Disclaimer: I don't own 'Quidam' if I did though, Zoe and Target would be together forever!

The Difference Between Space and An Empty Hole

I

Zoe could still remember the days when her parents used to love her. Those days when laughter came effortlessly and love in waterfalls. On those days her parents would take her down to the park and play with her, actually play with her for hours. Her father would push her on swing sets so high that she felt as though she were actually flying. Her mother would play 'Queen's Castle' with her as they fought off imaginary dragons and wizards. When they were too tired to play anymore, they would lay in the grass with her and gaze up at the clouds with her, naming creatures they saw in the white masses. They would do this until the sunset. One day Zoe asked her mother; "Mommy, where does the sun go?"

Her mother would always smile the way adults did when they knew something a child didn't. "It goes to bed in its home, somewhere unknown." She would whisper back with a smile.

"Unknown?" Zoe would ask, the word sounded funny to her.

"Yes. Unknown, Quidam."

Zoe looked up at the tangerine sky. "I wanna go there someday."

Ii

Zoe had always loved ballerinas, that was until she met a real one.

It had been like any other afternoon, Zoe had been in the living room, drawing a jungle land in her coloring book when there was a knock at the door. Her father stood from his chair and strode over to the door, opening it. "Ye-" he started but stopped midsentence when he saw whom was standing there. Zoe peered from behind the couch and then she saw her, Ballerina. She liked to think that was the woman's name because she looked so much like the doll Ballerinas she owned. Except her face was sharp, her angular features well defined her lips were small but in a strange and beautiful way. Her make up was dark, intense as were her clothes.

"What are you doing here?" Zoe heard her father whisper urgently to Ballerina. "I told you never to come here and that you were to page me!"

"I missed you." Ballerina protests weakly and Zoe saw that same look her mother always gave her father, some emotion Zoe couldn't read.

"I don't care! What were you thinking? Coming to my home, where my family lives?"

Her father seemed to forget that Zoe was even in the room and anger flashes over the Ballerina's features, frightening Zoe for a few moments. "I can't do this anymore! I can't simply be a fling for you! You decide, George, right now! Me or her!" she gestured into the house.

"Please!" Her father begs "We'll discuss this later just leave. Now!"

"Not until you choose!" Ballerina presses.

At that moment, Zoe's mother walks in from the kitchen, a spatula in her hand "George, darling who are you-" she starts but stops when she sees Ballerina. Zoe's father freezes for a few moments nothing can be heard but the sound of something sizzling and crackling in the kitchen.

Her eyes flick to George and then back to Ballerina and then lock with hers in some strange mixture of hatred and understanding.

iii

Zoe remembers hearing plates crashing, screaming, and crying so much crying. But even now, 4 weeks after Ballerina had made her grand entrance, she could never get used to it. Words were flying constantly, among other things and terms Zoe couldn't quite grasp. Affair. Cheating. Liar. Divorce. Words that didn't apply in the mind of an eight year old girl.

"I hate you!" Zoe hears her mother shout and then she hears another crash. "You lied! I loved you!"

Zoe hides under her purple quilt, imagining that it's an ocean and that she's swimming away from her parents, far away. She imagines that she's swimming deeper and deeper into the water, her parent's voices fading away. Zoe clutches her teddy bear tighter and imagines that it turned into a mermaid and sang her all the secrets of the ocean.

Iv

Silence. Nothing but it could be heard right now. No more wailing or gut wrenching sobs, not even glass or porcelain smashing against walls. All was silent. Her parents were silent. When she arrived home from school and announced herself, eager to tell her parents all she had learned that day, silence. When Zoe asked her mother what she would be making for dinner, silence. Her mother would look down at her as though she wasn't even there, would brush past her daughter into the kitchen to prepare some random dinner, stiffly, robotically. When Zoe begged to be tucked in at night, she was again greeted with silence. Her parents were still there, still took care of her but were far too wrapped up in their own agonized thoughts to remember they had a daughter whom needed them.

Zoe's father would sit in his red chair and get so absorbed in last week's paper that no matter what happened around him, he would never look away from the grey, wrinkled paper. Zoe's mother would sit on their scarlet couch, listening to a radio station that never played music and would stare longingly out the window. Sometimes for hours on end.

They were too wrapped up in their own tortured worlds to remember they had a daughter, so then why shouldn't Zoe get lost in her own?

V

Zoe doesn't remember how she got here. All she could remember was the Quidam passing her by and when he dropped his hat, she had tried it on, just for a moment and then she woke up here. This place is beautiful and for a moment, the young girl's mind wanders to her mother. Her mother would have loved how blue the sun looked here. She only thinks of her mother for a moment until Target bounds off, silently challenging her to a race. Zoe pushes her mother's image away and races off after Target, deeper into the depths of her own imagination.

VI

"You don't have to stay you know." John tells Zoe, barely looking up from the Quidam's purple hat in his hands. Target frowned but kept his usual demeanor of silence as he watched the two of them from a respectful distance. Quidam stood before them both, his large, basketball sized hand outstretched expectantly before Zoe. Though the Quidam was headless, she could feel his nonexistent eyes bore into her. "The choice is yours," John offered her, placing the hat in her hands and stepping back from her and the Quidam.

From inside the hat, Zoe could hear the distant shouts of her parents, they must have been arguing again. But what Zoe didn't know, was that it was her they were yelling for, crying for, searching for. Zoe doesn't even have to think, the choice is obvious. Her small hands secure the hat on her head tightly, silencing those voices forever.

"I want to stay!"

Quidam turns and walks away, a little more sorrowfully than he had come. John flashed a rare smile and clapped his gloved hands."Wonderful! Well done, Zoe, Well done." Target opened his mouth, yelled and cheered though no sound came out. He broke out in a series of cartwheels, handstands and other kinds of acrobatics.

Zoe grinned.

Sometimes the difference between space and an empty hole was what you filled it with.

VII

Sirens screeched and police lights flashed eerie shadows over the Bedeau residence. Zoe's parents stood out on their front lawn, watching as the paramedics carried the body of their daughter away and loaded her into the ambulance. None of it made sense, none of it. Even the paramedics had been baffled; no one knew how a perfectly healthy eight year old girl had managed to die without even a scratch on her. Her parents had found her sleeping peacefully in her bed, her green little teddy bear tucked securely under her pale arm. Her parents were going to be taken in for questioning, to see if they'd had any part in her death. Police believed abuse was the only way this tiny little girl could have died.

Her parents stand together now, huddled against each other under their umbrella, trying to keep the rain off of them and out of their souls. They were forever bound now, forced to reside together in the sorrow and agony of a lost child.

If Zoe's life hadn't been enough to keep them together, her death would be no different.

Sometimes the difference between space and an empty hole is what's lost.