And Scene by Danna Taboada
I scrolled through channels endlessly, with my left hand sunk inside a bag of chips, letting my fingertips absorb its grease. Nothing good was on, of course, for it was 10 o’clock on a Saturday and I had only an hour to spare before my mind would deflate and black spots would fill my view. Funny how I plan out my acts of productivity during a leisure hour like it’s a blueprint only to become a typical fantasy of mine. A cycle I have tried to avoid; a cycle that ends up with me, lying on a rundown couch with discolored stains on its back, alone.
I practically let the remove slip from my weak grasp and onto the coffee table once I stumbled upon late-night reruns of The Of ice. America’s beloved boss, Michael Scott, was my only
company tonight, with his comical craziness that could drive one insane before they would begin to laugh. My mother was out of town for the second time this month for a business trip with another company in Miami, Florida. My father was out of town for the way he pressed his body up against a lady with tattoos running down her arm and beach blonde hair; a lady with a missing ring. No one seems to pity the cheater these days, anyways.
“Damnit.” I clicked my tongue once my head hung low to face the hollow bag of chips. Groaning, I uncrossed my legs, removing myself from my cozy position in the middle couch as I winced from the ice cold contact between my bare feet and the wooden floor. I paced myself down the hall and towards the kitchen, crumpling up the bag until it formed a ball with sharp, metallic edges everywhere to throw out. There goes my only source of temporary joy. All there was left was to wait until midnight when the feelings of regret and bloat crept to relish in.
There was a time where children would run up and down these now vacant hallways, screaming and laughing like maniacs. A time where parents sat in folded beach chairs with ice cold beers in their dry, ashy hands as stars dotted the night sky. A time where I joined my parents in throwing out empty soda cans and sweeping the wooden floors the following morning, letting their outside chatter sway through my ears like an enchanted melody. When there was actually something to look forward to during the day and hours embroidered in one’s mind at night.
A time where familiar voices weren’t ones to fear.
“Amy.” The glass I held fell from my hands and onto the kitchen sink as I spun myself around. My heart must’ve slipped out of me somehow as I turned for suddenly, all I heard was the wind whistle through the oak trees and a dog’s midnight bark. And all I could see was the woman standing before me, with mundane eyes and quivering hands that stuck out with its palms facing me. Palms drenched in red.
I sputtered. “Sandra? What are you doing here? And why do you look like….like that?”
Her body remained stiff and her eyes remained on me when she whispered “Amy, I killed him. He is dead.”
My lower back stabbed itself against the kitchen counter with my palms on the rim. This was not real. It’s an occasional nightmare that simply utilizes someone I used to love to remind me of the failure I had become. This was not real. It couldn’t be.
“What?” I spat.
“Paul. Paul Grisham. The senior. He’s dead.” Her voice was dull. “Can you help me?”
Help. I understood that. Help. Sandra Maine needed help braiding her hair as we sat in her bedroom, watching reruns of our favorite childhood movies when we were just thirteen. But she no longer seemed to need help when she surrounded herself in a clan of girls with sun-kissed skin and blueberry eyes, leaving me in solitude. Sometimes I liked to play out her return, how her eyes would be stained red from the tears and how her hands would clasp together like a prayer. She would need me again. She would need help. Help. But it had never crossed my mind that she would do this. That she would need help with this.
A pool of blood had formed around the sole of her black sneakers along with their worn out laces, smudged with dirt brown. The minutes that I remained in front of her felt like decades just waiting for her to clarify. Clarify the worst: she had done the job of death herself and now she was in search of an accomplice.
“Why?” I croaked.
She pierced me with her stone cold gaze as her voice sank to a low. “He hurt me.”
I shot my head straight up, my hands gliding off the counter behind me. Maybe this wasn’t what it was turning out to be. “How?”
But Sandra shook her head, approaching me. The way her mascara streamed down her cheeks like a lengthy river and how the top of her eyelids swelled with pain was clear. I unconsciously moved to the side, afraid the blood on her hands would stain my own, as she turned on the faucet and let her hands drown themselves until they were clean. As if nothing had happened.
I watched from the corner of the kitchen as Sandra tied her back, let out a deep sigh, and placed her hands on the corners of the sink. Her head dropped and her foot began to tap hastily. She shook her head once more, a cluster of thoughts running through her mind. “I didn’t want to do it. Believe me. He made me.”
“I know.” I couldn’t keep my voice from trembling with every word.
“He was horrible.” Tears welled up in her emerald eyes but her voice never seemed to crack. “He was disgusting. He hurt me.”
“Sandra,” I cleared my throat, holding my hands close to my stomach. “What happened?”
“I caught him with someone else tonight, some bitch from Gerdensville.” She grunted, slamming my mother’s towel against the sink. Scoffing, she continued, raising her voice gradually. “They were lying on the fucking couch, naked! Naked!”
“Where is she?”
“The girl. Where is she?
Amy could hear her heart pound through her ears as she waited for Sandra to respond. Sandra cocked her head to the window to their side with the headlights of the car illuminating the driveway where the hum of the engine could still be faintly heard.
My stomach knotted and I could no longer breathe as I walked past Sandra, brushing her shoulder. I slammed the back porch door open, paced through my mother’s garden of lilies and practically shoved the gate back and forth until it clicked open. With the big blue and its star friends as my only witnesses, I approached Sandra’s blood red Volkswagen and lifted its trunk. I jerked back in an instant, unintentionally letting the trunk slam with a large boom. Vomit emerged in my throat like volcanoes about to erupt as I hurled over, my hand on my mouth. I screamed.
In there lies the blue skinned, lifeless bodies of Paul Grishan and his star-crossed lover, covered in cupid’s color.
“Can you shut up?” Amy snapped, glaring at me with utter disgust as she walked towards me, casually. “If you’re not going to help, then you should’ve just said so when I asked. You’re just wasting my time now.” She locked her trunk with her car keys and placed them back in the pocket of her jeans, letting out a sigh and running her fingers through her matted hair.
“Help you? Why would I help you at all?” I shouted, raising my voice with each word in hopes any neighbor around would wake up, turn on the porch halls, and call 911. Maybe then this fever dream could end. “You killed them. You murdered them. They’re dead. They’re gone. Do you understand that? Does that actually go through your goddamn skull? And it’s all because he was sleeping with someone else? Are you serious?”
“But you don’t get it!” She bawled, letting the waterwork flow. “He was supposed to love me. And be with me. No one else.” I watched her take something out of her back pocket and hold the object for a minute or two until a sharp blade popped straight up from the side. Sandra simply smiled as my skin grew pale.
Suddenly, all I could hear were the rushing winds that gradually increased with force and the beating of my crumpled heart.
“Sandra, what are you doing?”
“You don’t want help, that’s alright. But you will still know after tonight.” She grunted, tears falling down to her collarbone.
I scoffed. “You’re insane.”
In an instant, I groaned in pain as my back was pushed against the side of my house with the rough edges of yellow paint piercing through my skin. She had knocked the wind out of me as her slender fingers wrapped around my wrist viciously, pinning me back with all her force. Her eyes gleamed ruby red under the yellow streetlights. All that was left was a tint of emerald green.
“Insane? No, I’m just in love.”
The tip of her blood stained knife slid across my jawline and down to the center of my neck as I quivered uncontrollably. I should’ve known. From her tight grip on my wrist as we walked across town to her consistent asking of where I was and how I was with. From how that all shifted to when she met him. How did I not know? How?
I shut my eyes tight and held my breath. I swarmed my mind with pleasant thoughts: my mother holding me close when she came home from work and the laughter that spurred amongst my friends and I as we laid in the evergreen grass underneath the burning sun. Not how my mother would find my ocean blue body lying in the driveway with blood seeped into the pavement beside me or the speeches my friends would give at my funeral.
“CUT!” Suddenly, the knife drifted away from my sweaty skin as the woman in front of me rolled her eyes and sighed, placing her weapon back where it came from. I watched, still frozen, as she ran her fingers through her hair in frustration and made her way back to the car.
“Amazing job there, Sandra.” A man in a black t-shirt with khakis beamed as he clapped his hands, walking towards us and away from the maze of cameras and film lights. “You were just fantastic. You really had me there for a second.”
She let out a chuckle, tossing her hair across her shoulder. “Thanks, Jared. I really appreciate it.” Her pearly smile faded within the blink of an eye once he turned his back towards her.
I let my weight get the best of me as my back slid against the wall until my butt slammed on the pavement below. I could feel my heart slipping out of my throat as my eyes bulged open. My legs had lost all its feeling and my chest hurt like a heartache. Somehow, even as she stood there, scrolling through her phone, she still had total control over my body and soul.
I eyed her every move for every second that passed by. As the lights shined on both of us and the cameras were getting ready to film, we locked eyes while she pulled out her knife for one more round. I shifted my attention between the blood plastered on it to her icy blue eyes that pierced right through me, holding all the strings attached to me.
How did I not know?
“Alright, let’s get ready to redo the scene! And someone find Paul, please. He hasn’t answered any of my calls in days!”
Danna Taboada (she/her) is a sixteen-year-old writer from New York. She loves listening to music of any genre, dancing, spending time with her family and friends, reading, and writing. She plans on majoring in Creative Writing in the future.