Daphne: Queen Of The Clouds

Daphne: Queen Of The Clouds

A Story by The Tudor Rose
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Fooled by love, a grown man decides being "good" just doesn't cut it anymore. Until he meets a hopeful little girl who's been life's pawn her whole life does he finally see clearly.

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There are people in this world that you never forget. There are the ones that betray you, the ones whose murder you spend years planning, and then there are the people who change your entire life. I‘d always thought the last category was made up for weaker people to create hope. Until I met Daphne. Who knew someone like Daphne could teach me how to become a man again?
            Before Murphy’s Law became present in my life, I used to be a good guy. The epitome of ‘good guy’. I was one of the best agents for the FBI. I was admired and immortalized by my colleagues. But I was taught the only honorable livelihood came from working hard and honestly? I really didn’t work that hard. I just read the profiler’s report and from there things just started clicking into place. I’d always been good at reading people. My Achilles Heel, however was that I wasn’t so hot at reading people close to me.
            That was the case with Jackie and I. We’d been dating for two and a half years before I proposed. When I was with her, there’d always been that buzzing sexual energy between us. My mistake was mistaking that overwhelming lust for love and was completely blind to all her flaws. So you can imagine my surprise when I came home one night and saw Jackie sitting in the dark living room on the floor in fetal position whispering frantically to a bundle in her arms. And then I heard the distinctive “bahh” come from the bundle.
            With most crazies, I could immediately identify and anticipate their next moves. I have to give Jackie credit, she hid her psychopathy and her past extremely well. In our three years of being together, I never suspected she was still in love with her ex. I never even thought that when she somehow heard he and his new wife just had a baby that she would kidnap the kid and claim it as hers.
            I heard the sirens coming two seconds before she did. Scrambling to get to her feet, she came at me. Her eyes were wide and frantic. Her mascara had smeared and dried on her neck from the tears.
            “Ethan!” You’ve got to help me! They’re going to take my baby!”
            And without needing further explanation, I did.
            The police report later described the scene as:
Male Suspect standing in living room alone holding victim.
* * * * *
            It felt like I spent forever in the cold gray box that seemed to suck all life from its inhabitants. The days I spent there, like the cell walls, were dull and gray. I remember thinking I didn’t belong there. That I hadn’t done anything nearly as heinous as the rapists, murderers and pedophiles I cohabitated with had done. But everyday the other inmates mocked my chivalry.
            “You took da’ blame? Fo’ a woman?
            “What, could she suck the nails out of steel?”
            “What kinda man are you?”
            Each day my optimism, hope, and everything that made me “good” took a beating. It was like I was born into a new reality. One where I finally realized the full extent of my so called chivalry. What had I done? How could I actually buy into that love bullshit? I truly was just as sick as my cellmates, especially when I realized Jackie probably could have sucked the nails out of steel. I deserved to rot in hell, be dipped in a vat of c**t, and sent back. What benefits came from being good and faithful? Allowing yourself to settle down like that and “love” blinded people. All those concepts like “trust” and opening your heart to others was BS.
            My self esteem as well as my body took a serious beat down for eleven years until I got off on parole with 300 hours of community service. My parole officer, who was strangely empathetic, suggested I look into a big brother program. He made all the arrangements and before I knew it, I was sitting at one of those kiddie tables on the floor. The little girl whom I’d been assigned to as big brother was silent, staring at me with big curious celestial blue eyes. They were the first thing I noticed on her round plump face. They were so trusting and open; everything I’d learned to despise.
            “So uh…I’m Ethan.” I said gruffly, not letting those eyes trick me into softening up. But she didn’t respond. Instead she grabbed a crayon and wrote something on a pad of paper and passed it to me.
            I’m Daphne.
            “What, you don’t talk?” I asked her without a trace of humor.
            She took the pad back and wrote something else.
            No.
            I rubbed my hand over my face and sighed. “Look, little girl. I don’t like playing games. Either you start talking right now, or I’m leaving.” She frowned and went for the pad again. I let out another sigh and started to get up. Just as I got to my knees, a cold little hand encircled around my elbow. She mouthed the words “don’t go” and handed me the pad.
            i CAN’T talk.
            I sat back down and slowly met her wide eyes. “Why can’t you talk?” I asked as one of the nurses or caretakers walked by. She leaned down next to me and was all smiles, as if she knew no other emotion. Huge red flag in my book.
            “Oh, Daphne’s a special case, aren’t you sweetie?” Her voice dripped of honey. Another red flag. Daphne’s eyes squinted and the corner of her mouth twitch a bit, telling me that this woman was not someone she trusted, but disliked and maybe even feared. But the thing that got to me was that the look of innocence I was looking into a moment ago was nowhere to be found. It was enough to make me instantly hate this woman who leaned so close to me I could smell the popcorn she just had.
            “What exactly do you mean by special?” the gruff back in my voice.
            “Well, you see,” she sat down next to me and cast a fake sympathetic glance on Daphne. “Daphne was born mute. She’s never spoken a single word in her life. So we gave her her own special writing pad so she can communicate with the rest of the staff.”
            I looked at Daphne, who was still staring at the woman as if she’d kicked a pregnant lady in the stomach. I don’t know what happened exactly between Daphne and this woman, but the fact that we shared some semblance of the same emotion, sobered me a bit. One more of my defensive walls against this little girl had fallen.        
            “Anything else I should know?”
            The woman opened her mouth to say something but looked at Daphne, who shook her head. The woman raised an eyebrow but let it go and moved on to the next couple. I didn’t worry too much about what Daphne didn’t want me to know. Knowing that lady, it might have been something as insignificant as bedwetting.
            Do you like to draw?
            “Uh, I’ve never been that good at drawing, but if you want to, I’ll watch you.”
            It’s no fun watching somebody draw.
            I laughed at how quickly she caught on to my passive answer that works on most kids her age. So I grabbed a crayon and drew a crooked square, attempting to draw a house. I redrew it several times, but it never improved. I eventually gave up, embarrassed that I couldn’t do something as simple as draw a freaking square right. I covered my paper and doodled.
            I looked over at Daphne’s drawing and saw vivid swirls of crayon. They were precise going in different directions and in all different colors like blue, gray, green, yellow, and black. I couldn’t tell what it was at first. It was just…mesmerizing and hard to explain. I couldn’t fathom that something like it actually came out of an 6 year old’s mind. It was like smoke…if smoke were peaceful and inviting. Her hands moved in slow gentle strokes, like a handicapped person learning to write again. Her eyes seemed to swirl silver themselves as she focused on every detail.
            “What did…” I cleared my throat then started over without the jealous edge in my voice. “What’s that supposed to be?” 
            She looked at me and blinked a few times, as if coming back to reality. Her eyes refocused and gazed at her art as her tiny pale fingers smoothed the edges of the paper. She cocked her head to the side and gave a tiny satisfied smile. I took in every aspect of her expression just then. I couldn’t help it. There was something about women who looked so delicate that I just couldn’t resist. She grabbed her pad and trusty crayon.
            Clouds. Like the ones in palace.
            “A palace? In the clouds? Where did that come from?”
            In the sky, I’ll be with my mommy and daddy. And no one can be mean to be because I’m the queen and I’d kick them out. And no one would force me to take icky pills. And I wouldn’t hurt anymore. Life is better in the clouds.
            It was disturbing how solemn her eyes were. She was serious. Dead serious, yet she was still looking forward to this serene death she described. I wanted to ask her more but my parole officer had arrived for me by then. My questions would have to wait for another week.
* * * * *
            The minute Daphne and I laid eyes on each other, she came running towards me. It was weak run and she had a bit of a limp on her left side, but when she reached me, she wrapped her arms around my thighs, laid her head against my hip and hugged me tightly. I didn’t know where it came from, but I automatically wrapped my arms around her head and hugged her back. She released me and pulled my hand towards a table. She grabbed her writing pad and wrote in big letters,
            I missed you.
            I couldn’t help but smile. “Really?”
            Yes. You’re the only person who talks to me and asks me questions.
            “Well, I missed you too, kiddo.” I said as I tucked a stray piece of her curly red hair behind her ear.
            Whoa. What just happened there? When did we get all chummy with each other? She smiled at me just then and I realized I really didn’t care. She was the picture of authenticity. Every smile, every glance was real, not practiced or fake, and I still didn’t know much about her yet.
            We were smiling like fools when the nurse from last week walked up to our table with a little cup filled to the brim with pills.
            “Daphne. It’s time for your medication.”
            “Medication?” I looked back and forth between the nurse and Daphne. “What does she need medication for?”
            The nurse looked at Daphne expectantly and Daphne hesitantly nodded. “In addition to her other condition, Daphne was also born HIV+. It became full-blown AIDS about 2 years ago and she’s been taking more and more medication since. Her condition’s worsening though, we don’t think she’ll be around much longer.” This time her voice was completely naked and I could hear the venom and blatant lack of concern.
            “Hey! There’s nothing wrong with her ears, she can still hear you.” I nearly shrieked at her. She just shrugged it off, set down the pills and left. I stared at them for long time. AIDS. She had AIDS. She was born with AIDS.
            I guess when you’re in prison, nothing is yours for long and I guess I missed having something or someone to care about. That’s the only way I can describe my attachment to this little girl. The attachment was the only reason I could come up with for why I growled in frustration and slammed my fist into the table, causing it to crack.
            The room was suddenly silent and my hand was swelling. Daphne took my uninjured hand, as well as her writing pad and crayon, and led me to the infirmary. Once I was iced, Daphne laid her pad on my lap.
            Are you mad at me?
            “Of course not. I mad at that nurse. And your parents.” She raised a questioning eyebrow. “You were born with the virus. They gave it to you. They might as well have handed you a death certificate before the birth certificate.”my voice was cracking and I was fighting back tears but d****t, my heart was breaking.
            People are supposed to make mistakes. That’s why we get to make so many of them before we do something right. And you have to know that even though people let you down sometimes, there will be times and other people who won’t. You have to go with your heart sometimes.
            I sat there blinking at her. “How do you know all this?”
            With a huge smile and a shrug, I just do.
            And that was enough.
* * * * *
            I saw Daphne every week for the next year, even after my hours were done. I learned so much just by being with her and watching her. My heart had reopened and all of sudden, I remembered what trust and love truly meant.
            I was there holding her hand as she made her way up to her big palace in the sky.
           
            All hail Daphne, Queen of The Clouds.
 

© 2009 The Tudor Rose


Author's Note

The Tudor Rose
I rushed the ending, because I knew the structure I wanted the ending to take, but I didn't know how I wanted to do it and I was running out of time.
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Featured Review

This was a really touching write and Daphne was a wonderfully unforgettable character. Her wisdom and strength were that of someone way beyond her years and I love that the main character knew how special she was. Very good job on your part, this evokes a lot of emotion from me (which is a considerable feat, trust me)

Lovely work! :)

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This was a really touching write and Daphne was a wonderfully unforgettable character. Her wisdom and strength were that of someone way beyond her years and I love that the main character knew how special she was. Very good job on your part, this evokes a lot of emotion from me (which is a considerable feat, trust me)

Lovely work! :)

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 15, 2009

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The Tudor Rose
The Tudor Rose

Los Angeles, CA



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er um...i like history, like centuries-ago-history (see my name). I started writing seriously in 3rd grade, if you can call Writer's Workshop serious, but I *did* take it more seriously than my classm.. more..

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