Then reality kicked me smack dab in the ass and I sat there in shock. Hours passed as I drowned myself in the flood of my emotions. The pain became unbearable. I held out my arm and stared; it looked so clean, white and pure. Like a beautiful untouched canvas. I scrambled through the drawers looking for something I could… paint this blank skin with. I slashed at my skin with the dull kitchen knife trying to ease away the pain. I cradled my arm close to me like a small child as the deep crimson red forms intricate designs, the finished piece of art.
When I woke from the dreamless sleep, my arm felt limp with throbbing. The blood had long since dried and only added to the beauty of the picture. The knife had already begun to rust with the unclean situation. Even after all the pain I had inflicted on myself, the cuts from deep within still remained open and stinging. I closed my eyes trying to drift back off into the arms of death's brother.
But before a moment's time passed, I heard foot steps and then, "What happened to you?" I knew the owner of this voice could only be Josh. I opened my eyes and saw him staring at the mess I had become. I slowly turned my head up to him and stared into his cool blue eyes. I saw a strained expression in his face that alluded to his concern. I coolly laughed and tried to place a simple mask of foolery on my face. I began the well rehearsed lines, but he could see right through my attempt of salvaging the shattered pieces of my life.
"Well you see," I began. "There was this horrible little rat that kept getting its ass all over my kitchen. One day, it ate everything that was in my refrigerator! I was in complete shock! I knew something must be done! I had to get rid of this horrid creature. I decided that a stake-out would be the best method. So one night, tonight actually, I planned to take my weapon of choice, a knife, and end the furry critter's life. As I was doing so, the rat saw through my plan and used this vital information to devise his own. I thought I had found his secret hide-away lair, but in truth all I found was a make shift hole he had made in order to make me think it was his secret hide-away lair. So as I sat near to this little hole with an old knife in my hand, my little nemesis rat came around from behind the refrigerator and attacked my arm! He held onto it and wouldn't let go! He gnawed and bit and scratched as if there was no tomorrow! Lucky I was able to shoo him off with my other arm. Only my left was horrible mutilated, my right remained safe for the time being," I finished letting out a breathe I wasn't aware that I was holding.
While sincerely listening to my fabricated story, he began to clean up. With a towel he picked up the soiled knife and liberally wrapped it with newspaper.
"So then why is the knife all bloody?" Josh curiously asked.
"Well, I uhh, used it to kill the rat!"
"Where is the body of this poor rat?"
"I… uhh… buried it!"
"Ha! That's what I thought!"
"Ok so you're right, there was no encounter with a terrorizing rat."
"So why didn't you interrupt me in the beginning?" I asked, giving him the evil eye.
"I found your little story , although still very much a lie, rather amusing." The only answer he received from me was a dark stare.
"Didn't your mother tell you not to play with sharp objects?" he asked, changing the topic.
"And that's exactly why I did," I teasingly replied. I laughed to myself. He threw me a look drenched in worry.
"You realize that we have to talk about this once I have you all cleaned up."
"The thought never crossed my mind. But it won't happen; I have nothing to say," I said as I laid back down to let sleep wash over me. I knew he could get it out of me. So did Josh.
He ignored the last comment and continued with his work. He patiently cleaned the partially stained floor and cabinets. Being as tall and burly and he was, Josh picked me up with ease and carried me to the bathroom. Gently he laid me down in the tub. My body was sore and grimy from the repetitive nightmare that had occurred only hours before. Instinctively I took the fetal position to try and protect myself from the world. Josh saw my reluctance and left the room, only to return with a stool to sit next to me.
"Why are you still here?" I asked through clinched teeth. I hated his blind loyalty and caring disposition. Why couldn't he just leave me alone? But still, a tiny part of me begged him to stay forever. Why is he staying? What was in it for him?
Before I had time to ask, Josh stood from his newly found perch and knelt near me. Without a single word, Josh repositioned my body in the tub, in order to get a better access for cleansing my wounds. I clung to my arm as a child does a lost toy and stared defiantly back at him. His hand, which lingered near to but not touching my face, brought me back from my distraction. Josh quickly averted his eyes and attempted to regain his composure, when I discovered where his focus lay. He rolled back his sleeves and started on his next task.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" I exclaimed as he tried to take off the few articles of clothing that remained.
"Your clothes are bloodstained and drenched in sweat. It's not like I'm trying to rape you," he jested, trying to continue.
"Get your hands off of me!" I said pushing him away. "Sex, that's all any of you men ever think about. Well I have something to say about it: I won't stand for it! I hate you all! All of you. Every last one…" the last few words were no more than whispers, as my body trembled with sobs. It was unusual for me to jump from something so menial to a horrible generalization such as that. But considering the circumstances, who could blame me? For what seemed like hours, the tears steadily continued. It seemed as if Josh kept himself aloof and with a set jaw to watch me suffer. But the moment I felt his arms around me, I knew it was only to try and keep control. He rocked me back in forth, repeating to me that everything was going to be alright.
"You know, just because he hurt you doesn't mean that we're all bad guys," Josh said in a matter-of-fact tone. I don't know how he did it, but by this point, I was already starting to feel better. Mind you, the pain was still very fresh, but Josh somehow made it easier to bare. It was almost as if he was sharing it with me, to help and lighten the load.
"Who says it was him? I mean for all you know, my economical standing is the cause for my depression. Or maybe my mom died. What if Anna was in town?"
"Well I know for a fact that it isn't your job because you are absolutely infatuated with the life on the stage. You're incredibly talented, well known, and sought out. You're my little star. I know your mother didn't die, because if she had, you wouldn't be here."
"Where would I be, do you suppose?" I interrupted curiously.
"Well I know you would be at Evan's." A bit shocked at his answer, I looked down and he smiled smugly at being correct, although I could see the hurt in his eyes.
"Where was I?"
"Mother." I replied with my one-worded answer.
"Mother?" Josh asked trying to remember. "Oh yes! Mother," Although we had never dated, my mom had always planned our marriage. She loved Josh dearly and acted as the mother he never had. "I saw her when I was running some errands. It is possible that she died between then and now, but as I said you would be at Evan's. Oh, by the way, she says you need to call her."
"Mmm," I replied with a glazed look over my eyes. My mind raced with thousands of thoughts and I just barely acknowledged the fact that there happened to be another human being talking to me.
"Lastly, if Anna was in town I would have a rather large burden hanging off at me even as we speak. Plus the gossip column would be jam-packed with news of the drama queen's arrival into our humble little town. Being her sister, you know how she likes to create commotion."
"Mmm," I repeated, feeling a bit light-headed.
"So I'm obviously right about assuming that Evan was the cause of your state of mind. You can't avoid it. Carmen, why do you even bother? Can't you see what a jackass this guy is?" A few moments passed without an answer or any response. "…Carmen? …Carmen!" It was as silent as the grave.