Posts tagged Dark

Dawn Of The Basket Cases

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The third Tuesday in September had such an ordinary beginning. Sylvia’s husband, Omar, left for work before dawn. The Hartford Courant lay in the driveway, delivered as promised. The kitchen countertop was smudged with germy paw prints from the cat’s nocturnal shenanigans. And, according to the jokers on the radio, Hell had not yet frozen over.

As usual, Sylvia got up at five. She poured herself a gigantic mug of coffee, washed her face with a yawn, and brushed her pearly whites until they shone. Ho hum. She combed her long blonde hair into a ponytail and left the house clad in a blue tank top and ridiculously colorful leggings.

The seventeen minute drive to Jazzercise was uneventful. An enormous golden sun rose over the horizon, heralding another beautiful morning in Connecticut. Sylvia opened the car window to drink in the autumn scenery: scarlet cardinals flitting among the maples, honeybees abuzz in fields of fading daylilies, woodpeckers busily destroying historic homes, and gray squirrels darting like playful sea otters.

At the studio, Sylvia removed her sandals and changed into sneakers, chatting with her friends before class. The teacher that day was Clara, one of Sylvia’s favorites. Like a standup comedian, Clara would tell jokes during the hardest sets in order to distract her students from the “burn.” Jazzercise wasn’t easy, but it was a dynamite workout.

Class was about to start when the front door flew open and Rebecca burst in, all upset, tears streaming down her cheeks. She plopped down on the long bench and buried her face in her hands. Her friend, Marge, hurried to her side. “Becca! What’s the matter?”

“Oh, my God―I’m a monster,” Rebecca cried. “I―I―I just hit something with my Jeep on Canton Road. It happened just a couple of blocks away from here.” She let out a huge sob. “I th-th-think it was a red fox!”

Marge swallowed hard. “Is it dead?”

“I’m not sure,” answered Rebecca, closing her eyes as if to blot out the memory. “But it was still moving. I stopped the Jeep but I had no clue what to do, so I just drove off and left it there.” Sobs racked her shoulders.

Another student, Blanche, hollered, “Oh, don’t be a wimp, Rebecca. Get back out there and run it over again! Put the poor thing out of its misery.”

“Thanks for your heartfelt advice,” Marge frowned, turning her back to Blanche in an effort to shut her up. Then she handed Rebecca a box of tissues, saying, “Cheer up, Becca. The fox is probably dead by now. I know you feel guilty about it, but there’s really  nothing you can do. Just take the class with the rest of us. Exercise will make you feel better.”

The music piped up and the dance floor filled. Instructor Clara took the stage and led the class through the opening stretch. Bodies moved in unison: arms ballet-strong, hamstrings elongated, abdominal muscles primed. But by the second song Sylvia noticed that something was wrong. Clara wasn’t herself. Her timing was off. She kept giving the wrong instructions, mixing up left and right. She even slurred her words. What was going on? Was she actually drunk at six o’clock in the morning? Or was she just upset about the red fox? Some women had a thing about wolves or dolphins or pandas. Maybe Clara was a clandestine fox fanatic who secretly wore fox socks, slept in fox-print sheets, and had fox art on every wall. But no, Clara was too cool for that. Besides, she was sweating profusely. Was it a hot flash? Could she be sick?

By the third song the entire class knew that Clara was having a problem, but no one knew how to broach it without embarrassing her. No one except for Blanche, that is. She was not one to mince words. Her shrill voice carried all the way up to the stage. “Clara, what’s with you today? You’d better not have the Simian flu!”

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A Letter From The Grave

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I remember how cold I was, how scared. My eyes opened slowly, heavy from whatever drugs you had poisoned
me with. Damp, dark and freezing; those are the words I used to describe the stone room I awoke in. You were
not there when I woke up, though, it was just me and my thoughts.

Relief poured through my tired body when I heard footsteps; I should have known they would be yours.

Before the first girl arrived, I was lonely and scared, in constant fear of what you would do when you came in next. You never spoke, just watched as I ate, as I drank, as I cried. You watched with a confused expression on your face as if you had never seen a real human before. It scared me.

The First Girl

You always picked the pretty ones. The first girl to arrive after me was Robyn, black hair swinging as she fought you; punching, kicking, scratching and scraping. Until you injected her with something, and she fell to the floor like a rag doll her head cracking painfully on the concrete.

I remember being mesmerised by her clear, pale skin; her black hair and plump lips. It made me feel worthless with my bruises and flat, brown hair.

She arose angry, cursing at you again and again until her voice cracked.

She wouldn’t speak to me though. She just sat and stared, analysing. It wasn’t until she saw the littering of bruises on my skin that she started to warm to me.

It was the next day that she finally conversed with me, her voice dry and cracked – yet she’d refuse to drink any water. “I’m not touching anything that that creep gives us,” She would say, determined, “I’d rather die.”

The next day she guzzled the whole bottle of water in one sitting.

The Second Girl

Abbey was next, her arrival like a kick to the throat. I remember looking at her school uniform and clenching my fists so hard that my nails broke the skin.

She was still drugged as you yanked her through the large metal door, murmuring nonsense into your empty chest. Robyn, who was much braver than me, lunged at you. You dropped the young girl on the floor to backhand Robyn around the face. This was the first time you ever hit one of us.

Abbey cried a lot that day, wet, incurable sobs that racked through her tiny frame. It felt good to comfort someone.

We didn’t eat until Robyn went to her knees to apologise.

The Third Girl

Lily was next. Beautiful of course, and scarred – jagged lines marking from wrist to elbow. Robyn didn’t fight this time; her punishment was still too vivid, the memory of you in her mouth too rich. Witnessing the limp woman, dropped like trash at her feet, made Abbey cry again.

You wrinkled your nose. “Don’t cry,” You said, “It’s ugly.”

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