I have seen death before so many times, though usually through the gentle safety of white cotton sheets or hospital bed guard rails or under oxygen tents or through the separated fingers of Father Dubois as he raises his hand to give the last rights. But death on a bare wooden floor, death so raw, death forced upon someone by someone else, that I have never seen. Until now.
I sing my happy song in my head so I won’t cry and begin to walk backwards from the scene. I reach to flatten the pleats of my skirt, only to remember I’m not in my school uniform. I’m in my party dress; the hem soaked with blood. I feel naked and without oxygen as the walls close around me.
A sound comes from somewhere in the house and I feel my chest tighten. I turn and look for the door. It seems to be moving farther and farther away from me, the way objects do in your dreams at night when you try to reach for them.
My knees begin to bend without me telling them to and I instruct them to head for the door hoping they will follow one last command from my brain. The weight of my falling body pushes me outside into the night; into the falling rain.
I smell damp earth as the world turns to bright white; feel the ground rise to meet my body and am immediately grateful for the cushion of mud. I wonder if my heart has stopped beating. Maybe mom will notice me now.