A hum vibrated in my throat as I wandered up the walk, smiling at the moon. I glanced behind my shoulder, waving as my date pulled away from the curb. At the door, I rifled through my purse, squinting for keys. The night breeze played with my hair, cool against my neck. The key ring emerged from my purse with a merry jingle.A loud click as the door unlocked was followed by the slight creak of the hinges as I pushed it open. The smoke that drifted out and the smell of burning hair melted the happy expression from my face.
“Would you mind if I used your restroom, love?” Loretta stood, her left fat roll coming dangerously close to being exposed.Jane threw back another shot and slammed her glass on the table, “Down the hallway. Last door.”“Thanks, sweet pea,” and she waddled down the carpeted corridor, her butt wagging from side to side.Loretta emerged from the bathroom five minutes later, struggling to button her pants. Pausing just outside the kitchen, she sucked in her gut, held her breath, and let it go with a sigh of relief as the fastener snapped. She took a step to return to the kitchen and her gossip session.A knock came from the door to her left.She froze, then turned to face what she had always assumed was the entrance to the garage.Another knock, this one on the wall.Her hand stretched out, pudgy fingers wrapping around the brass doorknob. It resisted her attempt to turn it. She wiggled it, trying to make it give.“What do you think you’re doing?”Loretta jumped, her dyed curls bouncing along with her body.“Get away from there,” Jane’s alcohol-flavored breath washed over her face, making her snatch her hand back.The smaller woman checked the door, making sure it remained locked. Her eyes turned sour as she stared at Loretta, “I think it’s time you left now. Madison will be here soon.”“Of, of course,” Loretta drew up to her full height and allowed Jane to escort her to the front door.The hall light reflected off the metal nail file jostled from Loretta Evan’s back pocket. From under the garage door, fingers stretched, struggling to reach it.
The kitchen light was on. I left the front door swinging behind me and strode farther into the living room, avoiding furniture. My eyes swept back and forth, watching for movement.“Jane?” A raspy whisper. I coughed, trying to breath. “Jane, where are you?”I covered my nose against the stench of burnt meat and gas, stumbling against the couch. Using one hand to catch myself, I continued into the kitchen, my heels clank-clanking against the tile.A leg protruded from behind the table.“Jane,” I said her name again, walking around the table.And then I was looking at her face. I emptied my stomach before I started screaming.
She pressed her finger down on the tip of the nail file. “How lucky she is. She is favored.”She set the file back in its place, and picked up the lighter. She pressed her thumb down, igniting the flame. Running her index finger through the fire, she smiled. “They will be punished. She will punish them.”She replaced the lighter, sticking her finger in her mouth. She looked over the three objects in front of her once more, giving the gas can a friendly pat. Then she picked up the file once more, scooted closer to the door, and, after brushing a piece of hair out of her face, preceded to go to work.
My legs gave out and I fell to my knees.Bits of Jane’s flesh dripped to the floor like candle wax. Her clothes had fused to her body. The tip of her left boot was the only thing not completely blackened.Something cold splashed against my legs as I shifted to grab Jane’s shoulder. Her skin crunched beneath my fingers.“Jane, can you hear me? Please hear me. Jane? Jane!” I shook her shoulder, desperate. “Should I call an ambulance? Jane. Jane.”A click came from behind me.I turned slowly, just in time to watch my sister bend down and light the gasoline that pooled beneath me.