I needed this apartment, not for me, but for my mind. I didn’t push her, she fell. The demolishing was said to start at 1030 on the dot so I decided to miss work to witness its demise. Actually, I haven’t been to work in over five years. At 4 am I arose from a restless night. Unable to sleep I decided to start my day, washes of memory flood my mind and drench me with mortification. She wanted to die.
When I was growing up, I always wanted to live across the street in the beautiful “Casa del Mar”, but more so after the incident. She deserved what she got. My friends and I would marvel over the residents of Casa del Mar—they were high class in our book. Their clothes glimmered in the light every time they stepped out of their cars. Giving their car keys to a valet under a covered entrance and then being swept away into the revolving doors and swallowed up by glitz and glamour was mesmerizing. Her life was miserable anyway.
But, as a child, I lived in an apartment building with my parents that was run down. The plumbing was always making strange noises and stains littered the walls and ceiling making it look more like a crime scene than a place for families to live. In that apartment, the first thing you saw when you walked in the door was the living room. That’s where it happened, it was so quick. After the living room was the kitchen, that’s where we dragged her, and then the dining room followed by a hallway that led to bedrooms and one bathroom.
My apartment is different in “Casa del Mar”, once you walk in you are greeted by the kitchen. It feels so welcoming to see such a clean sterilized room. After the kitchen is the dining room, the living room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Today I decided to sit comfortably on my living room sofa and watch the retched building tumble to the ground. I made sure that my living space was opposite to what I grew up in.
Now I get swallowed up by glitz and glamour. Although the building isn’t as beautiful as I remember it, it’s where I have always wanted to live —-even more so now. Everything in my apartment is high-end. My sofa converts into a sleeper bed and my sofa chair is a rocker with built-in speakers. My dad was sleeping in the sofa chair when it all happened—-he didn’t even awake to the screams. My friends tell me that I’m just obsessed with the past, but I’m not. We all managed to stay friends for so long even after the incident. Perhaps in fear that one of us will talk.
The tile floor feels cold under my feet as I walk to the bathroom. The floor was cold that day when I had to kneel on it to clean up the blood. Up until recently, I found the bathroom a place filled with memories, but the new decor makes one forget the past. Its walls have a decal that’s ocean-themed bringing to life the walls in an underwater maze of coral and school fish. She never even entered school. I don’t have to worry about the plumbing making strange noises.
In the shower, I make sure to scrub my hands thoroughly. After so many years I still see some bloodstains on my hands. I decided to wash my hair because I could still faintly smell something on it… Clorox? Regardless, I exit the bathroom fully dressed in house clothes, but with a towel over my wet hair. I don’t want my hair to drip, like the drops of blood that led the way to her final resting place. Bobby took care of that.
As I reentered my living room to settle on my sofa by the window, I am faced with everyone that participated that day.
“Hey, Bobby how are you?” his blood-splattered face turns to look at me. He can’t necessarily talk, not after he shot himself in the mouth a couple of years back. Perhaps the memory of the events killed him.
“Catherine, I didn't think that you’d make it.” Catherine is my best friend. From the age of two, we were inseparable. But that day changed that as well. Her husband called me shortly after he found the suicide note. She didn’t mention the incident, but I know it was her that killed them.
James, Christopher, and Maddy, all settled by the window. “Come sit by me, or pull up chairs from the dining room.” No one seemed to listen so I went over and brought chairs for them all to sit.
“Now James, isn't it time that you stop treading water in the apartment? Hasn’t it been six years since you drowned…” James looks over at me his face bloated just like I saw him at the morgue where I went to identify the body.
Christopher and Maddy married after we all graduated from high school. They were her first victims. Maddy’s mother called me screaming and crying as she retold the story of when she found them both in their garage with the car on. They both succumbed to carbon monoxide. Now here they were still wearing their marriage rings. It was Christopher’s and Maddy's idea to place her in the walls of the empty apartment.
As I drink my ginger tea, I look around my apartment and notice the empty dining room chairs in my living room. She had carved her initials on one of the chairs. Papa got mad and hit her. Mama had said that she wasn’t his child to hit. Papa just went to drinking and fell asleep while Mama headed to her night shift. I never understood how Mama always said she worked the night shift, but it was early afternoon when she left.
The ginger tea went down spicy as I take another look out the window. It started to rain and the small drops hit the window and then slid down. I follow one drop as it joins another drop all becoming one big drop that slides faster down the window. Behind it, the crew is still getting ready. The old building casts a menacing plume of dust from the arriving equipment. The air carries the dust in a whirlwind then dies at the feet of a massive truck carrying the bulldozer. The rain slowly kills any remaining dust into small puddles.
I look again at the window and notice my reflection. I’m older now, a bit fatter. The white hair slightly shapes my face giving me a look of wisdom that I don’t have. My skin is white, so very white, and my eyes are darkened by my failures, my tribulations. I try to look away, but I’m mesmerized by the appearance of the red marks around my neck. The purple and bloody red marks on my neck haunt me. It wasn’t my fault. I pushed her but she fell on her own. Oh papa, mama, I miss you.
It’s now 6 am and a wrecking ball has arrived. “Perhaps the demolishing will start early,” I say to everyone in the room. I look around and everyone is back and waiting for the big event. Finally, we can all leave this behind us and move on.
I decided to make some breakfast for myself. I’m not necessarily hungry, I just want to busy myself with something while the crew continues to get ready. “Anyone hungry,” I say as I get up from my sofa, but no one answers.
Every time I cook, I have to disinfect first. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” my mom would say. But I suppose there isn’t anything godly about me. Nonetheless, I have to sterilize. Like that day. I sterilized the kitchen before papa could see what had happened. I never thought that he’d get life. I hope he didn’t suffer when they found him hanging from his cell.
The kitchen is so beautiful. Once I moved in, I opted for an all-white kitchen. I needed to see any stains to quickly clean it up. I did push her, but it wasn’t my fault that she hit her head against the edge of the table. Oh, the blood, so much blood. Eggs and bacon will have to do. I can’t see myself cooking an extravagant meal when I need to be on the sofa watching, waiting. Eggs and bacon suddenly seem so boring, so I add biscuits and a side salad. Three eggs don’t seem enough so I add five more to make it an even eight eggs. She wasn’t eight yet, she was only three. A surprise birth, given that my mama and papa didn’t share a room. Five biscuits seem to make it better. Everything washes down with a liter of soda.
I noticed a spot on the floor and quickly went and wiped it down. Christopher learned how to patch up drywall by working with his father after school every day. Her head wouldn’t stay put so Bobby used the nail gun to nail her head down. The floor is clean now and all the dishes are in their places and I finished my meal. I headed to the bathroom to shower again. Disinfectant got on my legs and I need to remove it, plus the stains on my hands need to be removed. The stains on my hands glow red, I scrub till I see my own blood mingle with the stain.
Once again, I am seated on my sofa with a towel covering my hair, a bandage on my hand, and dressed in my house clothes. The rain has led up, but the windows still have some water sliding down. I settled in with my blanket and the cup of hot chocolate I prepared on the Keurig. Drinking the hot chocolate brings warmth into my chest. I bring my left hand to my chest, since my right is still holding the cup, and a little moan escapes my throat. A lower moan than the one she gave when Bobby nailed her head. James used the hammer to quiet her down. Once he was done, her face was unrecognizable. We stood in silence.
Finally, the clock alerts us that it’s 10 o clock. It was Catherine’s idea to put some plaster on my papa’s fingernails as he slept. It was my idea to put some blood on the bottom of his shoe. The crew, all wearing yellow hard hats, prepare for the wrecking ball. It swings eastwards so far that I had to come up, nose to the window, in order to see. As it moved westwards, towards the building, I quickly looked back at the building as a final farewell. That’s when I saw her staring right at me, then suddenly the wrecking ball hits…