“You… y-you killed them.”
My hoarse voice is so weak and frail that I hardly recognize the sound. It might as well be someone else proclaiming such a devastating thing, someone else looking down at the bruised and battered bodies of these two people who are much, much bigger than you or me.
You’re panting like it’s just happened, like you’ve just finished doing it… but that’s not right. The blood on your clothes and hands is dry and crusty. They’ve been laying there awhile, now.
And I wasn’t here.
I wasn’t here, because I went to the library, and you didn’t want to come with me. I wasn’t here, because I was lost in a series of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, escaping to magic castles and wild jungles and mysterious, treasure islands.
I wasn’t here, and I should have been.
…they’ve even started to stink. Though to be fair, they’ve always smelled bad. Like sweat and grease and cigarette smoke… but now, now they smell like… something else.
I guess this is what death smells like.
“He was gonna do it again,” you say robotically. Your chest is still heaving, and you’re staring down at them like you’re afraid they might just jump back up again if you look away.
You finally glance at me. They don’t.
“He was gonna do it again, and- and she wasn’t gonna stop him. She just kept making dinner, like nothin’ was happening.”
My eyes flicker over to the oven. I numbly go and turn it off like someone in a trance.
Dead bodies and burnt lasagna.
“Like nothin’ was happening,” you repeat hollowly.
It’s weird to see this look on your face, because it’s my face, too. I wonder if you’re thinking the same thing as you gape at me. I wonder what this stranger’s mouth is doing, what this alien’s gaze is telling you. Because I feel like I’m floating somewhere above my body as I move, and someone else entirely has taken control.
“How’d you do it?” I ask. And it’s the weirdest thing, because half of me just has to know, and the other half of me is desperately hoping that you never, ever tell me.
But you’re not hesitant with your responses, conflicted and riddled with inner turmoil like I am. You act on instinct and deal with the consequences later, always.
I imagine that’s how this happened in the first place.
“I yelled, and the walls started shaking,” you breathe in disbelief, and you sound scared and confused and I know at once that I am the only person you will ever tell this story to… and that it is the truth. You swallow thickly. Your breathing is still heavy and strenuous.
“I screamed, and told him to stop, and when he didn’t- I- I- I broke him.”
A pause. “Mama tried to stop me. But I couldn’t… I couldn’t stop, and I-I broke her, too.”
You stare at the palms of your hands in awe. The dry blood under your fingernails looks like the cheap paint we sometimes make art with. I wonder if all people are like this, if everyone is filled up with liquid color on the inside that could be used to make pretty pictures on thin, dollar store paper.
I taste something strange in the back of my throat. It kind of reminds me of salt. “N…now what do we do?” Mama’s eyes are still open. She’s staring vacantly towards the doorway, and shouldn’t I be feeling very sad right now? Maybe the feelings don’t come until later. My ears are buzzing like a bumblebee.
“I dunno,” you respond in a detached sort of way.
But you’re the do-er, not the thinker. That’s me.
And so that is what I do.
“Wash your hand,” I say flatly. “Change your clothes, and get all the blood off you, and… and then we’ll go.”
It’s surprisingly hostile, now, your tone. You’re glaring. I suppose I should be scared of you, but I’m not. Even covered in blood with a scowl on your face and a freshly-made monster, I don’t think I could ever be scared of you.
Because you are my own.
“Anywhere else,” I answer, and I’m thinking of magic castles and wild jungles and mysterious, treasure islands.
“We’re running away.”