I was lying face down on the living room floor, the wood slick with blood.
Someone, most likely Dad, was yelling at me.
But I couldn’t understand him; my head was throbbing too much.
I’d had one hell of a day. I had been told my best friend, Kyra, had committed suicide. With no one left to turn to, I tried to tell my boyfriend what had happened. Derek didn’t let me speak and told me that it was over. He dumped me.
So the minute I got home, I found a steak knife and sliced open my wrists. It wasn’t the first time I’d done it, nor would it be the last. I didn’t realize I’d cut myself so deep until it was too late.
I blinked, my vision slowly coming back into focus. Dad hauled me upright, shaking me back and forth, swearing a blue streak.
My hearing came back but my head still hurt.
“You piece of crap!” Dad screamed at me, spittle flying from his lips to spatter my glasses.
He let me go abruptly. I fell to the floor, crumpling like paper.
“Get this damn floor cleaned up!” He roared, stamping on my fingers with the heel of his boot.
I cried out, pulling my hands to my chest. I found myself curled in the fetal position, lying in the thin pool of blood.
But I had to get up. I had to do what he said or he would hurt me. I wiped my nose and watery eyes on my sleeve before attempting to stand.
Shaky, but still alive, I stood dead center in the puddle of crimson. Dad stared at me as though I had grown a second head.
“Why the hell are you still standing there? I told you to clean up this damn blood!” He pointed at the floor.
I stumbled off to the kitchen to get the mop. Leaning against the counter, I studied my wrists. The red cuts were deep – but not deep enough.
Next time I would cut myself until I bled to death.
Then maybe, just maybe, he would feel sorry for me.
“Hurry up!” Dad screamed from the other room.
I flinched reflexively. Finding the mop, I carried it back to the living room with an empty bucket, a rag, and some cleaner.
I let my hands do the work while my mind drifted elsewhere.
Images of Kyra flickered through my mind.
I had met her when I noticed the scars on her arms and legs from self inflicted wounds.
Seeing a possible friend, I rolled up my sleeves and displayed my marks.
She befriended me, as I had hoped, and we became close.
We had supported each other in our daily struggles, whether it was boyfriends, teachers, homework, or our parents, she was there for me and I for her. Now I was alone.
I wrung out the blood soaked mop, watching the red fall into the blue bucket, the colors strikingly beautiful. I’d have to paint that later.
I stuck the mop in the bucket to rinse later, spraying the cleaner on the slightly stained wooden floor to wipe up the remaining liquid.
And then there was Derek. He said he had loved me. If he truly loved me, then he would have asked about the scars covering my limbs. He would have cared. But he would only glance at them, nod as though he understood, and return to whatever he was doing at the time. I suppose he had had enough of the cutter girl.
I wasn’t even supposed to be here. The custody agreement was that I would live at Dad’s house one month, Mom’s the next. Dad had threatened Mom that he would kill her if she told the authorities he was keeping me here. I didn’t doubt for a second that he would. He had connections with people who wouldn’t hesitate to kill Mom.
I shuddered at the thought.
The floor was now shiny and clean. Hopefully Dad agreed. I looked up at him hopefully.
“Put that crap away and go to your room,” He waved his hand at the bucket and mop.
I carried the bucket back to the kitchen, breathing out a sigh of relief. I had survived another encounter with Blake Meyers.
I heard the recliner creak as he settled into it, the TV roaring to life. Time to ditch this hellhole. There was a marching band parade tonight. Kyra would have been in it….
Better watching that then being stuffed up in my room all night long.
I tiptoed to the backdoor, gently turning the knob. The recliner creaked once more. I held my breath, waiting for the creaking to cease. It did.
I pushed the door open, stepping out into the frigid autumn air. In Michigan, things got cold fast. There would be frost in the morning by the next couple of weeks and at least an inch of snow by October.
Kyra and I had barely begun our first year of high school.
Rubbing my arms, I walked to the backyard fence, pushing the loose slat up so I could squeeze through. Thank god I was underweight, or I would have never fit. I sucked in my stomach, pushing my thin frame through the space and into the alley beyond.
A stray cat bolted away, knocking over a trashcan which spilled its contents onto the pavement.
I held my nose, disgusted at the foul stench of rotting food and other waste.
Alright, now, which way was the main street? I lived in a small town, not many people. Enough to have a high school, but that was about it.
I heard it. Floating on the wind was the bittersweet music of a funeral march. They were playing for Kyra.
I felt tears gather once more as I listened to the haunting tune.
My feet carried me towards the music, past the neighbors’ houses and into the main street through town.
The marching band was there, all dressed up in blue and white, instruments sparkling in the afternoon light, heads held high.
But instead of the old Rockton fight song, they played a melody so chilling that no one spoke.
That was one good thing about living in such a small place. If you died, everyone knew. One person would at least miss you, if not two.
Kyra wouldn’t have wanted this. She would’ve hated the attention.
“They should have left well alone, damn it,” I muttered under my breath.
I was standing on the sidewalk near the barbershop, little kids and parents squished all around me.
“Mommy why are they playing sad music?” I little girl to my right asked her mother.
“To remember someone,”
I closed my eyes, breathing in the pine scented air. I let the music take me to a place far from the little town of Rockton, somewhere Kyra would be if she could choose where to go in the afterlife. If there was an afterlife.
My eyes shot open. The music was being interrupted, surprised bleats and honks coming from the various brass instruments.
Someone was plowing their way through the crowd, dragging someone behind him.
I shaded my eyes against the setting sun, peering into the mass of glittering blue, white, and silver.
Whoever he was, it was no one I knew. He had a funny haircut, long bangs hanging in his eyes, swept to one side. To complete the oddball look, he had suspenders, a brown jacket and a bowtie.
“What the hell?” I muttered.
“Alright!” The man yelled throwing his hands into the air. The person he had been dragging was a girl, older, probably a senior or something. She had dirty blonde hair – couldn’t make out anyone’s eye color from where I was standing, not that it mattered. Probably my artist’s eye trying to figure it out.
“You all have five minutes to clear the area before some very nasty aliens come this way,” The man had a British accent.
It was almost funny. Man, Kyra would have loved to see this. In my opinion, this was the perfect way to remember her. I grinned to myself as the man continued.
“Yes, I said aliens. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you look up,”
Instinctively, all eyes turned to the sky. Hanging in the air were five small crafts that hovered on their own accord. They were streamlined and appeared to be miniature space-jets, if there was such a thing.
“Those are scouts! They’ve been here the whole time, you just couldn’t hear them coming over the racket you lot were making,”
“Did they come to eat our brains?!” One teenager in the band called out causing all the girls to fall into fits of giggles, the boys elbowing each other and chuckling.
“This is SERIOUS!” The man whirled round, balling his hands into fists.
The marching band fell silent.
Then the scouts starting firing. Red laser beams scorched the blacktop. Children began to scream.
Somehow I knew that the strange guy with the bowtie was my only hope of surviving this thing. I chased after him while he and the young woman dodged the fire of the alien ships.