Army man returns home and finds his daughter sleeping on the floor. Captain Peter was eager to return home after an eight-month absence. He greatly missed his wife Linda and daughter Melissa and was thrilled to receive an early discharge from his tour, allowing him to come home two months ahead of schedule. He kept the surprise a secret from his wife Linda and his daughter Melissa. Excitement filled Captain Peter as he walked towards his front door, eager to surprise his family after being away for eight months.
But when he entered the house and called out for his wife Linda, his daughter Melissa stepped on Jane and stepped in Kyle. There was no response. Confused, he realized that it was a Saturday morning, and his family should have been home, but the house was empty.
“Melissa!” Peter called out one last time, unsure of where his family could be. Suddenly, he heard a faint voice calling out, “Daddy.” He followed the sound to the kitchen and found the door locked. He quickly unlocked it and opened the door to find his daughter Melissa standing there, tears streaming down her face.
“Daddy!” Melissa exclaimed, tears streaming down her face as she hugged him tightly. Peter hugged her back, but over her shoulder, he saw a mattress on the floor.
“Melissa,” he said, shocked, “why are you sleeping here? Where’s Linda and the boys?”
Melissa looked frightened and didn’t answer. “Please, Daddy,” she said. “Please, it’s all right. Tell me,” Peter said sternly. “Were you locked up and sleeping in the kitchen?”
Melissa started sobbing. “I can’t tell you,” she cried. “Don’t you see, Daddy? You’ll go away again, and I’ll be alone with them again.”
Peter put his arms around his daughter. “I promise you, Melissa,” he said. “You have nothing to be afraid of ever again. Now tell me, what’s going on?”
“Six months ago,” Linda said, “Jay and Kyle were too big to be sharing a bedroom,” Melissa explained through her tears. “So she moved me out of my bedroom, and Kyle moved in. I’ve been sleeping in the kitchen on this mattress ever since.”
Peter was furious. He had always treated Linda’s two sons from her previous relationship as his own, and he believed that she had done the same for his daughter. “Where are they now?” Peter asked, his anger rising. “And why were you locked in?”
“Linda took the boys to Florida for the weekend to celebrate Kyle’s birthday,” Melissa said, her voice shaking. “She left me some sandwiches and locked me in here because she thinks that I’ll steal her things.”
Just then, there was a knock on the kitchen door. Peter looked through the window and saw a slim, sweet-faced woman holding a covered plate. “Melissa, it’s Karen,” the woman said.
“Who’s Karen?” Peter asked.
“Melissa replied, “She’s a new neighbor. She’s really sweet and kind. I think she suspects something because she always brings me treats.”
Peter unlocked the door and greeted Karen. “Hello, I’m Melissa’s father,” he said.
Karen looked embarrassed. “Hi,” she said. “I hope you won’t take it the wrong way, but I brought Melissa some hot food.”
“Of course not,” Peter said. “Thank you for your kindness to my daughter. I’ve just realized what you’ve probably known for some time, but I’m putting things right.”
He knew he needed to act quickly and decisively. He couldn’t let Melissa continue to be treated this way. He decided to call Linda and tell her that he was coming home early and that he would be expecting a full explanation for what has been going on. He also made a mental note to contact a lawyer and explore his options for ensuring Melissa’s safety and well-being.
He hugged Melissa tightly and told her that everything would be all right now that he was home. He was determined to make sure that she would never have to sleep in the kitchen again. On Sunday afternoon, Linda and the boys arrived home to find three mattresses on the lawn, with all their belongings piled on top of them.
“Linda!” Melissa screamed. “I’ll catch you for this!”
But when the door opened, it wasn’t Melissa standing there. It was her husband, Peter, who didn’t look the least bit friendly. “Hello, Linda,” he said calmly.
“Peter!” Linda gushed. “Baby, what a wonderful surprise. I think I was the one who had the biggest surprise.”
“Linda,” Peter said, “but just so you know, Melissa is back in our bedroom. You and the boys can move those mattresses into the garage, which is where you’ll be living from now on.”
Linda saw the flinty look in Peter’s eyes and knew the game was up. “I’ll take you for every penny you have, Peter!” she screeched.
“No, you won’t,” Peter said calmly. “I called the police, and they saw how Melissa was living in the conditions I found her in. You try anything, and you’ll go straight to jail for child abuse.”
Linda and her sons took their things and ran. The last Peter heard from her was when he signed the divorce papers a few months later. He saw her dating Karen, and Melissa knew that she would have a new and loving mom in her life very soon.