"Daddy, can I go play out in the rain?"
Matthew looked up from his desk to see his daughter, Madison, already dressed in a red raincoat and blue boots, and overflowing with excitement. It hadn't rained in a number of weeks, and it had been longer since there was an opportunity to dance in it. Her enthusiasm combined with her outfit made it near impossible for Matthew to say no, and he was one to appreciate play and adventure. He strived to maintain a creative imagination, and hoped the same for his only daughter.
"Okay," Matthew said with a smile. "You're welcome to, but stay close to the house. If I think for one minute that you've gone far, I'm coming out after you. Don't be out too long." Madison was seven years old, and had played outside many times before in her life. The rain wouldn't bring any danger into the situation.
"Thank you!" his daughter spoke with a quick breath. She ran to the door immediately after the response. Matthew trusted his daughter, but a large part of him was still paranoid of her safety. Though he didn't want to be an overly restrictive parent, his memories often claimed many of his decisions.
"Madison!" Matthew called down the hall. He was a bit relieved when he heard footsteps coming back towards his office.
"Yes daddy?" Madison said as she peeked through the door.
"You remember the rule, right?" Madison made a brief sigh from the question.
"Yes daddy," she said. "Always stay away from the lake. Why do you always say that, daddy?"
"Because the lake can be unsafe, and I said so. Now go on and enjoy the rain." He smiled at her again, and she gave him a delighted smile back. He always made sure she knew, even if it had already been said hours before. Thoughts of moving away from the lake had crossed his mind, but he didn't want to put that change on his daughter so soon in her life.
Madison's mother had a passion for swimming. At one point in her life, she even began to train herself for competitions. She even swam while she was pregnant, which was alarming at first, but Matthew learned to let her be free with the water. He thought it was so beautiful, how the water seemed to complete her. It was as if she belonged in it, and that she was born to wander waters with her graceful, majestic form.
When looking at her in the water, Matthew also considered how lucky he had been to have such a woman love him. He had known her from high school, and she had been regarded as a real looker since her freshmen year. She turned down many other men throughout her life, in which some of course grew angry. He had spent nearly his entire high school years gathering the courage to ask her on a date. Whether it was his polite, calm personality, his face, or perhaps his unknown attractiveness, she accepted and stayed with him for a number of years. Speed a few years later, and they married, and gave birth to Madison.
Only weeks after Madison was born, Matthew's wife went for an evening swim, which she enjoyed especially. After years of watching her experience, Matthew had no worries of her safety, to where she would swim for hours and no concern would pass his mind. During that night, his wife never returned. He searched every shore of Sebago Lake, and numerous police searches were engaged across the water. She was never found. It was of course suspected that she had drowned during the night, and her body was buried or covered on a shore. Though she was confirmed dead after two weeks with no findings, Matthew was still struck with an unfathomable shock from the result.
For years, Matthew denied the idea that his wife had drowned. He didn't find it possible, with her being the swimmer that she was. She knew how to be safe, day or night, and what to do when danger would arise in the water. As time passed without answers, he accepted that the risk was always there, and that death could come to even the most experienced in an act.
Matthew reclined at his desk, once again trying to write and think at the same time. It yielded few results, though he always thought about his daughter when she would play outside. He sensed that at some year in the future, she would begin to take up her mother's passion. He wouldn't be able to stop it, but when the day arrives, it would surely terrify him. Madison was the only living image he had left of his wife, and he would be damned to let her suffer the same fate.
As Matthew thought about his daughter, something faint in his mind sounded, like an approaching ambulance from the road. He couldn't shake a growing paranoia building in his body. He began to shake, at the same time telling himself to relax. When his anxiety was almost about to subside, he jumped to his feet and ran to the door.
It was still raining when he swung open the door and ran outside. It was falling a bit harder than he remembered it in the morning, though it wasn't a major downpour to begin with. He had taken no time to put on a coat beforehand, so his gray shirt began to go darker as the rain soaked into it. Madison wasn't in front of the house, though it would've been possible for her to be in the backyard. The idea didn't come into his mind, as he only ran straight down the trail that led to the cove.
When Matthew had arrived at the shore, he found Madison just where he thought in his mind. She was on the beach, dragging a stick into the softened, wet sand. The small waves of the lake brushed against her boots.
Madison turned and looked back at him, with a look of surprise and fear that made him feel partially guilty of coming for her. She stepped away from the beach the moment she saw him. Matthew looked at her in relief for a moment, only thankful that his everyday fear was still just imagination. After he cherished the false alarm, he approached and grabbed her by the arm. As he was pulling her away, she followed, and began a barrage of apologies. She attempted to rationalize by saying that she was only walking on the shore, and wasn't too close to the water. Matthew didn't listen, as playing in his mind what could've happened made him tighten his hold on his daughter. He didn't speak again to her until they were back inside their home.
"What have I told you constantly not to do?!" Matthew shouted the moment the door closed.
"I'm sorry daddy. I just wanted to see something, and I just stayed." Tears began to stream down Madison's face, though they were invisible when combined with the drops of rain in her hood. "I promise I will listen! I saw the smooth pale rocks on the beach again, and I just wanted to see them."
Matthew halted his shouts, and stared down at his daughter. He repeated her words in his mind, over and over, until the image almost appeared in front of his eyes. He knew he wouldn't be able stop himself from investigating the claim.
"Stay here, and don't move from your room. If I see you outside it when I'm back, you'll be punished." He didn't know what punishment he would administer, but he spoke in a stern tone that he knew she would follow.
Matthew sprinted back to the same beach, and began to step slowly as his feet stood on the sand. He gazed around for a minute, until he found what his daughter spoke of: There were two, bright pale colored rocks, protruding from the wet sand. He had a strong feeling of what was below them, though he was reluctant to prove his speculations correct. Every raindrop began to feel more cold as he moved forward towards the rocks.
The rocks appeared smoother as Matthew approached. To his surprise, a rusted, washed up shovel was rested on the rocks near the beach, which he would painfully put to use. He thrusted the shovel into the sand, in which it was stopped no more than two inches in. With the first toss of dirt, he uncovered the rest of a leg. He began to cry, and was struck back. The pale rocks that his daughter had discovered were the top of the knees.
With another dig he uncovered the lower torso. He saw the bottom half of the body's swimsuit, in which he was now sure it was his wife. After years, he still remembered the last outfit she wore. After all, it was the last sight he had of her life, so it was bound to stay with him forever.
He was about to uncover the face (which he feared seeing most), though he stopped once he uncovered the neck and upper torso. An abrupt object disturbed the smoothness of his wife's skin. At the sight, he fell backwards, and had to sustain himself from vomiting across the sand.
Extending from his wife's neck was a large razor. There was a clear cut across her entire throat. Even while the neck stood uncovered, blood slowly flowed from the open slit. Carved into her lower neck and chest were small, jagged hearts, red from the scars of the blade. Other cuts were sprawled around her stomach, forming an array of lacerations that were stained with dirt and mud. The work appeared to have been done frantically, and the inconsistent cut of the throat suggested a struggle.
He could have stood petrified on the beach for hours, as he was waiting for a moment in which he would awake from a nightmare. However, he thought of his daughter, who was still alone in his home, left unguarded in her room.
Matthew turned from the beach and began to jet home. He threw down the shovel, knowing that disgusting, inhuman hands had touched it long before.
Written by Emeryy