It was my body that they pulled out of the river. I saw it with my own eyes. The gray, pasty complexion of my skin looked so unnatural. It made my stomach twist and turn until I was sure I was going to vomit. But nothing came up. There’s no use vomiting when you’re dead.
I watch my life in reverse as the police slide my cold corpse back into the river. Time works differently with death. Now, I can see what happened to me. First my head submerges into the depths. Limb by limb my body disappears into the murky green. Finally, my fingers are the last thing seen as they slowly sink into the lake. My throat tightens as I think of my body rotting in that lake. The policemen pack up their equipment and zoom out of the area, leaving no trace of themselves behind.
A male swimmer comes by the lake. He is screaming as if he has seen the most horrific thing. I see the swimmer plunge into the water, their body disappearing just as mine had. For a second they come up for air, but they look confused. The man dives in again, disappearing into the lake once more. And then I see it. He comes back up to the surface and I see the fear in his eyes. The object he holds is my cold, lifeless wrist. But he drops it as if he never saw it in the first place. He walks out of the lake as if everything is normal. He walks away from my body as if nothing is wrong at all. My heart pangs in grief, but I remember that the man did care. My life is just playing in reverse.
Hours later, another man comes by the water. He is covered from head to toe in black fabric: black hood, black jacket, black pants, and black boots. Magically, my corpse rises from the lake, water dripping off me as if my sickly skin is repelling it. My soaked hair now dries as I fly into the man’s arms. I understand now. He’s the one who threw me in there the first place. Slowly, he carries my body away from the lake. My limbs are still loose as if I am only asleep. But the two of us know the truth.
The man quickens his pace through the red and orange forest. He doesn’t want to get caught. The trees look as if they are on fire as the speck of black carries me to an abandoned-looking shack. The place is a dump and the wood has rotted so much that I can smell it. He takes me inside. It is only then that I notice the cuts and bruises on my arms and face. I watch as he sets me on the table and begins to beat my dead corpse. Punch after punch, the bruises disappear from my arms until I am healed. I open my eyes and sit up. The fear in my eyes terrifies me all over again. I try to fight off the man, but he keeps coming after me with his fists until, finally, he stops and stares at me. I stare back. Neither of us moves for minutes. Each one that ticks by feels like hours, the agony of it unbearable. Finally, my eyes gingerly close and I fall back as if I have gone to sleep. The man carries me out of the shack. He walks with me in his arms for at least a mile, until we reach a big red truck. It is shiny, its paint unscathed and obviously well taken care of. Unlike my poor, mutilated body only minutes before.
He sets me in the truck, his face obscured by a mask and sunglasses. Once he settles in the front seat, we take off. Two hours roll by as he drives me back to my school. He stops and gets out of his truck, unloading me back into his arms. Out of context, he could have been a loving father carrying his sleeping child. But nay, he sets me on the ground and punches me back to consciousness. I get up as if nothing is wrong and watch as the man walks away. I wave at him as he pulls into his truck. He is obviously someone I know. But being dead, I can’t remember who he is.
I watch as he drives away. The way I stand there all alone is when I realize that I must have been expecting him. I was waiting for him. I reach down and grab a bag that is by my side. It is a bag that he had left behind when he took my corpse to the lake. I walk back into the school, into the softball field as I unload my things and get ready to train. My teammates and I work on our pitches and hits. I watch myself as I am armed with a glove and ball. I throw it to a girl with dark hair and skin. She is smiling at me and chatting merrily. I must know her. She must be my friend, she must.
When practice is over, I pack up my things again and head into the locker room. I change out of my uniform and into my school clothes. The day is slow as I exit the room and attend an endless amount of classes. No one would have guessed that in a few hours, I would be dead. Not even I seem to suspect what is to come.
When the school day is finally over, I walk to the entrance of the school and wait some more. A silver car picks me up and drives me home. But when we get there my stomach lurches. The red truck that swept me to the woods sits in our driveway like it belongs there. A male comes out of the house to greet me and my mom. My heart flips inside my chest as I recognize the same figure that threw me into the lake. He has the same build, his body thick like a bull. But this time, he is wearing a red shirt and dark camo pants. The look on his face is happy--loving even. His face is no longer obscured and my heart grieves at the sight of who my killer is. My brother killed me. My own flesh and blood.
I hug him unknowingly, so blind and ignorant to the fact that hours later he will mutilate my body and throw it into the lake to rot. But why, Brother? What hate did you have against me to do such a terrible thing? I walk into the house and go up to my room. I take off my clothes and change into my nightgown. Slipping into bed, I notice the smile on my face. It’s a smile that tells me the only thing running through my mind; happy and free.