“How long until dinner, Mom?” Ava asked as she ran up to the kitchen bench where her mother was chopping onions. “Perhaps … twenty minutes,” Mrs Hayes estimated. Barely being tall enough to see over the counter, Ava sighed with disappointment at her mother’s answer, but off she ran out of the kitchen, down the gloomy hallway and out the back door. Daylight savings was at its peak, and the sun was burnt orange that afternoon as it shone over the acres of the Hayes’ farm.
Ava ran to the forest, pretending to be a secret-spy-agent. Using a rock as her walky-talky she jumped from tree log to tree log. ‘’Only eight years old but already a professional FBI agent,’’ Ava thought to herself. The sun began to sink faster and faster, the dark orange in the sky was disappearing, leaving only shadow. The trees began to look like monsters, their shadows chasing Ava. She began to question her spy abilities as she became more fearful of the darkness of the forest. She had lost track of time but guessed that twenty minutes must have passed a while ago. “Mission complete, over and out.” Ava loudly whispered into her makeshift walky-talky. She threw her rock behind her and skipped along on her way back inside. The shadows of the trees looming over her began to scare her. Her father always told her to look at the colorful sky instead of the shadows, so Ava did just that. The sky was a beautiful orange and pink colour, with small, fluffy clouds tinged with purple. The atmosphere was still, and the air’s soft fragrance was sweet with sap and nature.
No more than twenty meters away from the sandstone family home, Ava noticed something out of the corner of her eye to the left. Breaking the silent sound of trees swaying, there was sobbing, and quiet wailing. Ava turned to her left in fearful astonishment.
“Dad?” Thomas Hayes was oddly standing still next to a large fallen tree; his body violently quivering, gasping as he sobbed, tears streaming down his face and a small string of saliva falling on his chin. His shirt was stained with sweat around his chest and collar. Ava had never seen her dad cry like this before, let alone sobbing and shaking. “Dad? Dad, what’s the matter?” Ava asked, her father finally noticing his
daughter looking at him. His jaw began to widen, as though he was about to say something. Ava noticed his right arm shaking more violently than the rest of his body. She looked down at his hand, confused by what she saw. “Dad? I thought your gun was only used in emergencies,” Ava said as calmly as she could.
A dreadful silence lasted between the two, Ava never having seen such a sight and Nathan Hayes in a terrible state. “Mom said dinner’s ready.” Ava said, breaking the silence. Her father’s shoulders slightly slumped, the shaking softening. “I’m sorry.” He raised his right hand quickly to his head. BANG.