By, Angela Smither
Alamogordo, New Mexico 2020
Olivia sat in the darkness, her knees bent and pressed hard against her chest, her hands bound tight around her legs, hugging herself tight. She imagined her mother behind her, holding her. She thought she felt the softness of her mother's hair touch her cheeks lightly as she heard the words, "I love you," Whispered in her ear. She released her grip around her legs and touched her face.
Tears. No, I will not cry anymore. She closed her eyes, wishing them away.
Maybe if she sat in the bedroom closet long enough, she could walk out and find all that had happened moments ago was just a bad dream. She wouldn't be 13 anymore. Instead she would be 8 again and open the door to find her mother's smiling face, her hazel eyes looking at the silly girl, wondering why she was playing in the closet in only her panties and t-shirt.
She tried to erase the image of the Townsend house from her memory and replace it with her room at her old house, before her mother died. Life was happy then. She focused harder, visioning her old closet in her old room.
A sharp pain came over her body, starting from her feet and traveling all the way to her head. It was as if someone was squeezing every part of her. It was so intense that her eyes opened wide and she let out a screech as all the air escaped her lungs. As the squeezing subsided, a tingling sensation followed. At that moment, she sucked the air back into her lungs. If she were standing, she would have fallen to the ground. The tingling was like when she touched Rosetta and Albert Townsend. Only she felt more alive after. Now she felt weak, as if she had been running track at school.
Oh yes, the Townsends…. I can't hide in here any longer….. I must face the reality beyond the closet door. Face what I have done.
She stood up and reached the knob on the door. Her hands were shaking. She knew that beyond the door was the evidence of what she had done. As she turned the knob she closed her eyes, preparing herself for what was beyond the door. She knew that when she would open the door, she'd see Rosetta's body lying lifeless face down on the floor beside her bed and Albert lying face up on her bed, dead, but still holding the expression of fear that he had as he took his last breaths.
She opened her eyes as she slowly opened the door. "No, I can't be here." Bewildered, the words escaped her lips in a soft whisper. She was no longer in the Townsend house. Instead, she was in her old bedroom. It was dark, but her eyes were adjusted, because of the dark closet.
She studied the wall to her left. It was a mural of a castle, painted by her mother. Pastel yellow, blue and pink flowers lined the way to the entrance. She smiled, remembering when her mother painted that for her. She loved to watch her mother paint.
A light caught her eye. The curtains to the bedroom window were opened slightly allowing the moonlight in just a bit. Its glow shined slightly over a figure in the bed. She could see the figures hair color. It was a soft brown. She touched her own and held it up to compare hoping to convince herself that it was not the same, but it was. Slowly, she moved closer to get a better study of the figure in the bed.
She stood beside the bed, looking at her younger self. It felt like she was in a movie script. None of this could be real. She must still be sitting in the closet and this is part of some sort of psychotic breakdown. Maybe she was dead and this was some sort of warped afterlife. She reached down to touch her younger self, touching her hair lightly. It was real alright, but how?
The young girl in the bed moaned a little as she rubbed her eyes. She focused on the older Olivia, her green eyes opened wide with fear. Instantly, 13 year old Olivia remembered that night. She saw herself through younger eyes looking at the battered figure next to her bed, dirty and bruised. She had thought it was a ghost of sorts.
"Mom!" As her younger self screamed, the tightening feeling came and then the tingling. She collapsed to her knees right next to Rosetta Townsends head.
She was in the Townsend house again. Rosetta was sprawled out next to her, face down, her blonde hair shining from the moonlight let in by the bedroom window. Albert was on her bed face up as if he were staring at the ceiling, frozen in fear.
She sat down on the floor, putting her head against the bed for support, being careful not to touch Albert's hand that was laying limp over the edge. Images of earlier episodes flashed in her mind as if they were someone else's reality, emotionally detached, as if evaluating scenes in a movie.
Olivia remembered when she first arrived at the Townsend house. She had been really nervous. It had only been a week since the car crash that killed her parents. Her mother had never spoken about having a sister, so she knew nothing about her. Would she like me? Will she be pretty like my mom? Looking back, these fears had such simplicity compared to the horrors that would follow.
Sometimes Rosetta seemed to be two different people. She would be loving and kind, appearing to want to be the mother that Olivia no longer had. Then there would be signs that she was changing. The simplest things would trigger it; spilling a glass of water, someone laughing at what she thought was the wrong moment, or taking too long in the bathroom. It didn't take much. Once, Olivia left some stray hairs loose when she put her hair up and it triggered the change. She had called her a sloppy little cunt as she pulled some of Olivia's hair out while she crudely pulled the rubber band out of her hair.
Olivia grew observant of the signs. Sometimes there would be a change in tone in Rosetta's voice, giving red flags that it was coming. Then there would be the more obvious signs. When Rosetta's left eye would start twitching, Olivia knew she needed to hide. That twitching eye often invaded Olivia's dreams and she would wake up frightened but then relieved when she realized Rosetta was not in the room with her.
The bedroom closet was Olivia's safe haven. When she first hid there after the first of Rosetta's episodes, she had convinced herself that the closet was magical. She told herself that if she didn't want anyone to see her in there, they wouldn't be able to, and they didn't. On many occasions Rosetta or Albert had come looking for her searching the closet, but it was as if she were invisible to them.
Albert never touched her, well not in the way that Rosetta did, but he never stopped Rosetta in her episodes. Instead, he would tell Olivia, "Just do what she wants girl, have a little respect and all will be ok." It never was. Olivia could never appease her, no matter how hard she tried.
Though, there was something strange about Albert that gave Olivia an odd feeling in the pit of her stomach. He was a heavy set, grey headed man, with a long beard. He kind of reminded her of the Santa's she often saw around the holiday season. His nature seemed calm and he appeared pleasant at first observance, but there was something in the way he looked at her and the way his words sounded. She didn't quite understand it until she was a little older.
"You sure are a pretty little thing." He would say this quite often, but there was something in his tone that didn't sit right with Olivia. When she started developing breasts and she noticed his eyes gazing over her body as he said those words, she realized what the nasty feeling in her stomach was. It was then that she realized that he was not looking at her like a father looks at a daughter. He was looking at her like a man looks at a woman. It was then that she became really afraid of him. Though, he never tried to touch her like a man touches a woman until this night.
Today she turned 13. It had been an unusually good day. Rosetta was in an exceptionally good mood. She even baked Olivia a cake. It was Olivia's favorite, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
At dinner Albert had said something that gave Olivia pause. "You're a woman now, Olivia." With those words came that feeling in Olivia's stomach. She was no longer hungry, but forced herself to finish her plate. Rosetta was in a good mood today and she didn't want to do anything to change it.
Olivia had gone to bed that night feeling happy. It had been a good birthday, because Rosetta was happy, so she didn't have to hide. She even had carrot cake. Her eyes closed and she began to drift off into sleep.
She wasn't sure what woke her, maybe she felt his stare, but when she awoke, Albert was standing next to her bed. He was wearing some baggy white boxers that opened slightly in the front revealing some gray pubic hair. His protruding belly hung over the elastic of the boxers.
As if he sensed that she would scream, he plopped on top of her, putting all his weight over her body and covered her mouth with his hand.
Instinctually her hands went up, pushing him as hard as she could. He didn't budge. The force of his weight was suffocating. Her body ached beneath the weight. She dug her nails into his face.
"You little bitch!" He said in almost a growl as he slapped her across the face.
He took a deep breath and then began to speak in a calm manner. "The first time always hurts, but it gets better. If you just lye still it will only hurt a little, but if you fight it, it's going to hurt really bad."
At that moment, her fear became rage. He wanted to steal something from her. It wasn't his to have and she would not give it to him. She hated him. In all her time at the Townsend house, she had never hated them. She wanted so badly to please them. She wanted them to love her, but no matter what she did, they wouldn't love her. Now she felt pure rage and hate.
She didn't know why she did it, but she put her hand near his chest. Maybe she thought if she could press hard enough, his heart would stop beating. Looking back, it seemed like an odd thing to do, but when she did it, something began to happen. Albert began to go into convulsions on top of her. It was as if he was having a seizure of some sort or being electrocuted and her hand was the electrical charge. A surge went through her from her hand and spread throughout her body. Her whole body tingled. With each second, each of Albert's convulsions, the tingling sensation got more powerful. She felt powerful, not just from what she was doing to Albert, but something inside her became more powerful, stronger, like she could do anything. It continued until Albert's body laid lifeless, heavy on top of hers. Testing her new strength, she pushed him off of her, leaving him face up on the bed.
Olivia sat up in the bed and looked down at Albert's dead body. It was then that Rosetta walked in. She stood at the doorway as if in shock and then let out a scream. She started to towards the bed, towards Albert, but before she reached the bed she paused, stared at Albert for a few seconds, then she looked at Olivia.
"You little whore! You did this!" Rosetta's left eye twitched frantically as she ran towards Olivia. She banged Olivia's head against the headboard as she grabbed her neck, squeezing as hard as she could with both hands. In defense, Olivia grabbed Rosetta's wrists with her hands. That's when the tingling came. Like Albert, Rosetta's body convulsed until lifeless, her head falling onto Olivia's lap. She pushed Rosetta's body onto the floor, where she laid dead, face down next to the bed.
She stood up and stepped back, looking at the two dead bodies before her. Her first thought was, I'm free, I'm really free. Then reality came to her. I've just killed them, I've committed murder. That's when she did what she used to always do. She hid in the closet.
Before, when she stayed in the closet long enough, she would walk out and things would be better. This time was different, because she did not escape. It didn't feel real, but as she sat there looking down at Rosetta's dead body, there was no doubt about the validity of the situation. It was very real.
After she killed the Townsends she had felt like she was full of energy and consumed with unusual physical strength, but now all she felt was exhaustion. Her body ached like when she had the flu and her head pounded. All she wanted to do is sleep, but she couldn't. Not here.