Flashing lights, sirens, dogs barking, a crowd of people, and a small girl crying; the scene pricked her heart. A thick veil of darkness is washed over the scene, heavy and unnoticeable. A bone-chilling breeze hits her, like a bullet cutting through the air. Shivers march down her spine; her arms clutch her tighter to preserve heat.
“Ma’am, excuse me.” The deep, husky voice caught her attention. She turned to face a uniformed officer, standing beside her. He kept a hand on his belt while the other held a walkie-talkie.
“Oh, sorry I wasn't paying attention.” She admitted sheepishly, tucking away lose strands of hair.
“Ma’am, were you the one who phoned?” The officer asked timidly.
She took in a deep breath before speaking, “Yes, I was the one.”
“Ma’am, how did you find out the man was abusing his daughter and selling drugs in his own home?” The officer continued.
She took in another breath, a shaky one at that. Her hands shook, so she wrapped them closer to her body.
“It’s okay Jeanette, everything’s okay now. Luna is safe.” She kept reiterating the thought to calm herself down. She didn't have to be scared anymore.
“I was the wife’s closest friend, and after she died, I stopped by now and then to check up on the daughter.” She let out a short breath, and then continued. “I walked in on one of the husband’s deals, but he and his clients didn't care. I found the daughter locked up in the pantry.
“She had bruises on her arms and legs, with some scratches along her face.” A tear ran down her cheek, the memories came flooding back to her. “I confronted him about the abuse, but he denied it. He threatened to harm her more if I blabbed, so I kept my mouth shut.”
“So you knew about it ma’am, but you didn't come to the police?” The officer handed her a handkerchief.
“Yes, I knew this whole time, but I couldn't take the risk.” She wiped her eyes, but continued to speak. “He lied to me, and hurt the girl even more. That’s when I had to step in.”
“You did the right thing.” He put a hand reassuringly on her shoulder. “The girl is safe now, but it seems Officer Cruz can’t calm her down.”
Jeanette turned to the porch of the house. One of the female officers was trying to calm down Luna, but she kept crying. Her maimed, ash-colored hair was lying in waves on the wooden floor; obviously it hadn't been cut in a while. Luna’s eyes were shut, but tears flooded through the barrier. Her face was pressed into the officer’s thick, black coat.
Jeannette turned back to the man, “Can I try comforting her?”
“By all means, go ahead.” He looked past her to the woman sitting next to the little girl, he yanked his head to the side and the woman understood.
She rose, reassuring the child that everything will be okay. She kept crying however. Jeanette walked over towards her, taking a seat next to Luna. Luna looked up, tears in her eyes.
“They took my papa.” She sniffed, hugging herself as if she was cold. “I want my papa back.”
“He hurt you. A papa’s not supposed to do that.” Jeanette explained, keeping her tone gentle and calm.
“Momma's dead. He’s all I have left.” She cried harder. “Please bring him back.”
Jeanette’s heart turned to lead, weighing her down. She was in unbearable pain, because Luna was alone. She had no other living family members, except her mother’s grandparents who lived in a Senior Home. They wouldn't have the space for a child. They barely had enough space for their residents; since where they lived, it was the only one in the community.
Jeanette pulled Luna into her lap, wrapping her arms around the child’s waist. She hugged her close to her own body, hoping that she would feel warmth from her. Hoping that she would see she wasn't alone, that she had someone who loved her, who would take care of her, who would provide for her. Some she could call family.
“I’m here Luna.” She murmered into her hair, quietly. “I’ll be your family. I’ll take care of you. That’s a promise.”
“Really?” She asked her wide, hazel eyes red from crying. They were filled with hurt, but there was a sliver of hope in them. “You promise.”
“I promise, cross my heart.” She smiled, planting a kiss on the four-year-old’s nose.
“I love you, Jeanette.” Luna whispered as she cuddled in her arms. She rested her head on Jeanette’s shoulder, dozing off into a peaceful sleep.
“I love you too Luna.”
The noised around the faded to the song of the crickets; a simple, steady melody.