There are moments you never forget. The first time you tasted alcohol. The first time you vomited from alcohol. Losing your virginity. The day you get married. And the day your child is born into the world. A cliché in itself, albeit true, does suffice to say there isn’t anything more important at that very moment. Looking into his almond black eyes and mostly bald head reminded me of the brevity of life. I held my wife’s hand as she gazed upon the two of us as we all finally made our acquaintances for the first time. Our infant didn’t cry; it was calm and if another word had to be conjured—delighted. I grinned and let my wife cradle the pinnacle of our life now. We read all the books we could, took baby classes, and I even got back into shape so that I could be a healthy father for my child. But all of those certainties distorted an already compromised reality that we are actually responsible for another human being. It felt humble and empowering. I’d never let anything come to harm Parker or my wife Belinda. We were the happiest and perfect family. Were.
It’s a well-known idiom that the eyes reveal true intentions and thoughts; therefore, it can calculate behavior to an extent. We lived three blissful years with Parker. He was our joy, but I’m not so sure we were his. He rarely smiled and reacted to the things the way other children his age would. We didn’t find it alarming or any reason to see a psychiatrist. At first. When Parker was four, he found his way into the kitchen cabinet—where the matches and lighters were—and lit part of the living room on fire. He laughed and thought it was a game. I extinguished the fire and hid the matches and lighters in a much more secure location. An isolated incident, we thought. When Parker was five years old, his bedroom began to smell like a butchery. We found the source: a pile of small mutilated animals underneath his bed. They varied from rodents to even a small kitten. Each of them was dissected and decimated, almost beyond recognition. We still loved Parker through the odd behavior. It was at that point we decided we should seek professional help. We found a local child psychiatrist who specialized in sociopathy and autism—as the two can easily be confused by default.
Our appointment was scheduled for a Thursday afternoon. I had to take time off from work to be there with my wife and Parker. It was recommended we both be present; the psychiatrist Dr. Hudson had said over the phone. I was going to be there to support my family, regardless. Our name was called, but Dr. Hudson wanted to talk to Parker alone first. Then we could come in. We waited in the lobby for almost twenty minutes before they both came out, and the look on Dr. Hudson’s face was one I wasn’t quite familiar with, but it disturbed me.
“Parker is a fine young boy,” Dr. Hudson started.
“But?” I interjected.
“Shh,” Belinda patted me on the leg.
“He has some quips about him, which—”
“Will you let the doctor finish?” Belinda silenced me again. Tension had been running high ever since we discovered the cemetery of small animals underneath Parker’s bed.
“Parker, why don’t you go play with the toys in the chest?” Dr. Hudson urged Parker.
Parker glared with no expression, got up from his seat, and left to the toy chest.
“Parker would be considered a psychopath if he were eighteen,” Dr. Hudson whispered.
“W-what?” Belinda stated more so than asked.
“He’s displayed many signs of psychopathy, and it will take several years of psychotherapy and medications to help him adjust to live a successful life,” Dr. Hudson said nonchalantly, as though this was news he breaks to parents every day. And maybe he did.
“T-that—that…are you sure?” Belinda asked in bewilderment, keeping her voice low as to not alarm Parker who found building blocks to entertain himself.
“I can’t be certain. Several diagnostics would be required for me to make such a diagnosis, but I’m certain there is a discrepancy in his childhood development.”
I sat quietly, looking at Parker. He was stacking the blocks as any other normal child would do. But not all of them would cut the heads off mice and store them beneath their sleeping quarters. I love Parker and would give him the world and more. But I wondered if it were possible for Parker to love us back that way. Or even at all. His bleak, black eyes always sank into my mind when I’d sleep. A mixture of love and fear. The two have recently become convoluted, to say the least. Belinda took her stress out on me—starting arguments over trivial matters, a sexual shut-out, and a lack of communication (apart from arguing, which I did little to contribute to). I let her have her moments because I knew she needed them far more than I needed them.
“Is that something you’ll two consider?” Dr. Hudson asked as I zoned back to the conversation.
“I’m sorry. What?” I asked.
Belinda rolled her eyes and scoffed.
“Having Parker undergo a series of diagnostic tests to determine his mental well-being,” he stated calmly.
“I-I, yeah. Sure.” I responded with a shrug. “Anything to help.”
“If you want to help. Pay the fuck attention when the doctor is speaking,” Belinda whispered harshly at me.
I gave her a half-grin, hoping that would suffice her annoyance. She glared at me with a resentment that only a married couple could understand. I retreated my look toward the doctor, who was scribbling some things in his notepad. Maybe he was drawing our caricature.
“Schedule with the receptionist before you exit,” Dr. Hudson said with a gentle smile.
“Will do,” I said as I shook his hand.
“Parker, it’s time to go,” Belinda said in her mom voice.
Parker didn’t respond. He merely kicked the blocks over which he had stacked and walked toward us.
"Parker, please pick up the blocks and place them in the chest where you found them,” Belinda said, her lips pursed.
Parker stared at her with unblinking black eyes. Eyes that said “no”.
“Parker, listen to your mother,” I chimed in, my shoulders slumped, and my eyes defeated.
He remained silent. Then, looked at Dr. Hudson with the same stare.
“I’ll pick them up. It’s not necessary to reinforce or discipline right now. You two have plenty to think about,” Dr. Hudson said.
“I’m so sorry,” Belinda whispered to Dr. Hudson, who waved her off, as if to say, “Don’t worry about it.”
We walked out into the hallway and were going to speak with the receptionist to schedule the next visit when I pulled in front of my wife and Parker.
“I don’t think we should do it,” I said.
“Do what?” Belinda asked with a clear irritation building.
“Put Parker through all of this. He’s just a child,” I argued.
“He needs…” she started and then looked at Parker.
She whispered in my ear, “He needs help. Professional help.”
I whispered back, “He’s just a kid who’ll outgrow this. That shrink just wants to label and play god.”
“You’re unbelievable,” she scoffed.
“Believe it, baby. C’mon, Parker, let’s get out of here,” I said, grabbing his small hand and leading him to the lobby.
Belinda followed, her eyes furrowed, and a frown planted on her face. A frown I never thought would come off. But it did as soon when we arrived home. We walked into our home, and Parker went to his room as I was left to face the aftermath of my ultimate decision to have Parker not subjected to unnecessary tests. But the room was quiet. There was no yelling or threatening of any sort. Maybe it was the calm before the storm. I sat down in the living room rocking chair and turned on the television. Some obscure drama film was airing.
“So?” I finally broke the silence.
“So, what?” she asked.
“Let me hear it.”
“There’s nothing to say. If you think our son doesn’t need any help, then so be it, okay?”
I was baffled. There was always an argument about something. It had become a pillar of sorts for our marriage ever since Parker’s odd behavior.
“Well, then. Okay.”
“What do you want for dinner?” she asked from the kitchen.
“Anything is fine.”
“Chicken it is,” she said, her voice broken.
The next couple of months went by without many incidents, other than Parker fighting with other children at preschool. And that describes it lightly. He forced another child to eat glue or choke to death. The parents had since withdrawn their child and threatened to sue the preschool for their negligence. Nothing ever came to be of it, though. But then other instances kept occurring. One after the other. The mutilated animals, pushing other children down the jungle gym and laughing at their pain, and his lack of connection with us, no matter how hard we let him know he’s loved. But there was one occurrence neither Belinda nor I could ignore.
One night while Belinda and I were sleeping, Parker came into our bedroom. I woke up from the sound of the squeaking door. I turned on the lamp beside the nightstand and saw Parker standing a few feet from our bed holding two long kitchen knives in his hand, smiling with his head cocked to the right. It was one of the few times I’d seen him smile. Belinda is a light sleeper, too, so she woke up and saw Parker wielding the knives.
“Whatcha got there, Parker?” I asked carefully.
He didn’t respond, just kept smiling.
“Why don’t I take those and get you back into bed?” I asked as I pulled my legs from underneath the covers and onto the ground.
He walked closer to me, still smiling. It wasn’t a maniacal smile; that would’ve been far less disturbing. It was a soft smile. A smile that said, “I hate you”. A smile that redacted five years of loving and rearing a child that had become their spout of love and of hatred. Simultaneously. The stronger the emotion, the more obscure the lines become. Almost like a jigsaw puzzle of superficial platitudes and authentic loathing. He continued walking toward me with the knives and that smile. I got up and felt a sharp radiating sting over my leg. Belinda gasped loudly. Blood began to surface, and I did my best not to wail in pain. I immediately grabbed the knives from his hands and tossed them on the bed. I clutched my leg and looked into Parker’s eyes. They were black and gleaming with joy. His smile had widened as he saw me holding the knife wound on my leg. The penetration wasn’t that deep, but it still hurt. Neither of us knew what to say or do. Belinda sat on the bed with her hands cupped over her mouth. What help. I grabbed my son by the nape of the neck and led him to his room without saying a word. Nothing could be said that would matter. So, I closed his door shut and left him in the dark to ponder and probably bask in his accomplishment.
The next day we locked up every potential weapon in the house, even ballpoint pens. Belinda and I discussed (without arguing) the events that transpired last night. We both agreed we couldn’t handle the stress, animosity, and grief that was five-year-old Parker. We went to an adoption agency and didn’t fully explain our situation, other than we aren’t fit to be parents, and we know how detrimental this can be in a child’s development—blah, blah, blah. We signed several legal documents and sought the proper channels for Parker to be placed for adoption.
Parker wasn’t adopted right away, so we slept with our bedroom doors locked for another three weeks before there was an opening at a children’s orphanage on the south side of town, near the seedy dive bars and popular drug spots. We hopped at the opportunity to have him placed in the orphanage.
When the caseworker came to pick Parker up, we didn’t know how to say good-bye or how to explain what’s happening. He just looked at us with those dark, black eyes and not a single emotion detected on his face. Not even a hint. Just nothingness.
“Parker, this nice lady is going to take you somewhere you will be able to have all the fun you can imagine. We love you,” I said, half-assing my speech.
My wife didn’t do any better.
“We’ll always love you, sweetie. Always. Okay?”
He continued to stare and then turned to look at the caseworker.
“I suppose we’re ready to go, then?” she asked, looking at us.
I nodded and looked at Parker. The caseworker extended her hand out for Parker to grab and follow her. He did, surprisingly. We followed them outside and watched them walk down the sidewalk to the car. As the caseworker opened the door for Parker, he looked back at us and glared. This time the expression was concise anger. His black eyes were fueled, and his lips curled back, baring his teeth, like a feral animal. The caseworker was busy placing on his seat belt for her to notice his good-bye to us.
Belinda and I looked at each other as the car sped off into the distance. Words eluded us as we went back inside to an empty nest. An empty nest that had once been filled for only a mere five years. But to us, five years were anything but mere. I unlocked the liquor cabinet and poured myself a double shot of whiskey. I offered Belinda one by holding up the bottle and lifting my chin inquisitively.
“What the hell? Why not?” she responded.
So, I poured her a double, and we sat in the living room next to each other in silence. The silence wasn’t new, but the assurance of our safety was. And to that, we toasted.
The next several years passed as Belinda and I mended our tattered marriage. Five years of instability takes a toll on the strongest of marriages. But we did it. Through marriage counseling and understanding, we became the couple we had been before we decided to have a child. We often thought of Parker and how he’s doing, or coping might be the more accurate term. But talks of him were sparse and avoided, for the most part. Our family and friends didn’t understand our decision; therefore, we weren’t left with too many contacts. Giving up a child for adoption at five-years-old is as taboo as a Christian having an abortion. We were okay with having a couple of friends we’d hang out with every month or two. Both our parents had cut contact with us for a couple of years for giving up their grandson, but they eventually forgave us. They both lived in different states, so we only visited them on holidays and special occasions. For the most part, our life was back on track.
It had been almost thirteen years since we’d placed Parker in an orphanage. A part of me felt guilty for not allowing Parker to receive treatment for his development. The other part of me still felt guilty for finding a sense of relief in alleviating the stress he had caused myself and Belinda. It almost cost us our marriage. I still wondered what had become of him. What he decided to do with his life, if he received treatment after all, romantic encounters, and everything that interested him. One night over dinner, I decided to bring him up as a topic of discussion.
“Do you ever think about Parker?” I asked as I casually bit into a piece of Romaine lettuce from my salad.
Her eyes widened, and she coughed on the diet soda she was sipping.
“Hands up!” I shouted playfully.
She raised her hands and gave a curt smile.
“Why do you ask?” she said as she took another sip of soda.
“I was thinking about him the other day and wondered what’s become of him. What if we’d have raised him?”
“I think we’d be divorced, and ironically, not fighting for custody,” she replied, flipping her strawberry blonde hair to the right side of her shoulder.
“Well…I mean, yeah. Probably. But if we took a chance on him, do you think he’d turn out…I-I dunno…normal? And I hate to say normal, but I don’t know another word to describe him. Even the doctor said he wasn’t normal.”
“No one is interrogating you. You don’t need to defend your emotions. You feel what you feel. Remember what Dr. Lozano (our marriage counselor) instilled within us. I don’t think he would change if we’re being honest here. He required serious psychiatric help that we as parents weren’t equipped to deal with. You must know that. We know that. It’s what made us make that decision, honey.”
“Yeah, you’re right. You’re always right. That’s why I married you.”
“That’s what all the husbands say,” she said, rolling her eyes playfully. They lit up and looked like honey when smiled.
After dinner and washing up, we made particularly ardent love before falling asleep in one another’s arms. I opened my eyes not because I heard any noise but because I felt the looming presence of someone else in the room. Like I was being watched. I turned my head to see a tall, dark figure standing at the edge of our bed. I almost screamed but refrained. The intruder needed to know I wasn’t afraid, even though I was scared out of my wits. I turned on the lamp and saw a man no more than seventeen or eighteen. There wasn’t a trace of emotion on his face except for the scruff on his chin and the dark shoulder-length hair to match. He was wearing a brown coat and a pair of blue jeans. There was nothing distinct about the young man. Except for his eyes. They were dark and black. Bleak.
“Parker?” I asked.
Belinda woke up and screamed, but I placed my hand over her mouth to silence her. I noticed he had a long knife in his hand. His mouth turned upwards to produce the same smile he had shown me years ago when he had first stabbed me. I finally realized the adjective for the smile: sinister. He leaped onto the bed and screamed in a fit of rage. He began jamming his hand up and down, aiming for us but missing and striking the mattress with the knife. I tried to wrestle the knife from his hand, but he ended up slicing my palm. I let out a yelp and threw a punch with my uninjured hand. It landed near his eye, but it didn’t stop him. Belinda was on the floor screaming and clutching a pillow. Then, I felt the blade penetrate deep in my gut. Parker pulled the knife out and jammed it back in a few more times. I looked into the black eyes that penetrated me just as deep as the blade and saw his smile one last time as I heard my wife screaming for her life. Or mine. But that was far too late. As I said, there are some moments you never forget. Parker. Our dear Parker.
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Wow, what an interesting and tragic story. It was well written and emotionally provoking.
Thank you so much!
That story was great!!! You are so good at writing!!! I loved every element!!! GREAT JOB!!! Sorry if this is too much to ask, but can you review my stories? Oh and p.s, if you do, just know i tend to rush my stories!!Thank you!
Thank you so much! And of course, absolutely!
WOAH. This story really made me think, you know. How people have the perfect idea of love, children... It never really is perfect, and more often there is a chance you could give birth to a psychopath. I like your writing style and plot. It really produced images in my head. well done I would love if you could check out my stories!! XElsa
Thank you! I'll check them out :)
Like watching a movie... great job😊- Bee
Great compliment! Thanks :)
Oh my god this was good
I'm glad you liked it!
Wow! So many twists and turns! It started off beautifully descriptive, then heartbreakingly tragic, then so intense and intriguing! Loved reading every paragraph!
Thank you! I'm excited to hear it was an enjoyable read!
Hi!! I really truly love this story, and it would be amazing to see more of your writing! It would be awesome if you read Daryl Gravesande's stories, and then like and follow!! His favorite is the first! Then please spread the word! I would gladly do the same for you! Thanks so much for the support! Stay safe!-Avery.
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'll definitely do so. Thanks and stay safe!
How do I search for other writers on here?
I'm not sure here is the link: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/daryl-gravesande/