"Why did this have to happen?" I feel the weight of guilt heavy on my shoulders. Bonnie was dead because of me. I wanted to show her off. I wanted Scarlett to want the things I was giving to Bonnie for herself. I used her in an attempt to buy her mother's love through her. What kind of man would pit child against mother. A child. And I failed miserably to boot.
More pounding, though I am no longer sure it's real or merely in my head. I've never been prone to tears, but have been unable to stop them since the moment I realized my Bonnie was gone.
Do they not understand that here lying in my arms is the one person I was not afraid to love? I knew she would love me in return. I knew I could dote on her and cherish her like I wanted to her mother since the first moment I saw her. She was so full of life, so vivacious. A bright spot in my bleak excuse of an existence.
If I open the door she will see me and it will only give her power over me. She'll know I'm guilty, that I killed our daughter. She never wanted children to begin with. I knew that and yet I saddled her with a third. I did it to punish her. I couldn't have her mind but I wanted to prove to her – and to Ashley – that I could at least have possession of her body. It was, unfortunately, not good enough for me. I found that I wanted all of her, though I'd suspected that was the case all along.
I wanted to give our child everything Scarlett had been unable to provide for Wade and Ella. Had I deliberately favored Bonnie? Of course I had. I had waited years to become a legitimate father and wanted to flood her with gifts and favors and love. Was that such a bad thing?
Maybe this was God's way of punishing me. His way of suggesting I should not have favored my child over two children who knew only me as their father even if I was not their father by blood. His way of making me pay for my sins. There were so many of them covering a vast array of crimes. I always knew the toll would be a hefty one. I never imagined the punishment would be so swift, so painful. I deserved to die, not an innocent child. Completely unexpected, but I imagine that's how the good Lord I've thumbed my nose at for decades works.
I never understood true love, unselfish love until now. I would gladly trade places and be the one lying here unmoving, dead, instead of my daughter. Never in all of my years have I contemplated giving my life for someone else's. I've never felt guilt either. It's a horrible thing having a conscious and suddenly so many things are clearer to me.
Scarlett and I have been at cross purposes for so long I could no longer remember when we had last gotten along. Could a lot of that be my own fault? Was I so busy protecting my heart that I closed myself off to the opportunity to earn her trust and love?
I cradled Bonnie to my chest, running my fingers through her curls. I knew I had to let her go, knew I had to let them put her in her final resting place. She was so afraid of the dark and I hated letting them put her little body somewhere that would be eternally dark, but maybe through her death the lives of her parents no longer had to be shrouded in hate and bitterness. Was it possible that something good could come out of such a tragic moment? Could two people who had grown to dislike one another so much mend things? Could our relationship become stronger? Maybe if we could find it in our hearts to comfort one another instead of cast blame at one another's feet.
I hear Melanie Wilkes calling to me now. Scarlett must really be in a state if she brought Melanie in to this mess. She was letting an outsider get a glimpse at the fact that all was not well in the Butler household. If anyone can absolve me of this guilt I feel it's the woman here to see me now.
"I'm sorry, Bonnie," I whisper, kissing her forehead. I don't want to let them have her. I don't want to forget what her face looks like, the color of her eyes, or the color on her cheeks when she came inside from a good ride. "I'll never forget those things," I added before setting her down to let Melanie in.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com