White T-Shirt

Janna Vought

Janna Vought

I shot him with a .38 Special. I practiced days earlier, putting the muzzle in my mouth before he knocked it away. Taking life is no big deal. Some want sweaty backseat gropes; I ache for blood, quivering drops of warm, sweet honey on my tongue. I feel his eyes, always, a thousand ticks tunneling into my skin, devouring my reflection.

I kill cats just to hear them scream. I bait them in alleyways, grab them when they aren’t looking. They squirm in my hands. He doesn’t watch, doesn’t have the stomach for it. I snap their necks with one twist, turning until their necks wring clean. Their hearts go quiet, eyes staring. Do they know me?  They’re watching. They know what the whispers say. I can’t let them tell, take my voices away.

I’m king, he sayeth, once a small, pale boy born from dirt and clay. I’m a bright pig. I am Moses, God without one friend. I’m immortal, crouched inside my flesh pocket. My mouth is a jellyfish; it’s wet inside my skin. No one can stop me.

The night before, I didn’t sleep; he tossed about, moaning and sobbing. After church, I devoured Sunday brunch: eggs Benedict with asparagus and roast duck. I chewed on bird carcass with my decalcified teeth. He shifted his food around the plate before retreating to his private space. Inseparable as wind and autumn leaves, he never strayed far. His exodus to cool blue sheets, blinds drawn, presented me the perfect opportunity. The time had come.

I waited in the basement for him, holding my hymnal lined with shattered bone, in a corner long forgotten. It was cool—dark. I like the dark; it follows me. I get lost in shadows, forget where I am. I wore my white T-shirt, the one I got on our trip to Lake Tahoe. He loved the water; all he ever wanted to do was swim.

He came down the stairs, the squeak of Converse on tan shag excruciating. My stomach heaved eggs and asparagus in the corner. My head throbbed. The others stood clustered in the corner, their taunts thundering. SHUT UP!  They wouldn’t stop. SHUT UP!  Couldn’t he hear them?  Stupid bastard, he deserves this.

The curtain fell away; my breath erupted from my lungs. I held the gun flush in my hand, my veins arching. I didn’t even sweat, cool as the damp air in the pit—my hidden retreat. He rounded the corner, a shadow unfolding from the deep. He saw me and started mewling, mouth gaping just like the cats. How many seconds drifted away?

Fire exploded from my grasp. He flew everywhere, a thousand corpses of his flesh, all over my white t-shirt. His mom came running, screaming his name. She didn’t see me in the corner, in the dark, a ghost son, half hidden—watching. I endured him for years.

His life spread across my chest. There, splayed out on the floor, the carcass of my enemy in a white t-shirt. I crouched beside him, my shadow carved into his skin, searching for sound. A face stared back; look—my  eyes are still green. In the end, there were no words. I don’t hear anymore.
Sweetness flows through these new days. Speak to us, crawl on us, fall on us. The knife buries deep inside me to the hilt. Like an apple, I’m split in two. I remain. I, I, I…am one.

2 Comments

  1. Janna,
    The lines in this flash are so punchy; the word choice works perfectly with the action and really knocks out the reader.
    It’s so simple and complex at the same time.
    Well done,
    Erin

  2. This is a great piece. It really gets me in the head of a narrator I might never have understood otherwise. It’s exactly what good writing should do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *