4 years ago

Empty. That's how the house had looked. It was springtime, and Katarina Hughes had just come home from school, her feet slipping across the pavement as she had made her way through the driveway. Excited, she hadn't noticed that her father's car wasn't parked at its usual spot. She also hadn't noticed that her dog, Sophia, wasn't barking, as she usually did as soon as Katarina came home. Usually, she would've noticed. But on that day, she hadn't. On the one day where it would've mattered, she had been too blind to see what was going on. In fact, it was only when she had unlocked the door and opened it that she had known that something was wrong. It was like her life had been put on pause. She just felt muted, all of a sudden. Scared, even. A feeling of dread washed over her, grabbing control of her brain and disconnecting the wiring. That's how she felt. Detached. Removed. Absent.

Her first thought, as odd as it might be, was death. Had somebody died? Was she going to have to, for the first time in a couple of years, squeeze herself in the itchy black dress that had a grease stain just below the neckline? Would she have to dig a hole in her backyard and bury her parents with tears? The questions raced through her brain, the answers seeming far away, unreachable.

Katarina had stepped inside the house, looking around for clues. Maybe I am wrong, she thought. Maybe my parents have just gone to the vet with the dog. Maybe… maybe…maybe. The "what ifs" were endless. Until she saw her mother. Then, they were gone. The possibilities had vanished. Now, there was only one outcome, and the look on her mother said it all. It displayed shock, hurt, betrayal. In that moment, Katarina realized how silence has a way of saying so many words.

Her mother didn't say anything. She didn't have to. Katarina understood. She knew everything.

Her father had left, but he wasn't coming back.

And he had taken the dog with him.