Tear gas and dirt created a low lying fog too intense for me to read the text messages she was sending. The ping from my daughter’s phone led me to the city park.
Dozens of college kids ran from the entrance’s grassy embankment. The riot police announcedthrough bullhorns.
“Exit the area now, peacefully, or you will be stunned.”
There was little time and no way to explain why a middle-aged man was walking into the fray. My phone vibrated. I answered.
“She’s at the mural next to the stage! She’s by herself!”
My wife’s exclamation meant she’d talked to our daughter. I kept walking toward her location and answered.
“Go to the car! It’s parked next to the burrito place! I’ll scoop her up and meet you there when we get there!”
A policeman caught my eye line and yelled.
“Get out of here!”
Before I could respond, two kids fell in front of him and began screaming in fear they’d be hurt. I kept walking.
The mural area was about fifty yards away. The smoke and debris made vision beyond a few yards impossible. A young girl, maybe 19, bumped into me and said.
“Sorry, sir! Hey, I know you!”
I realized it was my daughter’s freshman year roommate. Terrible with names, I closed my eyes and settled on three possible answers.
“It’s me, Cora! I saw her near the stage, a few feet from the big Oak! This is nuts, so out of control!”
I mouthed the word, “run”, and kept walking. After a few steps I see the tree, tall, old, and sturdy. A set of dainty feet nestled into white and silver sandals peered from the base of the trunk. I could recognize them anywhere including the middle of a college demonstration turned riot.
A riot cop barreled into me with his shield, knocking me several feet forward. My face landed into the fescue, two small pebbles indented my forehead. I started crawling, now only a few feet from her.
Her tinny, scared voice muzzled by the chaos, struck me. I reached for her hand. We pulled on each other until I was with her next to the tree and inches from the metal stage. I huddled next to her, grabbed her face and pulled it into mine, kissing her forehead, and then wiping away blood from a small cut next to her left eye. Her dirty blond hair fell from a ponytail and framed her frightened round face.
“I’m so sorry, dad. I was trying to be like you, caring about stuff, and all.”
I didn’t want her to see me cry. Her tears were enough. I pulled her into me, like when she much younger, and we rocked back and forth for several seconds.
“It’s okay, honey.”
Then, I noticed the writing on the back of her neck. It was a tattoo, still red-skinned, fresh from application, running down the back of her neck. It was Shakespeare.
Trust a few
Do wrong to none
She murmured between sobs.
“I’m so sorry. I was going to tell you about the tattoo.”
I smiled, read it again, then kissed her cheek.
“It’s better I found out this way.”
We held our hugs until the calamity died down. Then I whispered in her ear.
“The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.”
This is my fictional response to The Speakeasy from Yeah Write http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-158-open/ with the prompt – “The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.” from this movie:
Love In The Time Of Cholera. My piece is also Happy Birthday to both William Shakespeare and Iggy Pop.