I wish I didn't remember.
Maybe if I wish hard enough, the memories will just fall away. Like the smell of old perfume dissipating. Like the innocence of white chalk darkening under the rain. Like the dying color of that crimson blood as he washed it from my hands.]
They want to hear my story; that’s what they said. I laughed the first time, told them I was going to be gone soon, but it didn’t work out that way. The second time, I told them they were monsters to want to hear it, hear all the bloody details. Third time, though, I gave in because I had a feeling I had to.I’ll start out with a fact, a fact that a lot of stories start with. It was raining, which meant Michelle was whimpering and crying on about her chalk drawings. She had her face pressed against the window, watching as the white lines turned darker and darker until they weren’t there anymore.Mimi stood beside her, the bags of loose skin wobbling as she complained about how she would miss her date and how dare I even suggest that the old coot wasn’t worth seeing. She barked at me to turn the TV down every few seconds and every time I only turned it up.I don’t know which of the sounds caused it, or if it was a mixture.I raised the remote and clicked the power button; black flashed across the screen. Neither one of them noticed, in fact, Mimi commanded me to lower the volume once more. Her hearing aid must have been acting up again.The rain covered up the sound of my feet struggling through the shag carpeting as I walked down the hallway. Wind rocked our little trailer house, the floor tilting ever so slightly.I paused in the doorway to Mimi’s room, staring through the window glass at the trees in the yard, their branches spinning wild, their trunks bending. Michelle would have said, complete with lisp, that the trees were simply complimenting each other’s new hair-dos. I wonder if that’s what she would say now.A beam from a street light was the only guidance I needed to get across the room to the dresser. The top drawer squeaked, like it always had, but I was certain it wouldn’t be heard. My nails scraped against the rotting wood, a horrible feeling, as I stretched my hand to the back. I brushed against cold metal and wrenched the gun from its home of lacy granny panties.I held it up, revolved it, rememorized the glare from every angle. I set my finger on the trigger and admired the fit. Then I found myself staring down the barrel, telling myself I could see the bullet, nestled in its iron house.Maybe if I had pulled the trigger then, instead of waiting, none of this would have happened.Instead, I fought my way back down the hallway into the living room, settling into the couch. The fabric formed to the familiar curve of my backside instantly.Mimi jerked away from the window, her face pinched, “I thought I told you to turn that damn TV down.” Her mouth snapped closed, her chin flab wobbling, when her eyes caught sight of the rifle snuggled up in my lap.The skin on my face stretched, revealing my teeth in a bad impression of a smile, as I pointed it at her. Her beady eyes sunk an inch into her head and the skin around them shrunk to her skull, a skeleton a few seconds premature.Michelle screamed, chunky hands pressed over her ears, staring down at what had once been my grandmother. She screamed louder when she saw me, serene puffs of smoke drifting from the gun. I quickly put a stop to that.The neighborhood dogs were yipping and howling and barking when I pressed the hot metal to my chest. It seared a hole through the threadbare cotton of my shirt, allowing a ghastly stench to penetrate the sickly aroma of Mimi’s perfume. Too bad I ruined it for nothing.The prosecuting attorney looked over the top of her glasses at the jury when she finished reading. She waved the copy of my statement to punctuate her sentences. I rubbed my hands along the armrests of my wheelchair, waiting for her to finish.And then everyone was staring at me.“I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question, please?”A piece of hair had slipped out of her bun. She tucked it behind her ear and then repeated slowly, “Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mr. Cragen?”I shook my head.“No further questions.”The bailiff wheeled me back to my side of the courtroom as the jury filed out. I looked up at the lawyer who the state had hired to defend me and asked, “Do you think I’ll be lucky enough to be killed in prison?”