Work has consumed my life. It’s all I ever do. Yet, it still doesn’t seem enough. The life I have is okay, nothing special. Just an average guy. Although, sometimes I hope for things to get better, for the sake of my sister and daughter. They both deserve more than I could ever give them, they deserve the world if I could give it to them.
“What are you thinking about, Daniel?”
Completely unaware of where I was, I looked around the posh room and towards the woman seated in a black leather chair. Once a week I am seated in this very chair, and this room for exactly an hour.
“Is our hour up yet?” I asked in annoyance.
“Oh Daniel, when will you ever learn to open up?” I heard her sigh deeply.
This was nothing new. I stood without saying anything to her and left.
After leaving the posh building, I walked over to my car. I’ve been going through this for about five years now, always getting someone new. I breathed out a sigh before turning the key in the ignition. I drove back to my place of work. It was only mid-day. The summer air was toxic, and the summer sun was deadly. But that was Florida for you, no matter the season.
The streets were busy as usual. Car after car there was honking, cars coming to life as people drove onto the streets. I finally made my way into the back of the car shop. Not long after I was out my car, I’d seen Darren, my co-worker, in the hood of an old car. He’d stood up, rag in hand and looked at me before nodding his head. I went inside to check in with our boss. I sat behind the desk filling out paper work, and handling incoming calls and cars.
When the bell of the door rang, I looked up to see my star sister, Emily. She dropped a brown paper bag in front of me. Lunch. Her up-beat demeanor never changes. While she was an honor roll student, I barely got through high school. She’s the good girl with an attitude. While I was the rebellious boy who got caught in the wrong crowd and got in trouble a lot. My sister and I could not be any more different from each other. You would’ve thought that twins would have been more alike. Well not everything you read and hear is true. Before she left, I asked her to pick up Natalie, my daughter. She left soon after, wishing me a good rest of the day.
I walked outside to work on a car that was just brought in. It wasn’t long before beads of sweat lined my forehead. The car was lifted off the ground and I was laid under it checking the wires, trying to see if there were any problems. I got from under the car, to feel the young woman’s stare on me. I’ve checked this car multiple times before and as before I looked down at the woman’s petite frame and said nothing was wrong once more. An almost disappointed look came across her face and her mouth opened and closed a few times before she left. I couldn’t help but think that I didn’t get paid enough to put up with this. After getting her car, I went back inside to handle a few more calls. It was almost time for me to check out. Only ten minutes remaining. When I went to check the time, I got an incoming call from my sister.
Right from when I picked up the phone I thought my ear was going to explode. Emily kept screaming and I could hear the tears in her voice. I tried calming her down but nothing seemed to work. Whatever I said, she wasn’t listening to anything. I was getting annoyed and frustrated. When I told her to shut up she went silent. I asked her once more what was wrong. When the words came sobbing out of her mouth, my eyes went wide, the room was spinning, her voice was faint. The phone fell from my hands and as my brain was trying to register everything at once, I ran. Her words carved onto my heart and soul. I’ve never felt so much pain in all the years I’ve been alive. My daughter was kidnapped.
I didn’t have time to think. The only thoughts in my mind were to get my daughter back. To have her in my embrace once more. My heart was beating against my rib cage. She is my weakness, but she’s also my strength. I rushed out the car shop and towards my car, not bothering to stop at the screaming voices behind me to slow down. I swung the door to my car open, rushing to get down to the elementary school.
As I sped down the calm streets. Only one thought was currently clouding my mind. ‘I prayed to all the Gods on Earth that the person who took my daughter was not who I thought they were.’
It was only a few minutes later when I reached the school. I couldn’t see much, much less than my own sister. One reason being that the school was now a crime scene. The lights to the police cars were on but no noise came from them. All I seen were scattered officers in the parking lot and front entrance of the school. Even news crews were around speaking of a five year old girl being taken or reported missing. And that for me, made my blood boil. My fist were clenched tightly, but before I could start cursing at everyone, I was being pulled away by my sister. She took me to a secluded part of the school to calm me down. It took a few minutes to recollect myself. Once I did, I turned to my sister and asked her if anyone saw anything or if the teachers and parents seen anyone. No luck came from anywhere.
The sinking feeling in my gut has not gone away. They say the first forty-eight hours are critical, and if the person or child is not found it is likely they are dead.
With that said, it has been two weeks since Natalie was taken. In those weeks Emily, Darren and my boss have been out looking with police officers. My world was chaos. For the first week I had been down at the station constantly, waiting for any type of news to come.
My mind felt like a war zone, a never ending battle with my own thoughts. I haven’t eaten in days, I’ve stayed in my room for the past six days. Thinking, analyzing, processing. Repeat. I sat on the wooden floor, my back against the bed, staring at the board in front of me. A list of people who could’ve taken her. My brain was going through every possible scenario.
I looked over to my nightstand, where the dim lamp lit and a letter rested. Emily set it there a couple days ago when I first started going through this madness. I reached over and took the white envelope. I ripped the top part open and took the letter in my hands. Before I could start reading it, I noticed the hand writing immediately. A light finally came on as I read the words carefully. I stood on my feet. No name was written but I knew exactly who wrote this. Most importantly I knew where my daughter was. As the dots started to connect, my sister entered my room. My thoughts were racing and before she could mutter a single word, I dragged her to the police station right across from our apartment. The energy was coursing through my veins and it felt never ending. As soon as we went through the doors the words came spilling out my mouth.
“I know where my daughter is.” My voice sounding completely exhausted.
The sounds of his voice haunting my mind. Emily and I were taken into a separate office. My past was something I never liked talking about. His name was Kyle Johnson. I started telling the officer how I knew him. Long before I found out before Natalie, I was a former gang member. It’s something I’m not proud of, but I got out of it when Natalie was born. All that mattered right now, was getting my daughter back in my arms. I knew what I had to do. And with that said and done, it was my last chance to get her back. Finding her was my top priority.
I was standing in front of a house I hoped I never had to come back to. The place was eerily quiet as I stepped inside. Shutting the door behind me. I looked up, and there he was. Standing only a few feet away from me. Natalie was nowhere in sight, and that made me angry. My hands were balled into fist. He had a sly smirk on his face.
“Where is she, Kyle? She has nothing to do with this. Our feud is between you and I.”
“You’re right. But your daughter killed the only woman I ever loved. But I’m finally going to be happy again with her.” He said.
I knew what he was going to do. And I knew there was nothing I could do to stop him. He turned around only to be faced by death. The thought made me shudder. I backed towards the door and opened it. The Florida sun hitting my face as I heard the loud sound of a gunshot echoing through the air. But then I heard her sweet voice. I didn’t realize the blood spilling from my torso, only the sound of my beloved daughter.
My eyes darted to the small girl running towards me. I dropped to my knees as the tears rimmed my eyes. I engulfed her into a tight embrace.
“I love you, Natalie.”
“I love you too, Daddy.”