A Single Tear

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Charles had just started his shift, when the call came in from Virginia Tech about a shooting in West Ambler Johnston Hall. Every time a call came into the Blacksburg Police Department that the campus police couldn't handle it bothered Charles, because his only daughter went to school there. When he heard which dorm the incident happened in, he felt bad for the students, but a sigh of relief for his daughter. Some of the other officers were dispatched to handle the incident, so he and his partner Willy decided to head down for some coffee and breakfast.

They had just paid their check and were getting into the patrol car when the second call came in. This time the radio reports were fragmented and there was a tone in the voice of the dispatcher as well as the responding officers unlike anything Charles had ever heard in his twenty-two years with the force. An invisible hand wrenched on his insides, giving him a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Willy had barely made it into the car as Charles sped toward the university. He yelled at Willy to call in their position and estimated time of arrival.

They were told to report to the far side of the campus from the original shooting, which at first eased the grip on Charles stomach until he pulled up to Norris Hall and saw people jumping out of broken windows on the second floor and SWAT teams in full gear racing across the campus. The car had barely come to a stop when Charles jumped out and headed towards the building, with his gun drawn. Amongst all the chatter on their radios he heard someone say, "Better keep Bailey from coming in here!"

At the sound of those words, his legs just stopped working and crumpled beneath him. As the ground rushed toward him, he thought he was going to black out. The gun fell from his hand, and the blood raced from his face. This couldn't be happening. His breakfast had already found its way to the lawn of Norris Hall, but his body kept convulsing and trying to reject the reality that was as unwanted as the food he had eaten.

His partner had run up to his side, trying to see if he had been shot. Willy had heard the command from inside to keep Bailey outside, and knew that it must be Charles' daughter Sheila inside. He realized there was nothing that he could do or say for Charles, so he continued in with a driving desire to kill whoever had hurt Sheila.

As Charles was still curled in a ball with his hands clenching and unclenching, he was cursing God and begging him for a reason why at the same time. Sheila's mother had died when she was only five years old from a Car accident. It was only Sheila's need for him, that kept him going. Surely God wouldn't take both of the women in his life from him.

Charles didn't see the lone mourning dove descending from above him. His grief was too all encompassing. He didn't see that it had something shiny in its mouth. It wasn't until he felt something wet fall onto his face that he looked up to see the dove flying away. As he reached towards his face thinking the bird had just used the bathroom on him, that the tiny wet drop had reached his lips. There was a salty taste to it, and something recognizable. It had the taste of his daughter's tears. He had kissed thousands of them away from her little face as he had raised her alone. His own tears started to flow and join the single tear brought by the dove.

A strange calm settled over him.





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