“I can’t believe she’s been in that house five years already,” my father whispered to me, standing over her fake grave where he’d just placed a new faux-bouquet; plastic flowers, what a sentiment. I was smiling; I always smiled now when I thought of my mother and I couldn’t control it, which disgusted me and worried my father. He never called attention to it and I was thankful.
As we got in the car, I thought about our old house. I longed to see it. I closed my eyes and could envision stepping through the side door of the kitchen, smelling whatever wonderful breakfast creation my mother had made. I could remember exactly where the yellow linoleum was peeling and where the tiles on the counter needed to be replaced. It wasn’t amazing, but it was the last place I remember being happy and I wanted to feel that again. My father didn’t know it, but I was going back. I had to see it, even for just a moment, one more time.
Five years later and no one has linked her alleged suicide to the peculiar and coincidental disappearance of her friends. The deaths, I’d figured out were sequential. My mother had ripped her friends apart, limb by limb, one by one for an entire year, once a quarter. Faith first, right before Christmas, Ruth at the turn of spring in March, Sara in June and lastly, Hope in September; all almost a year to the day since the infamous trip to the Mayan Riviera….before my father walled her up with her human jigsaw puzzle, bound to play for eternity.
I spent hours, between the ages of twelve and fourteen, researching these women, their families, their likes and dislikes, and their deaths; I was obsessed. I found at a young age that media amuses me. “Disappearing Acts: Third Missing Woman, Still Untraceable.”
“Oh no,” I thought, “they’re traceable. You’d just never believe…” my thoughts stopped there as the images came. My body throbbed with desire to Google images of shredded limbs, but I refrained. Father was always watching.
Each case was still open, each family still hopeful for a grand return from their loved one. Part of me wanted to give these women justice. What my mother had done was inhumane and unfathomable, but the families still deserved an answer. I knew what that would require, and I just couldn’t think it. I couldn’t bear the idea of going to our old house to peel back that wall as my mother had done; who knows what I would find now. There’s no telling what kind of evil had manifested in that basement.
I wondered if the truth would ever come out.
My continued research worried my father to his wits, so he forbid me to use my laptop for anything but school work, which had to be under his supervision. This displeased me and flipped a switch inside me. After I cleaned the kitchen nightly – I cooked now – I would fix him a special drink before bed. A cocktail of chocolate milk and crushed up whatever-pills my doctor had given me to control my outbursts. I had to know everything about these women. I had to know everything there was to know about death, depression, and the things that people do when they lose their minds. It’s different for everyone, I suppose…
Since my mother’s been gone, I’ve been in and out of depression, taking various medications which have been prescribed by numerous, various doctors. The meds make me an incomplete zombie – I say this because I lack passion or hunger for anything remotely human. I can’t seem to keep a doctor, I always end up freaking them out around my third appointment or so. I hate having to rehash everything, so sometimes I elaborate, act out parts of what happened, like charades. I do it just to frighten them; the looks on the faces of these scholarly men and women are worth the trouble. I jump around on the expensive couches screaming, cackling loudly like a mad woman, though the actuality of what happened is anything but comical. All those body parts….
“Woooommmmmmmb,” my stomach growled. This thought makes me hungry now.
I conjure the images every night as my head rests on my pillow, willing myself to cry but understanding that my body would never allow it, making my desire for tears grow. Things have been hard for me since my mother…departed. I sleep less – that started immediately after the incident. I mean, who could sleep with images of limbs and decapitated heads floating around their house in their head possibly rest well? Certainly not me. The pills don’t help and there are days that my father can barely look at me.
“You just look so much like her,” he says in a way that sounds like a compliment, but isn’t.
He’s so cold. You’d think a father, dealing with circumstances such as these, would be warmer, more inviting, more forgiving. Instead, he scrutinizes me. Makes my anger uncontrollable, though he’s the only one I am incapable of lashing out towards. I don’t know why.
I’ve grown less fond of everyone at school. They all know what kind of sick “affair” my mother had and that the, “guilt drove her crazy, crazy to the point of suicide. We are very heartbroken.” What a great liar, my father. I suppose he had to make her look crazy to keep anyone from asking questions, but they still ask. I still hear the chatter in the hallway, though no one thinks I do. My hearing has gone nearly sonic in the past year; I can hear a half-whisper pass between lips so close, you imagine them to touch. Rage swells inside me; I fight it to keep from crushing the skulls of my peers, which is all I envision doing. Even a sincere smile in biology lab boils my blood now. I physically feel like I hate everyone; my mind knows better, my body does not.
Physically, I seem to be turning to stone. My hair has gone gray, like my mother’s did before she cracked up. My face is hollow now, my cheekbones and nose are my outstanding features, unless you get lost in the deep pits that are my eyes now. Two rounds of gray, swimming in a pool of white. Such a beautiful sight, if your eyes are sore.
My anger swells to such a degree now that I am nearly unable to control it.
Just last week, I was in the kitchen putting the dishes away and I thought about my mother. I became infuriated at the very thought of her, causing the glass in my hand to burst. I remembered that night in my room, the night she left a glass at the foot of my bed; I remember hearing her scream and watching the glass burst in to thousands of tiny pieces. The moment the thought passed through my mind, my hands started to bleed and every glass in the cabinet crumbled, like an earthquake had just silently tumbled the kitchen.
My father came home and shook his head at me. I was crying on the floor with no explanation. “I was just standing here,” I said, feebly, “I didn’t do this on purpose, I promise.”
I’d completely isolated myself in every way possible. I hadn’t spoken a word to anyone at school in almost a year. I didn’t attend any school functions and my grades were poor. I’d turned myself in to that person. There are several variations …and you’re never sure which one you’re going to get.
People were definitely leery of me now. They all knew. I was crazy like my mother.
Fall break was approaching, and I’d spent the last few days calm and happy, feeling like the old me. It felt like whatever had been living inside me for years had finally died, releasing me from whatever hold it had been clinging to. I was hopeful, but I’d seen this before. “The calm before the storm,” as they say. My mother had several of these, though we didn’t realize it at the time. My father, being the devoted Christian man he was, always found such comfort in those days with my mother. The days before the wide eyes, the strange behavior, the blood-lust. He always silver-lined those days….clung to them in the years of therapy that followed. “I just knew that meant she was coming out of it.”
None of the doctors would ever say it, but those days of clarity only meant one thing: the worst was on its way.
My father left for his retreat after picking me up from school.
“You’re sure you’re okay to stay by yourself? You promise you’re not going anywhere?”
“Yes Father, I promise. I have a book I’ve been wanting to read.” My father didn’t press on the subject of religion any more. My aversion to the church was something we no longer discussed, and I was relieved. It’s a difficult thing to completely discredit something your parent has devoted their life to, and my father was a living testament to the word, “service.”
I watched from my window as his car drove towards his sanctuary. “I hope you find peace this weekend, I know I will,” I thought as my lips curled.
When I smiled now, my lips peeled over my teeth in such a way you weren’t sure what you were looking at; like when you peel an orange. It was sinister and sweet, something you wanted to look at, but made you uncomfortable when you did.
I grinned wide, feeling the thing grow inside of me. Standing at the steps of my old house, I knew I was doing a bad thing. My conscious – the part of it that was still intact – knew instinctively that this was wrong, but my body moved forward.
The door creaked open without me touching it – whatever was inside of me and inside of my old house were friends, old friends that had been anticipating a reunion.
I went to the kitchen first, my feet dragging there. I was being lead by a force, an energy. Fear crept in to my throat and I wanted to scream. I’d made a mistake by coming here, a misfortune I would never be able to repair.