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Updated: Oct 1, 2020

*Trigger Warning* This one is more disturbing than scary - if you want some good old fashioned scares, please check out some of my others. - C

The baseball bat fell from my hand and landed on the bathroom floor with a loud crack. The dull fluorescent light that hung from the ceiling flickered on as it always did a few moments after you flipped the switch, revealing my face in the cracked and dingy mirror. The faintest glimpse of a cockroach scurrying across the peeling wallpaper caught in my eye, but failed to produce a shudder. I was consumed by my reflection, focusing on the line of my jaw which had already begun to swell, revealing a greenish yellow bruise. My fingers moved across the tender flesh as I wondered how I still managed to keep teeth in my jawbone. A few cuts scratched my face, beads of sweat dotting my forehead. My lips were dry and cracked, my pupils wide within bloodshot eyes.

My mother was dead. I knew this because as my father crumbled from the blow of the bat she bought me for coach pitch three springs ago, I had run to her in search of a steady pulse. When there was none to be found, I didn’t waver, for I had grown more than accustomed to the image of my beaten mother sprawled out on the living room floor and my father immobilized next to her in a drunken stupor. I was more surprised by the fact that she had held on so tightly to life over the years, no matter how vicious the attack or how effective his weapon of choice. I had lovingly tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, which left a thin line of red behind on her ashen face. "He found us again, huh?" I asked out loud. Sorrow tried to penetrate my hardened heart, but it was of no avail. A tempestuous storm had risen in me, quickening my pulse and blackening my eyes.

After bending down to retrieve the fallen bat, I moved out of the bathroom. My father still lay on the floor, gasping frantic breaths through crack destroyed lungs, his mouth slackened into a hideous O. A dark shadow of beard covered his skeletal face, eye sockets protruding through stretched, sallow skin that looked like parchment paper. I felt nothing for the thing that lay before me, a man for which prison nor rehab could fix. A deep and twisted mental disturbance had grown inside him and spilled freely onto anyone who got caught in the storm, his sadism knowing no bounds.

I closed my eyes and envisioned a father I had never met before, a man with dancing blue eyes that matched my own and a smile bursting with kindness and warmth. I imagined him crouching at the pitcher’s mound, smacking a baseball into a gloved hand a few times.

"Alright, Anna, hit me a home run!" he called.

The sun hung high and brilliant in the cloudless sky, the warm summer air batting at the ponytail held in place by my baseball cap. I waited for him to pitch it to me and swung, hitting the ball with a deafening crack.

"Way to go, slugger," my dad cheered, scooping up another ball from the ones collected at his feet. "Ready for another?"

"I'm ready!" I called back.

Chirping birds scattered as I connected with the ball a second time, causing it to sail into the woods behind us. My dad erupted into cheers once more, the sound of his voice encouraging me to hit harder and harder. We continued well into the afternoon, me never missing a pitch, until our faces hurt from smiling and our voices were raw from laughter.

We were down to one more ball before we'd have to go for the scavenger hunt about the park and baseball field to retrieve them all, when he paused and straightened. His face had grown serious. "Anna, before this next one, I want to tell you something.”

The sky had grown dark, ominous thunder rolling in this distance. The air turned cold, lifting the hairs on the back of my neck. I shivered, staring at the man before me, looking back with earnest eyes. “I just want to say how proud I am of you,” he said softly. “You're the best daughter a father could ask for."

"Thank you, Daddy," I replied, the bat suddenly feeling so heavy in my arms. I whispered, “Can I stop now?”

Flashes of the blood soaked apartment seemed to rip through the fabric of my fantasy, threatening to take him from me. I wished with all that was in me that he could stay. “I’m so tired,” I said.

“You can do this,” he said, firmly. “One more time and then it’s done, for good.”

I swallowed the threatening sob of hysteria, gathering my strength. I gripped the bat as hard as I could muster, my knuckles whitening with the strain, finding my footing and steadying my stance.

“I love you, Anna,” he said, whipping the ball at me once more.

I swung, the sound of the last hit was so loud, I nearly mistook it for thunder.

My mother's body appeared in the distance and I was in the apartment again. I moved towards her and gingerly wrapped her fingers around the splintered, maroon stained bat.

My father’s body had completely disappeared, a broken carcass of gore and shattered bones laying now in his wake. I stepped over it, moving towards the kitchen. I reached for the phone to call 911, tasting sour metal as his blood ran from my hair into my mouth. I’d have to wash my face before they arrived. "Yes, 743 Torrance Circle.” My voice was calm, as it was every time I had to make the call. “Yes, my mom and dad again., I think they're both dead. Okay. Thank you."