Wasted Fish: Prologue
It was a dark and cold night, like the leftover fish in her fridge. She didn’t like fish, and she didn’t like that night, so both of them were pushed from her memory and allowed to waste away. But as much as she tried to forget it that single piece of fish just seemed to smell worse over time; her memory of that night was just as painful as the smell.
She remembered the rain pounding against her skin, washing away the blood until she looked like someone a child had colored on. The yellows and purples of her bruises merged with the reds and blacks on her arms and legs in a way only a child’s marker could manage. Or perhaps there were other ways. Honestly, she didn’t really remember how she got the bruises and cuts. Looking back, she knew how they happened- a car accident isn’t easy to forget- but somehow she didn’t remember getting them. She remembered the twisted metal clawing at her and pulling her back into its yawning mouth as she screamed and pulled away from the smoke and flames. The other cars around her sat in silence and nothing was moving anywhere. The semi that had rammed into her family’s vehicle lay on its side. The driver was clearly dead.
Everyone was dead.
They were all dead.
A nine year old girl wouldn’t be likely to find her way home blindfolded, but somehow this girl managed it. She walked in a daze that told the world she wasn’t there. She had checked out of her home and gone to stay in a hotel in the clouds, leaving the mind on auto-pilot. Her feet moved automatically and stiffly as if they had been tied together. Her hands fumbled at her ankles and she found the string. Pulling the tattered remains her socks away from her bloodied feet did little good for her legs. Moving with what could only be described as precision the girl who had lost everything found herself drifting away into death.
She wanted to die. Wouldn’t that be better? It hurt so much, death was all she could think about. Death. Dying. Dead. Dead driver. Dead woman. Dead man. Dead mother. Dead father. Dead brother. Dead sister. Dead everything. Why shouldn’t she die too?
But she didn’t die. Wandering through the clouds, the girl felt like she was still tied to the earth somehow, so her legs kept moving. Sirens blared through the night and lights filled the air with fireworks, but the girl was gone. The bright reds and yellows and blues of flames spilled out into the air behind the girl and the sound of drumming caused the stars to fall towards the ground, but she walked on without looking at anything. There was nothing to look at, because there was nothing left.
Blindly, the girl’s eyes wandered towards the name-tag on her torn sleeve. Bethany. The tag said Bethany. She must be Bethany. But she couldn’t have cared less if it were the name of a twenty year old nobody in the middle of Lithuania. Lithuania- that was something she had read about. Little things like Lithuania and Bethany tied the girl closer to the ground and, like a kite being reeled in, she bucked in the wind and fought to flee into heaven. Her shirt was blue, her socks had been blue, her hair ribbon was blue, and her nails were painted blue. Blue must have been her favorite color. Tug- she was pulled closer to the earth. There was rain on the ground and a scent rose into the air which reminded her of something she couldn’t describe, but she loved it. Tug- she was close enough to touch the dirt. There was a childish drawing on her hand of a rabbit in a field of flowers, only now it looked dead. Rabbit. Flowers. Dead. Tug, tug, tug- she was thrust back into her own mind.
Waking with a start, Bethany held her hands up in front of her face and looked around her. She knew where she was- just a few blocks from her house. She started to walk towards it, but then she stopped. Her black eyes sank into an ocean of pain and she turned to her right. Following the path in front of her, Bethany crawled away and around. She circled back to her house after she was certain she was far enough. They… she lived next to the cemetery. Why did they have to live next to the cemetery?
Bethany couldn’t see anymore, so she felt the ground. She heard the sound of speeding cars and knew she was near the road. She stopped and fell to her knees. The tears melted into the ground around her with a salty bitterness that sent her back into the clouds. Looking up at the place she wanted to go, Bethany thought she saw someone winking at her. They were laughing. They were laughing! Bethany opened her mouth and laughed with them. She laughed louder and longer and couldn’t stop. Her lungs gasped for breath, but Bethany didn’t care. She laughed until she couldn’t hold onto reality anymore and she fell back onto the ground. Her head gasped for her breath, but her heart strangled her mind out of existence.
There, on the corner of the abandoned street with the abandoned house and Bethany’s abandoned life, lay an abandoned girl who didn’t care anymore. She didn’t care about anything, because she could only remember one thing- dead.
Perhaps it was days, or maybe weeks before Bethany woke up again. When she did wake up she was in darkness. There weren’t even any stars laughing at her misery. Where were the stars? A man came- she knew him. Or she thought she did. This was her father’s friend. He helped her stand and led her into the light of his home. He helped her walk and let her take of her own chains, but they were never really gone. Even when Bethany forgot they existed, the rest of the world tried in vain to rid her of them. They watched her walk through the hallways while the chains clanked behind her and wondered if she could ever forget the sorrow that had tied her to the grave.