Oh, dearest, sweetest, most wonderful Diary! I write to you in such excitement. Please, you must forgive my handwriting— it is taking all of my energy to sit still, and I have none to spare to steady my hand. How I long to dance, or to sing to the air! But first, this. I must detail today’s events while the memory is still fresh, so when I’m old and grey and no longer quite so spry I’ll be able to look back and feel this way again. What is a memory but a door to the past? This should help to keep the hinges oiled and the handle easy to turn, I think.
It started with a boy. Well, technically, I suppose it started with the rising sun, and with the pigs and the dogs and the chickens— but never let the facts ruin a good narrative! So, it started with a boy, who looked to be about my age, rifling determinedly through the ancient brochures Jolene keeps in the sitting room of her inn. I’d just dropped off her delivery of eggs, and was walking back around the front to use the washroom when, there he was! The one!
It was just like in those sappy books Papa always used to call me a fool for reading— our eyes met, and I swear on my mother’s grave that something electric jumped and quivered to life in the space between us, some Frankenstein monster of what might be, of what was destined to be. I knew I looked a wreck from my morning jobs (I’m pretty sure I still had actual, literal feathers in my hair), but I also knew that I simply had to talk to him.
He didn’t look like the other boys around here. His clean face and sharp synthetic jacket and shoes whiter than his smile (and Lord, he had such a nice, white smile) screamed that he was something exciting and shiny, untouched by the dust and routine of our town. And though he had somewhat of the bulk of the locals, it was clearly just for show. Our strength is a natural kind, you know, molded from tough work and daily necessity, and we’ve got the scars and the callouses to prove we use it— he was smooth all over, built with luxury for a desired aesthetic. I will admit, shamelessly, that it was a mighty fine aesthetic. But even without his bright clothes and his smooth hands and TV symmetry, he would have given himself away as an outsider the moment he opened his mouth, with his accent.
His accent! Oh stars and Saints above, the way my pulse jumped when he said my name back to me! “Ja-Ah-kie,” he said, smooth voice stretching and pulling the syllables of the word like taffy, and when I laughed, delighted, he smiled so shyly I was afraid my heart would burst, a fear that my noticing of his two tiny dimples did nothing to assuage.
I could picture it, then, right there. I could see him painted in the dancing oranges of warm firelight, his eyes wide and my name on his lips, I—
am getting ahead of myself. I just— that’s the good bit, you see! Well. You can’t yet, but you will. I’ll get there, properly.
I offered to show him around town, and he accepted with a glorious grin. I took him up Northridge, to the Miller’s house where old Mr. Miller always keeps a pie cooling on his windowsill, in honor of his late wife, and we each took a slice (today it was cherry, and it stained our mouths red, red, red), and then I took him to Jackhammer Road and told him about how Coyote Wilson and Jackhammer Blue had had their famous midnight duel right there, where they’d shot each other from opposite ends of the street but dragged themselves to the middle to bleed out together, so they wouldn’t die alone (the effect, I think, was ruined a little by the neon storefronts and parked cars, but he seemed suitably impressed regardless), and then I took him out to the huge sea of wildflowers and grasses between here and the heart of town, where we sat and watched clouds and twisted long stalks of wild wheat into misshapen rope.
It was there, above the droning hum of the insects and the whisper-snap of the tall grass in the breeze, that he leaned in close and told me that he was on the run! I could feel his breath on the shell of my ear as he told me about a heist (a real heist!) that he and his friends had pulled on the home of some rich fool, about the jewelry and the art and the fancy cutlery they’d filched and fenced, and how he was heading across the country to lay low with his sister until he thought he could return to the city. He said, softly, sadly, that he was planning to hitch a ride out of town the next day.
I confess, this did upset me. I knew, obviously, that he wasn’t going to stay here forever, but for only a day? But then I thought on it and realized that this was, in fact, perfect. Someone dashing and fleeting and mysterious; what more could I want? If I were to, you know, with anyone here, it would be the talk of the town for ages. This way it was easy, simple, private. Just for us.
It helped, too, when he drew something dangling and silver from his jacket pocket, blushing furiously. A tiny shining fish weighed it down in the middle. He said that originally, he’d kept it for his sister— or, rather, for his sistah, but he tawt tat I oughta have it, to remembah him by— and he was so flustered and cute that I simply had to lean over and kiss him, square on the mouth! That part was less like the books said. Our teeth bumped together painfully, and his lips were very chapped and very cold— but when I pulled back he followed, hungrily, and when he opened his eyes his pupils were blown wide, pleading; oh, that was delightful.
I nearly crashed on the way back here, his soft hands all over. I pictured Papa rolling in his grave— imagine if I’d crashed the truck, while getting felt up! All the way up to the front door we were necking like there was no tomorrow (because there wasn’t, not really, not for him) and then, on the stoop, I played such a marvelous joke! I pushed him away and told him that I was nothing if not proper, and that nothing nefarious was going to happen until we’d at least had dinner. His face got so sad and his mouth dropped open (kissworn and cherry pie red), and then I stepped aside and invited him in for dinner.
I lit the fire in the main room and we ate cold sandwiches in near silence, eyes on each other the whole time. He scarfed his down so fast I thought that he might choke, then I enjoyed the heat of his impatient gaze as I slowly finished mine. And then, finally, as soon as I’d picked up the plates and come back he was crowding me against the couch, a race to get skin on skin on mouth on skin.
So busy was he that he didn’t even notice when my hand slipped off his back and between the couch cushions, my fingers closing around worn leather. I whispered his name and he drew back, looked at me, hazy and feral with desire: I slid the cold steel of my blade up under his ribs with a quiet sigh.
His mouth parted in surprise, his hand stilling around my belt buckle. He moved his head to look down but I grabbed his chin with my free hand, the one that wasn’t around the rapidly slickening handle of the knife, the one that wasn’t sticky with the slow trickle of his blood, and kept his eyes locked on mine. I felt it again— that something electric and monstrously huge, as our gaze held. Confusion clouded his features for a brief moment before fear and panic shouldered it out of the way, as I pulled the blade out from between his ribs and the slow trickle turned into a gushing fountain, running warm and wet down my arm.
I pushed him off of me and he landed with a soft thud and a groan of pain on his back. Blood burbled up from his stomach and leaked out of the corners of his mouth (his blood stained kiss worn cherry pie red mouth). His hands fluttered uselessly up and down the length of his body.
“Help,” he coughed.
“Jack,” he tried.
“Jackie, please,” he rasped.
“Jackie, why,” he whispered, voice breaking over those taffy stretched syllables.
I watched him bleed out on the bare floor in the warm firelight, eyes wide with terror and pain, my name on his lips as he cursed and begged and wept. I held his spasming hand as the life drained from his eyes (he kept trying to close them, near The End, so I had to hold them open with my other hand). I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alive as I did in that moment, as he died alone and teary in my lap! Maybe some of his life leaked into me, as it escaped him. Now there’s a thought.
Oh, Diary, how often I have dreamed of this day!
Now, it has come and gone, and I feel like I’m finally beginning to sit right in my skin. My first life taken! My first soul collected, pried out from where it had thrummed amongst warm ribs! I fed his stiffening body to the pigs just before I started writing. His fancy jacket and blinding shoes and soft hands will have been shredded between their teeth by morning. I’m keeping the necklace, though— it was a gift!
I think that tomorrow I will clean the mess he left in the front room. It’s exhilarating, for now, knowing that it’s all just a wall over, knowing that if someone were to walk in, it would be impossible to hide. Maybe I’ll get a rug so I can keep the stain, so that anyone can walk on top of it and no one but me would know. But! Those are things for me to think about tomorrow. Writing this all out was quite tiring. Tonight, I will dream. I do not think that I will sleep, but I know that I will dream.