Tara was sitting in her room making as little noise as possible; it was a usual routine, as soon as she got home from hanging out with her friends or back from school. She would creep up to her bedroom praying that her father wouldn't hear her, but it wasn't over then. She had to go past Donny's room too. She felt as if her father had done it on purpose. Put her room there, so she could be branded by her brothers taunting every time she escaped from her fathers. As if it wasn't enough. But this time she was lucky, she has escape quickly enough upstairs and dodged her brother, only to be left in her solitude, her peace. She climbed over her bed and pulled back the covers that rested over the dust ridden floor, grabbed the shoe box, and pulled it onto her bed.
She opened it as if it where a present, with expectancy and surprise, she had seen the contents many times before, but every time she ventured into her secret box, it was magic all over again, the excitement and warm feeling you get when you see something new, but fondly familiar swept over her like a dream that you'd hope to have again and again. The lid dropped onto the thin blanket covering the old mattress, revealing stones, charms and letters that had yellowed and creased with age. She fingered them lightly feeling her mother all over them, scared to touch them to much for they might rip, with the amount of times she had folded and refolded them and placed them back in this secret place.
Tara was so tired after the day that had just fallen behind her, she was hoping her conversation with Roberta had gone better, but 'what will be, will be' she thought. She didn't want to lose her friend, any of them for that matter, but she feared that her secret could tear them all apart. With that she felt a lone tear climbing down her cheek.
She lifted up the contents, glancing quickly outside to make sure her father hadn't arrived home yet, holding each crystal for a few minutes and absorbing the wonderful feeling they gave her, she felt a healing, and a forgiveness. She new she had nothing to be forgiven for, but it overcame her with a comforting sensation that she could've enjoyed for hours, if she ever have the chance.
Finally she reached to the bottom of the old box, and lightly pulled at a photograph that lay upside down, Tara knew how angry her father would be if he saw her mothers treasures, but she also knew how much more disgusted and abusive he would get if he ever saw this picture, a picture she had affectionately kept close to her heart for the past few months. She slowly turned it over and smiled. The image was of a glowing red head, central of a countryside setting, she sat on a blanket in a bikini top and a towel was draped over her knees and feet. She held an adorable cheeky grin; the sun was shining on her face causing her to squint, which just made her all that much cuter to Tara.
Tara traced her finger over Willow face, with a kind smile remembered her sweet girl that she hadn't seen for so long. It led further down her neck, tracing back and forth until it reached the red heads breast, Tara sighed in frustration. It had been so long since she had seen her Willow's face. Turning over the picture Tara read the note that was left.
"Tara beautiful. I miss you, so here is a photograph to remind you of me while we are apart. I still have yours next to my pillow. Love your Willow tree".
"My Willow tree..." she sighed. Tara suddenly felt herself being thrown on the floor, her cheek was burning and her arm hurt, she slowly opened her eyes in confusion to see her father towering over her, his shirt lazily tucked in. "Where did you get that from?!" he yelled. She couldn't speak, she tried opening her mouth but it hurt, how had she not heard the car pull in? Tara felt the blood building up inside and swallowed feeling, the salty metal taste down her throat.
"I SAID, where did you get that from you whore!" Tara cried not knowing what else to do, she hurt so much, and there was no explanation she could give that wouldn't result in another blow to her body, or worse. "I told you to get rid of all these toys! That's what they are Tara! Toys!" His last word echoed around her empty room reminding her of how alone she really was in this house. There was a pause, as he turned around and saw a lone photograph lying on her pillow.
"Who is this?" "Willow Tr..." she stopped herself. "Willow Rosenberg" she said weakly. "Willow..." he rolled the name around on his tongue as if he was testing out how it felt for him like a piece of clothing. The way he said it made her squirm, she felt as if he was violating her already through words. "And I suppose you have made one of those disgusting love stories in your head about her haven't you, a girl, a girl Tara! It's wrong, so wrong, why you won't learn; you're the same as your mother, doing anything to hurt me." Another pause, this one lasted longer, it hummed through the house waiting to be broken by another word. Another syllable to damage her....
That was it that was the one that pierced right through her, she wanted to vomit and cry all at once, there was only one thing that followed that word...that abusive lonely word. He grabbed at his belt and stepped over her.
"I'll teach you, that's all you need"
Tara closed her eyes waiting for his cold hands to be placed on her, but instead she heard a loud crash as he fell into the bedside table, "FUCK!" he screamed out feeling the dull pain ring through the leg that had just been slammed against the sharp corner. He slapped her in frustration, even Tara could see the tears on his cheeks, and for the first time she pitied the man she feared so much. She watched him storm out of the room, leaving his only daughter sobbing on the cold floor, waiting for someone to comfort her.