Something was wrong with the hospital room where my daughter Laura was born.
My wife, Sonja, seemed oblivious to the dark presence that the white linoleum and walls failed to mask as she smiled at our newborn daughter.
But I didn't tell her. That would have been cruel.
One night when Sonja was gone, I was lying in bed when I heard the unmistakable sound of humming and cooing coming from the baby monitor.
I jumped up and ran into the room, but Laura was asleep, wrapped up in her blanket. I told Sonja when she came home, and said it was probably an audio glitch.
I didn't tell her about the black footprints scorched into the carpet. That would have been cruel.
When Laura was five, she was asked to draw a picture of her pet. We didn't own any cats or dogs, so I thought she was doomed with the assignment.
But she came home carrying a piece of paper that had been haphazardly scribbled across in black crayon, with two white circles drawn in the center. "That's my friend." she said, smiling.
My wife threw the paper away.
I didn't tell her about the second drawing, which showed the same eyes peeking out of a drawing of Laura's closet. That would have been cruel.
We woke up one night when Laura was ten to her screaming. We rushed in and found her on the floor in a tangle of sheets. She was crying and pointing to her leg.
There was a huge gash on her left ankle, with purple bruises and welts covering it. Sonja said she must have fallen out of bed the wrong way and took her into the kitchen.
I didn't tell her that I looked under Laura's bed and saw a large, vaguley human-shaped void in the clutter beneath. That would have been cruel.
We took Laura on a a late-night stroll one night when she was 14. I advised we all hod hands for a minute and we did, walking into the forest together.
It was almost pitch-black in there, but we kept our hands together. When we walked out a few minutes later, Sonja said she was glad she held hands with both of us in the middle.
I didn't tell her that Laura had claimed to be in the middle a few minutes earlier. That would have been cruel.
When Laura disappeared while walking home late one night when she was 17, I did my best to console Sonja, but she was an emotional wreck. I told her she was out there somewhere, alive and well.
I didn't tell her or the police about the home security tape, which showed Laura walking across the front lawn.
The camera blinked off for one second, then was filled with a gaunt, hollow face with all the life of a starvation victim, followed by a flash of crimson covering the screen.
That would have been cruel.