The following account may or may not be true.
One of the earliest stories my father told me was, I believe, told in the pedagogical mode as a warning against the dangers of drunk driving. Why he thought I needed such instruction as a preschooler I am not sure. I was sitting in the back seat of the car on a trip to visit relatives. We stopped for gas and as we pulled away from the gas station my father told me the story of terrible thing that had happened there:
A young family had pulled in to get gas, and it was clear to onlookers that a domestic dispute of some ferocity was taking place. The husband, who was driving the car, was obviously intoxicated, and his terrified wife was begging him to stop. She took the opportunity of having to refuel to run inside with two of their small children, but by the time she returned to retrieve her other daughter, he had roared off with the little girl still in the car. Just a few miles down the road he crashed the car, and he sustained only minor injuries. But the daughter? She was decapitated in the accident.
"Of course they put him in jail for it," said my father, "But the wasn't any need for that. He has punished himself worse than jail ever could already, for the rest of his life."
And even at such a young age, I could see the sense in what he said.
But I had so many questions. Why didn't anybody else at the gas station try to intervene? What was that little girl thinking those last few moments of her life? Was she scared? What about the mother? How did she choose which two out of her three children to snatch first, knowing her husband might drive off with the third? Did she grab the ones who were closest? The ones who were littlest? Did she feel guilty or only angry and sad? Were the other children old enough to realize what was happening at the time? Would they remember it when they were older?
What story would she tell them?
For various reasons, I'm doing NaBloPoMo in October this year. The October theme is HAUNTED, so I'm writing about things that haunt me: stories (truth and fiction) that I've heard or read, things I've done or haven't done (the accounts of which may or may not be true), problematic philosophical concepts, and so forth.