Lies, Loss, and Justice
A Two Page Love Story by G. Z. Kieft
I don’t suppose there’s any real truth to the stories they tell you as a kid: I mean, there’s no Santa, no tooth fairy, no monsters under your bed and broccoli doesn’t taste good. They’re all lies, ergo, our parents are liars. So what do we do, now that we are grown adults and we have the same responsibility to lie to our kids about the world? What kind of bullshit do I make up for no explainable reason? The answer? Every single piece of bullshit ever.
My daughter, Lilith, is tucked in under the blankets and her little mouth stretches as wide as it can under the pressure of a yawn. She has bright green eyes, like emeralds, and she looks at me with that sleepy daze of trust you notice in little puppies and kittens. Her blonde hair is sprawled out over the pillow like a wild, golden octopus, and I push the remaining strands from her cheek back and tuck them behind her little ears. I’m sitting next to her tiny little body in my work clothes, endeared to be in her presence. But this particular instance wasn’t like the other nights I put Lilith to bed. She seemed to be preoccupied and bothered by something.
“You okay?” I ask her.
She looks me right in the eyes, fearless. She contemplates the way only a kid can, with her lips pursed to the side and her tender complexion strewn with compassionate concern for her father. Then, deciding on something, she sighs with heavy burden.
“Dad,” She says, very grown-up like. “You don’t know where mother is.”
Somehow I knew this was coming. I raise my eyebrow and grin uncomfortably. “Why do you think that?” I ask.
“You always tell me something different every night, and honestly, it just doesn’t add up.”
I could tell how difficult it was for her to confront me about this. She wanted the truth, not another fairytale.
“All right,” I nod. “All right, you got me.”
Lilith seems shocked by my confirmation of her suspicion. “Where is she?”
“You want the truth right? The honest truth, every little detail?”
“Yes.” Lilith eagerly sits upright. “Yes, please.”
All right. A long time ago, in a little town far away from here called New York, your mom was a barten… or rather, a princess in a little pub downtown. She was very popular amongst the men there, and every prince and king came from all over the world to ask for her hand in marriage. But your mom, Camilla, she refused every single man. You know why? Because she was taken; by yours truly. I had proposed to her with some crappy, thrift shop… I mean, with a beautiful eight-carat diamond ring, which I had found in the high cliffs of northern Russia during a mining excavation. We were very happy together. The only thing: there was an evil witch who controlled a small part of Camilla’s brain. She was born like that, and sometimes, during really rough days, Camilla would lose control and the evil witch would take over, and Camilla would do something mean or foolish. But it didn’t matter; because when I was around I was always able to help her regain control. One day, I came to the bar in New York after my job, which was to slay dragons, and I surprised Camilla. Little did I know, she had an even bigger surprise for me: she was pregnant! With you, no less: the brightest, most beautiful angel ever. Your mom and I celebrated that night on the rooftop of my castle, cuddled up under a blanket and watching the dim lights of the stars. Nine months later, you entered our life and your mom quit her job as princess and began working from home as an online sales consultant – her dream job! We moved away from New York Town and came here, instead, to raise you peacefully. But a few months later, I came home from my job as dragon slayer, only to find that your mother was missing, and so were you! I was really scared at that point. I called upon my knights at the police station to help me find you, and I discovered the king of the knights had kidnapped both of you! My very own king, betrayed me! I flew to this evil king’s castle upon the back of an eagle, and when I arrived I was met with reporters, hundreds of them! Their magic flash powers were intended to blind me, but with my sword I cut through them all and arrived at the entrance of the castle, where a giant statue with a scale stood. Her name was Justice, but she wasn’t really justice, only pretending to be. I fought justice for thirteen months, but every time I cut off one of her arms, more lawyers came along, and with their magic, they regrew her limbs. The fight was hopeless, and after thirteen months, I was bloodied and defeated. It seemed I had lost to the Justice system, and I would never, ever steal you and Camilla back. But just when I thought I had lost all hope, one lawyer turned on his kind and joined my side, driven by compassion and understanding. He helped me recover and continued the fight. See, because your mother was struggling with mind control from the evil witch, many times she couldn’t quite think straight. Usually she was the most peaceful, beautiful woman, but the witch switched her button and in this particular instance, Camilla accidentally hurt another person really badly. So the evil king, in fear of the evil witch, locked up Camilla in a white prison to be with other people under the mind control of the witch. And unfortunately, killing dragons didn’t give me enough money to take care of you alone, so the evil king thought he had to take you and take care of you by kidnapping you from me. But with the lawyer at my side (and a new job as an assistant at the lawyer’s law firm) I was able to incapacitate Justice long enough to sneak into the castle. I found you, just a little bundle barely a year old, and I was able to steal you back.
“So…” Lilith mumbles. “Mom is locked up?”
I nod, fighting the burning sensation in my eyes as tears struggle to trickle down my cheek.
“I miss her too.” Lilith nods, slipping out of her blanket and clambering on top of my lap. I wrap my arms around her and squeeze her familiar, small body.
“I miss her so much.” I whisper into her hair. My shoulders shake over her, and her tiny hands grip my shirt tightly. “I miss her so much Lilith.”
“I know.” She comforts. “Me too.”
We participate in a long span of silence before Lilith breaks it again.
“Why did you lie to me before?”
I wipe my wet face with my sleeves, avoiding her gaze. “Camilla begged me never to tell you. To never tell you the truth.”
“Why?” Lilith asks.
“She was embarrassed. She feels like her mind control is her fault.”
I wait, my hands trembling as I try to stabilize them on my lap. It’s been six years since Lilith was able to hold her mother the way she holds me.
“You know, Lil.” I said, pre-emptively nodding. “We can visit her.”