I remember the day my younger brother was murdered.
I remember every event, I saw it with my own eyes.
I remember the heavy breathing of his murderer.
I can recall the exact date. October 7th. It was a Friday. A Friday we both had off of school for a teacher work day.
I woke up early that morning, still on school's sleep schedule. There was no way I was getting back to bed, especially waking up this early and feeling the need to get up and ready.
So, since I was left with no other choice, I got up and made breakfast. And truthfully, it was some of the best pancakes I've ever made. Of course I made extra for Oliver for when he woke up, which would be soon.
He always woke up early, weekend or not.
And, speak of the devil, he walked into the kitchen. His hair was a mess and he looked very groggy, which was not usual for him. He was a big time morning person.
"Hi Ava," he croaked. "I smelled pancakes and woke up."
I smiled. "Of course you wake up to food."
He nodded and I directed him to his plate.
The butter was just starting to melt and the syrup was dripping off every edge of the stack. His looked even better than mine, and from the look on his face, I could tell he was more than ready to devour them.
And he did, rather quickly.
As soon as he was done, he cleaned up his plate and face, which was horribly sticky.
"Thanks Ava!" he smiled his brightest smile yet.
He seemed so happy.
And I took this moment for granted, expecting it again.
After countless minutes of cartoons that always got Oliver laughing and me rolling my eyes, I noticed how nice a day it was. It was about noon, so I thought it would be great to take a walk out.
"Oliver, I'm gonna go outside and just walk around for a little bit. You want to come with me?"
"Yeah! We can go explore the woods!" His eyes shone brightly, eager to go out.
"We'll see." I smiled as he jumped up, already running to put his shoes on.
While he was in the other room, I got this funny feeling. A feeling that said I might need assistance soon. I might need to protect myself and my brother. Like something bad might happen. I decided taking a knife wouldn't be a bad idea. Maybe I was paranoid, maybe I was just overthinking, but maybe self defense in this world might have been needed.
I grabbed a knife from the kitchen, as I didn't have any sort of pocket knife, and stuffed it in my pocket, hoping Oli wouldn't notice and become scared.
Oli ran back in with his shoes on, successfully tied tightly. I slipped on my tennis shoes with ease and we headed out.
It really was beautiful outside. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, you could hear bird chirping and singing everywhere, tree branches swayed with the slight breeze. Maybe, I thought, one of the best days I've seen yet.
And of course, Oli was excited to see it all. He tried chasing after a squirrel, he marveled every single bird that flew, and named almost every bumblebee we saw with a short name like Jerry or Bob. He was having a great time.
"Ava!" he called, pointing to the forest near us. "We should go into the woods over there!"
I thought it was a great idea, he could climb trees and step on every dead branch he could find to break it.
As soon as I allowed him to and followed him, I felt that funny feeling again. Like something bad would happen.
My stomach filled butterflies and, quite suddenly, I became dizzy. But I wasn't going to let Oli know that I wasn't doing so well. I wanted him to have a good time, I was not going to be a drawback again.
But the dizziness became overwhelming.
And as we entered the forest, I noticed I wasn't myself.
Oli tried to climb a tree with many branches and I heard myself say, "Let's go deeper into the forest first."
I didn't say that.
Except I did.
Branches broke beneath us.
Squirrels ran for their life.
And suddenly, I felt as if Oli should start running too.
But as I opened my mouth, I said the complete opposite of what I wanted.
"Stay still for just a moment."
"Hold on. Don't move."
"Is this a game of being stealthy? I'll play!"
Oli became very quiet.
I removed the knife from my pocket.
And thrusted it deep into Oliver's back.
I watched myself murder my brother.
My breathing became heavy as he fell, a muffled scream coming from behind the hand that covered his mouth.
That hand belonged to me too.
I yanked the knife out of his back, then pushed him backwards.
He landed on his back.
I watched the life drain from his eyes.
It felt amusing just as much as it felt horrifying.
And there, I burned his body, hiding it forever.
The one thing I don't remember is ever gaining control of my life back.
I was not myself.