Jack and Jill
jack and jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water; jack fell down and broke his crown, while jill was plagued with laughter.
She's one, and she isn't like any other infant. She doesn't cry when she's hungry, or thirsty, or tired. She throws away the dolls entrusted to her, and stares with wide, vacant eyes. Her worried parents take her to the doctor, who assures them she's fine. Perhaps autistic. They're given a pamphlet that will direct them to a psychologist for diagonostics, but it finds its way to the landfill eventually.
She's two, and she picks up her first book. She teaches herself to read. Teaches herself the words, and what they mean in certain contexts. "What's love?" she asks her mother one day. "Well, honey," her mother replies, "Love is what I feel for you, and love is what you feel for me."
She's three, and they introduce her to her neighbor. It's another little girl her age, named for her bubbly personality and bright yellow hair. Thirty minutes later, her sunshine hair is covered in blood, after being pushed down the stairs. The girl gets six stitches. Jill's parents claim it was an accident.
She's four, and she doesn't have any friends. The children who surround her are despicable, whining brats, incapable of coherent speech and proper reactions. The adults surrounding these children are compliant to the childrens' responses, their faces schooled to display a foreign empathy. And in the midst of it all, she doesn't understand. Why does a boy wail when his chair collapses underneath him? Why does a girl smile as her parent presents her with a newly-acquired toy? Why doesn't she feel as they do?
She's five, and she wants to be a mortician. Her parents are a tad worried, but figure it's just nother phase she's going through. For a while, they force her into reading about teachers and doctors and lawyers, and she eventually realizes that the phrase "I want to be a veterinarian" doss wonders for their ignorance.
She's five when she takes up her career in the lying industry.
She's six, and she's realized that she can gain "friends" by painting on a charming smile and mimicking her peers' personas. They adore her, these devoting acquaintances; following her around like stray puppies. During jumprope at recess, they always let her choose the melody and jump in the very middle. During lunchtime, she's always first in line. She's teacher's pet, and Miss Waters sends her with notes home praising her virtues. Nobody, nobody is suspicious, and she's completely satisfied with her social ranking.
She's seven, and her ignorant parents entrust her with a dictionary. They believe she's just like the rest of them, especially when she pretends she's thrilled with the birthday present. Later, while she's vacantly flipping through the dictionary's pages, she comes across the word "manipulate."
ma·nip·u·late | məˈnipyəˌlāt | 2. control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.
There's a satisfactory twinge in her heart as she dubs herself a manipulator.
She's eight, and she discovers her father's stash of hunting knives. He's hidden them from her mother, beneath an oil-stained cloth inside a box inside the garage. Claims to be out golfing while he kills squirrels in the woods. Jill stores the information about the knives' whereabouts in the back of her mind.
She's nine, and she's killing an injured dog she found in an alley. Gutting it, really. Fascinating creatures lurk in the dead of night, only to be discovered when one sneaks out their window and surreptitiously tiptoes through the silent streets. Later, she'll crawl into bed with blood caked beneath her fingernails.
She's ten, and she writes her first poem. Lying in the dark / Admonishing our memoirs / Manipulators.
She's eleven, and she comes of age. Hate is the only emotion she feels and she hates it. Chops off her hair, binds her breasts. Only wears cosmetics to fool the girls at school into thinking she's just like them. But she can't stop bleeding like a wounded animal.
She's twelve, and she stumbles across the wonderful world of drugs. Hiding them is easily done, ever since her mother discovered the knives and divorced her father. Now, shunted between rivals, nobody notices she's high as a kite. They assume she is still a little girl, shielded by plaits and dresses and love. Love. They expected her to love the neighbor-girl, didn't they?
She's thirteen, and she's on her first date. The boy's name is Jackson, and he is the epitome of an idiot. For one, he's claimed love at first sight ("When I met you, your smile was brighter than the sun, its shape giving me the impression of a gibbous moon," he says, and she fakes a bashful smile). For two, well, he deigned to ask her out in the first place.
He greets her at her door, giving her the largest bouquet of flowers she has ever seen, and they proceed to embark on a walk throughout the city. A secluded bridge is their nominated destination, where he plans to kiss her. But se has other intentions. When they deposit themselves on the edge of the bridge, grinning at each other while their feet dangle over rushing water, she lies a head on his shoulder. The bouquet in her lap is half-wilted, but it's no matter. She plucks out a flower and rolls it between her thumb and forefinger, ripping out the petals one by one. All the while, he leans his head toward hers, hoping for that kiss.
The last petal falls. "I guess you love me," she exclaims, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she lifts her head. He leans in further.
And then she's pushing him off the bridge, and he falls, falls, falls into the water below, and she laughs at the expression on his face while tossing the bouquet in after him.
(It's already occurred to her that Jackson cannot swim.)
She's thirteen, and they cannot legally dub her a psychopath, but they say she is.
She's thirteen, and they're calling her a murderer.
She's thirteen, and they're putting her behind bars.
She's thirteen, and she paves her last mile with their blood.
Too late. Too late too late too late.