Josh Olsen – Flash Non-Fiction

“This ends now”

Katie was convinced we’d all be slaughtered in our sleep – me, her, our son Jack – though she thought our daughter, Gabriella, might be spared.

Just that day, we learned that the girl our 12-year-old daughter had been dating, who we were told was a 14-year-old 8th grader, was actually a 17-year-old junior in high school, and to top it all off, she had been spending the night with her, as well, hiding her lies by claiming she was sleeping over at various friends’ houses.

“We didn’t do anything bad!” she proclaimed, not seeming to comprehend the truly serious nature of her affair with someone who was nearly a legal adult.

“This ends now,” I said, as sternly as possible while fighting to keep my resolve.

For now, the police would be left out of the matter, I told her, but I wouldn’t hesitate to call them if need be.

Their relationship was to end immediately.

“Text her,” I said. “Tell her that I know everything. And then turn off your phone.”

She would be grounded indefinitely – no phone, no friends, no computer, nothing – though I wasn’t quite sure if that was enough.

Or was it too much?

Was I punishing the victim?

I just didn’t know what to do or how to handle the situation.

And Katie was equally clueless, as well.

More than anything else, she was downright afraid.

“What if this girl tries to kill us?” she said. “She’s a pedophile. She’s obviously not right.”

Up until then, the thought hadn’t even occurred to me that my daughter’s girlfriend – ex-girlfriend, whatever – could possibly be dangerous, but now that Katie mentioned it, I found myself paranoid, as well.

Before turning in for the night, I double-checked the locks and flipped on all the outside lights.

“She’s not gonna come here,” I said, attempting to reassure Katie while at the same time attempting to reassure myself. “She’s not that kind of girl.”

But how the hell did I know what kind of girl she was or wasn’t?

She was, for all intents and purposes, as Katie had said, a pedophile.

She was a damaged girl.

By my own daughter’s account, she was a cutter, a suicidal girl.

A girl whose mother died at a young age.

A girl who had been beaten and abused by her father.

All of this had fed into my decision to not call the police, but maybe that’s exactly what she needed.

Legal intervention, counseling, rehabilitation, treatment, recovery…

But, then again, who the fuck was I to judge?

“She’s not that type of girl,” I kept telling myself. “She’s not a threat. She’s not going to kill us.”

And, eventually, I managed to fall asleep, though neither Katie nor I slept very well that night.

We were awakened by each and every single sound – the typical creaks and groans of our house, the rustle of the trees outside our window, the occasional bark of neighborhood dogs – and whenever one of us woke up, the other would immediately follow suit, springing up from the bed, asking, “What was that?” and then fall back to sleep shortly after.

At one point in the night, I was awakened by the sudden and powerful odor of cologne.

Gabriella had doused her bedroom in her girlfriend’s fragrance, Axe Body Spray, no less.

The scent was nauseating, it was so thick that I could actually taste it, and the resulting headache was immediate.

But Gabriella was sleeping soundly, engulfed in her girlfriend’s scent.

“This ends now,” I said to her earlier that day, but I feared that the road ahead of us looked long and tumultuous.

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