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When I was first informed of the homicides, I was in bed, nearing the edge of oblivion. I had to drag myself out of its warmth and to the front door just to be told about two people’s deaths. My friend, Sally Harper, a very simple minded being of nature, came to my house that very night. The only words she could think reasonable to say were, “Don’t worry, Emma, they didn’t even feel it. It was just pow, pow, over. No one ever feels a gun shot.” She had even pointed her hand gun at me and pulled the trigger. She thought she was doing a great job at putting my mind to rest.
My grandmother came next, it was around two in the morning. She was still wearing her lace nightgown, and her hair was still wrapped in curlers. She had high tailed it all the way from Florence in her beat down Mercedes. Her first words to me were, “Emma, my dear, you’ll be okay.”
I had felt like laughing at her, telling her that nothing would ever be okay again. Everyone’s belief in me, as a girl of seventeen, being okay, and feeling comfort in knowing that they were shot was ludicrous. You sleep soundly in your bed, feel comfort in the heat in of your sheets. Get dragged out of it by the buzzing of a door bell and fall victim to a truth you never wanted to hear. Homicide. Murder. Right on your front lawn. As if it doesn’t sting enough. As if your eyes don’t pop wide open to the realization that a life was taken while you were only dreaming about the hot new guy in math class. You scrunch that into your perception of pea brain thoughts, and when you fold it back out to a normal size see if it doesn’t nip at any numbness you had learned to contain.
“Sure.” I had said back to her ear, as she held me to her chest. It was hard not to feel secure in her arms. Because nothing would be secure again, ever.
I took it in with steadying breaths, balanced it all in different portions of my brain, comical, easy going, it all took it in numerous ways. Then my mother came. “Emma! My dear, are you alright? Are you sure?” She kept on looking right at me, patting me on the head and cheeks to feel my flesh, its worth. But nothing was real anymore. I told her I was perfectly fine and then we just sat, trudging along in our little tirade that in the end, we would all be okay.
When my very best friend, Elle, came stumbling in at five in the morning, distraught written across her face like acid, I crumbled in her arms. “Oh, Elle, what has happened?” I sobbed on her shoulder, and sucked in her smell of cigarette smoke and sweat pea lotion. Me and Elle had been attached to the hip since the sixth grade. Ever since George Hathaway had called me ugly. Her defenses against him were so much stronger than I was capable of, and our friendship formed just like it was always supposed to be.
“Emma, chin up, girl, there is more to come.” She kissed me on my head, leaving red lipstick marks then walked away.
I was left feeling hollow at the bottom of my stomach. And words echoed in my head like a hypnotism, catapulting me further into depression, homicide, murder, right on your front lawn. It was only natural to think that I should have died in their place.
Sally left by mid morning, suddenly feeling squeamish for reasons I could not clearly identify. My grandmother just kept on glancing at me every five seconds from across the room, as if it in that very second of her look I would finally explode into a trillion pieces. But I didn’t, I just sat on my fine leather couch, the one my father had bought my mother for Christmas last year, and stared at the blank TV screen. I wanted Elle to come back and my mother too. My mother had left due to some unattended business at work.
I didn’t move again until lunch time when my father walked through the door. “Emma Jean, my love, what has gotten you all in a tizzy?” His British accent made my insides melt. It was a voice I had grown up with. It crooned to me when I skinned my knee, when I accidentally broke another one of his trophies. I didn’t cry in his arms like I had Elle’s, but instead I just let him hold me and stroke my hair. “Emma, I forgive you, okay? It has all been forgiven.” His accent pushed harder into my organs, shoved needles up in my veins. Reality was knocking, right behind my lips.
“It’s over, Em, come on now, tell the truth.” Elle was on my other side. She must have entered while my father had been stroking my hair.
“No, Elle, I won’t. I’m safe now. Everything is good. I’m good. No one knows.” I squeezed my eyes closed against her huge eyes, they pleaded with me.
“Then I will tell, Emma because they should all know and you know this. It was our plan, remember? We wanted to tell after it was done.” She places her slender hand on my arm.
“I’m sick, Elle! That’s all that I am! I am sick!” I began to sob, hysteria vomiting into my next course of action. I pulled away from my father, and once I let go he got up and walked away. “No! Come back!” I was letting tears pour.
“Emma, are you alright?’ My grandmother had materialized at my other side. Her words were itching at me, pulling me out of one train of thought and into another.
“No! No! Go away! All of you!” I looked around the room at them, my grandmother, Elle, my father, my mother, they had reappeared. They were shaking their heads at me from across the room. Everyone collided into horror, truth, reality, homicide, murder, right on the front lawn. I did it. My parents, gun shots, two, faint, right in the front lawn. “No! Elle, make it go away! You said that it would work! You promised that nothing would go wrong!”
“Oh, Emma, always the naïve one.” She pats my back. “Spill it.”
“No! I did it, okay? I killed them! Mom and Dad, they were never here! I killed them!” I heard my grandmother gasp, my parents vanished again, falling back into their new homes. The ground sped beneath me, but I focused on a face, one face.
“Why, Emma Jean? Why would you do such a thing?” My grandmother’s lips curled around her dentures. I was a child again, I had pulled the stupid picture of my grandfather off the wall. She was scolding me was all, there would be no more punishment.
“Because I had to.” Then I laughed, cackled is more appropriate. I laughed and I laughed until Elle went away. Grandma didn’t notice. No one ever noticed what was never there.