Her pale, soft hand gently brushed past my cracked lips as it slightly eased the dry flesh with a streak of warm blood. The sensation of the brief encounter lingered with my longing for it. – Ah, blood. Yes, blood still freshly stains her hand. Yet, her face refuses to show any emotion as I look at it. My eyes are even hopelessly begging. Didn’t she feel even a bit pained when she- haaah, useless thoughts. I only have a little time left. But, haha, I could’ve avoided this. I’ve known. I was not oblivious to the signs – with every smile, every treat she gave me, every revelation she shared – to a pathetic, lonely woman like me. Now, most pathetically, I sit bloodied on the floor with my back on some cold wall. I figure this is the moment to reminisce.
“See you,” I remember as her voice floated above the surrounding noise in the bus. My head was just leaning on the glass then while my eyes stared down into blank space. The motion of the bus as it left the stop changed nothing.
“May I?” rang the same voice. I felt a soft tap on my shoulder that finally made me automatically look up. “May I?” She gestured at the seat next to me with her eyes before looking back at me. I nodded immediately. I remember thinking then that I didn’t own the seat anyway – after my head went through how beautiful she was. As she dropped into the seat, she told me that the guy she was with just left and she didn’t want to bore her self by being alone- so she chose to sit next to someone she can hold a conversation with. I was sitting behind them.
“I know you,” she said while smiling. I was surprised. “I know we get off at the same stop so I chose to sit beside you,” she turned to me as she revealed, still with the wide grin. It unsettled me a bit, and then I thought that may not be the first time we’re in a bus together. Afterwards, she said that was so. I’d usually show my total disinterest in such kinds of situation, but the idea of a beautiful lady being friendly with me attracted me. I got to know things about her – some of which now I know are not true – as our voices blended with the noise of the surroundings.
Knock, knock. I headed towards the door knowing who’s going to be on the other side. It turned out she knew pastries and she started bringing me some she’d made from time to time after the bus ride. That day, she brought cookies with her common smile at the door. I liked it, her sweet but wicked grin. By then, I had looked at it enough to notice how her lips curl the least bit higher on one side. “Meat!” I remember her saying and interrupting my thoughts. Well, she came to cook me dinner for that evening as well- her offer.
Sitting, I watched her work, my eyes straying at times at the cookies that lay on the table in front of me. “The usual art,” I thought. She’s basically a fan of gore and the things that go with it, like a teenager in a phase. I was unsettled for a moment when I found out but then imagined her as a red queen – serene in an aftermath of a brutal and bloody scene – and it became kind of satisfying. When my attention went back to the cookies, I thought that strawberry’s a favorite anyway and, maybe, I can later tell her that everything red on the sweet stuff has to be strawberry. That was what I thought. Happiness overwhelmed me then, like in an idiot. I went back to watching her work after deciding to wait until after the meal for the treats.
I watched her hands- her skilful hands- as it worked smoothly with the knife on the big chunk in front of her. The expression “cutting meat like butter” came to me as she tore sheets of it for some recipe. Then my eyes travelled to her face which revealed the hint of fascination I half expected to be there. Not wanting to be caught staring, I grabbed a nearby newspaper I just dropped randomly earlier that day and stared flipping. Random page, flip, flip, flip – an article on the probable first victims of a serial killer. I didn’t feel indifferent. The two victims were females the same age as me and her. I remember the article saying the second victim was restricted with ropes, its strain leaving scratchy wounds on her wrists and ankles. The girl was also peeled in some places while her remaining skin was filled with shallow knife wounds. A final thing I remember the article said about the girl was that she was missing her head or, more precisely, the base of her neck up. All the descriptions were the same for the first girl, except that what she was missing was her feet. Ugh, I winced at that one- it said her feet were missing. Anyway, the killer is a collector. It didn’t say it like that in the article though.
“This will interest her,” I thought. But I also considered that she’ll find the article herself later, at home maybe, if she hasn’t found it yet and that I didn’t really want to have a conversation on it with her. Look at yourself then ignorantly pushing any idea of connections into some convenient dark well, I tell myself now. Back to the past, I folded the newspaper and looked up to find that she was looking at me. When our eyes met, she flashed it again – the smile.
“Getting bored?” she asked. “Want to help?” She didn’t wait for any answer before continuing with, “Actually, I’d love it if you’d get your butt off the chair and help me.”
“Sure, what would you want me to do?” I went beside her.
“Finish cutting this chunk.”
“No.” I clutched a hand with another. The thought of messing up with the knife rushed past me. I didn’t want that.
“What?” But she was amusedly grinning. “Here,” she said as she grabbed my arm with a hand and gave me the knife with another. There was a sudden discomfort, in my part. Then, she let her hand stay longer with mine as she passed the knife, taking time to look at my face as she did so. I just stared at our hands. I loved hers. It was smooth and soft. The tiny moment was unsettling but pleasant.
“I like your hands.” She turned my thoughts into her own words. “I like feeling how soft it is, with the subtle roughness at the same time,” she added.
At dinner, she opened the topic on the murders.
“Someone’s been killing women our age,” she dropped. We were facing each other, a small wooden round table between us.
I paused and looked up. Then I asked, “Uh, how about dinner?”
“Come on! You know me. And I know you don’t really care,” she said, cheery, as if I was the one who did something unnatural, only pausing for a bit before continuing to cut into her food. “The food’s great too. Admit it,” she cared to add before taking her next bite, proudly.
“Yes, of course, thank you,” I did as I was told. Well, that wasn’t a lie. And, okay, maybe considering that there were only the two of us then having dinner and it wasn’t really a first with her habits, I was the one who acted unnatural. Sure I like her but – suspicion, I don’t. She made me nervous, anxious.
“Nice, you’re welcome.” Friendly, pretty face. “Anyway, it was in that newspaper you were holding so you’ve probably read,” I think she looked me in the eyes then. “I sympathize with the victims-” didn’t show on her face “-but, I know I’m going to sound like a total kid, I really understand the murderer. Fascinates me.” Then there it was, the honesty. “I feel her, like-”
“Her?” I think I was a bit too jumpy.
“Uh, right, you know, I just thought her up as a girl.” She held her position then sat back, sighing a gloomy sigh. Then she focused back at me in a snap, expectant, “I mean, if it were you, wouldn’t you? Understand?” She tried to smile.
That night, I dreamt of her. She was running after me with a knife. She was happy, not maniacally, but I was desperate to get away. It had that familiar feeling, difficult, like I was in slow motion even though at that time I found it normal. I tried to run the fastest I could, reaching lower towards the ground – until I caught sight of a monster in front of me. I stopped in front of a mirror. Realizing that wasn’t very wise, I looked back for her. She wasn’t after me anymore. She had found another victim, an old one. Her knife peeled through the beaten, lifeless body of the woman from the news. Victim number two. A motionless peach. Expressionless. Dull. I woke up.
It was still a little dark. She slept over but when I looked around the house, she was nowhere.
She was nowhere for days. I never went to visit her or anywhere outside the house. Strangely, I was also receiving several articles and enhanced pictures on the two murders – the one she tried to talk about that evening – during those days. At least, that was how it was at first. Eventually, I was opening the plain white envelopes and finding personal information about the victims.
“Maybe she’s playing a game with me, like one related to her interests. She sure is creative,” I convinced my self. “How do I play this game anyway? Why didn’t she send me instructions?” I grinned and let out a small laugh. I longed for her more, feeling anxious at the same time. Ignorant me.
And then, she was gone for too many days.
“Where is she? Has she gotten tired of me? Did I chase her away? What chased her away? Did she find something she hated about me? Was it only those dead women she was interested in? What did she want from me? I shouldn’t have let her go.” I was almost pulling my hair out, thinking thoughts and sputtering some little fragments of them. The doorbell rang. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife.
It was her. She came earlier today. I stood before the opened door shocked, my hair in disarray, face saggy, a sleeve off one shoulder, shirt half tucked in my loose pajamas. She just rushed in and closed the door for me, then dragged me and hugged me.
“I missed you. Do you finally get it now? I can take care of you,” she whispered to my ears. My head buzzed. I think she was still talking but I wasn’t able to catch the details. I thought I knew what it was about anyway. I think I’ve been sensing it before but I liked her too much to steer clear. She didn’t steer clear of me. She came back, didn’t she? Nothing bad will happen – I told my self. I sank into her tight hug as her words remained out of me. I can stop, I thought.
“But wasn’t that what she liked about me?” My eyelids having almost fallen and surrendered, shot open with my own realization. “If I stopped, wouldn’t she just tire of me and leave?” I asked my self. “The irony,” I said quietly giggling, my expression immediately shifting from the serious, wondering face. “To continue what she expects of me, I have to kill her. It was her, that’s what she didn’t know.” I finally grinned. She moved and I felt her arms loosen around me. Then I gripped the knife in my hands and stabbed her back.
“I’m sorry. I can’t do this with anyone. I was planning to stop too, but I really like you. You’re mine now,” I whispered at her ear.
She struggled so I had to stab her again. And maybe again. And again.
She lay unconscious on the floor. Was it dumb of her to not have noticed she was next? Or was she just very optimistic? I dragged her to my music room.
I let go of her foot and stood steady. I was dumb too, I killed her already. No more reactions. Lifeless peach. I made a mistake. It was not planned. I stabbed her repeatedly as her face stayed lifeless. Then, I sat back. “Forget it,” I told my self. “The token will still be mine.” I grabbed my butcher knife and hacked off her hands.
I kiss her hands a final time before putting it beside me. I’ll be storing it later after cleaning the mess I made. Here lies lifeless another woman who has noticed me, who stayed with me. I won’t do it again, I promise. But, just, just if by the off chance, teeny bitty chance, that I do, maybe I could cut back on the stupid mistakes. But I won’t. I won’t again, right?
I get my self to stand up, and then the tears fall. Look, I’ve just done it again – and I’m very happy. And that’s when I laugh, not maniacally, not schemingly, not even in an amused giggle – just a mediocre, sweet laugh.
I recover my composure and walk out the door to see a cutout of the news article. It’s from the ones she sent me. From that, a line resurfaced in my head, about the girl missing her feet. Wincing again, I thought to my self, “Who cares about her feet?” It was her ankles. I loved her ankles.