Anne laughed and patted dirt down around the flower that she had just finished planting in the ground. “Daddy, look!” She proudly showed him the crooked row of flowers she had planted.
Robert looked at his daughter’s rows of flowers and smiled. “They’re beautiful Anne.” He went back to planting rows of orange lilies, keeping an eye on her as they worked on the garden. As the sun began to set, Robert eyed the horizon. “Anne, sweetie, it’s time to go inside. Mom will be home soon, and you don’t want to be covered in dirt when she gets home. Go in and wash up, I’ll be inside in a few minutes.”
“Okay Daddy!” Anne bounced to her feet and brushed the dirt from her hands and knees, and stood admiring her work for a moment. Her four alternating rows of pink tulips and white daisies were crooked, obviously planted by an inexperienced gardener. She hugged her dad, and then ran into the house.
Robert smiled as he picked up the shovels, trowels, gloves, and other miscellaneous gardening tools that were scattered in the dirt of the newly planted garden. He carried them to the shed and stepped into the darkness inside. He breathed in the scents of dirt, fertilizer, and paint that hung in the air as he put the tools in their places, setting them in totes or on shelves. A chill ran down his back and he turned to scan the inside of the shed. Not seeing anything, he shrugged and went back outside. Robert heard a twig snap off to his right and he turned, frowning. “Anne?”
Mick stepped out of the trees, a shovel in his hands. “I’m not your precious daughter, Robert. Actually, I’m not my precious daughter.” He raised his shovel, his eyes glinting angrily. “Good-bye, Robert.” He brought the shovel down, its edge biting into the flesh on Robert’s head and splitting it wide open. Blood poured out of the gash and covered the ground, coating the grass in the slick, dark red liquid. Robert collapsed to the ground, his eyes slowly going out of focus as the light left them and his life poured from his head wound. Mick watched him silently, shovel still in hand.
“Daddy! NO!” Anne’s anguished cry pierced the twilight as she stood in the doorway, framed by the light behind her and looking terrified. She looked at Mick and their eyes met for an instant. She backed up, going back inside, and slammed and locked the door. She ran into the kitchen and grabbed the phone, frantically dialing 9-1-1. Anne felt tears spilling out of her eyes and running down her cheeks as she waited for someone to pick up the phone, and her nose felt warm, like it did when it was running from crying. She jumped as someone began pounding on the door and windows, and clutched the phone tighter.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” The voice on the phone was female, soothing, and calm.
“Some guy just hit my daddy in the head with a shovel! Come quick, please!” Anne was doing her best to keep her voice steady, but she was sure the operator could hear the tears in her voice. There was some more beating on the door and Anne heard a deep male voice shouting her name, causing her to shrink back into the counter she was standing next to. “The guy is still here!”
“What’s your address?” The voice was still calm, and the calmness was starting to get on Anne’s nerves.
“4200 Applegoat Lane. Please, hurry!” Anne’s vision swam as her eyes filled with tears again, and she clutched the phone more tightly.
“An ambulance and police car are on their way. What’s your name?” Anne finally detected a hint of humanness in the voice.
“Anne. How long until they get here? He’s trying to beat the door down!” Anne’s voice was starting to reveal her hysteria, and she took a deep breath to calm herself down.
“They’re on their way, Anne. They should be there shortly. It’s going to be okay sweetie.” Anne started sobbing harder when the lady used her father’s nickname for her. “Anne? It’s going to be oka-“
“No it’s not! My dad is dead, and his killer is trying to beat the door down to kill me too! How is it going to be okay?!” Anne slumped back against the counter, sitting on the floor now.
The line was silent for a moment, and then Anne heard a sigh. “You’re right, Anne. You are going to be safe though. The police won’t let him hurt you.”
Anne sniffled and wiped her nose on the sleeve of her shirt. “O-Okay.” She fell quiet, not really listening to the voice that was still talking to her through the phone. She looked up as she heard the sirens in the distance, growing closer. The next moment, the pounding on the door stopped, and Anne breathed a small sigh of relief. “The police are here. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome Anne. Good luck.” Anne heard a click, then a dial tone through the phone. She hung the phone up and stayed huddled by the counter on the floor, listening to the police and ambulance pull up outside and park in the driveway.
“Police! Open the door!”
Anne jumped to her feet and ran to open the door for them. She unlocked and opened it, then stood uncertainly out of the way. One of the officers shouted something, and a bunch of police ran into the house, guns drawn. Anne started to back up, but the policeman who had shouted held his hand out to her. “What’s your name kiddo?”
“Anne.” She timidly took his hand, feeling dazed from everything that had happened.
“Come with me Anne. You’re safe now. I’m Officer Murray.” He gave her a warm smile and led her back to his police car, putting her in the back seat. “You stay here. I’ll be back in a little while.” Officer Murray gave her another smile, shut the door, and went over to join the group of people that were surrounding Robert’s body over on the grass.