Living In Sin

Entry by: Alobear

8th June 2016
Living in Sin

“But why can’t I go to the party?” Melissa pouted.

Ezra sighed heavily. “You know why.”

She tossed her hair and flounced off. Ezra winced in anticipation of the inevitable slamming of her bedroom door, which of course followed soon after. He sighed again, resisting the urge to put his head in his hands. He knew teenage girls were notoriously difficult to deal with, but he hadn’t anticipated just how hard it would be, with Melcha gone. He thought perhaps he ought to take Melissa out of school again, but she needed an education, and he didn’t have the time to provide it for her himself.

Ezra thought back to when Melcha had first started home-schooling Melissa. Things had been so much simpler then, the three of them making an iron-strong family unit, with no need for outside influence. But Melcha had made him promise he wouldn’t neglect Melissa’s education, so he had been forced to enrol her in the local school, against his better judgement. And, as he had expected, the consequences had been dire.

At first, horribly intimidated by the other children, and almost completely lacking in common ground, Melissa had been terrified of going to school. Ezra’s heart had ached when she came home in tears, sobbing that the others made fun of her clothes and her ignorance of their ways. Now, he would give anything to go back to that time; when she was so different from them, when she sought out the familiarity of home for comfort, when she was still his.

The change had been gradual; he saw that now, so gradual that he hadn’t noticed it until it was too late. It had started with little things. Melissa stopped wearing her hair in plaits, came home sometimes with her skirt rolled over at the top to make it shorter, spoke of others in her class as acquaintances, and then friends.

The first fight came when Ezra was collecting Melissa’s dirty clothes for the laundry and found a tiny electronic device in the pocket of her work trousers. He was sitting at the kitchen table with it in his hands when she arrived home.

She stopped dead at the sight of him, her eyes flicking to the device in his hands, and then back up to his face. She pasted a bright smile on her face and strode forward, reaching for the object.

“Oh, you found it! I’m so glad - I thought I’d lost it.”

Ezra pulled the small thing towards him, away from her grasping hand.

“What is it?” he ground out, disturbed by her apparent lack of concern.

“It’s an MP3 player,” she said, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. “It plays music.”

“And where did you get it?” Ezra felt suddenly as if he was underwater. Everything felt distant and muffled and it was difficult to catch his breath.

“Sally let me borrow it,” Melissa told him, still maintaining a studiously casual attitude. “That’s why I’m so glad you found it. I need to give it back to her before too long.”

“This music - what kind is it?”

She paused, as if considering what to say next. Then, her composure cracked and he was shocked at the venom in her voice when she spoke.

“Yes, it’s evil pop music. I’ve been listening to the devil’s music, and I intend to continue to do so!”

Ezra gasped. Melissa had never spoken to him in such a way before. He had thought she understood the dangers of the outside world, how easily evil influences could take hold. He had had no idea the rot was already deep within her mind, affecting her so much that she could openly defy him.

“You will not,” he said.

He stood abruptly, crossed to the stove and tossed the offending object inside.

Melissa shrieked and threw herself at him, trying to push him aside in a vain attempt to rescue the device before it was destroyed.

“That wasn’t mine!” she cried. “What am I supposed to tell Sally?”

“Tell her she should not be listening to such filth, and certainly should not be sharing it with you.” Ezra turned away from his daughter and left the room.

Things had only grown worse since then. Melissa had started staying out beyond the end of school, and refusing to tell him where she had been. She had taken a pair of scissors to her skirts and blouses, and turned them into the kind of clothes he associated with prostitutes. She had come home one day with make-up on her face, and had not even cried when he held her down over the sink and scrubbed it off.

And now there was a party that she wanted to attend. There would be boys there, and likely smoking, and maybe even alcohol or drugs. How could she possibly think he would allow it? Ezra was losing her, and there was nothing he could do about it. Surely, Melcha had known this would happen; perhaps she had counted on it. Everything was spinning out of control and Ezra didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t give in; the lifestyle he had chosen and tried to instil in his daughter was too important to him. It was not possible for him to find a way to compromise. And so, they grew further and further apart, their interactions now rarely anything other than mono-syllabic exchanges or screaming rows. Ezra did not know where it would end. He went to bed in despair.

The next morning, Melissa didn’t come down to breakfast. Ezra assumed she was still sulking about the party, and went about his own morning routine, unconcerned. When the school bus appeared at the top of the long, winding driveway, and she still had not come down, he grew angry.

He went to the bottom of the stairs and shouted up, “Melissa! The bus is here! If you miss it, you’ll have to walk to school.”

There was no answer.

Frustrated, Ezra stomped up the stairs and threw open the door to her room. The bed was rumpled - and empty. The wardrobe doors hung open, revealing that most of the clothes were missing. The photograph of Melcha that usually lived on the night-stand was conspicuous by its absence.

Melissa was gone.