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She – A deliberate stroke of the razor.
Knew – A vengeful straitening of the last wet curl.
What – A calculated smear of blush.
She – A dirty sweep of eye shadow.
Was – An unabashed brush of mascara.
Doing – A rebellious smacking of lip-gloss.
She knew what she was doing. She knew, yet she did it, did it with pleasure even. As she pulled on her low-cut magenta shirt she knew. As she wiggled into tight, too-short shorts, she knew. She knew with every bangle, with each earring. She knew with her high heels. It buzzed in the back of her brain through all of this, the knowing.
For a while she could tune it out. She could justify herself. She could concentrate her attention elsewhere. But, as she slipped the cold metal into her purse, she could not tune out her conscience. Or what was left of it. Her once innocent soul screamed inside her, a ravaged and mangled beast, crashing around in a futile attempt to be heard. To be humored.
But she did not humor it. She dropped the knife inside the pocket of her purse like it had burned her, then quickly put it out of her mind. She knew what she was doing.
At school no one knew. She laughed within herself at their ignorance, their stupidity. There was a snake in the grass, and they were bumbling around, too stuck on themselves to look down. For that was where she was. Down. Or at least that is where they looked, down their noses at her. To them she was predictable – flirtatious, goth, and bitter. Again she suppressed laughter. For she was far from predictable.
The day went like any other. She was too smart to make mistakes, to leave traces. She knew what she was doing. She had done it many times before. Different schools. Different names. Different stereotypes. Hiding under misconceptions, allowing herself to be ignored by those who were not desperate. Yes, she had done this many times – the nerd, the antisocial, the bully. And now the goth. She knew what she was doing, and it gave her a strange thrill.
One by one she had made them pay. The stupid, heartbreaking boys, they will one day all pay. All because of him. Long ago he had broken her heart. Eighth grade he had promised her forever, and then proceeded to cheat on her with every girl, high school, middle school, wherever they would take him. She had not known. That is, until he left the list in her locker. On purpose. To break her. Of course, he went first.
He had taken away her perfect world. Friends, family bonds, grades. He had snatched it away with his crazed obsession with her, an obsession unfortunately returned. He had grabbed it all and then left. She was abandoned, alone, broken heart bleeding tears.
The boy met her exactly where she had told him to one week before. He was on time, but she was early. She checked the blade on her knife. Sharp, with the initials of all the boys carved deep. Soon there would be a new name.
His corvette made a whishing noise as it curved into a graceful stop in the entrance of the ally. She gestured him over, and watched with silent amusement as his eyes widened, seeing what she was wearing. He came over, radiating petty overconfidence and cologne. He immediately traced her face, his finger only halting at the end of the extremely long line of her shirt neck. She placed her hand on his waist, going off the deep end with this one. He was cocky.
She leaned in close and whispered to him. “I just want to ask you some things. No right or wrong answer. I just like to know.” He could smell heavy perfume. He agreed.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” She asked, tracing the pattern of his hair.
“Yes, but she doesn’t matter. She is nothing – I love you.”
She laughed softly as she maneuvered the knife out of her sleeve. “No you don’t. But you want a good time, and she just doesn’t give you that, does she?”
He started in about how drab his current relationship was, and she smiled to herself. The monologue. Now she was in control. She just needed to control the time. She knew what she was doing.
But she wasn’t the only one. The boy watching from the roof of the ghetto knew too. And with four buttons pressed on his cell phone and a low-voiced conversation, so did the cops. All he had to do was turn the tide. He needed to take the power. He needed to control when she would strike. Then the victim would be saved.
He had no reason to save him. The boy ranting about his girlfriend was the closest thing to an enemy the watching boy was capable of having. The boy on the roof had every reason to hate the one below, to not risk himself with a conversation. To let the girl finish her work. But he couldn’t. This boy had crushed his spirit, stolen his love, and tortured him in school. Yet the watcher called. He tried to save his enemy. He would come out the better person. He knew what he was doing.
The knife slipped closer toward the boy’s back as he held her tight, already trying to begin what he had come there for. She could almost feel the hot blood that would run over her hand in a few seconds. He need only make one more move. He need only get greedy. She knew what she was doing.
He pressed the button for a new text, and punched out a note. Then he slid off his shirt, the chill of the fall night nipping at his bare body. He wrapped the phone silently in the fabric and crept directly above where the two were standing. He tested the shadows then held out his arm and dropped the bundle. He knew what he was doing.
The bundle fell and she was distracted. She hastily thrust the blade inside its sheath under her jacket sleeve, where she had moved it to on the way over from school. She kissed the terrible boy who was grasping for her.
“I’ll be right back.” She quickly approached the wad, unwrapped the phone, and read the text, unafraid. She knew what she was doing.
The man read the newspaper the next morning, before going to work. Rather than overused titles about the economy and newly passed bills, he was shocked to see a picture straight out of a horror film. A menace-eyed girl, staring from a prison profile. The kind you warn your kids about. He read the first few sentences - Serial killer caught red-handed by local freshman. Four-year crime streak ends when police rush in during her reading of a text message, left for her on the freshman’s dropped phone as a distraction. Below it was a picture of a cell phone screen. A short text could be read:
Snake in the grass – bware.