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I rub the rusty sleep from my eyes as I sit up. I’m awake, gathering my foreign surroundings. There’s a stuffed elephant on the shelf, staring at me accusingly with its black, button eyes. A plant stands innocently on the windowsill, and a cherry-colored, no… a blood-colored laptop sits on the desk. Hello Kitty chap stick stands next to an ecofriendly water bottle on the bedside table. The bed itself is neatly made, pink and white plaid sheet spread smooth, piled with fluffy pillows.
My mind is a fog after the darkest rain. This isn’t my home. I lay across a pink shaggy carpet, without a memory of how I got here. Thoughts play with my mind, jumping at its edges. I know this room… how? The room closes around me, trapping me, containing me. It knows something, that thing, the thing leaping at the fringe of my mind.
I stand up. There’s weight in my pocket.
Reaching into my worn jeans, I reveal a knife, an average, kitchen, steak knife. The thoughts leap again, teasing, taunting my conscience. My short sandy hair falls into my deep grey eyes; I flip it to the side. I finger the knife. Ink stains the blade’s sharp edge. There’s ink on my hands. Why don’t I remember writing? The ink itches.
I glance at the window, draping shades pulled aside. A dark forest stares back, haunted with the shadows that elongate as the dark winter sun sets. I turn to the room. Pictures of New York crowd the walls. A lacrosse stick stands beside a bookshelf lined with pages and pages of stories that can never happen. Dolls and toys lay in cornered baskets, untouched. A full length mirror hangs to the right of the closet door, reflecting my confused image standing in the midst of the daunting room. Ink splatters illustrate my plain, white t-shirt. My jeans are painted stiff with ink. The mirror. I rip my eyes away from my reflection. The mirror stands to the right of the closet.
The closet. That’s where it is. It must be. What was it again? I can’t remember, but it’s vital. Why?
My feet are cold. I open the top drawer of the light oak dresser and pull on a pair of socks. Black cloth stitched with Snoopy’s smiling face. They won’t be missed.
The ink. The ink spots my hands. It itches. My mind itches.
The closet stands before me. I step towards it, slowly. My feet leave footprints in the carpet’s soft fringe. Why does this concern me? They can’t know I’ve been here. Who?
Two more steps.
I reach towards the doorknob, coated in ink. I turn it. The door slides against the pink carpet.
Ink. Shoes. Cloths. Hangers. Beneath it all, lays Lucy Menson.
Covered in ink.
Her chest lays solid, no breath forming. Her eyes lay closed in an endless sleep started by a stricken nightmare. This was Lucy. This was my neighbor’s daughter, young and smiling only yesterday. The ink is pooled on her navy blue shirt, long brown hair stuck to her cheeks, glued by the ink.
This ink, it’s different. I see it now.
It’s not ink, but blood- the dried blood of a young girl.
What happened? My mind reels, the thoughts continue to jump at the edges. They’re pounding now, demanding discovery. Who would have done this?
I turn to the right, and see him. The murderer. Standing tall and forlorn, plain, white t-shirt painted with the awful graffiti of blood, worn jeans dried stiff with the same redness. Standing shocked, discovered, realized. Average, kitchen, steak knife still in hand. Sandy hair covers deep grey eyes, crazed.
I turn right, and see me.
I flip the hair out of my eyes, tuck the knife into my jean’s pocket, and step out of the compressing room.