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Annabel Lee

I opened my eyes to find myself face to face with a dumpster. It was hard to see much while dark outside, but it was obvious that I was in an alley somewhere. I decided to leave as fast as I could.
Running directly after waking up was not one of my best ideas. My head throbbed and as I turned the corner, I caught a glimpse of the street name. Twenty-first. Why was I so close to home?
I ran until I reached my apartment building. I took out my keys, but the front door was unlocked. Opening it, I called out “Hello?”
“I’m in the back!” Someone replied. Whoever this was, they didn’t seem cautious that I found them in my apartment.
I slowly walked through the foyer and towards the kitchen. I saw the man searching through my fridge.
“Did you drink all the orange juice again?”
I didn’t respond.
He laughed, “I guess I’ll drink water.”
Closing my fridge, he turned towards me, looking me up and down. “Damn, Bel. Did you get into another fight?”
I decided to ask Mr. Mystery the question that’s been on my mind. “Who are you?”
“Now that’s a new one,” he grabbed a bowl of what looked like cereal, and sat on the countertop. “Usually it’s just,” he changed his voice to sound higher pitched, “Preston, it’s not you, it’s me. This has reached a whole new level.”
“Why are you in my apartment?”
Mr. Mystery, who now identified as Preston, put the bowl down, hopped off the counter, and walked towards me. “Bel, what’s wrong?”
I shouted, “Stop calling me that, you creep! Get out of my apartment before I call the police!”
Preston backed away, raising his hands in surrender. He grabbed the bowl and bolted past me, shutting the front door on his way out.
I sighed, headed towards the shower to wash out the smell of perspiration and something else.
Once in the bathroom, I took off my clothes, turned on the shower, and stepped in. As the water pelted down my body, I saw red, dripping from my skin and down the drain. After the shower, I laid in my bed, waiting for sleep to consume me.
I woke up to the sound of pounding. I got up, walked to the door, and opened it. I was greeted by a man, wearing a police officer’s uniform and holding up a badge.
“Are you Lilith Banks?”
“The one and only,” I replied. “What can I do for you, officer?”
“I’m Leonardo Thompson with the New York Police Department. I regret to inform you, miss… Roseline Weathers has passed.”
“What do you mean she’s passed?”
“A Tomas Weathers has already identified the body. We believe… it was murder.”
I was shaking at the doorway. “Are you telling me that my own mother was murdered?”
The officer looked uncomfortable. “Yes, ma’am. She was stabbed. Eleven times.”
“Eleven times!?” I held onto the door to prevent myself from falling. “Th-thank you, officer.”
I closed the door and headed to the kitchen. I needed a glass of water. I opened the fridge door, but before I could grab the pitcher of water, my phone buzzed in my back pocket.
“Hello?” I answered, not bothering to check the caller ID.
“Hey, Lilith. It’s me, Tomas.”
“Hey, Tomas.” Tomas was an alright guy. I never talked to him, though. Just because he married my mom didn’t mean I had to like him.
“Have you heard the news? About your mom, I mean.” His voice was hushed.
“Yeah, I have. How are you holding up?”
“I’m not doing so well, Lilith. Do you think we could meet up at that coffee shop on twenty-first street? What was it called?”
“Lava Java. Yeah, I know the place. See you soon.”
Lava Java was a hot spot for the teens around this neighborhood, but during the daytime, it was usually empty. I spotted a familiar head of blonde in the corner of the shop and walked over to him.
“What’s up, Tomas?”
He looked up from his lap, startled.
“Oh, hey Lilith.” Tomas was wearing sweats instead of his usual blazer and trousers, the stench of booze enveloping him. Something was off.
“Hey, what did you want to talk about?”
Tomas’ eyes were wild as he looked around, then he leaned towards me. I backed up.
“They’ll think I did it. The cops. They’re going to arrest me, I just know it.”
“Woah, Tomas. What makes you think that?”
“I did some things, Lilith. Bad things. What’s worse, I was out the night she was killed. They’re going to think I did it. They’re going to think I did it…”
“Tomas, you’re not making any sense. Just because your alibi doesn’t check out doesn’t mean you automatically-” I hated to even say it, but I did. “Ki-killed my mother. They’re going to catch whoever did this. You’ll be fine.” I tapped his hands that were balled up in fists.
I reiterated my words and started to stand up, but he latched onto my arm, pulling me down.
“They’ll think I did it. I-- if someone asks you where you were last night, just tell them you were with me. Please, Lilith? I-I’ll even pay you! How much do you want?”
Tomas reached into the pockets of his hoodie, taking out his wallet.
“I don’t want your money! Go home.” I stood and left without another word.
As I was headed home, I passed the alley that I woke up in yesterday. Police caution tape surrounded the area. In the light of day, I could see every aspect of the alleyway; mostly red, which pooled on the ground, footsteps leading out and in the direction I walked in last night.
I was sweating. Where did all that blood come from? What the hell happened before I woke up in that alley? I feared what may have occurred.
I left the bloody scene and headed to my apartment.
As I walked up the stairs that led to my front door, I heard someone call my name from behind me. It was Preston.
“Did you come to return my bowl?”
“I’m afraid I’m not here on friendly terms, Bel.”
“Again with the ‘Bel’ thing. Stop calling me that. If you knew me enough to be in my house without an invitation, I’m sure you could call me by my real name.”
I felt a buzzing in my pocket, and pulled out my cellphone.
“Ann-” Preston started, but once I answered the call, he stopped speaking.
“Hello?” I asked, turning away from him to get a false sense of privacy.
“Is this Lilith Banks?”
“This is she. Who am I speaking with?”
“This is Officer Leonardo Thompson. I’m the one working on your mother’s case.”
I started to sweat again. “Ah, yes. Are there any new developments?”
“Actually, we arrested Tomas Weathers today. Apparently he’s been abusing your mother for years, but is adamant that he did not kill her. Says he was out with you the night your mother was murdered. We would like you to come to the station to answer some questions.”
“I’ll be there right away, officer.”
I hung up and started to leave, but Preston grabbed my hand and interlocked our fingers.
“I’m coming with you.” The tone he used left no room for protesting.
“Leave me alone! I don’t even know who you are.”
I shoved him away from me and headed to the station. Preston trailed behind me the way there, concern written on his face.
Officer Thompson greeted us at the doorway, directing Preston to a waiting area and leading me to an interrogation room. We sat across from each other, a white table between us.
The officer reviewed a file in front of him, looked at me, and asked, “Where were you on the night Roseline Weathers was killed?”
My palms were clammy. I hoped that he couldn’t suspect I was lying when I nervously replied, “Sleeping, of course. It was late.”
He wrote something down on the file and sighed. Why did he sigh? Did he know I was lying? Was I going to jail? I felt sweat drip from my forehead.
He grabbed a photo from the file and showed it to me. It was my mother with a pool of blood surrounding her.
“This is the crime scene. Your mother was stabbed and killed in the kitchen of her home. Since you lived there as a child, I wanted to ask you if you saw anything out of place.”
I stared at the photo, taking in the remnants of my childhood. The plant that I got her for her forty-second birthday and the pink walls she refused to change remained. I looked in the back corner of the kitchen, staring at the kitchen knives she used everyday. She always loved to cook.
“The santoku knife is missing.” I heard myself say.
I continued to stare at the picture and heard the sound of a pen writing. The officer spoke, but I couldn’t hear him. My head pounded and I began to feel lightheaded. The officer screamed my name and called for help, but I was unable to speak.
My vision blurred and I was suddenly in my childhood home, grinning at my mother. She begged for me to spare her life. I laughed, knife in my hand as I stabbed her. Again, and again, and again.
“Annabel!” I heard someone scream. “Annabel! Look at me!”
I looked up and Preston was standing in front of me, gripping my shoulders.
“When did you get here, babe?”
I felt the words coming out of my mouth but couldn’t be sure it was me saying them. The picture of my mother remained on the table and I laughed once more as I saw her mutilated body.
Officer Thompson stared at me in horror.
“Lilith?” He asked.
“Don’t call me that!” I screeched.
“I wouldn’t want a name that witch picked out. The name is Annabel. Annabel Lee.”
The officer waved at Preston, signaling him to leave the room. He obeyed, grinning at me while he shut the door.
The cop cleared his throat, looking down at the file once more. “Okay, Annabel. Let us continue where we left off.”
“I have a better idea in mind. Let me tell you a story.” I said, standing up.
“I don’t think we have time for that.” Officer Thompson warily spoke, “Let’s cont-”
“Once upon a time,” I started. “There was a girl named Lilith. She was happy with both parents, up until her father died. She was sad, until she lost her mom to alcohol. Then she was devastated. No father, mom always wasted, dead to the world. But then,” I smiled.
“Then her mom thought it was a good idea to beat her while she was drunk. Years later, after Lilith moved out, she still had nightmares about her mother. So, she went out to end the person who made her suffer, stabbing her the same number of years the mom beat her. Then she didn’t have any more nightmares. The end.”
The officer stared at me, eyes wide.
“Are you confessing for the murder of Roseline Weathers?”
“Think what you want. You can’t murder someone who was already dead. ”
Officer Thompson grabbed handcuffs from his belt and reached towards me. I opened the door and sprinted out, screaming “Come and catch me!”
I dodged officers left and right until I reached the main doors of the police station, flinging them open. I ran out, into the street. Cars swerved past me and I heard a loud honk with screeching tires. Then, I saw black.



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