by Justine Dell
I never wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.
I thought it would be more like vindication. No. It is hollowness. A wretched knot sticks in my throat—from the sight, not the action. His tar-like, crimson blood pools on the hardwood around my feet. I almost thought it would be black. He is face down. His limbs sprawl out in strange directions. I tilt my head. He looks… broken.
I almost laugh. I am the broken one. He broke me. Time and time again. Doing all the things he never should’ve done. Serves him right, I guess. I turn and look in the mirror. The girl with sunken eyes, raven hair and purple bruises is no more. She’s been replaced by someone who only knows one thing: protection. The eyes are soft, the hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. I even covered the bruise across my cheek and the scar on my left eye. Shimmery pink lipstick is painted on my thin lips. I wanted him to see how other people used to see me. The young girl with the bright future. The pretty girl with no fears. The strong girl who knew how to say no. Even if I'm not that girl anymore, I pretended. Just to see the panic in his eyes when I smiled at him and drew my gun.
My infant daughter belts a cry in the next room. I fight the urge to run to her. I love her, more than myself. It's my job to protect her. To make sure her life doesn’t end up like mine. I don’t want her to be used by ones she loves. I know there are other people who can do better for her. I'm counting on it.
A single tear slides down my cheek. It is warm. I wipe it away. I can’t allow myself a moment of weakness. I look down once more at him. He is still there, lifeless. I prod him with my worn-out sneaker. He doesn’t move. Good. I needed to be sure he wouldn’t get my daughter.
I pick up the phone, dial a number I know too well.
“911 what is your emergency?”
“I just killed my stepfather.”
I drop the phone. The woman on the other end is still talking. I know they will find me soon enough. I put the gun to my mouth. I hesitate for only a second before pulling the trigger.