning again and shaking my head.
His eyes glanced around, landing on my hair and the carpet. “Holy Shit” I suddenly realized. My hair was damp, and I probably dragged mud in from outside.
“I just opened the front door to let some air in,” I meekly added.
I yawned and stretched out, really making a grasp for the knife under my pillow. Once I had it solidly in my hand, I looked him in the eyes. I thought maybe I should strike first.
“Okay,” he said, standing back, and turning off the light.
I didn’t let my guard down, but it appeared he believed me.
“Sorry for waking you.”
At that, he walked out of the door and into his room.
I lay there an hour before my eyes couldn’t fight the collapse. When I woke in the morning, the house felt empty. I badly wanted to get up and go to the barn to see what was under it, but without knowing his whereabouts, it was too dangerous.
My mind went back to my mom’s letter, where she wrote about him killing others.
My gut told me who was under there. But it didn’t tell me what they looked like, or how he got them there. Or what state of mental wellness or physical welfare they were in.
It just told me he was holding them in there and said to me I had to help them.
It was a cold morning as I trudged to the middle of a large open field. There were woods to one side, and on the other more fields extending to the horizon. I felt truly in the middle of nowhere, and even worse, alone. My mom had always been there for me, in moments like this, with a reassuring hug and warm words of encouragement. She’d always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted to do. I don’t think she ever imagined the “be” was to survive him, and the “do” was attempting to rescue whomever Dad was keeping under the ground.
That morning he showed me around the farm. His land turned out to be more extensive than I initially realized: full of several abandoned and rotting buildings.
There were two barns.
The first was where they were being kept. It was guarded at all times by his malnourished dog. Every time I crossed into the dog’s sight, it would bark. If Dad were inside, he’d instantly come out. I realized after a while the dog’s position was strategic. It was his alarm dog, which would make my upcoming task almost impossible.
The other barn was more prominent, and about a half-mile from the farmhouse. As I approached with Dad, I could smell something nasty in the air. We climbed a ladder onto the second floor and looked out from a balcony over a stunning view of pigs: hundreds and hundreds of them. It was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen.
As I stood watching, my Dad jokingly shoved me forward. It wasn’t hard enough to make me fall, but so unexpected I jumped.
“You don’t want to land in there,” he stated. “Pigs will go through bone like butter if they’re hungry enough.”
I don’t think he was joking, and he said it like I was his student, very seriously. I just nodded, and we climbed back down.
I spent the rest of the morning feeding pigs and chickens. I got tired of it quickly but could see how all the lifting got Dad in such shape.
Around noon a truck came, and I loaded dead pig carcasses on it. The man picking up was weird. He had two missing front teeth and spoke with a strange accent. My Dad said it was English, but I couldn’t understand much.
In the afternoon my Dad showed me how he killed the pigs. His shot electric current into their brain, then hoisted them onto a rail to drain all the blood. He then dipped the pig into a scalder which contained boiling water to remove hair. He said I didn’t have to shock the pig if I didn’t want to, but as I was getting started, it might be easiest. He then cut off the head and sliced the pig into two halves.
I nearly threw up at every new step he taught me. But I concealed it well, and he seemed to enjoy the glee I pretended to show. Earlier at breakfast, he’d mentioned how he’d hoped I’d be like him, so here I was trying to fulfill his fantasy.
My fantasy, however, had me boiling his evil corpse in the scalder. And when we were on the second-floor balcony, I considered pushing him off. But I was too nervous, feeling that any misstep now would be fatal. Without a doubt, I knew he’d slice me in half like those pigs.
At the end of the process, he said he’d give me a task I’d like.
“I want you to pick out the piglets we’ll slaughter tomorrow and put them in there,” he exclaimed, genuinely believing I was enjoying him, his company and this experience.
I made sure not to show any weakness, as I could tell he wouldn’t understand it.
As he left towards the first barn, I looked over the poor little pigs innocently staring back at me. I thought if I could rescue whoever was under the barn and kill Dad, I could celebrate victory by letting the pigs go. But for now, I had to pick some and move them into the killing section. I think my belief that I wasn’t really sending them to their deaths helped a lot.
That night, I showered and washed all the blood off. Dad came in from outside with some empty plates and began to wash them. I knew he’d gone to the barn when I was in the bathroom. The pipe outside rattled loud so Dad could tell when I was in there. My hope was at some point he’d shower and then I could make it to the barn myself, and use the rattling pipe as my cover.
Dinner was a little awkward as he kept staring at me, without talking. But I had my soup and casually requested to go for a walk when I finished the dishes. He said he was tired and was going to retire early.
Once away from the farmhouse I knew this could be my chance. While I worked all day, my thoughts centered around how to approach the dog without it barking. I’d pocketed some food I hoped to bribe it with, but as I approached it let out a huge wail. My Dad immediately burst out of the front door, asking where I was going. Before I could reply, he told me “that barn was off limits. It had mold.”
I nodded okay and thought he had gone back inside when the door suddenly opened again.
“Make sure you don’t go anywhere near it, or you’ll regret it,” he warned, with a ferociousness I hadn’t seen before.”
I nodded again, then walked the other way. As the door closed, I threw the food across to the dog in the hope he’d eat it and remain quiet on my return. I circled the main farmhouse, trying to glance into the window to see where Dad was. As I passed his bedroom window, his light went off, plunging me into darkness. I waited, in the hope that he’d hit the shower, but after five minutes of staring at the black sky, I felt that he opted for sleep.
I took a deep breath, then exhaled, summoning up the courage to do what I had to do.
I approached the barn from a different direction, hoping to catch the dog off-guard. As I neared, my heart beat faster. I treated every step with care, as any noise could give me away. I had the dog in my sights. It hadn’t seen me as I came up from behind.
I didn’t realize dogs jump in fright like humans. But they do. It recoiled as I touched its back, and I knew the next split second was either make or break. But luck was on my side, as rather than yelp and alert my Dad, it motioned forward for a head rub.
Hastily I moved the bail of hey, revealing the secret trap door. I inhaled again, nervous about what I was about to uncover. With the dog at my heel, I pulled it open. Bars lay across some stairs that led into darkness. I couldn’t squeeze in, and I could see another key was necessary. My eyes lingered, trying to adjust. I feared what was in there, but considered if they thought I was my Dad, they would be fearful of me even more. I leaned close to the bars and whispered.
At first, there was silence, but then I heard something scuffling down there. Suddenly a hand shot out of the bars. I jumped back in shock.
“Help me,” pleaded a girl, about my age.
Then another dirt-ridden arm shot through the bars.
“Please. Get us out of here. Help us.”
She was perhaps seventeen. Putrid mud covered her face. As she reached for me, I instinctively withdrew my foot.
For a moment my expectations were realized, but I hadn’t come to grips with it. I’d set this all in motion and now had to act. I urged them to keep quiet, but the younger screamed out, “HELP US!” and inadvertently slammed her hand down upon the dog, who yelped and started barking.
I could feel my eyes widen in terror as fear struck my body. I turned to see the light in the farmhouse turn on.
The dog kept barking.
I knew it was only a matter of minutes before he would come.
With the aim of covering the trap door, my eyes locked on the hay. But before I could act, one of the girls reached up and grasped the dog by the back if its neck, and with all her strength rammed its poor nose into the bars. I think she was just trying to shut it up, but it was so thin from abuse that its neck snapped under the sudden pressure. It let out a horrendous screech before it went dead, literally.
I kicked its body away, then slammed down the door, before moving the hey bail back across it, shouting a whisper their way, “KEEP QUIET!”
I picked up the dog’s body as Dad burst out of the front door with a madman’s look in his eyes. He stomped in my direction, then stopped, seeing the lifeless animal dangling from my arms.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?” he bellowed.
It was then I said something that I still am shocked came out of my mouth. At the time my gut kept telling me that he wanted an apprentice, and this seemed like my only line of defense.
“It yapped at me, so I broke its neck,” I said casually.
At first, he eyed me suspiciously. I caught his glance over to the trapdoor, which I’d successfully covered.
“You broke its neck?” he asked, in a state of disbelief.
He took a step back.
“I’m sorry if it meant something to you. It just annoyed the living shit out of me,” I lied.
While I’d only known my Dad for two days now, I was following my instinct.
He stepped forward, raising his hand.
He was either going to hit me… or place it around my shoulders, as he did.
“Like father, like son,” he said proudly, as he pulled me towards him.
“I knew you were more like me than your mom.”
I smiled back, wanting to crush his skull there and then.
He indicated that I follow him back to the farmhouse, saying he’d give me a special treat in the morning. As I closed the front door behind me, I knew I wasn’t going to wait until then.
I went to the couch and pretended to fall asleep.
After ten minutes, I got up, to go back to the barn.
As I opened the door, I froze.
He was standing there, waiting for me, with a large knife in his hand.
He caught me by surprise. I stepped back, nervously.
“What are you doing?” he asked, sweetly enough to make me think the knife wasn’t for me. But his unassuming manner could have been an act, so I wasn’t dropping my guard. Besides, while that blade was for cutting pigs, I didn’t think he’d be out working this late.
“I can’t sleep,” I replied – which was the partial truth but helped me sound convincing.
“I didn’t hear you leave,” I enquired, trying to gauge my current danger level. For a fact I knew Dad hadn’t gone out the front door, as it would have creaked, which meant he was out here sneaking. “I’m just cleaning some things up,” he stated.
Just then we both heard the stutter of an old engine rumbling in the distance. The headlights of a truck approached.
It stopped midway between the farmhouse and the barn, and “Toothless” got out. While my Dad’s face was stone cold and hard to read, Toothless was easy: he was both curious and confused as to why I was there.
“The boy. He knows?”
Holy f**k. This guy’s stupidity made my heart race. In a split second, I realized he and my Dad were partners. His assinine question fished for an answer that might genuinely expose me.
“Know what?” I quickly snapped back, feigning ignorance.
Off my Dad’s shake of his head, Toothless opened up the back of his truck. Where I’d helped load the pig carcasses was now a tarp. My Dad turned to me.
“I have some stuff to take care of. It’s getting cold. Get some sleep. Stay inside. We have a lot to do in the morning.”
It was more of an order than a request. I nodded and went back in. Once inside, I realized I might have complied too quickly. I couldn’t tell if I’d given myself away by instantly following his instructions. I peeked through the crack of the door to see Dad and Toothless walking to the barn.
I felt relieved, but my stomach churned as it occurred to me they were off to do no good to the girls.
I hurried to Dad’s room, but it was locked.
I had choices. I could be a coward and retreat to the couch. Or do what was right and risk my life. Then and there, I decided there would be no turning back. I rammed the door with my shoulder, breaking the lock on the other side. I scanned his room, looking for a gun.
I tried the closet. Nothing. Under the bed. Nothing. My heart screamed for me to slow down, but the urgency and adrenaline drove me faster.
I tried some drawers. Nothing.
In the cabinet. Under the cabinet. On the cabinet. Behind the cabinet. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
I knew there was something in here to find because he locked the door. But it was too well hidden for now.
I went back into the kitchen, grabbed a screwdriver from the shelf. I paused for a moment, running scenarios quickly through my head: My screwdriver vs. large, sharp, experienced, deadly, pig carving knife.
Was I overthinking? Screw it. I burst out the front door and ran towards the barn.
I slowed as I came across them. The hay bail was shifted and the trapdoor exposed. Dad stood there with his key, about to open the padlock, when he noticed me. Toothless shifted uncomfortably as I approached.
They were both bigger and stronger than me: I just hoped I was smarter.
My mom always taught me to treat women with respect. At that moment, I had to go against everything she ever held dear. “I want those bitches for myself,” I announced.
I tried to appear mean and angry, but I was severely shaking inside. “I want to kill them,” I stated.
I stared at Toothless who seemed to buy it.
The girls below became hysterical, which means they bought it too. How about the one that mattered most? My eyes turned to Dad. I straightened my posture, as Mom said: “if an animal is ever about to attack you want to seem taller and bigger than it, to try and scare it away.”
He wiped his nose, then stood up. I felt his eyes look deep into mine. There was no way he would believe me.
His eyes glanced to Toothless, then back to me.
“Kill him,” he shouted.
This was it: live or die. My execution was ordered, but it wasn’t over. I moved quickly.
Toothless, caught off guard by my ferocity, was shocked. As I jammed my screwdriver deep into his Adam’s apple, he barely registered what happened, until I pulled back like an oar on a rowboat, the way Dad showed me to carve off a head’s pig. He hit the ground hard as he frantically tried to stop the blood flow. I’m pretty sure however it was already too late for him, and it was just some type of reflex, like a snake without a head still wriggling in the dirt.
With the screwdriver lodged in Toothless, I spun towards my Dad, who appeared relaxed and calm.
“Well done,” he smiled, congratulating me.
What? Why wasn’t he on me? Why was he so nonchalant?
These past few days had been a whirlwind of emotion, with my feeling out and adapting to one situation after another.
Moments ago, when he yelled “Kill him,” I instantly assumed he was addressing Toothless, telling Toothless to kill me. But If I was wrong then but correct in my read now, he was actually instructing ME to kill Toothless.
I went with it and walked over casually.
“Can you teach me to drive his truck?” I asked as I sat beside Dad. For a few minutes, we both watched as Toothless took his last breath. He nodded.
Then, as we peered into the darkness below, at the two screaming girls, he looked at me the way my mom used too.
“I was going to get rid of them as I didn’t know you knew,” he confided. “We can keep them if you want?”
“Are they cute?” I asked. “I can’t tell with that crap on their faces.”
“I can shower them naked for you if you want,” he offered. “Then you can see for yourself.”
“Yeah. I’d love that.”
He stood, and went to a nearby box, pulling out some handcuffs. He threw them through the grate, which then clinked on the ground. To my shock, the girls handcuffed themselves before he opened the padlock.
They walked out slowly – pale, gaunt, dirty and barely clothed. They were now silent and reminded me of Dad’s trembling dog. My guess is they too feared a beating.
“They look better cleaned up,” he continued.
They had a familiarity, but while I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, their presence now in the open made me nervous. I came back to my old habit of rubbing the bracelet my mom gave me on my birthday. As Dad tied the girls to a post, I bent down to help take out the key from the lock, when…
I didn’t need to tell Dad I dropped the key as he could hear it gently hit the ground.
“Sorry. Do you have a flashlight?” I asked, feeling like a clumsy idiot. He shook his head, motioning for me to mind out the way. As he went down the first step, he suddenly hesitated, but by then it was too late. I rammed my full weight into the low of his back. The angle and intensity threw him off balance.
It was dark and deep in there, so I don’t know how he landed, but I closed the grate and quickly locked it. I didn’t want to face his wrath, so I shut the trap door and moved the bail of hay over it. Catching breath, I sat nervously, rubbing at my wrist: knowing Mom would’ve been proud that dropping her bracelet was his undoing. I turned to the girls, who’s eyes widened, lost like poor lambs being led to their slaughter. They were scared of me. I couldn’t blame them as they’d heard my urge to kill them.
I couldn’t free them instantly, as I didn’t know how they’d react. Instead, I went to the house and brought them blankets, then got them food from the kitchen. I assured them they were going to be set free and that they could get in Toothless’ truck and get home. When I mentioned the word “home,” they shared a sad look that was familiar.
The oldest asked who I was, and I told her the story of my mom taking me to Mexico. I told them everything in detail so they could be comfortable knowing I wasn’t going to hurt them. At the end of it, both started to cry.
I didn’t know what had set them off, but I felt bad they were now about to be free and in tears.
As I unlocked their handcuffs, they both hugged me but didn’t let go. It became uncomfortable, so I tried to cheer them up by saying how soon they’d get to go back to their family.
While I spoke I was still distracted by what I would do with him: Should I let him rot in there or call the police? So many questions rushed through my mind, but the one question coming up would change my life forever.
We broke the hug. The oldest had a different look: full of love, affection, and joy. It was strange seeing that from a complete stranger, as it felt more profound than thankful. She whispered something into the younger’s ear, whose eyes widened at the realization.
“You’re our brother?”
It’s safe to say I didn’t see that coming.
But as I would learn, Lori and Anne had been kept in there for most of their childhood.
Lori was a year old when I was born, so didn’t remember me, in the same way I didn’t recognize her. Anne did have a recollection and always held onto the hope our mom would come back for her. Why Mom never did, we’ll never know. Perhaps the fear of seeing him again was just too much.
What we do know, however, is that we’re together. We’re staying on the farm as there’s no need for us to leave right now.
I haven’t been back to the barn to see Dad yet.
They have… and are dropping him scraps like he dropped them. While we’re deciding whether to kill Dad outright or keep him alive as punishment for all the hell he put us through, I can only be sure of one thing.
It will now be a family decision.
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