I traced the lines scratched into the grey, brick wall and wished to add just one more. Another year, some more time, a moment even with the green-eyed boy I had fallen deeply and devoutly in love with. The mattress underneath my
diminutive frame squealed in protest as I rolled onto my back. I closed my eyes and could almost make out the faint edges of his face, the smell of his hair, the crooked toothed smile which had always captured my heart. But it had been five long years since the last time I held him, and where at one time I was sure I could never forget him, now it seemed as though my memories were fading just as easily as his life had.
I bit my bottom lip and stifled the tears that threatened to overtake me. It had been so long since any salted drop had marred my face, but the knowledge that even my memories of him were evaporating was just too much to bear.
“You alright, Carly?” my bunk mate asked. I ignored her as I have done since our first brief acquaintance.
Despite all her efforts I had chosen to live life with as few connections as possible. In prison, those who stuck to themselves were apparently easy pickings, but no one had ever bothered to raise a hand to me or even a voice. Marie had once said it was my eyes that frightened people. She said they weren’t haunted, or even cold, they were merely empty. My lack of concern over life or death, mine or anyone elses, confused even the most hardened of criminals and compelled them to give me a wide berth.
“Carly? she inquired again while peeking at me from her position on the top bunk.
“Looks like you’re crying” she replied in amazement.
“So what if I am?” I retorted sharply.
“It’s no business of mine, I just never saw you cry before is all”.
“Well good for you” I muttered while focusing on her raven black hair which had created a curtain over us. I glanced quickly at her face and found that her honey brown eyes sought mine.
“No girl”, she said with a sigh, “Good for you”. I was surprised by the genuine tone of her voice. I had expected another remark dripping with sarcasm. Instead this person I had barely spoken to in five years showed me a kindness I had forgotten existed.
Before I could stop myself the words poured forth like a river that finally breached its damn, and the onslaught of syllables seemed endless. My story though, was just as chilling as it had always been, and as I spoke I felt the familiar cool detachment I had retained all these years. I described in detail the death of my son, and the man I had subsequently murdered.
* * *
I stood in the downpour anxiously waiting for their vehicle to turn the corner. My blond hair clung to my face even as the wind threatened to blow me over. I glanced at the sky and the clouds seemed to roll overhead, like the meanest waves on a merciless ocean, they swept away any light the moon might have created.
I could feel my stomach churning and I knew something was terribly wrong. They were half hour late; not so long when you considered that Andrew was always on his own time. But some terrible knowledge, some strike of motherly intuition as quick and as deadly as the lightning that flashed over head, urged me forward.
I headed for my son’s father’s house. Jogging at first, refusing to let panic overtake me, but as the thunder blasted overhead I felt dizzy with a fear I hadn’t known existed. I began to sprint, pounding the pavement with my white Nike runners which were now completely ruined by the deluge that had become my city. With each quickened step, I could feel my heart racing as my feet slapped the blackened asphalt in rhythm with it.
The scene on the road before me stopped me so abruptly that I stumbled and fell into an ever-widening puddle. My hands burned from road rash, my body shook as the freezing water claimed my rigid torso. Although all these sensations registered within me, I had gone completely numb. I lay still on my belly, eyes fixated on the twisted metal of, at one time, had been our car; and the broken body displayed before me. He must have been ejected from the vehicle. But it was his eyes that struck a cord so deep within me. His gorgeous almond-shaped eyes, the most brilliant green, were dulled by the putrid whisper of Death. My gorgeous son, my one reason for breathing deeply the wonders of this world, seemed to gaze at me with a saddened expression as though he knew I would find him here like this.
I began to slither towards him, this beautiful gift I had been given and which had now been shattered and ripped from this earth. Arm over-arm I made my way to him. Finally I was beside him, running my fingers through his wavy brown hair, whispering my love, my sorry’s, my god damned platitudes.
I glanced up as Andrew stumbled from the vehicle. He weaved a path towards me, rocking from side to side. He collapsed beside me, head within his hand, staring down at our son. I was repelled by him, this man, this careless son of a bitch who had accidentally snuffed out the life of his very own child. The wind ripped at his person and carried to me the reason for this tragedy. He reeked of alcohol. His sobriety of two years had cracked under god knows what pressure and torn from him his self-respect, and now, the life of our son.
Rage let loose within me, primal and eager. I jumped him, knocking him on his back; he didn’t fight back, he had nothing left, neither one of us did.
* * *
I was surprised to see tears in her eyes. I licked my lips and continued.
“The police were the first on the scene. They came upon me, beating his head into the pavement. It took three men to pull me off of him, my rage, my blinding agony, created a strength in me that can only be described as super human…or perhaps just… inhuman”.
“I’d have killed him too” Marie said simply.
“I was wrong to do what I did. If I could take it back… I should have let him live with it. Now I’m the only monster left in this story.”
The words I had never expected to hear myself say left me stunned. I had once believed I hadn’t felt any regret for what I did on that horrendous and destructive night.
“You once told me that people feared me because my eyes held an emptiness they couldn’t understand. But that emptiness is merely defeat. In one terrible night I lost my only child, and became a person I never thought I was capable of even contemplating. I don’t have my child and I don’t have a self to return to. In a very real way, I died that night too.”
Marie pulled herself back up onto her bed and spoke out loud the thought that kept her up at night, if choices she had made were different, if the path she had taken had not led her here, “I was watching TV a couple of weeks ago with some of the girls, a program about the idea of multiple universes. It got me thinking, that I would like it to be true. That somewhere out there is a me who never ended up here, talking to you – no offence – maybe a rich me, or a happy me, but I’d settle for just different, really”
My silence punctuated the end of the conversation however I couldn’t help but contemplate what I would change if I could…