I feel the cold walls all around me, the hard bench behind my back. The little light that could come into the box doesn’t, it’s smartly avoiding the damp containment. An icy voice keeps calling into my cell, but I don’t hear it anymore.

I know what it’s saying. How could I forget?

My mind wanders back and forth through time, much like the time travel machine I dreamt up in elementary school. I feel my feet walking, the leather shoes rubbing against my ankles where my hurried preparation left it folded at the top. The top of my turtle-neck was also folded against my skin, but that was intentional. The little care I gave to my shoes seems unimportant now, but then I kicked myself for forgetting. I was still fastening my belt as I walked up the street to Mr. Mason’s house. I had been preparing for a long time for this visit, I had some things I wanted to say to him. He had been very rude the last time we had talked, October 30th, and, after talking to myself in the shower, I had finally come up with some comebacks.

I was going to walk in there and say, “Hey mister old guy, wouldn’t you like it if I just left your bushes alone! Wouldn’t you like it if nobody cared about you enough to make sure your lawn was presentable! Maybe I should tell the kids to stop coming to shovel your driveway and start shoveling mine. After all, I am so grown up now, and I do need to start acting responsibly and less like a kid. Maybe I’ll just have to do that. And you know why? Because I hope you get stuck in this house and die! I hope you can never go out during winter without freezing your limbs off going through the snow, or slipping and breaking a brittle old bone on the ice. I hope you die this winter because you don’t want my ‘stupid simple self’ helping you out! You said it yourself, you can take care of your own yard! Good day! And have a nice funeral.” 

I wish I had never thought those words, let alone prepared to say them. I was too late anyway, ten years too late. After thinking about it for so long, you would have thought I’d have checked the obituaries. 

I had walked up to the door, prepared to ring the doorbell, and immediately after my cold finger pressed the chipping plastic button I knew something was wrong. Mr. Mason’s dog, Puffy, should have barked. She should have barked loud enough to announce to the whole street that someone was visiting Mr. Mason. 

When little girl opened the door she looked at me confused and called to her daddy. He came in with a dish towel, I could still smell the fragrant perfume of the dish soap on it. He asked me if I needed something, I said no, then he asked me if I knew him, I said no. I couldn’t bring myself to ask, and I was grateful when he broke the silence and asked what I was doing there. I nearly choked as I felt the words I had rehearsed for years trying to rip themselves out of my throat to destroy Mr. Mason, but he wasn’t here. I told myself to keep it down, but when I finally spoke my voice was loud and tense. The dad looked at me with confusion, I felt the confusion bore into my guilty conscience.

“Mr. Mason, my father, doesn’t live here anymore,” He said. My frame shook, my own confusion must have shown itself because he continued. “He died ten years ago on October 30th.”

My guilt rose, that was the same night I had trimmed his bushes. The same night I told him I would poison him and his dog. Where was Puffy? If I could just see Puffy my conscience could be cleared. It would have just been bad timing. But I knew I couldn’t ask, the weight of ignorance and potential guilt was lighter than the guilt that would come if I knew how they died or if they had both died. But I also felt a stirring, deeper than my heart, deeper than my conscience, deeper than my soul all of the way down to the grievous human I was. I knew that I had killed them. It was my fault. 

I wished evil on someone, and evil came. I admitted to the son of Mr. Mason himself that I had killed his father. I admitted it with the daughter on the step, her confusion imminent as a stranger said they murdered her grandfather. I admitted to horrible sin I had committed and threw myself to their mercy like a broken bird or an old weak dog who barked to keep her partially deaf owner safe. I threw myself to their feet and confessed my crimes, pleading with them to take my life and cast it down to the place it belonged. 

I can still feel the heat rising into my cheeks and the tears rolling down my face. Those stupid, irreplaceable tears that stole me away from everything and everyone I knew. I let them put me through court, I pleaded guilty. I felt the harsh, insane, life-consuming words come pouring out in front of the whole world. 

I acted so rashly, so instinctively, like a crazy person. Maybe I was, am, a crazy person. But right now I’ve spent my whole life in a cell with nothing to do and so much I’ve lost to my weak conscience. Perhaps I would just prefer to die. 

“Are you prepared to die?” The voice is constantly echoing through my empty cell. I’m tempted to say yes but before I do I have to hear the rest of what it says.

“He wasn’t your fault, you were your fault, come home, come home. Forget what you’ve done to yourself and let yourself go.” 

Let myself go...

October 31, 2019 03:55

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