Still dazed, the thought of calling 911 entered my mind, thinking that perhaps there was still hope for her to live a life she deserved. But she was gone. No doctor could've fixed this mess. A part of me figured that what I held in my arms wasn't my daughter, but rather a figment of a horrible nightmare I so desperately wanted to leave.

But she had dreams unrealized. Potential unfulfilled.

Ever since she was seven, rain or shine, we'd practice throwing and hitting at the Roosevelt High School baseball diamond. I taught Sheila every pitch in the MLB handbook—her cutter alone broke around two hundred bats and carried her to six national championships, four of which her team won. I thought she was going to be the next Mariano Rivera.

I did this to her. I did this to my baby.

I blacked out. I saw streetlights. A lonely bridge. A river. But nothing else.

Then I woke up. A sunny blue morning shone through my window. Was it all a dream? Had to be—the anger and distress felt too horrible to be real. It took all the strength I had to drag myself off the bed and go to Sheila's room, but when I got to that white door I froze. A dead quiet hung in the air. My mouth went dry. After much hesitation, I knocked. "Sheila?"


Deep breath.

I opened the door and peeked in. The letter from Princeton detailing her acceptance and scholarship money still sat on her desk among her dozens of trophies. I scanned her clothes-ridden room to find, to my relief, Sheila curled under a mound of blankets with only the top of her head visible. The rise and fall of her body as she snored was the most captivating thing on the planet. I clapped a hand over my mouth to stop myself from weeping. With a grin as wide as sin, I silently shut the door.

I went downstairs and cooked Sheila's favorite: bacon, eggs over easy, and French toast with bananas on top. "Because" by The Beatles played on the radio. I sang along. The almost three-minute song was a sigh of relief that seemed to last forever. I didn't need to worry. Everything was fine.

I called for Sheila to come down once I finished breakfast. When she didn't, that same rising anxiety crept back. What, impossible. It was all just a bad dream. She's up there. You saw her yourself.

I laughed, thinking she was probably nursing a sambuca-induced hangover. While I didn't condone it, I was happy to know that my girl was growing into a woman.

After serving myself, I sat down on the sofa and flipped on Sportscenter. Thank god it was Saturday. Work was the last thing anyone needed after last night. I was about to dig in when I realized I forgot my fork.

I got up, went to the drawer in the dining room, and opened the top shelf. That's when I saw the bloody dishcloth on top of the knifedock.


I rushed upstairs with the rag in hand and burst through Sheila's door. She wasn't there. Not in the bathroom, the backyard, anywhere. It was like she vanished.

I called her phone. Immediately I heard the "Hey'ya!" she started her voicemails with. Again I called her. And again. Five more times, each of them yielding the same result. Pacing around the living room I was ready to breakdown in tears. Then the doorbell rang.

I paused. My body went numb. I opened the front door and saw the last person I wanted to see: Jarrett, Sheila's boyfriend.

"Um hey Mr. Parker, I-I mean sir," he said. "She forgot this last night."

He held Sheila's jacket, which looked more like a jean napkin in his hands. Pinned onto the jacket were pro-communism buttons—Fuck the Fucked Up Capitalists! Down with Oppression! one of them said.

GuiltWhere stories live. Discover now