Brandon was sober that night. Something in the pit of his stomach had made him desire more than just alcohol. Maybe a kind word or somone’s loving touch was what he wanted that night. Scotch could not always cure loneliness and he wasn’t an addict. Not yet anyway.
He could feel the celebrations creeping in on the city. As Christmas neared, everything turned red and green and frosty. Families took to the streets to shop and eat out and there were children everywhere. Not that that was different from any other time of the year, ever. He hated children. All children. They reminded him of his little daughter. He hadn’t seen her in years. She must be a grown woman now. And he was scared for her.
The shadows of his past had never deserted him. Even here, even in anonymity. He was always afraid they would find him. And then what? They would drag him back, pin him down, drive a stake through his heart. Or worse. They would find her.
She had been his salvation but also the slowest, most terrifying poison he had ever known. He had loved her but she had slowly tightened the noose around his neck. Had he ever even known her?
Was she his lover or a soulmate? He hadn’t had a chance to ask her. Married and fatherless he had believed himself to be, until she had told her they had had a daughter. She hadn’t known where the girl was. For all she cared, their daughter could be dead. But he had traced her to an orphanage. Silently, from the depths of the shadows, he had watched her day-after-day, everyday for ten years. But when he realized how desperately suicidal that made him, he grew selfish and left. Just in time to escape his sins once again.
The winter wonderland was a beautiful place. He would go there, take of his buttoned-up jacket and face the silent snow. Grimace over his past. Repent his actions. Miss his loved ones. Every year he would be here. He would be impatient.
Today there was an eerie silence in the place. So close to Christmas, this was not to be expected. He was puzzled but walked forward anyway.
Until he felt it. A hand came out of nowhere and latched itself around his neck. A punch on his stomach. He was coughing blood but whoever it was wasn’t done yet. A kick in his groin. He doubled over from the pain, fell to the ground and tried to let his instincts kick in. It had been years since he had roughed it up. His hands were numb.
Before he knew it, they were being tied behind his back. He couldn’t see but he knew there was more than one man around. It felt wrong, so wrong.
This couldn’t be happening to him. Not now. Not ever. He was a survivor.
But then he heard the clanking of high heels on the concrete surface.
A soft hand roughly clenched his chin and drew his hair upwards. He was face-to-face with a young girl. A beautiful girl.
But he knew those eyes.
‘Hello….dad.’ She said.
He stared at her. Amazed, perturbed but almost proud. She was precious.
‘I don’t understand…’ he tried to say but coughed up more blood instead.
‘You don’t have to understand. You just need to let me know you the way you knew me. Dad’
There was bitterness there. And regret. He felt pangs of sadness flow through him and heat so intense, he couldn’t believe it was December.
And that was the last thing he ever thought of before the world turned black.