Mark James knew little of words, being a man of few himself. Even if he knew all the words every uttered, ever spoken in this world, he doubt he would ever find one that would describe his youngest daughter. Free, wild, untameable. Perhaps, maybe. She reminded him of that wild horse down on the ranch he worked on, the one who fought against the tugging hands, against its imprisonment. But then, like all free things, they are broken down, beaten. There was something harrowing to see that horse’s once majestic and fiery gaze dropped in submission to the floor, bowing meekly in surrender.
Dark eyes looked across at Jessie, watching as she played mutely with her food, ignoring her mother as she tried to engage her into some kind of conversation. It was rare for the youngest James to be at the table, much less so silent. It felt… strange, almost wrong. Mark chewed slowly, watching as Jessie peaked up at him through the veil of her long, chestnut hair only for everything to still. “What the fuck happened to your face?” He demanded, ignoring his wife’s attempts to chaste him for his use of profundities. His knife and fork clattered to his plate, the food in his mouth turning sour, heavy as he watched his daughter bow her head, trying to shy away.
For a moment, Mark though Jessie was going to bolt, but his fourteen year old daughter had never been one to run from trouble. He watched as she tossed her hair back, slender chin jutting out in a strange haughty pride as she presented him with her face. It was worse then what he had first thought, her beautiful unblemished skin marred by the blossom to deep purple and red, skin swollen and now that he had a proper look, her knuckles beyond human comprehension. “What the fuck?” Mark felt a sharp twist in his stomach, a sinking sensation that coupled with the swelling rage inside of him. Perhaps some of it was towards Jessie, towards her need to constantly face life with a taunting snarl that brought her trouble, but most of it was for the sick bastards that fucking touched his little girl…
And despite everything, the undeniable need to slaughter whoever did this to Jessie, Mark moved to gently cup his daughter’s proud chin in his hands. He felt his eyes soften as he met the pain that lurked within the depths of Jessie’s dark and mournful gaze. “You okay?” Mark asked, searching for a crack, for something within Jessie to break through the angry girl she tried so hard to be. Mark watched as Jessie nodded mutely, her lips parting to say something. But her eyes suddenly shone under the dim lighting and she was suddenly a little girl again, his little girl. No one would ever see this, see his Jessie like this, so broken and beaten. She could take the hits, take whatever life threw at her because she was strong, a fighter. It was cleaning up the mess, healing the wounds that had Mark fearing for Jessie.
Who would love her, hold her and be strong for her so that she could have this one moment of weakness? She couldn’t always be the fighter, and regardless of what people saw, no one could truly see the broken and beaten little girl who fought because she believed no one else would fight for her. Circling his arms around her, Mark fell that same wave of hopelessness within him rise. He would take on the world for Jessie, kill for her and lay down his own life if only to make her smile that rare smile of hers. Beautiful, tiny, breakable. The words flitted through Mark’s mind as he gently rested his head, brushing his lips against the soft curls of his tiny daughter’s head. Lost.