Excerpt from “Untitled” by Danica White

ELIZABETH

(Aftermath)

Almost four months ago there were five of us. Now I’m alone. I know it won’t be much longer before they come and take me away like the others. I killed my best friend. I didn’t put a knife to her throat or a gun to her head, but I killed her nonetheless. Now, I’m laying on a dirty mattress in a small room that I share with my boyfriend of nearly one year. I’m lying on my side topless, staring at the wall that is two inches from my face. How long have I been here? It looks as though someone had been picking at a hole- leaving chalky sheetrock visible. I haven’t slept since Donovan was arrested, which was two days ago. The smell of stale beer and rotting food surrounds me and I can feel sweat pooling beneath me caused by the stagnant warmth of the room.

I take a deep breath and slowly sit up. I feel heavy as if my organs had somehow shifted onto one side of my body. The sun has just come up and the white blank walls of the room look slightly pinkish with the shadows from the open blinds cascading down the wall like a ladder. I lift myself from the mattress, eager to leave the bright room, and open the door leading to our living room. The rest of the house is darker because of the curtains that have remained shut since Elias was taken from the house. I walk steadily across the brown shag carpet of the living room and onto the peeling tile in the kitchen. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve drunk anything besides beer or whiskey, but my throat is so dry that I don’t think I could make a sound even if I wanted to.

Dirty dishes line the counters next to the sink and a trail of ants makes its way from a crack in the wall to a plate of food sitting in the steel basin and back again. Ignoring the small insects, I grab a somewhat grungy glass from the counter, fill it with murky water from the tap, and swallow it quickly. I slam the glass to the counter with force and take a look around at the plain kitchen. The blinds had been pulled from the wall months ago during a confrontation between Smyth and Donovan and the sun is now shining yellow and bright through the streaked glass. I can tell it’s a warm day, which makes me want to go back to sleep. I take one step back towards the living room ready to return to the sweat-stained mattress when I hear a knock at the front door.

I freeze. My heart begins to race as I look through the living room at the front door stained with scuff marks and dents. Thirty seconds pass and I catch myself thinking about how nice the door looked when we moved in. It was crisp white and still smelled of wet paint. I’m slammed back to reality when I hear the deep muffled voice of a middle-aged man who sounds like he’s talking to someone next to him. His voice is gritty and harsh and I can’t make out his words. I take one step towards the door slowly and then I hear another knock, harder this time, and I jump back nearly knocking the glass from the counter. I regain my composure quickly and walk slowly back through the living room on the balls of my feet trying not to make a noise.

Once I’m in my room, I turn the knob as I close the door so it doesn’t make a sound when it latches. Remembering that I’m half naked I look around the room quickly and settle on a black tee shirt crumpled in the corner of the room. As I throw it on; I notice white letters – Alice In Chains. It’s Donovan’s shirt. I resume my previous position on the mattress, my hands under my head replicating a pillow as I stare at the white, chalky hole in my wall. The smell of stale beer is stronger now and I realize that the shirt I put on was probably used to clean up a spilled mess. The sound of another knock vibrates through the house- longer and harder. My breathing becomes heavier and I can feel myself shutting down, but I don’t realize I’m crying until I begin to feel the tears sliding down my face and onto my hands. I close my eyes just as I hear what sounds like the door being knocked off its hinges.

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