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Being Killed

As hard as I try, my sobs cannot be muffled by the sweater that I press to my mouth. My legs crumple and suddenly my stomach feels like it’s a weight, anchoring me to the floor. The tears flow freely and I fight to hold them back; with their escape, I fear the memories of him will be gone too. My brother – beautiful and young, intelligent and witty, every parent’s pride and joy – has just left me here to battle this world on my own. My father shuffles over and envelops me into warmth and safety, cradling me as if I’m a toddler again.

“Shh, shh,” he tells me, as if there’s any way to stop this scene now. “Let him go. He’s free now.”


I awake in a sweat and throw the blankets off to cool me; the blackness that only comes in the deepest hours of the night immediately encases my distressed body. The dream replays before my eyes over and over again, except that it’s not merely a dream or nightmare, but a memory. A memory that has become the screenplay of my life and music that accompanies it.
I leave the safety of my cotton sheets and protection of my stuffed animals to get a glass of milk in the kitchen; anything to ease me back into a state of delirium. As I open my door to go downstairs, I hear something – almost like someone else is awake. And then, before I was given a second more to question which family member it could be, I’m sure that I’m not the only one awake. One heartbreakingly beautiful scream is emitted from the end of the hallway where my younger sister’s room should be, and then all is quiet.

“HELP! HELP! MOM! HELP ME HELP! MO-“

My legs get the familiar feeling of suddenly being anchored to the floor, and I’m unable to move, immobile enough to be a picture with my doorframe as the border. Why aren’t my parents helping her? How could anyone sleep through her screams? All at once I know why they’re not here to stop the screaming, and I feel as if I’m going to be sick. My slippered feet begin to move back into my room, carrying my body to the only hiding place it knows. My closet is cramped and full of shoes, but I sit and hold my breath, praying that I was quiet enough in closing my door. As if to answer my inquiry, my bedroom door glides across my carpet and lets the intruder into my sanctuary. My chest is so tight it feels as if I’m being crushed, and yet I’m so paralyzed that I can’t feel a thing. I hear my sister’s screams over and over again, wanting someone to stop her – and then realizing what it means when she’s stopped.

With my hands clamped over my ears and tears leaving hot scars down my cheeks, I’m suddenly blinded by an overabundance of bright light coming from the heavens. My eyes can’t adjust quickly enough to distinguish a face, but I recognize a figure and unmistakable glinting object in his hand. I suck in a quick breath to scream, though I know that it’ll do me no good at this point, and when I open my eyes I’m greeted with the beautiful, intelligent, and witty smile that I once knew like it was my own.

“Shh, shh,” he coos to me. “You’re free now.”





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