Why were they trying to kill her, too?
July 15, 2014
A VG Serial: Where It Ended
Martha Faye started to cry as she watched Margaret walk away with Miss Imogene. The further they went, the louder she wailed as if they’d left her with a stranger. But what was Katie to her but a stranger?
Katie didn’t watch them leave, instead she turned, keeping them to her back and walking toward the house. Martha Faye was the one to see them walk off, reaching over her mother’s shoulders, stretching to touch them. She kicked at Katie and hit her with her little fists. She wanted down. She wanted to go with them.
Katie took her into the house, carried her upstairs, undressed her and sat on the edge of her bed rocking her. “I want Marget. I want Marget.” She looked at Katie with large, frightened eyes, her sobs slowing to jagged breaths. Little salt trails marked the path of her tears. Her eyes stayed closed longer with each blink until sleep befriended her. Katie tucked her in the bed and stood looking at her.
That moment was what she caught in her journal that night.
It scared me, how little I felt toward her. How little I felt, period. I began to feel adrift, like I did when I first came back. Only this time it felt uglier, like I was incapable of feeling anything, just this empty can of a being that could not conjure up one caring thought for anyone or anything. Judd had almost been murdered. My help had been threatened. I called the gentlest soul I know, Margaret, a no account. I tried my best to shame Miss Imogene. And there I stood staring at my child without an ounce of sentiment toward her.
She lay her pen down among the page she’d written and pushed herself up from the desk. She walked into the dark from her lit office where she’d been writing, through the kitchen and out onto the front porch. There she sat in a wicker chair and waited, for what she wasn’t sure. Who was she? What was she? The longer she sat the more garbled her thoughts became. She fought to hang onto some sense of lucidity, but she kept losing ground. And then in one moment of clarity; the question that haunted her for years, the one she’d been running from since the first night of abuse, stood there before her eyes. Has this life of mine all been my fault?
A light breeze blew the bushes surrounding the porch. She responded by grabbing the armrests of the chair, holding herself into it as if she thought she was about to drift away. Her face turned ashen and contorted like she was screaming, but no sound was coming out of her mouth. Then, as if some forced yanked her up, Katie lurched from her chair, a rush of words shrieking out as she cursed herself at the top of her lungs. “Worthless, slut, hateful, filthy, selfish, useless, whoring bitch. You deserved it all. You ARE evil. Your mother was right.” Then her voice quieted to a raspy whisper as she began to chant I… am… Evil, I am Evil. It is the only thing that explains this horror of a life.”
As if spellbound by her mantra, she turned slowly and walked into the house, heading to the closet where she kept the shotgun. She grabbed two shells off the shelf above the gun and loaded the over-under, chambered the loads and walked into the kitchen. She continued out the door, down the stairs and headed toward the barn. She couldn’t even conjure tears for these last few moments of her life. Nothing here was worth any response from her or anyone else. She knew now that dance with the only thing that had kept her alive and she died the day she got on the train to come home. Peter had been standing on the platform. He’d run after her when he heard what she was doing. He arrived just as she’d boarded the train. She stood at the window staring straight at him, but in his panicked searching, he’d didn’t see her there.
“It was because I was already dead. People can’t see ghosts,” she whispered.
I’ll just stop this shell of a person, stop it from anymore meanness, from any more evil, just stop it… She entered the store and walked its length. Then she straddled one of the picnic table benches, propping the end of the shotgun on the bench and against the wall in front of her. She was totally absorbed in getting the right angle while butting the shoulder stock hard against the wall so it couldn’t slide away.
She never heard the truck come racing up the driveway. She never heard him shouting her name. She hardly felt his hand on her shoulder as he grabbed the barrel of the gun pushing it away as her thumb compressed the trigger. The noise was deafening. Powder dusted her cheek. She sat trembling, pee running down her leg and dripping on the floor. Judd broke the gun open, laid it on the ground, and sat down facing her. He grabbed her shoulders trying to hold her steady.
“Don’t let them kill you too, Katie. Don’t.”
“I think… I think they already have.”
Episodes of Where It Ended by Christina Carson will be published every Tuesday.