August 2, 2013
A little drop of hope was the only thing keeping the dry insanity from completely ruling my entire being. Maybe this disaster will give me some sort of freedom. Something that will make me see my life in a better way. But it did the exact opposite. What happened didn’t open the box that confined me. I was now just able to see the walls.

It’s November. The asphalt is frozen, and every step is like a step across a coal ridden desert, except there’s snow instead of sand lining the edges of the road. I deserve this. For what I’ve done. This is what monsters deserve, what evil soulless monsters like me deserve. It’s Thanksgiving. Everyone is at home with their families. Eating turkey and gnawing on bones, snacking on cheese cake as they flip on the football game. Too bad my family’s dead. Too bad I killed them. And now, I’m wearing Daddy’s shirt and my brother’s boxers. The only thing that was left of them, and I’ve defiled it. I’ve taken away their lives and now I’ve defiled them by wearing their clothes. Like I mentioned before. I deserve this.I should have just stayed in the woods and died with their bloody broken pieces all around me. Let myself sink into the hole I dragged them into. But I didn’t, because I’m a coward. And cowards always find the easiest ways out of things.

There’s a car. I can hear the rubber tires clicking against the frozen asphalt behind me. I hope they hit me. That the driver spills their coffee, and swears and steps on the gas and I get spattered all over the windshield. But instead the black Camaro slowly slides by, and stops a few meters ahead. As I walked pass the car, the window rolled down, sending some jazz song pouring out unto the empty road. I glanced into the driver seat, not surprised by the suite and wool coat donned by the middle-aged man driving the expensive car. His voice flowed like a breeze, pushing all the haze that had been crowding my mind,away.

I blinked in surprise, and look at him again for what felt like the first time. His face was newly shaven, and as he smiled I could see the edges of his pearly white teeth behind his lips. His pepper black hair was slicked back with some expensive gel that I could smell from outside the car. He was most definitely a business men. One of those stockbrokers. Nice suite, nice car, nice hair, but eyes emptier and colder than a bottomless well. Maybe he should join me out here, where he belonged. Two empty Hell bond wanderers, walking barefoot, to our frozen deaths. Exactly what we deserved.

“Do you want a ride, kid?” He’s talking. To me. Why was he talking to me? I stopped walking.
“No,” An odd expression crossed his face.

“What happened to your arm?”
“I fell.”

“And what about your neck and face, you fall on those too?” “Yes.”

“You need stitches.”

“No.” I started walking again. He began to drive alongside me.
“Let me drive you to the hospital.”

“No. No hospitals, no doctors.”
“Look kid, I’m not going to leave you out here in the cold with no shoes on.”

“Then give me your shoes.” He laughed.

“Let me take you somewhere, anywhere. I’d feel awful, if I let a kid freeze to death on Thanksgiving.” I stopped walking again. He was right it was Thanksgiving. And on Thanksgiving, people were more willing to share. I could freeze to death out here, like I deserved, or I could accept the ride and maybe even mooch a dinner or two off this rich man. I was already going to Hell, and so was he. So why not post pone the accidental suicide for a day or two and go join my new acquaintance for a Bachelor’s thanksgiving dinner of canned soup, and old Asian food.
“Fine.” He smiled at me again, his pearl white teeth gleaming against the black interior of the car.

“Get in. It’s freezing out there.” It felt odd being in a car again. Almost claustrophobic, but maybe it wasn’t the space that was suffocating me but the memories. The last time I was in a car, was with my mother, my father and my brother. Driving out to the woods to begin our little camping excursion…that ended with me destroying everything.

“I’m Remy, by the way.” His voice, penetrating that fog I had again drifted into, made me jump a little.

“I’m sorry, what’d you say?”
“Remy Indigo, that’s my name.”
“Okay.” Sounded like the title of an important, soulless, business man, which he most likely was.
“Well?” He looked at me expectantly.

“Well what?”

“When I tell you who I am, you’re supposed to tell me who you are. It’s sort of a societal norm.” He chuckled at his own joke, and waited for me to answer his question.Tell him who I was. But who was I? I was definitely not the same person, I was three days ago. So much had changed, in those seventy two hours that now, I wasn’t even sure if I should tell this man the name my dead family had called me by, or make one up off the top of my head.
“I’m...Mai. Mai Cob.”

That’s a very pretty name.” He gave me another big toothy grin, and then gestured up the road.
“We’re almost to my house. You don’t mind sharing a big Thanksgiving dinner with me, do you?” I did my best to smile back at him.

“I would love to.”

The house was tucked back into a shadowy pocket on a dirt road half a mile from the highway. Though the large log-cabin sat surround by trees that were practically touching the windows, there was an emptiness that seemed to surround it.Stepping out of the car, I silently took the grocery bag Remy handed me, and looked out into the white flurry that was beginning to swirl about the mountains, and cover the dirt road in front of the house. They were out there. Somewhere. Stuck in between the trees, the snow piling over their remains, and hiding whatever was left of their souls.

“All right, here we go.” Balancing another grocery bag on his hip, he unlocked the door, and half ushered half pushed me out of the snow into the shaded foyer. He relocked the door and flicked on the lights. The number of framed pictures, and expensive pottery that decorated the visible walls didn’t surprise me. He was rich; of course he would have extravagant items decorating every inch of the house. What surprised me was the sheer hollowness that seemed to hang in the air. There was no happy housewife greeting him at the door, no little kids hugging his legs, there wasn’t even pictures of family, or friends. It was just an empty foyer...with some pretty vases on a table.

“You live here, all by yourself?” Remy glanced at me as he pulled his coat off and took the bag I was carrying, to the kitchen.
“Well, yes. I guess so. I would offer to take your coat but given that you don’t have one…” He put the bags down on the counter and studied me thoughtfully. I hadn’t thought about it, but I must have looked quite a sight. Ripped clothing, covered in blood, cuts, bruises, with no shoes on. I looked like a murderer. I was a murderer. So why did this rich business man pick me up, let me into his home and invite me to dinner instead of doing the safe thing and calling the police? His fingers tapping on the counter interrupted my suspicious thoughts of him. He smiled prudently at me. “You know what I have some clothing upstairs that will most likely fit you. Go clean yourself up while I start dinner. Third door on the right.” As he turned around and began fidgeting with the dials on the stove, I couldn’t help but be surprised by the openness of this peculiar man. But not wanting to argue with a good thing, I turned and without another word ascended the mahogany stairs.

A number of doors, all shut, lined the walls of the hallway that stretched through the upper level of the house. All the doors were crafted from some expensive wood, and had door handles that looked like they were made out of gold. Though the hallway was just about as fancy as hallways could get, the perfectly painted white walls harbored no pictures or artwork, instead they were empty, much like the aurora of the house.
I counted three down, and opened the door to a white wash bathroom, equipped with fluffy towels, and more than one full shampoo bottle. This bathroom was pristine. Barely even touched.

As I washed the blood, from my stained skin, the belief that there was something incredibly off with Mr. Remy Indigo, began to plague my mind. The thought still hung heavy with me as I stepped out of the shower and, trying not to look at myself in the mirror, pulled on a large white bathrobe. I wouldn’t dare look at my own face, the face that hid an awful thing underneath, the face that killed my family, the face I hated.

The hallway was cold. The bare hardwood floors were icy against my shower warm feet. I hadn’t thought about asking Mr. Indigo where the clothing that supposedly fit me was located at. Now I had to aimlessly drift down the hallway attempting to choose a door to open, in hopes of finding what I was looking for. For no particular reason, I settled on the last door on the right, and turned the handle with a bit of hesitation. Darkness flooded out into the dimly lit hallway. I reached into the room, and flipped on the light switch. What I was expecting to be an office or maybe another bathroom was instead a bedroom. I stepped onto the soft rug, and felt shock, slowly overwhelm me. The pink walls, which were covered in posters of horses and recognizable boy bands, matched the color of the fuzzy rug and the pink bed quilt that was topped with a myriad of stuff animals, pillows, and dolls. This room...this room was that of an adolescent girl, not a middle-aged man.

“Find what you’re looking for?” I turned in surprise. Remy was standing in the door, looking at me, a cold expression on his face.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry, I...I was looking for clothes.” He slowly entered the room and without dropping his frozen gaze from mine, placed a neatly folded pile of clothing on the bed.
“Dinner’s ready, change, then please remember to turn off the lights when you’re done.” He turned then shut the door without looking at me again.

It was an invasion. I was the invader.I had done something unthinkable wrong. There was something about the room that upset him. I had reopened the wound to a dangerous memory. I just wasn’t sure what the memory was. I had to apologize. I pulled on the clothes, which were donned with well know, expensive, brand-name tags on the backs and drifted out of the forbidden room making sure to turn off the lights and shut the door as I left.
Remy sat at the table, before an enormous amount of food that smelled delicious, hands folded staring out the window on the opposite wall. I walked across the dining room, trying to get him to look at me. I stood at what I believed to be my seat across from him. Remy’s eyes wavered for a fraction of second, and then he looked at me and smiled.

“I want to apologize. I didn’t mean to intrude into your personal life.” Looking down at the gold embroidered place-mats, I sat in the chair. He was quiet. I didn’t want to look up afraid I had somehow insulted him again. He let out a long slow sigh, giving me the courage to glance up at him. “As long as you’re staying here, I might as well inform you why exactly I have that unused room upstairs.” He didn’t serve any of the food. Instead he leaned back in his chair, a glazed look forming in his eyes.

“The room belongs to my daughter,” he numbly chuckled, “or should I say belonged. A few years back her and my wife, were killed in an awful accident...I haven’t touched a thing in her room since, I left it the exact way she wanted it.” A silence seemed to hang heavy in the air. The emptiness of the mansion was suddenly much more pronounced. We sat quietly for what felt like eternity.
“I’m so very sorry for your lost.” His face had turned dark and heavy.

“Well no need to dwell on the sad memories when we have a whole buffet of happy ones ahead.” I nodded my head in agreement as shakily served me the golden brown turkey.

The food was excellent. I complimented him with almost every bite I took. He always threw off the comments with a grin and wave of his hand, but by the look on his face I could tell he appreciated it.

“You know Miss Cob,” he began as we laid on the couch after washing all the dishes, “I know a man who owns a little café in town, if you would like I could get you a job there as a busser.”

“Are you serious?”

“Of course I am. You seem like a reasonable person, whose just down on their luck and a little bit lost.” We stayed silent as I tried to process what he had just said. He was offering to find me a job because he thought I was homeless or a runaway. I had lived in a big house, with a family, and a dog. Well…I use to. But they were dead now, and I knew there was no way I could face that big empty house that use to be full of life but was now silent and cold. So I guess his assumptions were right I was homeless, jobless, and family less.

“Thank you.”

“Would you like to sleep here tonight? Plenty of extra rooms.” “Why are you so being so nice to me?” I surprised myself a little by asking the question.
“ remind me a little of my daughter and if she was in your position, I would want someone to be watching over her, and making sure she’s safe.” We didn’t talk again; instead we stared up through the windows at the edges of a black moon that barely shone in the midnight sky.

“Keep your eyes shut. I have a surprise for you.”

“I don’t like surprises. Just please tell me what it is.”
“Wait one more second. Okay. Now open your eyes.” I removed my hands from my face, revealing the sunlit living room, where Mr. Indigo stood, holding a bow wrapped pair of shiny black shoes tennis-shoes.

“Are those for me?”

“Yes. They’re a celebratory gift.”

“Celebration of what?”

“For having your job a full month. Besides your old shoes smell a little.” I chuckled, and happily took the shoes, giving him a hug on the way over to the couch to try them on.

“They’re a perfect fit. Thank you so much. This means a lot to me.” I was the one smiling at him now, as I pulled at the laces.
“Are you working tonight? Then you’ll get the chance to wear them!”
A chill came up the back of my spine.

“No…not tonight.”

“Will you join me for dinner then, maybe?” The old scars on my neck began throbbing.

“I’ll probably be out the majority of the night.”

“Okay.” A disappointed look crossed his face. He didn’t understand, and he probably never would. I had to protect him. Them. Everyone. All were in danger tonight, and the only way to thwart the possibility of some awful catastrophe was to disappear for a few hours into the woods and wreak terror there for a while. “Please don’t be sad, I know you enjoy the company, but I have a previous engagement. I’ll come for dinner tomorrow night, I promise.” He nodded, his face looking a little less droopy.

I glanced at the clock on the wall, and saw it was time for now to leave.

“All right, well I best be going.” He handed me my black bag and walked me to the front door. On the stoop , I stopped for a second and grinned at him, the way he always grinned at me.

“See, you tomorrow, and thank you for the shoes.” He smiled back.
“See you tomorrow, Miss Cob.” He shut the door and as I turned to walk down the steps, into the snow, a funny feeling beginning to rise in my chest.

There’s always a moment of shock when I first wake up. Face in the leaves, the fresh air stinging every part of me. But this was different. The air wasn’t fresh and my face wasn’t in a pile of leaves. In was smashed against the cold linoleum tiles of an upstairs bathroom. A very familiar upstairs bathroom.

I sat up slowly. No. No. No. This was impossible. I had walked miles away. Into the forest. Alone in the snow. I had changed without any disturbance. So why was I here? Why was I on the bathroom floor of Mr. Indigo’s house? What had I done? I had to find Mr. Indigo. What if I had something awful to him? I reached into the dirty hamper and pulled out the only clothing in there. A pair of underwear… and a button up dress shirt.

Outside the bathroom the wood floors underneath my feet were clawed up so much that large splinters stuck out of them in every which way direction. All the doors along the hallway were tore open, the rooms ransacked, even Indigo’s daughter’s room was trashed, the stuffed animals butchered, all along the floor, the pink paint torn off the walls, all the posters lying on the floor in shreds. I had to find him, make sure he was safe, and try and explain what I could. Even though I couldn’t explain a whole lot.

I walked down the stairs into the living room, which wasn’t much better than the bedrooms upstairs. The decorative vases and pictures were shattered, the floor boards were ripped up, that large chandelier in the foyer had been smashed leaving bits of glass all on the floor, the dining room table was broken in half, and all the windows in the living room were broken letting in the cold winter air.

A groaning noise cautiously drew me into the destroyed dining room. A shoe. A clean black shoe occupied by a foot stuck out from beneath the table. Oh God. What had I done? I forcefully pushed the table over onto the floor, to find a shredded Mr. Indigo groaning underneath it, covered in blood.

“No, no, no. This can’t be happening.” I sat down, and touched his hand. He blinked at me twice, and a smile stretched painfully across his face.
“Hello, Miss Cob.”

“I did this to you. This is all my fault.” I could feel the tears beginning to well up in my eyes. “Shhh, it’s all right, dear.” He touched my face, leaving a splotch of red on my cheek.

“I should have known…I should have known, I should have just kept walking and frozen to death like I was supposed to, then none of this would have happened...”

“Listen to me Mai,” he sat up a little grunting in pain and grabbed my hand, “I would do exactly what I did a month ago without hesitation, again today, even if I knew the consequences.” His breathe was coming out in rapid bursts. He was beginning to die.

“Why? Why would you ever do that?” Mr. Indigo painfully chuckled, and leaned his forehead against mine.

“Because meeting you was worth it, you have to learn to forgive yourself before you can begin healing your soul.” He laid back down, took one last breathe and slowly closed his eyes. He suddenly looked pale and small. Shirt shredded, like the posters upstairs, chest broken like the expensive antiques covering the foyer floor, face shattered, like the perfect diamond chandelier, he died. Every part of him destroyed by my hand.

All the noises in the house, seemed to disintegrate and flow into the soft wail of the winter wind that was blowing through the rooms. I bent down and kissed his forehead, for the last time, “I’m sorry Mr. Indigo, but you’re wrong, I can’t forgive myself. Not for this, not ever.” I rose to my feet, and glanced at the pieces of glass scattered along the floor. I could do. I could end it. But I didn’t. I didn’t stop walking upstairs. I didn’t even hesitate to think about it because I was a coward. And as I mentioned before, cowards always find the easiest ways to get through things. Instead I went upstairs to grab the one thing I wanted to take with me. Wherever it was I was going.

Seven o’clock in the morning. I sat on the steps of a public building, meant for anything but the homeless audience that now occupied its front stoop. People, workers, citizens, stomped along the concrete sidewalks, spilling their coffee on their nice shiny shoes as they hailed taxis with a superior wave of their suitcases. They haven’t noticed. They haven’t noticed my shoes almost match theirs. But my shoes shouldn’t look like theirs, not even a little bit, because I’m not like them. Their suites and dresses are washed and ironed while my shirt is stained and torn. Their hair is neat and combed, while mine is unwashed and tangled. But the shoes I’m wearing, the shiny black shoes, with just a few dirt smudges, don’t match what I am. They aren’t meant for me. Because they aren’t mine.
Three hours earlier, in the empty woods. There’s always a moment of shock when I first wake up. My eyes opened quickly, like a window shade being snapped up too fast, and I breathe in desperately, letting freezing air numb my bare lungs. Though awaking like this, will never be quite normal, I have gotten a bit more use to it. Face down, lips kissing the leaves I at first could only smell the forest dirt. As I slowly sat up, I realized there was a stench stuck to my nose that was burning the edges of my nostrils. It was blood. Not my own. Through the cracks of baby sunlight caused by the branches of the trees, I could see a mangled mess of clothing, and skin, and blood, and shoes. A mess that I created. It was person, lying mangled in the forest, puddles of their blood leaking in between the leaves, staining my hands, arms and face. I studied the pile, even though I didn’t want to, looking for a face, for some sort of identification, but the body was so destroyed that without the clothes I wouldn’t have thought it was even human.

Just stand up, take a deep breath and stand up and find the bag, it’s around here somewhere. Don’t think about it. If I think about it I will stay stuck in here and die in here and never pay back the debt. Have to keep thinking ahead. Don’t dwell on this, it’s just another test. Another test that I have to get through. I kept saying this in my head, it’s a test, just another test, but I could feel the tears dripping from my eyes onto my bloody legs as I dug through the leaves for the bag.
There’s a spot in the woods it likes, it comes here, always after its rampages, because this is deepest darkest part of the woods, and it likes the dark, the cold, the emptiness. Its routines give me some leverage. I am able to hide a bag with clothes and other necessities so when I wake up here I have things to clothe and quiche my exhausted form.

My shaking hands fell upon the fabric. Pulling out clothes, pulling them on, back turned to the mess behind me, I made the decision to leave the broken thing where it was, to not disturb its already massacred shape. If something like this would have happened a couple of months ago, I probably would have buried the body, handmade a cross to put over the grave and said a prayer or two after making up my own sermon. But then again a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have been in the middle of the woods with a dead body.
Finding socks I dug through the bag for my sneakers I was positive I stuck in here yesterday. A slow panic began to rise in my chest as I realized that the shoes were not there. Gone. My shiny black new shoes……were gone. No shoes. No shoes meant the trail-less bushwhacking trek back to town will be difficult, near impossible. Feeling a heavy hopelessness begin to cloud my mind, I searched the surrounding trees trying to come up with a solution. My eyes unfortunately fell upon the broken legs of my victim. Shoes. A pair of shiny women’s flats, that somehow avoided the Armageddon that plagued their owner, now were needed by me. I didn’t turn away, I didn’t give it a second thought. I gingerly slid the shoes off and placed them on my own feet. A little too large but snug enough to walk through the woods without seriously injuring my feet. I refused to look at the mess again, as I slung the bag over my shoulder and began the trek back to town with a pair of shoes that weren’t mine.

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