(Disturbing and triggering scenes. Viewer discretion is advised)
Chapter 2: Realization
There is one long, everlasting moment where things slow down and I can see everything in perfect clarity and what I see is the heavy body of Walter slump to the ground. Once his large body gives his last noise—a dull thud as he falls to the ground that reverberates in my chest sickeningly—time becomes this fucked up thing and I swear it's being controlled by some sadistic bitch in some other universe. People scream and Mom kneels over his empty body frantically trying to administer some amateur CPR that I know won't do shit, and I just can't. I'm running now, but I'm in slow motion compared to everyone else. I'm slipping on the floor in these ridiculous shoes that I hate and for one terrifying moment I thought that the floor was soaked with his blood, but in the next moment it's gone and I'm sure it's just my eyes playing tricks on me. I'm running towards the door, trying to escape the flurries of people rushing past in their annoying sped up universe while I'm stuck in the shitty slow one. They're jammed so tight in here, so many of them spilling in and not enough spilling out and I know they're trying to trap me in this room where he exploded.
Move, damn you, move. I shove an EMT out of the way and, yes, I can feel the cool night air on my exposed skin and I can feel it burn in my lungs. Clutching the exterior of the building, I lean over and try to empty out that disgusting snooty salad from dinner. Nothing comes out and I realize the state I'm in. I just caused someone to die. I just… killed. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I think I'm hyperventilating. I'm glad I am. I hope I get so much air that I explode and die. What is wrong with me? What even happened? Will anyone believe me if I say it wasn't me? I bet they all know. Everyone is staring at me, accusing me with their eyes. God, I hate myself. I hate myself.
The EMTs roll out a lump on a gurney covered by a white sheet. They load it up into the ambulance and it's actually kind of funny how fast they're working to save a dead guy. Mom rushes out, all tears and running makeup, climbing into the back with Walter. She doesn't even look at me or try for that matter. The ambulance speeds away with its loud sirens and flashing lights leaving me behind with my tear-soaked face and my wet dress sticking to my ass on the sidewalk. I want to start crying again because she left me here with the people inside rushing out to stare dumbstruck after the ambulance, and, why can't they see that I'm having a moment and I want to be left alone?
I can't deal with this. I bang the back of my head against the uneven brick siding in a rhythmic pattern and it almost makes me feel good enough to open my eyes and face life. I could be a metronome with how precise my timing is. Deep breath, slam, deep breath, slam. Over and over and over.
I'm not sure why this one sound alerts me and makes me open my eyes—perhaps because how odd it feels in this atmosphere—but I'm jolted back to reality when a crowd of teenagers laughing rowdily comes from the alleyway behind the restaurant. It feels weird to see people having fun when your mind is a mess. With all of the things that have happened, it's hard imagining anything good happening, to me or to anyone else. The majority of them are carrying cases and it takes my slow mind a moment to realize that they are instruments.
What should be more interesting to my fried brain is that in the middle of the rambunctious group is the violinist. She's laughing and joking, her arm slung around a taller boy. She's so different from the serious girl who touched my heart with her slow, beautiful notes. I stare in awe, completely dumbstruck and surreal. What is she doing with these people? She doesn't belong with them. I've heard her music and she's far too classy to associate with other people our age. She's better than these immature baboons.
She stops laughing and her eyes lock onto mine, finally noticing my stare and disheveled state. I'm in between feeling as if she's going to kill me too and having a jolt of excited butterflies and unadulterated admiration. The adrenaline pumps through my veins and my head feels like it's going to explode. Her lips nearly turn up into a smile, a tiny one that seems more like a smirk, her arm raised about halfway as if she was going to wave or something, but the guy she's leaning on drags her away from me and then she's gone.
I remember to breathe finally and I look down at my shaky, adrenaline pulsed hands. I press one to my heart and feel how fast it's beating. What is wrong with her? Was she trying to get us killed by being so obvious? And, wait, she acknowledged me. Does that mean that she knows what happened? Did she kill Walter?
My blood runs cold. I didn't want her to kill him! Especially not for my sake! I could've dealt with it. How dare she impede on my business? Things could have gone on just as they were; I could be in the car going home right now where I would be thankful for the night being over. Now I'm stuck here with no ride, a cold ass, and the aftershock of a dead guy dying next to you.
I bury my head in my hands, the hopelessness finally overwhelming me. I'd rather be dead than be stuck here with Walter's filthy blood staining my hands. I viciously scrub my hands over the damp concrete to get rid of his ugly blood. Get it off of me!
"Hey, Beatrice, do you need a ride home?"
My heart fills with a weird, foreign emotion—hope—before looking up and realizing that those words were spoken from one of my mom's retarded coworkers. I wipe the blood, or more likely tears, off my face and shake my head.
"No, my mom is coming back to get me," I lie. No way am I that desperate to want to go home with anyone my mom works with. His face twists into something that looks like sympathy but, to me, it looks shallow and fake.
"Can I get you anything though? It sure is cold tonight and I'm sure that dress isn't very warm." Was he just looking at my legs? I tuck my legs self consciously under myself so his eyes can no longer penetrate them. Fuck, why does he have to be so creepy? All of these middle-aged guys must be desperate for vagina or something.
Don't they have wives?
"No, I'm fine," I lie more. That one is a huge lie. I couldn't be farther from fine. I'm freaking out and his "concerning" stare wasn't helping. He could drop the act already. None of these men were in it for helping me.
"If you say so," he says. He takes the hint and turns half of his body to the car lined street. "Take care, Beatrice. Tell your mom that I'm sorry the night had to end like this." He says that as if his car got a flat tire that caused us to be an hour home late, not like his boss just died at the dinner table with us. I say nothing as he walks away and gets into his expensive car parked on the street.
It seems as if someone dying where they eat really ruined everyone's appetite since nearly everyone left the restaurant after that. It gave me a while to grasp my situation and come to terms with what just happened and, when I did, I couldn't stop sobbing from what I have done. I couldn't tell anyone. They would lock me up for sure. Oh, God, what have I done? What has the violinist done? This is such a wreck.
It took awhile before Mom realized I was still sitting there after she sped away in the ambulance without me. I was cold and wet and panicked. If her coworkers continued to bother me after the first guy, I think I would have gone homicidal. I couldn't lie and say I wasn't disappointed when no distraught and sympathetic woman offered me a ride. It would have been such a relief if that violinist could swoop in then and save me like she already did once—but, wait, what was I talking about?
I stop playing those wretched events in my mind, an endless reel of the past few hours on repeat, and sit up. My head pounds and my vision gets spotty when attempting to stand, but I push through and stumble to the bathroom. I look like a mess but I don't give a fuck. I avoid the mirror at all costs so I don't have to face Bloody Mary or whoever the fuck stares back at me.
I jerk the knob all the way to the left and get inside the boiling hot chamber. It scorches my skin which instinctively makes my body twitch with the nerve signals telling my brain things that it doesn't want to hear. This is what reminds me I'm human. How this pain is an instinct to protect myself, how my skin's redness bubbles to the surface in response to the heat, how if I look closely I can see blue veins crisscrossing along the inside of my wrist. The violent, insistent calls are easier and easier to ignore as time goes on and I settle myself on the floor. I sit and run through the events again and again and again, the more times I go over it the longer I'm burned, the redder my skin becomes, and, ultimately, the more I punish myself.
Let's say it wasn't me who killed him. Let's say, by some magical and mystical force of nature, it was the violinist. I would still probably get in trouble for keeping all of this to myself, right? If I wanted to tell the cops or whoever I probably should have hours ago. I've taken too much time. I can't do that now. I can imagine the look on the Officer's face of doubt and suspicion at me, how he or she would click their tongue and ask why I didn't say anything sooner.
I rock back and forth. It's comforting, like I'm a baby again.
Let's say, again by some unknown power or ability, that I was the one who killed him. That my distress caused some sort of surge of this power and I somehow unleashed it onto him as the cause of it. That my hidden instincts finally revealed itself and became some new defense mechanism against those who cause me great emotional stress.
Why didn't it save me before, during all of those other times?
What the fuck am I even saying? No one would believe that anyway, and it wasn't like I was in some movie where I figure out I have super powers and then I kick some ass. Nope, this is reality, Bee. You killed a guy and you need to pay for your crimes.
I'm wracked by a sense of guilt so hard that I have to dig and scratch into my skin to ease the anxiety. Today is the day I have killed another human. Today is the first official day that I've taken life and it sends a cold sense of dread dropping my stomach miles below me. What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck is going on?
I hate myself. I wince at the internal stabbing. I hate myself. I dig into the sensitive, scalded skin. I hate myself. I dig my hand into the rat's nest on my head and yank. I hate myself. I slam my head on the tiled wall.
I hate myself.
I wish it were me that was wheeled out dead on a gurney.
I always feel like I'm in this transcendent state in between life and death. Always in between the contemplation, always in between the moods, always a little half dead, but undeniably alive. I'm trying so hard to be the normal Bee, pick up right where I left off a couple years ago where I had a mom and a dad and I was… happy? I've been trying so hard and for so long just to get back to normal. It was always, "Maybe if I take a day off to rest, I'll feel better. Maybe if I sleep more I'll feel better. Maybe if I take up yoga I'll feel better." It never works. Never. It's always a useless scramble for something I'll never be able to reach. I'm the idiotic horse with a carrot in front of it and I only just realized I will never, ever get the carrot.
It's such a struggle just to pretend to function. I've been trying ever since all of these changes crashed down on me. This one hell of an adjustment period, and I'm still spinning, still scrambling for some piece to hold onto.
I hate instability.
This feels so hopeless. I should stop trying.
I'm such a smudge. A little stain on a perfectly white wedding gown, a little eraser smudge on a masterpiece portrait, a little blur on an award winning photograph. I'm the one little imperfection that people just need to overlook.
I bash the heel of my palm against my forehead to give myself a brain jolt. They help snap me from my head into reality. It's just a small struggle against the falling, unstable feeling. Maybe a little tug towards the life side of transcendence. At least it gives me enough clarity to sit up and look at the clock.
The red numbers shine a cheery one in the afternoon. I got home late and my episode apparently didn't seem to help aide me into horrific slumber.
A few minutes of thinking takes me far away from Earth, and when I snap back it's because my mom's frazzled head with the dried, runny makeup still caked on from the night before pops into my room. She says that I need to see if my dress from whatever past formal event I don't care about still fits. I'm distracted and curt when I answer, my mind not in the present. I either tell her I don't know or I don't answer because she gets frustrated and leaves with some warning that I don't give a fuck about. My mind is leaving Earth, it's far, far away from her and she can't bring me down. I could think all day and I would still be entertained for more of this surrealism.
I think that's what I exactly end up doing because when the crash comes, it's nearly nine and Mom is in my face with an expensive dress clutched in her fist that she's waving in front of my face. She looks mad and I don't know why.
"Are you going to try the dress on or not, Beatrice?" She yells, her hands shaking. I snatch the fabric out of her hands and stand up, wobbly and more than a little dizzy. Satisfied though with controlling me, she leaves me alone to change into the dress which I'm pretty sure I'll fit in. I think I've lost a lot of weight since the last time I wore—
It just ripped against my lard thighs. I'm now dizzy for an entirely different reason. How could this happen? I didn't know I was fat! Why didn't anyone tell me I was a fucking balloon with grease and fat and stench squirting from all of my pores? I'm so disgusting. I can't look in the mirror. I know I wouldn't be able to look at some fat chick crying her eyes out over a stupid dress.
Mom knocks louder, trying to get my attention. The knob shakes from her jiggling it. I yank the dress off and, in only my underwear, open the door with my tears unconcealed for the first time since I was a kid. I chuck the ripped dress down the hall, screaming about something about having to buy a new one or something. I don't know any more. I'm trying not to really pay attention because I know I've gone mad and I like it better in my transcendent place. My happy place.
The secret place in between life and death.