Issue 28 Sept 2015
I spent last period roaming the halls, killing time until visiting hours. I’ve noticed that if you walk with a purpose, like you have somewhere important to be, no one ever stops you or asks for a hall pass. Chemistry was enough torture for one day, with Ms. Beck squawking at me every five minutes. “Mackenzie, are you listening? Mackenzie, you’re not paying attention. Mackenzie?” I just wanted to put my fingers in my ears and scream. And if I had to do another class today, I think I probably would have done just that. I can tell when I’m about to lose it. So, I was doing us all a favor and skipping Economics.
I timed it pretty well. When the bell rang, I was at the front steps of the high school, the first one to the parking lot. I had buckled myself into Dad’s old Honda Civic before the masses even left their classrooms.
As I drove, I flipped through the radio stations, never resting on one for more than a minute or two. I really can’t stand the crap on the radio, but I need the noise to fill up the car.
From the forest, Rayme heard Mother’s scream, a high-pitched squeal known to scatter flocks of birds. The sound jerked Rayme’s head up, slamming her heart to a halt. She dropped her secret project--a lost cause now that Mother had returned. She climbed down the wooden rectangles tacked to the tree housing her fort. Along the forest trail, she ran tripping and panting.
Where the trail opened into her family’s lawn, a man’s body sprawled out, his legs scissoring across the grass like he was in mid-sprint on his side. Rayme stopped short when she saw a deep gash at the man’s temple.
If she had not lost her tongue, the croak from her throat would have been a cry. Rayme slapped her hand against her mouth, sidestepping the body. The whites of his eyes stared her down. Blood splatter stained his blue tunic. One of his arms bent back, torn from the shoulder socket. A black and blue mark covered his wrist.
In the grass, Mother knelt in front of the body, covering her mouth with both hands. Her straw-colored hair was pulled back with a braid wrapped around as a headband crowning her reddening, terrified face. A tear rolled off her cheek.