The Taylight Zone - Anthology Four

14 - Eyes of Innocence - Deanna

Fifteen-year old Stephanie trembled facedown on her bed. As another blow was delivered to the small of her back, she whimpered and shoved her face farther into her pillow. Her entire body was aching and bleeding, her tangled light brown hair knotted and torn. While her body was being pummeled, verses and lyrics soared through her head. It was the one way to take her mind off of what was happening. A song she had recently heard worked its way through her memory. "You're mother's child…Hair aflame, wild look in your eye…A forest fire…burns dry thoughts like leaves…" Without realizing it, she began to hum, softly at first, then growing slightly louder with the passing moments. "In the Bible only angels have wings, and the rest must wait to be saved…A dry tongues screams at the sky…As a strange bird tries to fly." She began to sing aloud, her sweet voice rising above the sound of fists raining upon her.

"Pieces of us die everyday…Such injustice, as children we are told that…..from…..God…..we….fell….. Where are my angels, where's my golden one? Where is my hope now that my heroes have gone?"

A large hand flew down and grabbed the mass of hair from the pillow. It jerked her head around, and scared blue eyes, flecked with hazel, gazed up at the man who held her head.

"What were you saying, your worthless girl?" his now gruff voice barked out. Steph quaked violently. "What were you saying?

"N….n..othing, Daddy," she stuttered. "I….I..I love you, Daddy."

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Stephanie pulled on a floor-length, long-sleeved velvet dress. It was a deep purple color, and any light bruising that could be seen through the concealer could be passed off as reflection. She was attending a big gala with her father. Being the big-time musical executive that he was, he was expected to show up at all the major events. And, since he was such a "family man," it was expected that his daughter make an appearance as well.

She stepped out of her bedroom and entered the living room, where her father was waiting for her. Grudgingly, Steph admitted that he did look rather like the upstanding citizen he pretended to be. She thought to herself, "Appearances can be deceiving."

When she entered the room, he stood up and looked her over. He nodded, and started walking towards the door. Steph followed, and they headed down through the apartment building and out into the night.

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The party was boring and uneventful. It was the same as every other: the same people, the same conversations. Everything was dull the first time around, and after perhaps a hundred parties, things weren't getting any better. Stephanie answered all the questions thrown at her apathetically; she'd heard them all before. They were the same questions they had asked her at last month's get-together, and at the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that…

Her eyes roved the room, searching for any new faces. She had practically given up, when she spotted a boy, who looked to be about her age. He was talking animatedly, and the blond hair that brushed his shoulders moved as he used his hands to punctuate what he was saying.

She stood slowly and excused herself from the table. She walked over to the buffet table set up at the opposite wall. The man the boy was talking to laughed suddenly. Startled, Steph jumped and let out a small yelp. She quickly turned around and pretended to be fascinated by the arrangement of food before her. Both man and boy looked over at her curiously.

Peeking out from behind her hair, Stephanie risked a glance at the two males. They were still watching her. She quickly went back to examining the food. Then, for the second time that evening, she jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She whirled around, and stood face to face with her father.

"It's getting late," he stated quietly, and started steering her towards the exit. She walked with him, casting on last glance behind her. The boy flashed her a quick smile. Her smile back was weak, and Steph knew it, and suspected that the boy knew it, too, but it was the best she could do. She turned and followed her father home.

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Birds were chirping, the sun was warm and gentle, and the sky was a clear, angelic blue. Yet, inside her heart and mind, all that registered to Stephanie was the solid gray directly in front of her. She was kneeling down in a soft blanket of grass, surrounded by a dozen scattered roses. It was a beautiful place for a grave, if one could call the place of a grave beautiful. Silently, Stephanie read the simple, elegant headstone, as she had thousands of times in the past.

In loving memory of
a wife and mother.

We love you, Rose.

She stopped there, her eyes filled with tears. She didn't bother to wipe them away; they just slipped in a silent parade down her cheek. It was only two years since her mother's death, and the wounds were still fresh. It had hurt her deeply. She stopped talking to people; she wouldn't go to school.

This behavior had only made her father angry. He missed his wife terribly, and began to take out his frustrations on Stephanie. When she started acting differently, he went over the deep end. He started drinking, and during the late hours of the night smoke could be seen sneaking out from underneath his door. The combination of the alcohol and the drugs changed his personality totally. Almost every morning, Steph would have new bruises, emotional as well as physical. He hated her, because she reminded him of her mother. And because of this, Stephanie could never properly grieve. He ceased to be her father. He was a monster.

Stephanie sat back on the grass and stared up into the sky, looking for the cloud her mother was watching her from. She began to sing her mother's favorite lullaby. It was ironic how the lyrics seemed to turn around, so fitting to the situation.

"Fly, fly, little wing
Fly beyond imagining
The softest cloud, the whitest dove
Upon the wind of heaven's love
Past the planets and the stars
Leave this lonely world of ours
Escape the sorrow and the pain
And fly again."

She began to sob. The tears flooding her face in torrents, and tasted almost bitter on her lips. Letting them flow, she continued on, her voice growing stronger and more powerful.

"Fly, fly, precious one
Your endless journey has begun
Take your gentle happiness
Far too beautiful for this
Cross over to the other shore
There is peace forevermore
But hold this memory bittersweet
Until we meet."

She let her torso collapse over her legs, her arms cradling her head. The one thought kept playing in her head. "Why, Momma, why? Why did you go? Why did you leave? Daddy isn't Daddy anymore. He's changed. Momma, why? Tell me why! Why?" She lost herself into her grief, and was so far-gone that she hardly heard the other voice in the graveyard until its owner was standing right beside her.

"Fly, fly, do not fear
Don't waste a breath, don't shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don't wait for me
Above the universe you'll climb
On beyond the hands of time
The moon will rise, the sun will set
But I won't forget."

Looking up slowly, Stephanie saw the face of the boy from the party. She began to sing the last verse of her mother's song, and he joined her.

"Fly, fly, little wing
Fly where only angels sing
Fly away, the time is right
Go now, find the light."

The boy gently sat beside her, and picked up a rose. He rolled it between his fingers for a few seconds, then gently tucked it behind Stephanie's ear. When she began to speak, he just shook his head and placed his index finger lightly over her lips. Sssshhhhhh………

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Finally giving up, he threw the pen and tablet down. He was attempting to compose a new song, and things were just not working. Thoughts of the girl he had met were taking him hostage and wouldn't allow him to think of anything else. His mind drifted to earlier that afternoon…

She was crying on his shoulder. It felt awkward; he wasn't sure exactly what he should do. He just decided to hold her. He hadn't known it, but that was truly all she had needed. Someone to show some sign of affection. When the sobs quieted, she had pulled back and pretended to be absorbed in a patch of grass. Feeling awkward, he finally whispered, "What's wrong?" For a second he thought she would break down, but then she began to talk. Slowly, and devoid of all emotion, she had told him her story…

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The two had bonded together. Sharing problems, sharing dreams, lives, souls. Fast friends. Maybe more. Always there for each other. Until the day he walked her home. She never talked to him again after that. He didn't know why she stopped. And she probably doesn't know either. 'Cause she needs him now, more than ever before…

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Stephanie entered her home through the front door, still in a good mood from her day out. Her persona was shattered when she heard that drunken voice from the living room.

"Get in here, girl! Where the hell do you think you've been all day?!" His words were slurred; Stephanie knew that he wasn't thinking clearly at all. Meekly she walked into the room where her father was sprawled out on the couch, watching an old video from when he was growing up.

When she moved through the entryway, her father got up and staggered over to her. He grabbed her shirt by the collar and growled in Stephanie's face.

"What do you think you're doing with that boy? Didn't I tell you to stay away from him?" He was shaking her violently by this time. His eyes blazed with anger and he reeked of alcohol.

"Didn't I tell you that guys like him are only in it for one thing?! Didn't I?! DIDN'T I?!" Along with her father's blows, she was trembling almost to the point of spasms. Stephanie watched her father in horror, as the look in his eyes changed from that of drunken rage to a drunken slyness.

"Well then, I think if you're giving something away to some strange bastard, you better give some to your old man. Don't you agree?" With one swoop he lifted Stephanie around her waist and threw her down upon the couch.

Roughly, he tore at her jeans, and pulled off his own. He jumped on top of her, and she didn't bother to struggle. She knew it was useless. He was stronger. She didn't bother to yell; the TV was turned up loud enough to drown out any noises. While she prayed for it to be over, chords and words blared out from the television.

"…Dark clouds all around, lightning, rain pouring down
Waiting for the bright light to break through
Face down on the ground
Pick us up at the lost and found
We've got to change our point of view, if we want the sky blue…"

Electric blue eyes danced on the TV screen, oblivious to what was going on in front of them.

Stephanie looked up into a pair of icy blue eyes, so changed from the ones she once knew. Her father's raspy voice, so different from the sweet, silvery voice that had once given her private performances, caught in her ears.

"You're almost as good as your mother."

Before she blacked out, only one thought could coarse through her heart.


***Musical Credits go to:
Jewel, "Amen"
Celine Dion, "Fly"
Hanson, "Where's the Love"