Author's Note: This song is based off of Jason Michael Carroll's "Alyssa Lies." The song is the property of the singer and the songwriter. The Baby-Sitters Club belongs to Ann M. Martin. Feedback is always appriciated.
I arrived at the school just a little bit earlier than usual, and watched the kid's stream out of their classrooms, jumping with the pent up release of being in school all day. I smiled as my little girl ran towards me, her long brown hair streaming after her. As she barreled towards me, I caught her and swung her up and she gave me a huge hug with all the exuberance that a nine year old can give.
"How was your day, princess?" I asked as I set her down. She giggled at the nickname.
"Daddy, I'm too old to be called Princess," she scolded as I looked down at her and smiled.
"No matter how old you are, you will always be my princess." Changing the subject, I asked her, "How was school today?"
"I made a new friend." Her normally cheerful brown eyes clouded over. "Her name is Alyssa, she's a liar."
"Where did you meet her?" I searched my memory for any parents with a child name Alyssa. In a small town like ours, everyone knew everyone.
"Between the tire and the swings."
I chuckled at that and said, "Why does she lie?"
"She lies to everyone, Daddy. She has bruises all over her body and when someone asks her about them, she says she fell. But Daddy, you can't fall like that. Not with how her bruises look."
"What do you mean, 'how her bruises look?"
"They look like someone hit her."
I brushed off what she was trying to tell me, my mind not wanting to process what she was saying. While I had heard of cases like this, in my ignorance, I didn't think they didn't exist in our town. Our town was a place where everyone had grown up together and nobody would ever dream of hurting a child. Not like this.
I sighed and looked down at my girl. She was the product of love, and the love showed in the way she met every challenge. Her mom and I were high school sweethearts and when we couldn't have our own children, we chose to adopt. She came to us because we loved each other enough to want to open our hearts to a child who needed a home full of love. I couldn't imagine something like this happening to her.
"Daddy?" she tugged on my shirtsleeve and I smiled down at her, trying to push back the thoughts back that were running through my head. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing princess. How about we go home, see what Mommy's doing and see if she wants to go out and eat tonight."
"Yeah! Going out to eat. And tomorrow we still get to go to Grandma's and see Uncle Charlie and Aunt Kristy, right? And everyone else?"
"Sure are. And then Sunday you have to do your homework."
"Aww, Daddy. Come on."
"Its either that or we don't go over there this weekend."
She tries to give me her famous puppy dog eyes, and I feel the corners of my mouth twitch as I fight back laughter. She usually can get me to budge on anything with that one famous look. But she knows that this is a losing fight and sighs is resignation. "You win Daddy."
The rest of the weekend passes by uneventfully. We visit the aunts and uncles over the weekend and while I was watching her play, I couldn't keep the troubling thoughts out of my mind of what we had talked about Friday. I was staring pensively out the window when my wife came up behind me and wrapped her arms around me. "Mimi's ready for bed, sweetheart. What's wrong?"
I turned around and related what we had talked about on Friday after school. She nodded silently, her brown eyes staring at me intently. "You know what you have to do."
Sighing, I nodded. Kissing her on the forehead, I walked up the stairs towards my daughter's room. I heard her saying her prayers, so soft and sweet. "God Bless Mommy and Daddy, but most of all God, if your up there, bless my friend Alyssa also. I know she needs you bad. Please look out for her. Amen."
I wiped the tears off my cheeks and went in to give her a kiss goodnight. She smiled at me sleepily and said softly, "Daddy, I love you and I am glad I have you. Will my friend be okay?"
I looked into her trusting brown eyes and felt my throat close up. I nodded and flipped off her light before leaving.
A little while later, as I got ready for bed, all the thoughts I worked so hard at keeping at bay came screaming back at me. I had the worse night of sleep I ever had in years, and at about 3am, I knew what I had to do. By the time the alarm clock started ringing, I felt like I had been dragged through the mud. As I drove towards the school, I couldn't shake the feeling that something was happening. As we got closer to the school, I knew my worse fears had come true.
When we walked up towards the school with Mimi's hand in mine, I noticed that all the teachers were crying and I knew then that Alyssa wouldn't be in school today, or any other day for that matter. Mimi looked up at me. "Daddy, why does everyone look so sad?"
The lump in my throat grew bigger with every question that she asked. She looked towards her desk, "Where's Alyssa, Daddy? Why isn't she here?"
I swallowed hard and looked down at the most precious thing in my life. "Remember how we talked Friday and you told me Alyssa lied to you?"
She nodded and I tried to continue. "She's not here anymore. Something bad has happened to her and she's not lying anymore. She's with Jesus and no one can hurt her anymore."
She looked at me, tears filling her large brown eyes. She wrapped her arms tight around me, and all I could do is hold her while she sobbed. Then she asked the one question that pierced my heart. "Why didn't anyone help her, Daddy? Why?"