Around midnight, my father kills my mother, then comes after me. I hear the fighting, the blast, the silence. I hear the padding on the steps, the rattling of my locked bedroom door, the deafening whisper of my name. I escape by climbing out my window onto the flat roof over the porch. From there it’s a short drop to the ground below. It’s a sticky summer night, moonless, but I know the surrounding woods well. Dad follows, shotgun in hand, flashlight beam sweeping. He stops at the fence where lawn turns wild. Reluctant to enter among fallen trees and things that might bite, he calls sweetly. “It’s okay, hon. Mom is fine. Come on back. I’ll make limeade.”
I wait, still as fallen lumber. Before daybreak, he gives up. From where I hide behind a crumbling stone wall, barefoot and wearing one of his oversize t-shirts, I watch him return to the house. For some reason, he turns the outside light on. Then I hear a second shot from inside the house.
But I don’t walk home. Not even as hours pass and the sun bleaches the sky. I stay free from that cursed place until the police arrive. Then I stand where, if you look carefully enough, I can be seen. Like a winter-starved animal on the edge of salvation.
Z.Z.Boone’s collection of stories, Off Somewhere, was published last year by Whitepoint Press. He currently teaches creative writing at Western Connecticut State University.
(Next “Kill People” story: The Many Ends of My Son #18 by Eugenio Volpe)
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