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It was just passed eight o’clock, dark outside if not for the sporadic street lights. I was worried about Bella. If she wasn’t home before Daddy and Nana Lou made it back, he would go looking for her. Then the worst begin to form in my mind. What if they had drown? What if they had fallen or gotten lost? That’s when I heard something coming from my room. It was a slight knock that I wouldn’t have been able to hear if I’d had the television on. I closed my book and slowly moved to my bedroom down the hall, the tapping becoming more urgent. I also heard something else; frantic grunts.
I expected to see a stranger trying to get my window open. Someone was going to rob us, I thought. My heart was racing as I rounded the corner. I certainly didn’t expect to see what I came face to face with when I walked into my room.
Bella Mae was standing outside the window, her face red and puffy with tears, her clothes dirty and ripped, and possibly the worst sight I’ve ever seen, her hands were covered in blood. Thick red blood was smeared over my window like strokes of paint. There was blood smeared through her hair, streaks down her tear soaked face, and patches of blood on her torn clothes.
At first, I thought it was her own, that she was bathed in her own blood, but that wasn’t quite right. Most people, professional actors excluded, can be read like a book and Bella Mae’s expression was no exception. She wasn’t in pain; her eyes were laced with fear and shock. But if that wasn’t her own blood, then whose was it?
Oh my God! David!
I had the most terrible sensation in the depths of my stomach. My stomach was falling while simultaneously the rest of my body was floating. It made me nauseated. I began to sweat despite air from the AC blowing directly on me.
demon from hell
I was torn between running and calling the police or helping my little sister.
Bella was sobbing and talking indecipherably, her hands unable to get enough traction and shaking too badly to push my window up.
I expected to hear her pleading voice in my head, begging me not to think bad of her but I never did. I supposed it was because she was too consumed with her own thoughts of horror to send anything my way.
In the end, though, I finally helped her, for probably the same reason that a beaten wife keeps going back to her abusive husband. Out of love and fear. It’s funny how the two most distorted emotions of humankind can seem to co-exist so harmoniously.
I slid open the window and because she wasn’t quite tall enough, I had to take her hands and help her over the frame and into the room, with thoughts of the blood getting on me somewhere in the back of my mind. What I was thinking about was an incident several years before; the two year old version of Bella Mae as she ran to the back door, sensing that Momma and Daddy were moving the frog rock, and the back door had flown open on its own. I wondered why she didn’t use that power this time.
Once inside, she grabbed me in a hard hug and began to wail to the tops of her lungs in agony. I sprung tears as well, partly because I hated to see her in such turmoil, but mostly because I didn’t know why she was in such turmoil.
I pulled back, held her at arms length, and gave her a small shake back to reality. Her wail dwindled to peeps between silent tears. The paths the tears left in the blood on her face made her cheeks look ghostly white. She was trembling, not visibly, but I could feel it in both my hands and heart.
“Are you hurt?” I said firmly, keeping my own lump of fear down long enough to take charge of the situation. I realized that this was the first time in our sibling relationship that I had taken the upper hand.
She whimpered, and a puzzled look crossed her face as if she thought she had heard me wrong.
“Are you hurt?” I repeated, more stern.
She shook her head. I grabbed her hand and led her to the bathroom. We started with her hands and while I got a wash cloth from the linen closet, she began to wring her hands together under the faucet, scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing in places that she had already washed. I had just finished studying William Shakespeare’s MacBeth for my literature class, and I couldn’t help but think of Bella as Lady MacBeth, constantly rubbing her hands together for fear of the blood; the guilt she suffered. It occurred to me then what Bella had done, and the shock of it almost knocked my breath away, as if I’d just had a ball bat swung at my chest.
“Bella,” I said slowly, trying to keep from screaming and vomiting at the same time. “Where’s David?”
The peaked expression on her face confirmed my fear. David was no longer part of this world but now living in the next. I wasn’t aware that the wash cloth dropped from my hands. I had to sit down on the side of the bathtub and breathe slowly, otherwise I’d go mad.
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