Day One

“They’re on their way.” Drew spoke to the wall, refusing to turn around and meet his sister’s gaze. “It’ll be another ten maybe twenty minutes. They said it’s been a busy night.”

Paula rubbed furiously at her face with the sleeve of her sweater. “I don’t even know why I’m crying right now.”

Her small chuckle hiccupped into a sob that fell into a quiet wail that Drew did not see. His hand still rested on the phone, clutching it like a gun to his head. There wasn’t anyone on there anymore, just the dial tone ringing like an alarm.

“They’ll take care of everything.”

At the sound of his voice, an automated response sounded in his ear. “Please hang up and try again.”

He hung up the phone.

“They said we have to stay with her until they arrive.”

“Then go. I’ll stay.” Drew finally faced his sister but didn’t meet her eye; instead, he stared at his mother’s feet.

“You’re a wreck. I can’t just leave you here with her.”

He stormed out the room and tried to find solace on the couch cushions.

“See,” Paula said, sitting beside him. “You can’t be here alone with her. We’ll wait together.”

After taking his hand, Paula began to pray.

“Thank you, Lord, for everything you give and everything you take.”

“Shut up,” Drew whispered.

“It is in your power and grace we place ourselves—”

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut … up. Shut. Up.”

“Someday we will see our mother again and it will be glorious, oh Lord.”

“I said, shut the fuck up.”

“Andrew, watch your mouth. Where’s your respect?”

“That woman in there is not my mother.” Drew stood and went to close the door.

Paula’s mouth opened. Then closed. What words she could not say, Drew did for her.

You’re my mother.”

The only sound in the house was that of the old springboard mattress in the other room, creaking to life.

“Nothing to say for yourself.”

“When did she tell you?”

“Right after you left. I was five.”

Paula shook her head. “That wasn’t right.”

“She told me because she wanted to hurt you. She spent my whole life trying to hurt you through me.”

Paula wrung her hands together. “Andrew, I’m sorry.”

Before Drew could curse Paula out for everything she allowed to happen to him in her absence, an angry knock came from the door.

“Who the hell?” Paula said, going to answer.

She opened it a crack, but the police officer on the other end had wider notions. Coming into the room panting and covered in blood, the officer slammed the door shut behind herself. Drew pulled Paula away from the woman as soon as he noticed the gun in her hand.

Through heavy breaths, the woman said, “Did … you call … about … someone dying?”

“We called the ambulance,” Drew said, nudging Paula to stand behind him. “Is everything all right, officer?”

She shook her head. “Damn … zombies.”

#

Here we are again in the blood and thick of it all. You’re still wearing the same cologne that made my asthma act up. You don’t care. You never did.

“I can’t believe you sometimes,” I said, standing on your porch, flashlight and cage in hand.

“It’s not like I do this shit on purpose,” you said, locking the door to the house.

What was once ours is now yours. All fucking yours like you wanted. Everything except for Darling.

“How fucking hard is it for you to just keep him inside?”

“He’s a cat. He doesn’t want to be stuck inside all the time.”

You pushed pass me in such a huff you’d think you were the one who had gotten, not only kicked out, but broken up with.

“Cat or not. I asked you to keep him inside until I was finished getting my shit.”

At the gate, you shrugged like it was nothing.

The night was cold, but all my jackets are at Bailey’s house. I refused to show you how cold and comfortable I was. How much I was suffering.

“She’s probably just up the street at the park.”

Most of the streetlights were on except for a couple that never shined a light on a soul in their life.

“You better hope she’s there. I don’t want to be out here all night with you.”

I followed you at a distance, so as not to catch a whiff of your signature scent. You smelled like a car salesman at low tide. All deceit and decay.

“Fucking bastard.” The words came out of my mouth louder than I meant, but on night’s like those, even whispers are screams.

“Yeah, yeah.” You pick up your pace. “Darling!”

I joined you in the call, inflating my voice in the way that I do when calling her to eat. “Dar-Ling!”

We’re a chorus:

“Darling!”

“Darrr-Linnngg!”

I hoped Roger would come out at the sound of our voices. You used to drive you mad. He was a real hero torn from hit pop songs and rock ballads of the eighties.

Clutch.

Roger came running out of his trailer, shirtless, his dark skin glowing under the yellow streetlight. I smiled, but it quickly rotted. His normally muscular chest was covered in deep scratch marks.

“Roger,” I gasped, grabbing him as he collapsed at my feet.

You came over, cool and sly. “Jesus.”

“Darling,” Roger said, his voice trembling. “He attacked me.”

Dropping to my knees, I ran my fingers through the air around his chest. “No, he would never do this.”

“Told you that cat’s wild,” you said, standing above us.

“Where is he?”

“I killed it,” Roger said.

I pushed away from him and stood. “You did what?”

“It wouldn’t stop.” Roger glanced between you and me. “I swear I killed it, but it didn’t stay dead. It kept coming at me. I just had to get out of there.”

We looked toward the open door of Roger’s trailer. A seductive red light spilt out onto the dark asphalt. Inside, something thrashed around and wailed like a sick cow trying to form words with its mouth.

“Go check it out,” I said, pushing you toward the light.

Surprisingly you went without a fight.

As you got closer to the trailer, Roger stood. “We have to go now.”

“No. If something’s wrong with Darling, I need to make sure he’s okay.”

“Fuck, Darling. He’s not the one I’m scarred of. Your crazy ex is. They’re the one that tossed Darling into the trailer.”

“Here, Dar-Ling,” you sing at the trailer. “Come out and play.”

#

You: You up?

Fuckboy Mikey: Yea

You: Wanna come over?

You: Just finished up at work.

You: Everyone’s out.

Fuckboy Mikey: Kinda busy

Fuckboy Mikey: Sorry

You: Don’t be an ass.

You: Just come over ….

You: Please 😉

You: Damn. Does it take that long to say yes?

Fuckboy Mikey: where are you?

You: Home. Duh.

Fuckboy Mikey: stay there

Fuckboy Mikey: stay inside,

You: That mean you coming over?

Minutes lapse in the time it takes you to slip out of your clothes.

You: heyy you still coming over

You: I’ll let you stay the night if you do

Fuckboy Mikey: my boy matt just went nuts and bit me

Fuckboy Mikey: at the hospital. Can’t come through

Fuckboy Mikey: shit’s been weird tonight.

Fuckboy Mikey: somethings wrong with matt. some military fucks grabbed him up.

Fuckboy Mikey: something’s got the base on high alert

You: that sucks

Fuckboy Mikey: yeah.

Fuckboy Mikey: shits craz

You: I really wanted to see you tonight

You: It’s been awhile

Fuckboy Mikey: yea. sorry …

Fuckboy Mikey: you good tho??

You: fine

You: can I call you?

Fuckboy Mikey: no

Fuckboy Mikey: they’re about to take me back.

Fuckboy Mikey: they need to take my phone (assholes)

Fuckboy Mikey: I’ll hit u up later

Unyielding silence that echoes across the miles until what is hidden is revealed.

You: I know that you’ve got shit going on or whatever but so do I. I needed to talk to you tonight. You’ve been all but a ghost to me the past few weeks. We aren’t really like that and I get that and prefer it that way but you don’t have to do me like a stranger when you see me around. You got your girls and I got mine. But we have fucked and we share that connection.

You: you can read this shit once you’re done with your doctor’s appointment, but I gotta say it before tomorrow because you need to hear it.

You: you’re the best thing that has ever happened to me. We’re cool like ice even though we aren’t super close. I’m not the one to fall in love but if I did it would be with you.

You: some shit came up between us and I have to do what I have to do to protect myself and not get sidetracked by playing the sheets with you.

You: if you don’t want to talk to me again, I get it. Guys are like that. One and done.

You: I’m like that too

You: Done

You: feel free to lose my number forget my face. Pretend I’m dead. I slipped up with you. I let you slip me up

You: that’s the last time

You: I’m dead and not coming back.

You: my child

You: and me will have that in common

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