I haven’t slept since the text. I used a staple gun and hung a blanket over the mirror. I have beem drinking coffee by the pot for the last twelve hours. And pissing in a botttle. I am aware how this sounds. But I have reached a level of sheer terror that has caused my pubes to turn white.
Alright they were well on the way but I swear it has gotten worse.
Every thing has gotten worse. My cousin’s phone call echoed through my mind. She has been there my entire life it seems. Watching me.
Watching over me?
It was growing more difficult to string thoughts together. I was exhausted. Living off of pure adrenaline and caffeine was taking its toll on my mind. I was seeing things out of the corner of my eye. Jumping at shadows. Hearing whispers. The neighbor’s alarm went off and I nearly leapt out of my skin.
I checked and rechecked the phone logs to make sure Chad actually called me. That it wasn’t another dream. It was there. He called at five fifteen. The call lasted an hour and a half. It seemed shorter. Did I lose parts of that as Well?
I was outside watching the stars for at least an hour as well. The text arrived at seven thirty as was waiting for me when I got back in. The floor was still covered in congealed marshmallow and cocoa. The sweet smell was making me nauseous. The call came in at five fifteen. Lasted ninety seven minutes. Ended at six fifty two. Twenty eight minutes later the text arrived. The stars were bright and beautiful. As I stared at them She texted me.
One word. The same word that had taken on a whole new meaning.
Was she really always there?
I sat back and let the cushions absorb me. It felt so nice and soft. Like melting into them.
We were just kids back then. A week after the first deep freeze we would bundle up and race down to the river. Sometimes others would beat us, we would hear them skating back and forth. This time we were all alone. Timmy, Chad and I. We grabbed the biggest rocks we could lift and headed to the small bridge and dropped them over the side.
Some years we would hear the disappointing crack and occasional splash. This year the satisfying this as they hit and sat in the snow that accumulated around the bridges where the sun never hit it enough to crystallize the top. All of us dropped three stones each. One was good, two was better and by tje sixth it was safe enough to venture out.
We called it the rule of six. We were stupid and it sounded scientific.
Sometimes there would still be cracking as we made outer first tentative steps out. This year was different though. The winter had come on strong weeks earlier than normal. By the time we got permission to check it had been ready for days, maybe an entire week.
We rushed out onto the ice. Tennis shoes slipping and the instincts only a child can use we managed to keep our footing for the most part. Our laughter drew the other kids in the neighborhood out to join. And it wasn’t long before someone did something that pissed Timmy off. Before long in was handfuls of snow down the back of jackets.
Then it was all out war. We each staked out snow banks and used the bread pans we had snuck out of the house to make bricks to hide behind.
The snowball flew. Chaos ensued from one riverbank to the other. Laughter and taunts flew as well. It was the biggest battle we had ever fought. There were the three of us in the center of the river by the bridge. Our base camp rich with the snow blown against the trusses that sunk through the ice into the ground beneath the water. A perfect defensible position.
On each bank was four or five of the kids from not just our neighborhood but the the one on the other side as well. We all knew each other from school and summers rising bikes and making mischief.
They were ill prepared compared to us, thought the kids from our side had a little more experience. Timmy was ten months younger then me, Chad two years so the kids went for him first. He could by throw as hard or as far as us. Timmy was a beast. He played baseball and could actually aim his frozen projectiles. I was less precise but made up for it with the boundless energy that had always filled me.
Attention deficit disorder they called it now. Then it was just the kid that disturbed class. But when focused in deadly combat? Single minded.
We were destroying them. And then Chad threw a a good sized snowball that froze into his mitten which went with it. Snowballs flew everywhere and Timmy saw the mitten go. We averaged a loss of two or three pair a season but these were crocheted by my mother. There would be hell to pay if one got lost the very first time out. The tongue lashing would be worse than than the actually beating.
So he rushed out for it. I provided cover fire for him. We were all fat kids but he had a layer of muscle under and surprising speed. He was like a blur dodging and sliding the hail storm. I was on fire as well, nailing the other kids as they cocked back to throw. We were in perfect tandem. A force of nature on the ice.
Then it all went wrong.
It started snowing sometime during the battle and it kept coming. Fat, heavy flakes flaming faster and faster. Between the storm of snowballs and flakes visibility was starting to fail.
But I saw it all. Chad was huddled behind the snow brick wall we had made. Hand in his pocket and worry on his face for the most mitten. Timmy was a ninja flying towards the wayward mitten. It was blue but almost black as soaked as it had become. As he reached for it I saw Her. She looked right at me and smiled. I yelled for Timmy to stop. She placed one finger to Her lips and smiled.
An errant snowball caught me in the side of the head. I wiped the snow from my eyes and when I looked back She and Timmy were gone. All that remained was a hole in the ice where they had been. And a blue mitten floating for a moment, frozen in time, before it sank down beneath the black water.
I opened my eyes and the living room came back into focus. I had fallen asleep.
But the memory remained.
She had been there. Chad was right. I did tell everyone that would listen about her but no one wanted to hear it. More of my over active imagination. The police said I made her up to cover the trauma of seeing my cousin slip under. But I knew what I saw and no matter how many beatings I endured I swore by it. Until I didn’t any longer.
Until I forgot. Or pushed it out of my mind.
As I stared up at the ceiling and replayed that day over and over again my phone buzzed.
Hesitantly I pressed the icon. I didn’t want to read the words on the screen. I couldn’t. Finally I looked down at the screen on my lap.
Remember. You have always been Mine.