When Tacey came to she was holding something hot in her left hand. It was hot and wet. She could hear someone crying next to her and the shuddering shoulders rise and fall nudged her side to side. It was calming and at the same time an annoyance. Tacey looked down at her left hand and tilted her head as the silver caught the light in a pretty way. The red liquid dripping off the tip didn't register in her mind as anything but another annoyance. If it hadn't been there the light would be bigger. It was on her mind to clean it off but she was frozen in place for reasons she couldn't put words to. The sobbing person next to her kept repeating, "Why, Tacey, why, oh why?" and she honestly thought to herself, "I don't know. Why?" Her big toe itched. She supposed she should bend over and scratch it but the invisible chains holding her in place put up resistance when she tried to bend at the waist. Tacy took another glance at her right hand. It occurred to her she was holding a knife, a large one. The kind mom would use to cut up a chicken to boil for dumplings. What was on it, she remembered for a moment, was her mothers blood. The person sobbing beside her must be daddy but she wasn't ready to deal with him just yet. He wiped his bulbous nose on the sleeve of his tweed jacket. Tacey was aware her right eye was stinging.
"Oh, geeze, honey. We gotta get outta here," her dad was whispering. Tacey wondered if he could wake mom up. The thought seized her full of fear and she lunged once more at the already stiffening body of her mother. Her father caught her and pulled the knife away from his daughters fierce grip.
"No, Tacey, no! No, Tacey. Calm down. She can't hurt you anymore, baby. She can't hurt you."
Tacey sobbed and sagged into her fathers lap. No, mom couldn't hurt her anymore. She put a hand on her eye and sobbed into her fathers jacket.
"We...we'll go see Uncle Pauley. You'd like that. Jans at her moth- her families and it'll just be us and Pauley like you like it."
Tacey sniffed and rubbed her nose into his tie. Pumpkin orange satin. Tacey clung to her fathers neck and he lifted her off the ground. He lay her in the back seat of their station wagon. Tacey was still sobbing until her father re-entered the house and she was alone in the garage. She smiled at the Frosty the Snowman wood cut out staring at her from a corner littered with Christmas decorations. No, mom couldn't hurt her anymore. She'd bested the beast when she wasn't looking. Too busy with the Christmas pies she made for everyone but Tacey.
"Tacey, you're too fat," mom would say licking the spoon, her own waist size three times bigger than daddys. 38X32. She'd always remembered moms pants size. Daddy came back outside and hurridley backed the car out. Tacey was flung against the leather seats and she screamed and howled in pain. Daddy repeated 'Im sorry, Im sorry' over and over. Tacey waved to Frosty and laid back down again. Uncle Pauley lived two streets over in the slum part of town and Tacey loved his house much more than her parents two story old Victorian in the suburbs. Pauleys Christmas lights were blinking between green and red. Tacey loved when they'd flash red and the snow on the ground looked like blood. Moms blood. Mom had showed Tacey her blood and told her just to wait, it'd happen to her one day. Tacey had to learn to clean the blood out of sheets, underwear, towels, pads. Mom told her it was good practice for when Tacey got blood of her own. Tacey wondered if her blood would be the same bright orange as moms blood. She cut herself with a knife once just to see. It felt good and hot. Her blood was black. Mom told her once only evil little kids had blood as black as Tacey. Bundy, Oswald, Gacy, Borden...all black blooded kids hot on the scent of the pure orange blooded creatures they despised and envied. Moms blood had been black on the knife and spilled out orange on the floor.
"Here we are, baby," daddy got Tacey out of the car and covered her in his jacket. She rubbed the pumpkin orange satin between her fingers and took in daddys peppermint smell. There was also a smell which burned in her nose. It smelled like moms breath.
"Nick, what the hell are you doing here?" There was Uncle Pauley. He was in his underwear and a sweater. Tacey giggled at this and daddy hushed her.
"Paul, you gotta help me. You gotta watch Tacey for me," daddy sounded like he did when he'd plead with mom to not leave. Tacey expected him to puff out, 'Oh, darling, my darling, I'll never stay out late again, I swear I'll come right home from work." He didn't. Instead he sat Tacey down in front of the TV and took Pauley into the kitchen. Tacey leaned over the top of the chair and listened.
"She did what?!" This was Pauley. Tacey knew daddy had just told him what Tacey did to mom.
"I know, I don't know, Paul. Nance had hit her real good in the eye and I think Tace just snapped."
"Nance, my gosh, my gosh. Nick, what are you gonna do?"
"I'm going to call the cops and say we was over here and I came home and she was like that on the floor."
Paul was silent. Tacey had an internal alarm go off in her stomach. She hadn't eaten that night. Mom was cooking pies for everyone but Tacey. "You're too fat, Tacey," mom would say. Not anymore.
"That's good, that's good Nick but what about evidence? What about Tacey's finger prints on the knife." Dad handed something to Uncle Pauley. Tacey craned her neck to see but the two men were crouched over whatever it was.
"Geeze, Nick, you brought that here? You can't have that here, man."
"I don't know what to do with it, Paul."
"You're gonna throw that in a dumpster somewheres away from here."
"Good, thats good. I can do that."
"She can't stay here, Nick. You know that."
"Oh, c'mon, Paul. I got no one else."
"I ain't about to lie to them cops that are gonna come snoopin around here."
"She's in there watching TV. They ask what you've seen her do just be honest. You seen her watchin TV the whole time she's been here."
"What about you, Nick? They're gonna ask me what you been doin. You go in an she comes to live with me and Janice. Uh, uh. No way."
"You an mes been talkin in the kitchen this whole time."
"What if they ask what time you gots here?"
"Shit, Paul, I don't know. Okay? My wife just died I don't know."
"Sorry, Nick, sorry."
"You know, I know why Tacey did it, Paul. Nancy, she'd just beat the shit outta the kid, you know? Like nothin I ever seen. She'd just beat and beat and beat until Tace would be in a lump under the covers an I'd just leave. I'd just go out drinkin and seein Laura. I never did nothing to help that kid. Look what she had to do, Paul."
That's right, Tacey thought, you never did jack shit daddy.
"Nick, I know, I know. But she just killed your wife, man. I can't have her around here with Jan about to pop. She can't be around when the baby comes."
Daddy was silent. He had his hands folded in his lap. He was shaking and staring up into Uncle Pauleys eyes. Tacey had eyes just like her daddys.
They were honest and deep blue with white flecks. True blue eyes that could melt everyones heart but moms.
"I know, Pauley. I know. I gotta go, though. I gotta go call the cops. Can I borrow your coat?"
"Yeah, Nick. Just get it off the rack when you leave. I'll watch her but just for now. She can't stay."
Tacey turned around in her chair as they walked in the room. Daddy kissed her on top of the head and left. Uncle Pauley sat on the couch and pulled on a pair of sweat pants and socks. Tacey watched him out of her left eye. The right one was swelling. Uncle Pauley ran hands through his blond curls and stared at her. The Simpkins curls. Tacey had them. Mom cut each one off at the beginning of the curl and throw them away. Taceys hair was never cut even or straight. Just cut off right before a curl could come in. Cut off at the root of what made Tacey a Simpkins.
"Tacey, eh, you hungry?" Uncle Pauley got up. Tacey watched him with her left eye. She nodded. He went to the kitchen and brought out half a turkey sandwich.
"I can't finish this, you want it?"
Tacey nodded and took the sandwich. She ate it slowly while she watched Uncle Pauley pace.
"How old are you, kid?"
"Seven, geeze, when I was seven I got my first paint set, you know? Your dad, he was scootin around in his playpen still."
Tacey ate and watched him pace.
"Tacey, why? You shoulda told your teacher. Not this. You can't live here, you know? They're gonna take your dad in and bust him for this. That an you got that black eye they're gonna ask about. They'll think he did it an she saw. Geeze, Nance. She was a bitch, I know, kid, I know. She was a bitch before your dad knocked her up his senior year. She was always tryin to get guys to...never mind kid, never mind."
"To what, Uncle Pauley?" Tacey spun around in the chair. She looked right at Uncle Pauley every time he came into view.
"To give her a baby. Nothin, kid forget it. Geeze. What's Jan gonna say? Ugh, kid." He picked up a stuffed white rabbit and pet it. It was for his soon-to-be son. Tacey'd brought it over for him a few days ago when they saw Jan off to her mothers. Tacey wondered if Jans mother hit her still or if Jan had got too big for it.
"Tace, you can't stay here. You should run." Uncle Pauley was serious.
Uncle Pauley put down the rabbit and walked over to her. He grabbed the arms of the chair and stopped her spinning. He looked her straight in the eye and just stared.
"You killed your mom, kid. You ain't got no place to go an you ain't stayin here when they bring in your dad for it."
Tacey slipped under his arm and started to run. She ran out the door and into the street. It was ice cold beneath her feet but still she ran. The cold air went down her throat and choked her. She fought to bring in air and spit it out. She ran. Her arms flew out in front and behind her with no real knowledge of where else to go. Someone was shouting her name. Uncle Pauley? She didn't care. She just ran. She ran until a blue light ahead flashed and someone caught her in strong leather arms.
"No!" she cried. Someone shushed her. Someone brought her into a car and held her in their arms and warmed her. The hot air from the vents were focused on her and she soon stopped shaking. Someone else was talking and saying she must be Tacey Simpkins, the poor thing. Someone said Nick Simpkins had been caught and his brother, Paul Simpkins was being brought in now. Tacey let fat warm tears fall down her cheeks out of her bright True Blue Honest Simpkins eyes. Someone pat her head and told her it was going to be alright from now on no one could hurt her. Tacey let her arms fall limp into someone's lap. It was finally over. No one could hurt her anymore. Not with words. Not with their hands. Not with their leaving. No one could hurt her. What could they say? A seven year old who'd been abused by her parents finally got fed up and killed one and framed the other? That's absurd. Tacey let a smile creep up in her lips. It was a strange foreign use of muscles and they shook with the effort. No, poor thing, Tacey Simpkins. Chased by her Uncle Pauley into the streets cause he tried to touch her "there". Poor thing, Tacey Simpkins everything would be alright from now on and no one would hurt her again.