As I wash the blood off my hands, I contemplate.
The cars in the parking lot had dwindled down to three before I entered. At the first floor, the librarian (blue Chevy, dented on the right) offered me a knowing smile, though we were strangers. I wore my mother's glasses - not to throw them off the trail so much as to appear less than I was. A bit of camouflage. Later when the first sketches were released, I was amazed at the wideness of my so-called face.
I made my way to the second floor bathroom to scrub my hands again, thirty seconds as always. Spic and span. From there it was off to the reading room, the one packed with a forest of dividers. Two studious creatures about, both in their hidden nests. I brazenly hiked down the middle aisle, sank into my favorite desk, the one with that word etched deeply: cut. From its idle doodle I divined a world of freedom.
Since my discovery of it last September, I had added to it, meticulous engraving with the small boning knife my grandfather had left behind in 1960. The summer the dog had vanished, and mother shipped me off to that awful school. I think she always suspected - if she had known about the knife, there would have been no doubt.
Now it read, in clear marks:
if red I
all over her new
it was red
life draining into an
I idly grabbed one of the books from the table behind me, a simple decoy. Freud. I giggled quietly - not quietly enough: a girl stood up (1958 Pontiac GTO, cherry red, probably her boyfriend's hot rod) and glared neutrally in my direction. It wasn't her, so I stuck my tongue out at her, then smiled placidly. She stopped glaring, returned a kittenish smile, and sat back down.
With the book open across my lap, I began to whittle. The straight lines were the simplest; the curves took great care. Periods I enjoyed the most, spinning the knife around faster and faster as it penetrated into the cheap ash tabletop.
someone ll find her
Tranquilly I made my mark, added her fate to the poem. I thought back to Camp Parkinson, the girls' camp across the river, the dance, the fascination with those creatures I could not know. Back to when Veronica had been so cold, and I had lashed out, spent the week in the infirmary nursing my scarred hand. Later, when the accident occurred, and they could find no body, I had been sorely disappointed they had ruled it a drowning. I wrote a letter (anonymously) announcing that the moon under Cancer would not settle so quietly. Nothing came of it.
This time would be different; they would find her, I would not take such care in covering my vengeance. I finished the t in wait and had begun the final period when she stood up.
Her, the object of my affection (1948 Oldsmobile, poor alternator, bald tires) was leaving! I watched her re-shelve her books and make her way towards the stairwell. I sat poised, surveying her intensely as she vanished around the corner, the faint scent of her perfume exciting my senses in unimaginable ways. Then I looked down - I had pushed the knife point into the flesh of my palm. I giggled again (quieter), pulled it out, blood flowing playfully down my wrist. The edge wobbled precariously in the handle. So close to breaking. Any day now. Any day ..
I waited five more minutes before resuming my poem. I had to make alterations, not everything was right yet. It was only the 27th. All to be revealed in its time, but for now, the game would continue.
someone ll find her
just wait till
Awkward but acceptable. I collected my things, threw the Freud on a cart, and abandoned my customary spot. This time no look for the librarian. I got outside just in time to hear the Olds choke itself to life. I watched as she pulled out of the parking lot, headed back down 7th Street, Sorority Row, faded into the foggy world out of reach.
I trudged home and sat down on the couch. Turned on the television, watched the evening news, drank a cup of tea. As I headed off to bed, the dreams already beginning to fill my head, I took one last glance in at mother's room. Still tidy. Ever since she had gone to visit grandfather but had yet returned, it had stayed the same way. Except ..
I carefully placed the glasses on the bedside table and wondered if such things would matter when they find her. I went to the bathroom - thirty seconds and my hands are as clean as they ever were. Goodnight, Cheri, wherever you are.