Heath Somers

April 4, 2008
By Simone Hodge, Rex, GA

Heath Somers grabbed the pink, star-shaped noise-maker out of her little sister’s chubby fist.

“Seriously, Stephy,” she growled. “Enough is e-effing-nough.”

Stephy Somers shrank back. Her bottom lip began to quiver violently. Heath pressed her long pointer finger against her mouth.

“Don’t cry,” she said.

Too late. The cries that spilled from Stephy’s lungs filled the whole apartment (not that there was much to fill). Ms. Somers stepped through the cracked doorway into the smallest, darkest excuse for a living room in the history of New York. Stephy looked at her mother with watery blue eyes.

“What’s going on?” Ms. Somers asked, balancing her laptop in one arm and a laundry basket in the other.

“Mean Heathie,” Stephy sniffled.

She wiped her nose across the back of her arm. Ms. Somers looked at Heath, her eyes practically screaming in exhaustion.

“She kept playing with this stupid thing, even after I asked her to stop. I’m trying to read,” Heath explained, holding up the noise-maker.

“She’s bored, Heather. If you’d just—”

“I’m reading, Mom!”

Ms. Somers drew a long, shuddering breath the way she always did when she was annoyed. Heath shook her head.

“Then, go to your room and read! I’m trying to get some work done,” Ms. Somers said, turning to leave the room. “And give Stephany that damn thing back.”

Heath shoved the toy at her sister and snatched her Stephen King book off of the stained couch cushion. She stomped across the hall to her room, closing the door behind her. After a couple of cool, calming breaths, she got back into reading. Then, she heard it. Right outside of her door.

“Stephany, what the hell?” she said.

She grabbed a fuzzy, blue pillow from her bed and flung it at the door. The sound of the noise-maker didn’t stop. Instead, it seemed to be getting louder and faster with each passing moment. Heath could just imagine Stephy lying on her stomach, twirling the toy near the space between the bottom of the door and the dingy carpet.

“Okay,” she said, pushing herself up from her green comforter-covered mattress.

She stumbled over to the door and threw it open. Something hit her in the face. Her hand flew up. Her fingers collided with something wet and warm. She pulled whatever-it-was away from her head, holding it up in the dim light of the hallway. It looked like—well, she wasn’t exactly sure WHAT it looked like. It kind of reminded her of a stretch of tan, bloody human flesh. With a shout, she threw it down onto the carpet.

“CRAP!” she cried.

She looked up from the puddle of skin on the floor into the face of the wild-eyed, hat-wearing, ax-carrying man standing in front of her, twirling her baby sister’s toy joyfully.

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