He was grabbing at me, snatching a breath if he could. His legs didn’t move under me much, maybe it was because of the jeans he was wearing. He did rock and wriggle, his stomach and hips underneath me. I can’t even begin to relive or reimagine how angry I was. How angry I had to be to crush his neck for 3 whole minutes as he cried, and struggled, and clawed at me, gasping. What could have possessed me?

I remember little things, insignificant things. Like I remember that I was sweating a lot. The room felt hot, and the beads of sweat dripped from my nose, my hair, and slid down the back of my sweater. I remember how tired my arms and hands felt afterwards, leaning over him. How my head was on his chest, breathing against his neck. My fingers felt strange, out of place suddenly as they curled into light fists. I was so tired. My breaths were slow and rough but my heart was beating so fast in my chest I thought I’d die there too.

He couldn’t reach me, when it was happening. He had these short arms, you see. He swiped and scrapped at my arms, but it was so hard for him to move after a bit. He scrapped my arms up good though. I was bleeding a little bit, but after a few seconds he went all limp. His eyes got red, first, rolling back in his head. I didn’t stop though. I kept right on. I had read somewhere that people pass out from a strangling before dying. I had to to make sure. So I kept on with all my might until I couldn’t feel his heart beat in my palms. I listened closely, holding my breath, until I couldn’t hear a thing.

I didn’t cry right after though. I got up and went to the bathroom. I pissed into the shower, running the cold water on my clothes. I was burning up, like I’d soon spit fire, like the monster that I was. I thought I was going to pass out. It was hard to breathe, the air felt thin, but I didn’t. I didn’t pass out. I just felt the water slowly moisten my clothes, and grow heavy. When they got to be too much I stripped them off, clawing into my back. When I was down to cold sticky flesh, I leaned there, my forehead against the marble and for a long time I didn’t move. I don’t remember what I was thinking, but the ache started then, at the bottom of my stomach, dull.

I went back into the room, a shabby dimly lit motel efficiency, dripping wet, and naked. And I looked at his body. He looked all messed up and dirty and I just wanted to clean him up. So that’s why I took off his clothes. I knew it was a bad idea when I was unzipping his pants, his pale stomach contrasting with the denim. But I had to clean him up. I had to make sure he didn’t look so dirty. I wouldn’t want his mom to see him with his clothes all messed up. I didn’t want her to find him looking like some kind of bum.

I stripped him down to his socks. I had forgotten them, you see. I’d forgotten to take them off, which is why they got wet. I lifted him up and I laid him in the cramped bathtub. This was such a crappy place to leave him. I knew that. But I had to. I turned on the water and I washed his hair. I lathered it and then I started to cry. I don’t know where it came from but the tears had started and before long I couldn’t stop them. I was curled over him, scrubbing his chest, under his nails, behind his ears, and down his short arms, like a mother. But I couldn’t tell him I was sorry. I couldn’t make his death so petty. I had to keep those words to myself.

I dried him. Clothes. He needed clothes. I left the room, stark naked. I didn’t realize, you see. I was dead set on picking up some clothes for him and I just walked out, bare ass. I felt numb all over… I walked to the convenience store for a shirt. Only his shirt was dirty, but that was when they grabbed me. I was at the police station and they were asking all these questions.

“Were you taken advantage of?” One big guy asked–they had gotten me a blanket and some clothes to put on. For a fleeting moment I tried to think about the “right thing,” but the right thing wasn’t going to save me. The right thing wasn’t going to bring him back or console his parents. The right thing would only be punishment. I should lie. I should tell them that I had been raped, by some big guy in a trucker’s hat, outside of a gas station. I should tell them he had a tattoo on his stomach, that I studied for hours as he tore into my body, as I beg for God to save me. I should tell them that he threatened me. If I told he’d come and get me . I wouldn’t have to pay for his murder. I wouldn’t have to be punished.

They found him. The boy I killed. They found him swollen up big in a bathroom. The water got sucked right into him, you see. Flesh shiny and taut. Socks damp and pooling on the metal table where they put him to disect him. They asked me questions, but they couldn’t prove anything. I was a girl who’d been found naked in a convenient store. I had been raped, by a monster. A monster who’s  tattoo looked like a lion. I was the girl who stopped talking after her confession. The girl who had been adopted by a new family already and was just adjusting back into life. A girl who’d just started smiling again.

They didn’t find my clothes until much later. I’d buried them some time in the interim, but I don’t remember it. I didn’t even know I went back there, but they couldn’t use it against me. They did ask however. It seemed awfully convenient that I showed up naked when he was killed. That he was killed by someone about my height. They thought it was convenient that I wasn’t talking. That they found my clothes so close to the crime scene. But  I didn’t worry. The rapist ripped off my clothes, you see. That was something I remembered distinctly that day. I got away from him, and he scraped me. I just had to get away.

The police have stopped “harassing” me, because my new mom said, “She’s told you all she knows or is going to know about that awful night.” And now, here I am, with this new family. And they adopted a new son. He looks just like him…small arms.



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