I've heard countless times that the quiet ones are dangerous ones. That gave me the idea for this.
I remembered hearing that animal abuse suggests a pattern of emotional disturbances. What species is an ant? Does it count as an animal? I remembered having a constant, almost obsessive desire to dissect, to crush, to terrorize ants. I remembered that, each day, I chased them around and around in an enclosed place that I created with a pencil, slowly cutting off body parts, squashing some parts under the eraser, as time passed. I remembered observing while they try escaping even when they lost some of their legs, their lower body, and they still kept going. They kept trying to survive. I remembered watching them struggle and I'd enjoy it. I wanted to hurt something, wanted something to pay. I wanted to hurt something very badly, to inflict pain on something, anything. I wanted to kill. To twist, to tear, to crush, to destroy. I remembered using ants and bugs because I knew hiding cat and dog bodies were much too difficult for a seven year old. My appearance was deceiving. I knew it was. It always had been that way, ever since I was born. Outwardly, I was a quiet, polite, maybe a little shy looking, little girl, but not because my intention was to delude. No, I didn't particularly care about anyone's opinion besides Mother's, but even then I think I only wanted her approval if not her love. My angelic behavior existed because it was deeply ingrained in me. I couldn't go against it even if I wanted to. From the viewpoint of others, I was the epitome of kindness. I was supposedly decent. Well-mannered yet emotionless. But then again, I was the only one who knew what my mind held. There was no one to peek in and see the darkness that was my mind. My actions didn't quite match up with my thoughts. When something fell, my hand automatically picked it up for the owner as if it had a mind of its own. Someone was walking by and, without a thought, my legs moved to scoot me in to make more room. Cuss words never made it pass my lips. My body even shuddered involuntarily at the mention of "morbid" things when I wasn't scared at all, in fact I was interested, but it was as if I instinctively, subconsciously, knew that it was what a "proper girl" would do, what Mother's model daughter would do. It just happened. I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop it. It was in my blood, something that had been programmed in me since birth. That was years ago; I was an adult now, but, I still thought I acted like an angel when I was nowhere near being one. I was a living lie.
"Jeannette, pass me the letter on the table."
A soft but authoritative voice, a familiar voice, cut through the thoughts floating through my mind. I glanced up slowly, brought out of my reverie, starting to refocus my eyes on the figure before me. I was still a little out of it, but it required no effort, no thought, at all to respond with the same answer I always used just as she had her hand out, already knowing what would happen.
"Yes, Mother." I turned, picking it up, and handed it to Mother. It was a letter to Mariel. Again. Full of endearments and praises as per usual.
She put the letter into an envelope gently, lovingly sealing it closed, and continued speaking, her voice soft and her eyes happy as she talked about the daughter she always wanted. "Mariel, such a sweet and outgoing girl. Why couldn't you be like her?"
"I'm sorry, Mother." The response was automatic and without any sincere feelings behind it.
Then, I turned around without any input from my mind as one of my cheek muscles started twitching but only for a second. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried to imitate Mariel's every move, I still wasn't the one Mother wanted. I'm pretty sure I nailed the "sweet" attitude perfectly, but being outgoing... not so much. However, I was much more considerate, much more obedient, than that girl ever was. I was more wary of Mother's moods and did my best to accommodate every single one. I was the most perfect goody two shoes just for Mother. But it was Mariel. Mother wanted another woman's daughter when I was right here, where I had always been for the last two decades. My hand clenched not of my own accord, leaving crimson crescent-shaped marks on my palm, any deeper and there'll be blood, so I decided I had to leave before I did something unbefitting of Mother's daughter. The lie was out of my mouth before I could stop it, not that I wanted to.
"There's an appointment I have to rush to. I'll take my leave now."
"Wait, Jeannette." Mother's words stopped me in my tracks just as she wanted. My hand was already on the door. So close. I was almost in the clear. "Help me make dinner before you leave."
My cheek muscle twitched again, the tiniest of movements. Mother didn't notice. I knew she didn't. No one did. Then, I turned around to face her, a faint smile inching up my face without my consent. "Yes, Mother."
It had been an hour and twenty-two minutes and I was at the end of my rope, my lips frozen in a smile I didn't mean, my fingers clutching the knife more tighter than strictly necessary, standing here cutting up lettuce as Mother stirred the pot as she went on and on fondly about how Mariel invited us to go to her annual birthday party, there was always so much people there, and how sociable Mariel was. My hand was getting numb. The basis of Mother's speech was Mariel this and Mariel that, Mariel's name wrapped up in an affection I never received. My already tight grip on a knife sharp and strong enough to cut through metal tightened even further, my knuckles white, a few splinters digging into my palm.
Mother sighed softly, "Why couldn't I have a daughter like that? Hand me the knife, will you?"
Something in me snapped even more, screws that were already loose falling to the ground, the earth swallowing them up. I was never quite right in the head. I knew that. The few withering strands of sanity that were never strong enough in the first place stretched too far and tore apart. My feet rotated my body toward Mother, walking slowly to her, as my hand was holding out the knife. I couldn't stop. My body was on autopilot now. She smiled, unaware of the darkness inside me, the darkness that had taken over my body completely now.
"Thank you, Jeannette." She reached for the knife in my hand, completely wide open.
My hand stabbed the knife in her shoulder, her neck, her chest, her stomach, her arms, again and again. And again. The skin tearing, the flesh giving way, the wet organs sliding out, the blood everywhere. I felt a smile curve my lips as tension I didn't know I was holding released with each stab, the knife and my arm now completely a bloody red. I could hear the splats on the floor as red gush slopped to the floor. A frozen look of horror was etched onto her face, mixing with the lines of her wrinkles. She looked so shocked. It was so amusing. I guess she never thought I could do this. No, not her polite, reserved girl. Not her little goody two shoes. Not the angel of the neighborhood. No, Jeannette was too kind, too shy to do something like hurting anyone. No, Jeannette couldn't harm a fly. Well, Mother, I'm not the goody two shoes you thought I was. Once Mother's shock was out of the way, it was already too late; she stopped moving. And breathing. Which was quite peculiar. I thought people needed to breathe to live. I guess I thought wrong. It was either that or Mother was dead.
Stepping out of warmth and smells of cooking the kitchen emitted, I made my way slowly to the dining table, careful not to spill anything, and placed a plate on the table in front of Mother, next to the glass of water, before I settled down onto a seat across from her with my own food. I smiled at her, a genuine one, reaching toward her to wipe a stray blood trail that I had forgotten from her cheek. There. Now there wasn't any blood left on or in Mother. I even changed her clothes to clean ones and I brushed her hair to glossy perfection, so she was as good as new. Although, admittedly, Mother was a bit pale. She seemed to have lost that faint, perpetual blush she usually had about her cheeks. Her face was completely blank now, too. The terrified expression was no longer on her face. Mother was silent. She had finally shut her mouth about Mariel. She would never talk about Mariel ever again. I made sure of that just like I made Mother's favorite dish. It was nice and hot just exactly as Mother liked.
"Mother, don't you love me now?"