Douglas Butler knew the time had come, and he released his daughter. He held her by the shoulders and looked into her jewel-green eyes, knowing it’d be the last time. “No matter what comes, I want you to know I’ll be here for you, okay?”
She didn’t respond, and only blinked at his cryptic message. “Okay, An?” he repeated, his brown eyes boring into hers until she nodded her acceptance of his promise.
“Good. Now,” he said, willing the thickness of his throat to go away so he could get through this moment he’d been dreading the last 18 years. “What I want to show you is right here.”
Analisa watched as he walked to the edge of the clearing, next to an old, nearly decrepit oak tree. All the trees around them were hundreds of years old, as the forest seemed to never have been touched by an axe nor a chainsaw. It seemed, Analisa wondered, completely untouched.
The tree her father motioned her over to seemed like one of many, tall, so wide around that she knew she couldn’t get her arms fully around. Its base was slightly cracked open, moss and old bark and exposed roots creating a bowl. Her dad was pointing into that depression, so she followed his direction and crouched next to the hollow of the tree.
“Dad,” she said, not turning her head, “What am I supposed to be looking at?” He didn’t answer, and Analisa reached her hand out. The early morning and swirling fog made the shadowed hollow dark. She was hesitant to just stick her hand in, but then, as her fingertips touched the edge of the bark as it curled back into itself, a spark of light lit inside the hollow.
Analisa sunk to her knees at the base of the tree, the knees of her jeans dampening on the cool moss. The teardrop of dew winked again at her, the flash of light seemingly coming within.
“Dad,” Analisa breathed, “Did you see that?”
When her dad didn’t respond, she turned around to look at him. But he was gone.
“Dad?” she asked, looking around the clearing. He wasn’t there. “Dad!”
She thought she heard a faint crunching of retreating footsteps, and opened her mouth to shout for him again, but another sound came to her, one that froze her to the core.
A child’s scream. She knew it was a child’s scream. Whether it was from pain or fright or just a general squeal, she couldn’t tell. The teardrop. She begged it to come again, to dispel the thought that it was real, and maybe just a figment of her imagination. It came again, and as Analisa was staring directly into the shadowed crevice, she saw the teardrop pulse with light as the scream came again, echoing and faint, for sure, but definite.
It called to her, the light and the voices, and before she knew it, before she could stop herself, second guess herself, Analisa reached out to the teardrop.