Ten years ago...
“Taylor, come on, hurry up!” My dad called from downstairs. "We have a reservation at seven."
"I'm almost ready, Daddy!'' I replied. "I wanna look good for you and Mommy."
"I'm sure whatever you have on looks wonderful." called my mom. "And please stay out of my makeup!"
Caught red-handed, I quietly closed her lipstick tube.
Grinning at myself in the mirror, I grabbed my pocketbook and scrambled downstairs.
“You look great, kiddo!” My dad said, grabbing my hand. “Come on, let’s go.”
“I’m so proud of you, Daddy! You got that promtion!
“Promotion, dear.” Mommy said. “You forgot the o in the middle.”
“Still!” I cried. “Daddy works so hard to get us yummy food!”
“He does, darling. He really does.” My mom laughed as we went into the garage, where our car was waiting.
I fastened my seatbelt as my parents climbed inside the car, opening the garage door.
“I’m so excited, Mommy and Daddy! My classmates will be so jealous that I went to a fancy restaurant!”
“We’re glad.” My dad chuckled. “And we’re off!”
I giggled, bouncing in my seat. My father turned on the engine, and we started to drive.
My mom played with the radio, her red nails tapping against the knobs. “Oh, Eric! It’s your favorite song!” She cried as she turned a knob.
“You’re right, it is!” He responded as the song filled the car. “Taylor, you remember this song, do you?”
“Do I!” I chirped, beginning to sing along with my parents.
My dad turned around, patting my knee as we belted out the lyrics.
“Eric! Look out!” My mom screamed.
My dad slammed his foot on the brakes, but it was too late. They both went flying into the front. My mother’s head slammed into the dashboard, and my dad hit the steering wheel.
I yanked off my seatbelt and lurched forward. “Mommy! Daddy! Wake up! No!”
I touched my mother’s face. Her hazel eyes, eyes that matched mine, were blank and unseeing. My dad moved his head slightly to me.
“Taylor…” he whispered.
“Daddy! What’s wrong? Are you sick?”
“No, honey. I’m dying.”
“But dying is bad! You can’t die! I need you!”
“Is Mommy dying, too?”
“She’s already dead, honey.”
“Taylor, listen to me. I don’t have much time. I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wanted for you to have a normal life. But I guess time’s up.”
“Daddy…” I whispered, tears streaming down my face.
“Don’t trust the men in the black suits, honey. They are very bad people. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, I do!”
“Please, don’t do anything stupid. Don’t be reckless like your mother. If you’re going to do something, think first. Be brave. I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
“Daddy, please, we can save you—”
“We can’t. They’ve found us. Get out of the car and run, Taylor.”
Sirens screeched in the distance. Shouts and footsteps sounded outside.
“I’m not leaving you! I want to stay with you, Daddy. I want to be here for you.”
A tear escaped his eye. “You’re so much like your mother. Alright, stay.”
“Someone call an ambulance! The driver is still alive!” A woman’s voice called from outside.
“I love you, Daddy.” I whispered.
“Love you too, kiddo. Stay safe. Remember what I told you. Make me proud.”
I nodded, grabbing his hand.
The car door opened. “She’s alive!” An EMT called. “Get the stretcher!”
“No! I’m not leaving my daddy!” I screamed at him.
“Your daddy is gone, kid.” One of the EMTs said. “I’m sorry.”
“NO!” I screamed as the men pulled me out of the car. “I want to stay with my daddy! No! Please! Don’t just leave him there!”
Still kicking and screaming, the men fastened me to a stretcher.
"Please! Don't leave my daddy! What are you saving me for?!" I shouted at them.
“Oh, Taylor.” One of the men smiled at me, making my skin crawl. “Did you really think that that was an accident?”
I stared at him in horror as his uniform began to morph into a black suit. “Taylor O’Connor.” He purred. “We’ve been waiting for you.”