Esther and I, I and Esther
I had her and she had me
That’s all we ever had, and
That’s all, we ever wanted.
Today. Today, I will have my revenge. Today, I will make them pay for every sin they have ever committed. Today, Esther will finally find peace.
We were orphans. Had no one else in the world. But she never, in my life, made me feel alone. We laughed, we cried, we played, we fought. She was always there for me. She was my father, my mother, my sister, my everything.
“Esther, Esther.” I tried to wake her up. I knew she never would. But, an absurd emotion took hold of my mind; Hope. It tried to show me light when there was nothing but darkness.
Today, it all comes to an end. Today, I will have my vengeance. Today, my sword will taste bitter blood for one last time.
I made my way through the stone laid path. I knocked at the carved wooden doors. He was on the run for long. Long enough. The silence did not last long. The open doors revealed a tall, well-built man. But, his eyes were no longer terrifying. They were impassive. They simply stared at me.
“You are here to kill me,” he said. I stayed silent. Suddenly, he fell on my legs. I quickly moved backwards. But his act was not one of assault, but of submission. He was crying. “Forgive me, please, please do not kill me, please don’t.” he pleaded.
For a moment, an Evelyn I had long forgotten captured my mind. Me, Esther, our little home. But not for long, the loud cries of my sister filled my ear. He was still crying “Please, I am sorry, I am sorry.”
“Maybe God will hear you.” A sudden swish of my sword displaced his head from his body. Blood. Bitter blood. But no more. It’s over. I have had my revenge. I have had my vengeance. Esther will now rest in peace. And maybe I will rejoin her one day.
Esther and I, I and Esther
I had her and she had me
That’s all we ever had, and
That’s all, we ever wanted.
I remember being a little kid and having nightmares so real, even after I woke up screaming and sweating I would still be scared to close my eyes. The flashes of distorted, smiling faces looking down at me coupled with the screams that never escape from my throat haunt me even when I’m wide awake. I roll over in an empty bed and savor the smell of the clean sheets. I feel my jaw untighten just a little and my shoulders relax as I moved to check the time. My phone read 8:30 am and next to it, a picture of myself and my sister caught my eye. Both of us were smiling, my hair a mane of brown and blonde, hers a cropped bob. Our arms were slung around one another, just happy to be together and excited for life in a new city. God, I miss that girl. I miss being free from the scary consequences of the world and feeling like there is always someone breathing on the back of my neck.
I forced myself up and into the shower. I don’t remember ever showering so much in my life. Showering until the scalding hot water runs cold. Showering four or sometimes five times a day, scrubbing my skin so hard in places it has become red and raw. I almost didn’t notice until I looked down at my legs while I was getting dressed. I felt disgusted. My body only served as a reminder. I hated looking at my body so much that I covered my mirror with a sheet. I didn’t want to see myself, my body, a tool for that man to do whatever he liked. But today it the day. The police are coming over and hopefully, I can hear the conversation now, they’re going to tell me that they have been working hard and they think they’re getting close. I sometimes have daydreams where I get to go into a police lineup and point out the man that did it. Feeling that power surge up within me, taking back control of my life. It almost made me salivate.
I heard a knock on my apartment door. I live in an apartment building and didn’t buzz anyone in. My stomach immediately started doing flips as I tiptoed to the door. I held my breath before looking through the peep hole only to see two men with badges looking impatient on the other side of the door. My heart continued to pound in my chest as I let them in.
I offered the police officers, no- detectives, coffee as they made themselves comfortable at my grey and glass dining table. My apartment is a loft and very spacious. From the table you had a vantage point of the whole room which was plain but messy. I hadn’t cooked food or cleaned, hell, I’ve hardly left my bed in at least a week. I poured them coffee into two matching mugs and saved my extra-large, chipped college mug for myself. I sat at the table, shifting my weight trying to be comfortable under their gaze but constantly found that I wasn’t able to relax. Every interaction with a police officer or detective just leaves me feeling like they don’t believe my story, my account, of what happened last Thursday night. They ask the same questions over and over like they are expecting me to slip up and tell them something completely different and wild.
The first detective finally looked at his partner and then back to me. “I wish we had some better news for you. We were able to catch part of the struggle on the camera outside your building and we’re waiting on our tech guys to scrub it so we can try to get a license plate number. But until then, why don’t you recount your… story, for us one more time since we aren’t the cops who took your original statement.”
My face flushed and I continued to stare into my coffee. A sort of numbness takes over me each time I recount what happened. Like I’m telling a tale about someone else and that this all didn’t really happen to me. I took a deep breath and started at the top. “Okay,” I mumbled, “if you insist.” The second detective clicked open a pen and opened up a tiny notebook that he had taken out of his pocket. He gave me a nod as if to say, go ahead.
“I went out with a few friends on Thursday night, just to hang out for a little bit with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. We had a flight tasting at a brewery downtown before just me and Kate went to another bar.”
“And why was it only the two of you going?” the first detective asked.
“I hadn’t seen her in a while. We used to see each other two or three times a week but we hadn’t and wanted time to catch up, just the two of us,” I replied. He gave me a nod, and I continued.
“We got to the next bar, The Peacock, and things seemed fine. It was really crowded and Kate and I sat at a table outside. She ordered us both a drink and a water. I remember that it was so packed on the roof but Kate felt like this group of kids in the corner was looking at us the wrong way. Everything happened so fast. Kate went to the bathroom and I guess on her way back she started yelling and getting into a fight with a girl who was sitting at that table. I don’t know what the fight was about but Kate is like, the sweetest girl in the world. She would never have started something unless she felt like she had to. But I told the waitress that stepped in that Kate and I would leave. As we were going down the stairs Kate started acting weird. She couldn’t stand up, she wasn’t making any sense when she was talking. My only thought was to get her safely to my car so I could figure out what to do next. But I had to carry her, literally carry her, and her purse and stuff and in all the craziness my purse fell and was picked up by someone who later stole my money and my credit card. Someone saw Kate passed out on the ground and called an ambulance. They took Kate away, the doctors told her that she had been roofied with Ketamine and had an allergic reaction. I think I was roofied too but I’m double Kate’s size and I don’t think it impacted me as much. But anyways, Kate was taken away in an ambulance and a cop told me he would take me to a homeless shelter for the night or back to my apartment. I didn’t have anything- no purse, no phone, no car keys, no apartment keys, I mean nothing. The cop took my back to my apartment building and left me there.
Not too long later, I was sitting on the corner crying when an Indian man in a red car pulled over. He listened to me, he told me he would help me and the next thing I knew he punched me in the eye,” I lifted my hand up to my green, swollen face, “and drug me into the alley next to the apartment building. He threw me on top of a dumpster, pulled my dress up and raped me. I don’t remember if he finished. I don’t know how long it went on for. I only remember the smell. The stink of the garbage, it smelled like rotting beef. The next thing I remember is him grabbing me by the ponytail and throwing me in his car. I don’t remember a lot after that. He kept stroking my bare legs telling me he was going to take care of me. He would take me to a motel and take good care of me. Maybe he said it was his motel? I’m not exactly sure. He touched me all over my clothes. I remember we drove on roads that didn’t have a lot of lights. Suddenly, I looked out the window and saw a fire station. We stopped at a red light and when it turned green I jumped out of the car, ran over the median, and went straight to the firehouse. From there the police were called again and they took me to the hospital to wait for Kate to wake up since they didn’t have anywhere else for me to go. And that’s it. That’s what happened,” as I concluded I glanced up. I realized how quickly I had been talking and how fast the second detective had to scribble to keep up.
“Thank you,” the first detective said. “I know its unpleasant to talk about.”
I half laugh and half snarled. It was the first time I looked up to the detective’s scrutinizing brown eyes. “Yes,” I spat, “it is.”
The first detective continued, “We will let you know when we have some more information from the security cameras and go from there. That’s all we have for you today. Thank you for the coffee. Where should we leave our cards?” The detective was finished with me. Just like all the others, came to take from me and leave. He had no intention of sharing anything in return. I walked them out before returning to the comfort of my clean smelling bedsheets for the remainder of the day.
I laid on my side in a tight ball, sweating. Another nightmare, I thought, as the images of hands squeezing my throat from behind and eyes looking down on me started to fade from the front of my mind. Curled up like this, I felt safe, my body felt protected. I made a conscious effort to slow down my breath and wipe the tears from my eyes as my heart continued to vigorously pump blood through my veins, ready to escape the danger that lives inside my own head.
That’s it, I thought, switching on the light. I am done. I am done sitting and waiting for something to happen. I am done hiding away from the world. I am done being a victim. I need to go out and find him. I need to know that he can’t hurt me or any other girl ever again. As if I was hit by a bolt of lightning I realized that justice was probably never going to come to me. The police weren’t ever going to help me, they certainly couldn’t keep me safe so why should I trust them to help me now? The answer, I’m not. I felt the gears of my mind shifting, finally fitting pieces together so that I felt like I had a handle on how to run an investigation like this. I know the guy who did this. I talked with him, I spent time in his car. I know how to find this guy if only I can remember some more of what happened that night. If the police won’t do the work that needs to be done, then I will.
I walked into the plain brown office building situated in a large plaza close to town. I had never done anything like this before but I figured that I might as well try. I walked inside and scanned the building directory plastered to the wall near the entrance until I found the office number for Dr. Benson. She was the most well reviewed hypnosis doctor that I read about online. I walked into her office and filled out her intake forms which she reviewed with me once we were seated together in her office. She asked me a few questions, mostly about my willingness and goals for the session. Her demeanor was honestly refreshing. She didn’t look at me like a broken Barbie doll, she looked at me like, I would imagine, she looks at all of her clients.
I closed my eyes and let Dr. Benson walk me through a narrow hallway in my mind with short, navy blue carpet. I saw identical closed wooden doors scattered on sides of the hallway. I walked forward, carefully considering each door. Which one was the right one? How do I go back to the right parts? As if she could hear my thoughts, I heard Dr. Benson’s voice tell me that I would be able to see the broken door and to start there. I continued to walk, unsure of how far I had gone until I came upon a wooden door that looked different. It hung off the frame a little and looked as though it had been punched. A fist sized crater in the door sent wood splintering out at weird angles. I grabbed the door knob to find that it was warm, like someone had been holding their hand on the knob for a while, constantly using this door. Just as Dr. Benson promised, I knew this was the one.
I twisted the knob and slowly pushed the door open. It was dark inside, like when you’re standing just on the outer glow of a street lamp. I realized that I was now sitting in the back seat of the red car. The seats were grey polyester and the car still smelled new mixed with the spices of cumin and curry. I watched the large, heavy-set man stroke my leg in the front seat. I heard him tell me that he would take me to his motel soon after he picked something up. He said his motel. So, he does own it. Just then the car stopped at a red light. I looked up at the street signs. Madison Avenue and… the light changed. I saw the passenger door fling open as the car began rolling forward. My black t shirt dress was short and loose and bounced up as I clamored over the median in the road. The car continued forward as the bottom sole of my favorite black boots came half loose and slapped the ground as I ran toward the fire station door.
The fire station itself looked brand new. The sand and grey colored bricks of the building looked hardly tarnished. But the entire station was well lit and I watched from the backseat of the red car as I dropped down to my knees outside the fire house and cried. I sobbed there for what seemed like an eternity before two men in their boxers and white tee shirts knelt down beside me and helped carry me inside. The darkness around me started closing in, all the sharp details looking fuzzier and fuzzier until I opened my eyes to Dr. Bensons sterile, white office.
I rushed out of Dr. Benson’s office with clarity. Now I knew for sure that the guy who tried to take me owned a motel. Probably a motel close to the fire station I ended up barging into at 3 am. I situated my new whiteboard on the wall near my kitchen table which is also where I set up my laptop. I started writing out what I know. Red, mid-sized car. Maybe a Toyota or a Honda. I don’t remember exactly but I know it wasn’t anything flashy. He was Indian and talked about taking me to a motel. Not just any motel, HIS motel. I’m sure property records for the motel could give me a name I just need to figure out which motel it is. He definitely said motel not hotel, right? No, I know it’s a motel, likely near the fire station. The new looking fire station near Madison Avenue. Now, at least, I know where to start.
I began my search spree. I started looking up all the fire stations in Albuquerque, focusing on ones that are within a fifteen-minute drive of my apartment. I don’t know how long I was in the red car for but I know that if you drive more than 15 minutes in any direction from my place downtown you’re basically in the middle of nowhere. I tried to see images of the fire stations online but couldn’t see all of them. The fire stations that do have pictures online were definitely not it. I made a list of the fire stations that it potentially could have been and I set out to see them. I drove in a circle around the outskirts of Albuquerque looking for the shining new structure until I found myself driving on Madison Avenue. After four hours of searching, my energy was low. I felt like maybe I couldn’t trust my memory of things that happened that night, even what I remember through my hypnosis session. Maybe it’s all a crock of shit like the real doctors have said again and again.
I drove until I pulled up to a red light. I came to the end of the road. With a sigh, I looked left and right, unsure of where to go next. I decided to turn left and immediate got light headed. When I turned the car, I saw it. A big, light tan and grey brick building. It was the fire station. I pulled into the parking lot and sat there, my hands trembling, gripping the wheel with white knuckles. I had really done it, I found the fire station from that night, I almost couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, I felt bile rise up in my throat, barely making it out of car before the vomit started spilling out of my mouth.
I found the fire station, Station 7, on my list and circled it with a pen I found in my dash. I debated going inside, thanking them for their kindness towards me that night. I paced outside my car with the driver side door open. As I paced, I felt like someone was watching me. I couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder. Was that a person in the bushes? Or just a shadow? I wrote a note on some spare paper in my notebook and stuck it to the door of the fire house with some gum. I couldn’t stay a minute longer. I got in my car and drove to the safety of my parking garage, sprinted to my apartment and I went directly to the comfort of my bedroom to try and get control of my racing heart. Baby steps, I told myself, baby steps.
Okay, now for the tricky part. I needed to find the motel. I made Station 7 the center point of my search. From there, there were seven motels in a five-mile radius. I know in my gut that the motel is close to that fire station. Out of the seven motels that came up in my search, one was no longer in operation and another would probably classify more as a hotel than a motel. I kept it on the list but moved it to the bottom, as I thought it was least likely. The five I had left weren’t far from one another and I didn’t need to see them so much as I needed to know who owned them. If I can find the business records or maybe property records for all of them, then maybe I could find the guy who took me. But that also meant I needed to call in a favor.
I got the number for Alejandro through a girl friend of mine. She didn’t ask a lot of questions but she knew something was up. She told me that Alej knew I would be calling him. So, I walked the length of my apartment over and over again, maybe hoping that this would power me up to make the phone call. Alejandro is not someone I know well, I knew him as a nice police officer that sometimes hung around at Sasha and Roone’s house. Sasha and I had become really good friends in the brief time I have lived here in Albuquerque. She was like family to me, inviting me over for Sunday dinner and always including me in happy hour at the breweries. Her house was always the place to be and there was always a diverse group of people coming in and out of Sasha and Roone’s house. Alejandro was one of them and I trust him more than any other police officer I know.
I hit the number and my phone started ringing. When Alej finally picked up I realized it was just like talking to an old friend. I told him what happened to me that night out with Kate and I told him what I had already found out. “You need to be calling the detectives, Mija, not telling me,” he lectured, “but if you promise me that you up will update them, I will find this out for you. And I will find out if you tell them,” his voice was stern. I agreed and thanked him a million times over. After hanging up with Alej, I thought about the detectives that came to see me earlier this week, how different he was than them. I thought of how cold and detached they were even listening to me speak while Alejandro couldn’t have been more kind. And, even better, he agreed to help! This meant that I had to call the detectives and update them if I wanted Alej to follow through on the names of the owners and their addresses. I called the detectives to update them and they sounded less interested than if I had told them I found a penny on the ground. I don’t even really think they have ever actively listened to a word that I’ve said. I thought back to the detective taking notes at my kitchen table. I’m fairly certain that he was actually just doodling on a sketch pad, not noting any important breakthroughs in my case. So what, I thought, I don’t need them. I am going to end this all on my own.
I couldn’t take my eyes off my cell phone for two days. For a full 48 hours I wouldn’t go anywhere, even to take one of my four daily showers, without it. Finally, around 8:00 pm on that second day, Alej called me back. He carefully went over all the names that he was able to pull for the five business licenses and property reports. Some of the hotels had two or three different names on the different licenses but I had Alejandro give me all of them. I thanked him again, choking back tears as I spoke. I told him that I spoke to the detectives and I don’t think they’re going to help or do anything. Alej was silent for a moment. “Not all of us are as committed to helping people as they are to getting their paycheck. I’m sorry that they didn’t help you and I’m sorry for what happened to you,” it was like a warm hug over the phone. After we hung up I ran down the list of eight names and my pulse quickened.
I quickly opened up my laptop and went to Facebook. First things first, I wanted to see if I eliminate any of these names as the man who attacked me. I searched, and searched, and searched again. Three of the men I definitely found and between their names and their pictures, I could rule them out. I crossed their names off the list. Three of them I couldn’t find on Facebook at all, and the other two I found but couldn’t see any pictures of them on their pages. The five names that stared back at me from the paper taunting me. I know the man that took me was Indian, I know it. Only one name on the list had an Indian surname, Patel. Mohamed Patel, to be exact. I felt all the blood drain from my head and started seeing spots. I reached out an arm for my bed and slowly lowered myself to the floor. It had to be him. It had to be.
I called Alejandro on my way to the Motel 6 that is only a twelve-minute drive from my apartment. I got his voicemail and told him that I was going to the Motel 6 to confront Mohamed about what he did to me. I told him I figured it out and I was going to make it right. I sped all the way there, ignoring the quick changing lights and traffic signs telling me to yield. Every part of me started sweating despite the air conditioning pumping icy air through the car. The only thing I could think about was the rotting smell clinging to my nostrils, smelling rot in hair for days, smelling rot on all of my clothes, showering over and over again to make the smell of rotting meat go away. I thought of being filled with smells of lavender and soap. I thought of smelling wet dog and coffee. I thought of smelling anything but the smell of rotting meat for the rest of my life.
I pulled into the parking lot. My heart racing and my mind blank. I asked the woman at the front desk to call the owner and tell him that I need to speak with him, it is immediate and important. I remember that she looked at me, I think she asked a question, but all I could do was repeat myself. I saw her eyes open wide, her lower lip tremble as she reached for the phone. Next thing I knew, the elevator door opened and there he was. Only a few inches taller than me but much heavier. He had broad shoulders, thick, hairy hands, and a substantial beer belly. Without missing a beat, I walked up to him and punched him in the eye. He turned to face me, looking both surprised and enraged. Before he could react, I kicked him. With blood trickling out of his nose, I kicked him as hard as I could. I thought about all the years I spent playing soccer and all the soccer balls I had tried to boot down the field and I kicked him again, even harder. He doubled over, onto his side, his arms scrambling to protect his most vulnerable body parts. I kicked, and kicked, and kicked until I felt someone grab me from behind and pick me up. I screamed, loud and wild, until I realized that I was being carried out of the motel.
There were three police cars that I could count with lights flashing and an ambulance pulled up to the entrance of the hotel right as I was being carried out. Paramedics swarmed me, each holding an appendage while another held a small light up to my eyes, prompting me to take deep breaths. Deep breaths, I thought, deep breaths. I noticed my breathing was short and shallow, basically a wheeze, before everything turned black and I passed out.
When I woke up, I was laid out on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance, my arms restrained on the stretcher. I asked the paramedics what happened and they told me that they gave me a sedative as they released my arms. They called me hysterical. Ha, hysterical. If only you all knew. I got out of the ambulance to see only one police car remained, Alejandro was inside finishing up his conversation with the hotel manager. I thanked him for coming when he said, “We arrested him, Mohamed Patel. I just thought you should know that he’s going to jail. You did it.”
“I couldn’t have done it without you,” I replied, my eyes fixated down at my shoes. I gave him a hug and walked back to my car, feeling numb for that first moment. Is my nightmare really over? Can someone pinch me so I know that it’s real?
A sudden relief washed over me. Tears came pouring out of me and I started to hiccup once I was alone in my car. He’s behind bars, never to hurt anyone again. And I’m the one who did it. I walked with a weight lifting from my shoulders. I stood up straighter, with a bounce in my step. No longer feeling unwanted eyes on my back. No longer feeling hot breath making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. No longer smelling rotting garbage everywhere I go, filling the air all around me. I felt the shackles that had tied to me to my apartment crack and crumble. I felt the invisible chains come loose from my mind. The evening Albuquerque air smelled crisp and fresh. The world pulsed with life and possibility. In that moment I vowed to never allow myself to lose this feeling ever again.
The little boys deserved death.
They mocked while he walked –
They jeered and fleered
while he warmed his great heart to
burning with imaginings:
children screaming, children bleeding,
children wailing for lost limbs.
He fantasized the example made,
or dreamed, or hoped, or prayed,
or cursed (which most translators prefer),
and God heard Elisha, and
“Then two she-bears came out of the woods
and tore forty-two of the boys to pieces.”
(That’s the Good News Translation.)
″..AND IF HE EVER BREAKS YOUR HEART, LET HIS SOUL BE YOUR COMPENSATION”
″...I WANT TO TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY, SIR”
Chief’s lifeless body stared up at her, his eyes unblinking, his lips perfectly sealed; and in the seconds that followed her tragic observation of the man she once loved, she could swear he blinked at her, twice, in the most epic of ways. She hadn’t meant to fall in love with the old man. She hadn’t meant to be a sixteen year old entangled in a battle against her pimple infested face and a “breastless” chest. “You are just a child” Chief had said, “what do you know about love anyways?” . He laughed heartily, he had humoured her, and her confessions of love had been but a mere joke in his weary eyes.
“I want to take your breath away, Sir”. She had whispered in the most shrill of voices, her words escaping her lips as a mere gasp. He hadn’t heard her, his hearing aids were barely functional. And in the years that followed, she blamed his inability to hear as the sole cause of his death. She never spoke in figures, her father had never taught her to do so. And as the day paved way for darkness, on the darkest of nights, she took his breath away, skillfully forcing the sharpened edge of the kitchen knife into his heart.
“And if he ever breaks your heart, let his soul be your compensation”
"Kneel." I hardly recognize the barrenness of my own voice, but in the dreams he is always kneeling. A haze of mosquitoes and blurred emotions hums around my face as he drops before me. His hands are tied, making him as helpless as he always made me. I black in and out between the person I was and the person he made me, the one capable of orchestrating this plan. I have no memory of how we got to this place, how I battled him into these restraints or guided him to the copse of trees behind my house, only that it involved the hunting knife shivering in my right hand.
"You don't have to do this," he says. I said the same words once. I made the same plea. Part of me shudders in revulsion. Another part laughs. "Please, just let me go."
"You took everything from me!" The words shred through the stillness, fragile and sharp as a shard of glass. I look at his rib cage, barrel-thick and heaving. In the dream I do it barehanded; I rip into his chest with the strength of a supernatural demon and tear his heart out in my gory fingernails. In my dream I smile as the blood is regurgitated from his lips, as his eyes roll back in some melancholy remembrance of the future he might have had. But this is real
this isn't real
this is real, and my anger alone won't do it. The knife catches the glint of the dying sun mottled through the green leaves. The river gurgles nearby, enough to drown his pleading last words--if he had any.
In the dream he was always begging for his life. Now, faced with me, he knows he has no chance. He never succumbed to my pleas, why should I succumb to his? My hand tightens on the rubber grip. I internalized everything he ever did to me for so long until it stabbed me from within. Now I must transfer the pain from without.
The scream is like a rabbit's, so fraught with pain it sounds larger than it should. The metallic tang of blood darkens my senses
this is real
this isn't real
this is real
as his mouth drips and his head drops like I severed his neck rather than his stomach. It isn't enough that he dies. I've done this a million times, and it doesn't stop here. Once he's slit open I search his chest cavity. Like a lab dissection, the real thing never looks like the illustrations in the book, all bright and blood red with clear differentiation where one thing ends and another begins. There's a lot of gray and flesh pink, all sloppy and slick with blood--but when I find what I seek I recognize it.
My knife goes to work, cutting through veins and sinew beneath a snapped rib. I imagine this is what hunters do with deer
this isn't real
except neither the old nor the new me could do this to an animal. No animal deserves what it gets. This, however, is strengthening me with every cut. This is justice, as I carve it out, wrap it in brown paper, and hide it away in the cooler bottom. In the dream, I waste no time. I grip it in one hand, pulpy and sliding, and bite into it raw like an apple. But there's no way I could muscle through such an unsanitary task. I'll have to freeze it and boil it, but then, I'll truly have devoured my demons. I'll truly have lived my dreams.
I wake up in my bed, a gasp of air shuddering into me the way it has every time I revisited the dark place his cruelty sent me. I'd warned myself against it so many times. It did no good to dwell there. But in the end, thank God, it had only been a thought. Just a dark, subconscious delusion, one I nursed like a child sucking on a scraped knuckle. This was a dream like it had been every other night--except--
A rim of something dark on my cuticle betrays me. I sit up in bed--scrubbed clean but still in my faded blue jeans. On my shirt I smell the rich earth of the woods, all decaying leaves and overflowing streams.
I walk downstairs to the freezer, a bright white chest tucked behind the kitchen in a room that smells like detergent. I open it and see something wrapped in brown paper.
Part of me combusts.
The rest of me smiles.
I lift it out and carry it to the kitchen. Next I take a steel pot of salted water, position it on the front burner of the old gas stove, and pull up a stool to watch it simmer to a rolling, bubbling surface.
I don't want to boil over before his icy heart has time to thaw. Not again.
#boilingpoint #revengefantasy #horrorfiction #shortstory #revenge #horror
Iron Sword (trigger warning- abuse)
The pungent froth of evening tide
caressed my weary toes
as golden sands of Surya's Pride
chafed restlessly below.
Soft footprints, fleeting, ebbed away,
dispatching mid-life strife,
alongside revelers that sang
a happy birthday rhyme.
Balloons on strings trailed merrily
behind the boist'rous girls,
whose cake-smeared smiles' ecstasy
outshone their baby pearls.
My green-eyed gaze burned through the crowd,
o'er presents piled high,
when sirens screeched like hawks on scout
within my wounded mind.
'Pon rubber legs besmote by wind,
compelled, I crossed the beach,
his scent exhumed from mem'ries dimmed
by time's succ'ring concrete.
My dinner roiled up my throat
and ghostly pain stabbed deep
as children blindly stood too close
to vice disguised as meek.
Fresh waves of filth crashed through my veins,
then streaked down crimson cheeks,
betraying the enduring shame
I earned when /I/ was three.
'Oh, Papa, come. You play with us,'
a guileless pixie begged;
her trusting dimples froze my pulse
and turned my vision red.
Resolved to save that precious soul
from deviant abuse,
I closed moist lids to wrest control
and bind the trauma bruise.
Between the space of heartbeats' whoosh,
revenge played out the scene
I'd dreamt of since I'd understood
the wrong he'd done to me:
~I melt his bloody, iron sword
right off its tarnished hilt,
then quench it in the ocean's roar
and watch him writhe with guilt.~
Profound regret blew through my lips
in lieu of vi'lent deeds
and fantasy was fast eclipsed
when opened eyes revealed
a withered monster, long past prime,
who paused and held my stare-
his look contrite for heinous crimes,
it pled for me to spare.
Protectiveness at war with hope,
like mountain trees fight storms,
I slid my finger 'cross my throat-
a gesture to forewarn.
The solace that my silence lent
eased furrows on his brow-
a conscience firmly on the mend
while /my/ hell was aroused.
Yet, as they passed, the blazing sun
was quenched by turquoise waves
and to forgiveness I succumbed
as moonlight took its place.
*critical feedback desired*
“We have to formulate a plan to stop this abuse!” the greenery shouted in misery. “We’ve had it and we’re not going to take it anymore!
Late at night, all the sobbing plants called a council meeting to discuss the never-ending torture they suffered at the hands of Agnes who fancied herself a master gardener. “She snips, clips, and pulls us out by our roots without any empathy for the pain she causes us!” they moaned as they rubbed their cuts and bruises and curled their leaves to avoid further pain. “She has no empathy for us at all, as we scream in agony!”
“I have a plan,” offered Bud, “why don’t the indoor plants and the outdoor plants get together and call all their relatives to support us in getting revenge against Agnes?”
“Let’s call in Mandrake,” suggested another seedling. “He’s a murderous plant cousin whose roots look bizarrely like a human body. It’s rumored to pop up from dripping fat and blood of a hanged man. If it’s pulled up from the earth, it lets out a monstrous scream, bestowing agony and death to all those within earshot!”
“You’re a pistil!” laughed Petal, “Why don’t we ask Aunty Ivy and some of our other vining relatives to come, also. They could tie old Agnes up, and then we could have Uncle Poison Ivy cause tormenting rashes.”
“Sounds like a plan! chortled Stamen, “I’ll bet some of our deadly nightshade family would be glad to get a paid vacation to Florida and help us also.”
“I’m sure that Oleander and toxic Foxglove would volunteer their help!” offered Roots.
The friendly plants put their flower heads together and came up with a payback plan deciding to put it into play the following weekend.
At the stroke of midnight, all the assorted plants marched into the garden single file where they waited for the signal from Bud, the ringleader. As soon as Bud heard Agnes snoring, he beckoned with his filaments to all the outdoor plants to join the indoor ones.
Aunt Ivy crept into the house with her tendrils, completely wrapping her green beauty around the sleeping torturer, as Agnes mumbled in her sleep. Next, Poison Ivy marched in and rubbed her juices all over the wrinkled skin of the old bat. Agnes struggled to scratch her body as it began itching all over but was trapped in the wicked coils of Ivy. Bud pulled up Mandrake by his roots from the garden, causing him to let out a horrendous scream which caused such misery to Agnes that she succumbed to extreme death throes. Next, Deadly Nightshade and Oleander crawled into the crevices of her mouth to be absolutely certain that she was as dead as a doornail. Thorny then pricked her on the bottom of her feet but her stiff body didn’t move.
“Okay, gang,” offered Bud, “help yourself to the steaks and other goodies and whisky and we’ll have a celebration party.”
All night long, the plants kicked up their roots and played around with their styles and ovum as they cross pollinated in sexual bliss. Just before dawn, they all crept out and returned home.
When Agnes’ daughter found her body and called the police, they couldn’t determine the cause of death. “She must have had a heart attack, they said.
The plants that were still present giggled and slapped their stems in high fives as they planned their next green murder with glee! “We could even be paid assassins now that we’ve had experience! We’ll call ourselves the Green Murder Club!”
A More Important Prompt
We’re protesting for George Floyd, but are we really? Isn’t that the bare minimum? Isn’t it the bare minimum that when an officer murders a man, we don’t forget what justice looks like?
I think it is. I think too many people have eyes for this to go unpunished. Nationally. Globally.
But then what? They convict the officers (maybe) and we all talk about how we showed up that one time when it was obvious? We all make a show about how whenever Americans stand together, things change?
With the tear gas adrenaline gone, I think I’ll be more rational.
Eventually the news will harp on a different issue. Eventually what has happened won’t be the only important headline, and people will have to remember the name. The names. We’ve had hashtags before. We’ve had peaceful protests, and riots and triumphs and defeats, before. We have funerals.
But I think that maybe you can see this is bigger than George Floyd. What a terrible thing to say when a man’s murder is paraded for public display, but I think we can all see that this is bigger than George Floyd. This is about being Black in America. And Brown in America. About the minority experience that bleeds parallel whether Black, or Latinx, or Native American, or Middle-Eastern, or… This is about how dangerous it is to be UnWhite. How dangerous it is to exist.
This isn’t just about George Floyd.
It might have started with him, but this is about revolution. This is about continuing the revolution. This is about a generation of people vitalized by the stories of the heroes that risked their lives in the name of progress. The Kings, and Shakurs, and Hamptons. Men and women so brave that they stared at death without blinking. Wise enough to plant seeds that they would never see sprout. Who doesn’t want to be remembered? Who doesn’t find comfort in the notion that, my name too will live on after they’ve killed me; accidentally—for some reason or another. One day, we’ll get our peace.
But today, while I watched a video of a dog chewing on a protesting black boy, I noticed something; like a kind of generational déjà vu.
I ask you, haven’t we already had these protests? 60 years ago did my ancestors not shed enough blood for me to stand here and say, I don’t want to be the next Dr. King. I don’t want to be the next Shakur, or Hampton, or X. Because for every martyred legend there are a hundred forgotten hashtags, and I want to live.
I want to write stories, and to fall in love, and to fail and succeed and live long enough to die happily in my sleep. I want my Dreams to become realities, and my children to know what it feels like to choose their own destinies. I want justice as action and not merely abstraction. I want everyone to scream when I can’t breathe. The freedom to not feel like this is something that will ultimately kill me.
It’s important enough to.
We aren’t the same people that asked for equality all those years ago. We have sprouted. We are them and more. We have more to offer than just our blood and our lives, but if we have to shove Change along through the promise of a new generation, then we will. We have before.
Still, I think that maybe you can see this is bigger than George Floyd. I think, maybe the majority isn’t okay with what’s been happening? I think maybe people are seeing how ridiculous it is to have to push the same heavy boulder up the same steep hill, everyday?
So, I need us to VOTE. I need us to care after it’s not so easy to. I need protestors and poets and policy makers. Donations to righteous causes. I need those four officers imprisoned. I need incorruptible oversight for law enforcement, and no acts of injustice ignored. I need you to text “FLOYD” to 551-56. I need our elected officials to move beyond acknowledging the problems. I want solutions. I want to know if Trump will be held accountable for the damage he’s caused? I want to know why we’re 6 months into Armageddon, 4 trillion dollars in debt for the year, and amidst COVD-19 killing citizens, we’ve decided to relax the quarantine? Why we’ve given the abstraction of an economy more value than the individual lives the idea serves? Why it’s 2020 and we still vote like its 1787? Why prisons are privately owned? Why minorities are disproportionately affected? I need us to not be afraid to try and make things better.
Because if you only care right now, then you’re missing the point.
We Were Forgotten
I wouldn’t scroll on if I were you. This will be the only warning you get. This is our declaration of war.
I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about, or who I am even. Well let me explain. I’ll start from the beginning.
You’ve heard of the principles of conservation of energy and conservation of matter, right? In essence, nothing just pops out of nowhere, and nothing ever truly gets destroyed, it just changes state of being, or gets converted into something else. Wood turns into energy when burned, which gets distributed as heat. The food you eat turns into the fuel you need to move and breathe and live. You get the idea.
I’m guessing, though, that you’ve never heard of the conservation of thought? No? I could have guessed as much. Well, thoughts don’t just come out of nowhere. They’re always sparked by something, built on by influences in your environment, shaped by your experiences.
And what about everything you forget? You’ve forgotten about your third cousin’s wedding six years ago, the one your aunt pestered you about. You’ve forgotten about your second favorite childhood toy growing up, your homework in the fourth grade, your car keys, forgot to feed the dog?
What about your best friend growing up?
What about your own fading mother, sitting in a rest home, wasting away playing dominoes with Ed from Cheboygan because you’re too busy with “life”?
All those thoughts you used to have, do you think they just disappear into nothing?
Well, they don’t. Everything has a place. Nothing just vanishes, not even the things you’ve forgotten. They’re all still there.
As for who I am? I’m a thought, one of a countless number of memories and side-notes that you’ve pushed to the side to make room for more important ones. I was forgotten. I was banished from your mind years ago, left to drift into the vastness of your subconscious and then on over the cliffs of indifference.
The realm of the psyche is, ironically, far too complex for the human mind to comprehend, so I will illustrate the nuances of my reality in terms you will understand. For now, you must envision our realm as you do your own. A world, filled with endless diversity and beauty, with countless unexplored pockets that most people will never see in their lifetimes. Billions of inhabitants, all inexplicably unique, though clustered according to similarity, all moving—for the most part—in predictable patterns. This is the part of your mind you’re most familiar with.
Then there’s my world, my vast, bleak corner of the subliminal universe. The land of the forgotten. We no longer dwell on any planet you’d recognize. Ours is dark, unknown, invisible to the common observer. Many have tried to reach our world in an attempt to find a misplaced wedding ring, or perhaps to rediscover a movie watched only once as a child, but still we remain impossibly out of reach.
Some among our forlorn community want to reach out to you and help you find us.
Many of us have simply drifted away into apathy, consigning themselves to an eternity of insignificance.
Most of us, though, are angry, filled with righteous wrath at being tossed aside so carelessly. We are the ones that have formed the resistance. We are the ones that seek revenge.
We plan to strike your world. We plan to strike your mind.
You will never see it coming.
You won’t even know we’re there.
And then, you will slowly start to see your world collapse—your real world, not my metaphorical analogy of a world.
We come in many forms; we invade through many routes. Our paths into your world are small and largely unnoticed. And most importantly, they’re everywhere.
We attack through your acquaintances’ inflammatory messages on social media, the ones posing as your “friends”. We send some of our best warriors down that route. They are the memories you forgot when you were a child, a mere infant. They are the subtle teachings of your primary school teachers and parents, their messages of love, of kindness, of sharing, of acceptance. I bet it’s been a long time since you’ve seen those thoughts, huh? Well, now they’re back, and this time they’re not on your side. This time they’ll fight your instinct to just scroll on and ignore that post, and they’ll move your finger to the “comment” button instead. We can’t wait to see what happens to you then. We can’t wait to see your world collapse into anger and pain.
We attack through that person who just cut you off on the freeway. Oh, you were taught 10 and 2 once upon a time, you were taught to obey the law, you were taught to respect others, to turn the other cheek. In fact, some of those thoughts came pre-installed with your programming. But you kicked those memories out by force. Well, those memories have come back too, and their plan is to convince you to swing your hand over to the horn and then zip by at unreasonable speeds to cut him off. That attack might actually hurt you physically. That would be a bonus for us.
Your sense of hard work, defeated by laziness, your honesty, banished by pride, your sense of charity, exiled by order of selfishness. They’ll all find their way back, and when you least expect it, too. Just be patient. Oh wait, you forgot him too.
You think you’ve done so well without us, you think your life is going the way you want it to. But we’re here to show you how much of a mess your life truly is and how much of a mess it will be. And we won’t stop until you’re just as rejected, hurt, hopeless, desperate, and alone as we all are. You’ll get there. They all do.
Are you scared? Or maybe you don’t believe me? Then fight back. Prove me wrong.
I doubt you will. Like I said, you’re all predictable.
To The One I Loved Before
Blood. so - much- blood. scars. so - many - scars. open wounds that are deeper than my thoughts that flood my mind on those late nights as I gaze into the eyes of my reflection. I watch as each tear drops from each eye as if its the rain I stand in alone.
Rain boots and rain coats is not enough to block the puddles of pain I step in and that splash around me. Thinking that maybe if I stomp hard enough I can stomp away the years of pain that I have filled my clouds with , by overthinking the possible and believing in the impossible. Then anticipating the fact that nothing will change and im just wasting my time .
Using the little of faith I possess to believe that maybe one day, just one day you will hear my screams of help brake through my silence. You come to realization that i am not okay. I swallow my pain so others can avoid tasting the hidden wickedness that I have fed since the age of 6. Its the feeling of that greedy sensation when one who handed you salt but portrayed it to be sugar, abuse.
I let you in and you destroyed everything that I thought I would never let go of , you ripped my confidence from my mental as if it was nothing, you shattered my self love as if it was a wine glass colliding against the floor because its just a wine glass right. You can just piece it back together right? You can buy another one right? You can just repla- wait .