by Tara Vanflower
It was hot outside. Humid. Too fucking bright to be nighttime. The streetlights clung to the low clouds making them orange and frothy looking like Sunkist and vanilla ice cream. There was the constant hum of the air conditioner. It had been running nonstop. The howling cadence of the highway was amplified by the low ceiling and penetrated the thick walls. A storm could come. Or it could burn off like they always do.
She sat with her back to the door. Staring into a blank screen. Her hands and feet were wet with sweat. Sticky lips from thirst. Nothing was gonna cool her off. She was too angry, or sad, or just plain defeated. Defeat, like everything else, is something you can grow accustomed to.
It was quiet at first. The little creak. The little tap of metal against metal. At first she started to move. The phone was right there, a little to the left behind the speaker, but then she stilled herself. The will to survive is easy to stifle when you want to.
The door closed. He tried to be quiet, but she could hear everything. She knew her own world and what didn’t belong in it. Still she sat. Quietly. She relaxed her shoulders and let out a deep breath that she’d been holding for hours. The blue glow of the screen had blinded her to the rest of the room. It didn’t matter, she wouldn’t move.
She’d thought this would be easy and she was right. Easy. No fight. But even never having been given the date or the time, she’d still heard the first creak, the first clink, and the first breath as he entered the room.
She looked at the screen one last time focusing her eyes one last time. Silence. She felt the metal against her skull, like a hand once caressed, and then darkness.
He set her down on the floor looking over her body. This was something he rarely allowed himself to do. It was too hard to see a face or know too much. She didn’t have a face now, so it was safer to look. Why the hell had she done this?
He walked to the kitchen and picked the
envelope up. He opened it and saw the money. No reason to count
it. The girl was honest. He looked back over his shoulder when
he heard something blip on the computer. He put the envelope in his
jacket and then walked back out the way he’d come in.