Authors Note: Hello everyone, long time no see! I hope you enjoy this new short story. I do suggest if you don’t enjoy dark stories, maybe give this one a miss. If you do, and you enjoy it, let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments.
(15 min read)
My knuckles sting as I punch the wall again and again. Blood is seeping into the patterned cream wallpaper. The crimson liquid follows a swirl in the design and for a moment, I am memorised. I stop punching the wall and allow a memory to envelope me. It’s her. She’s sitting on the mini Barbie chair, the one I bought for her 2nd birthday. She looks so beautiful. Her curly blonde mane frames her round face perfectly. Her grey eyes glimmer as she raises her head to look at me. I expect her to smile and giggle as she usually would, but instead her eyes brim with tears and she screams an awful scream. It pierces my heart and shatters the image of her. I try to hold onto the pieces as they scatter around me, but they are too swift and disappear from my reach.
I return my gaze to my bloodied and bruised hand. It’s swollen but I can’t feel a thing. I prodd the open cuts on my knuckles and am disappointed when I feel nothing. After all the blood and effort, I am still numb.
I stiffen as I hear the front door open and close. I wasn’t expecting him back today. I curse myself for not bolting the chain, it would have given me more time to clean the wall and myself. I have no time to hide the empty wine bottles, overflowing ashtray and sort out the sour smell that’s permeating throughout the small living room.
“Andrea? You in?” Lewis calls down the short hallway. I can hear him taking off his jacket and hanging it in the coat cupboard. I silently appreciate him for doing so, he usually throws it over the banister. I try to hide every empty bottle I can find and dump the ashtray out the sliding door that’s still slightly open. I thought I would have time to light a candle or two but Lewis now stands in the doorway, his kind brown eyes fixated on my hand.
“What the… Andi what did you do?” He says as he rushes towards me, taking my hand gently in his. I snatch it away and divert my gaze to the sock laying on the floor. It’s frilly and pink and staring right at me. Lewis is trying to tend to my cuts but I ignore him completely. I’m too busy wondering how the sock got there. Did it fall off her foot as I carried her through to the garden? Or did I just drop it while putting away the washing? Lewis is staring at me and I fear he may somehow see into my mind.
“Nothing, I’m fine. I cut it on…” The lies don’t come easily and for a second that drags on too long, I’m speechless. My mind is thick with cloudy thoughts and broken memories, making it impossible to speak.
“I’ve punched enough walls to know that’s what you’ve done.” He says, placing the palm of his hand against my puffy cheeks. He always knows exactly what I’m up to. But this time, I need to be smart. I consider telling him most of the truth. They say stick as close to the truth as possible, it’s easier to remember the lies that way.
He’s pushing me to tell him why I did it, but I still cant bring myself to say. Instead I close my eyes to block him out, but a rogue tear escapes and he’s quick to wipe it away. His kindness softens me slightly, so I look up into his worried eyes and allow him to embrace me. I feel so safe in his arms. Our bodies have always fit together perfectly, like we were designed for eachother. But Lewis doesn’t know what’s happened. A stab of guilt forces me out of the comfort of his arms, it’s a comfort I no longer deserve. I feel the rift between us widen and I fear the events that occurred this morning will send us hurtling in opposite directions, with no chance of any future reunion.
“Andi, what is the matter? You’re not… surely you can’t be drunk right now can you?” His voice cracks as he spots an empty wine bottle sticking out from the bottom of the sofa. Shit. I need to compose myself. This is going to be absolutely brutal. I take a breath and turn away from him. I’m not strong enough to see his heart break.
“I am drunk. Yes alright I have been drinking and thought I could stop myself after one glass, but clearly I couldn’t. But that…” I pause, I can feel his glare searing into my back.
“That’s not important…”
“That’s not important?!” He booms as he swings me around to face him. His usually gentle hands are now tightly gripped onto my shoulders.
“Do you realise what you’ve done Andrea? Do you? Because I don’t think you do. You’ve just thrown away 6 years of sobriety.” He releases me and walks to the other side of the room. I’m shaking now because this side of him scares me, but I know it’s about to be a million times worse.
“I realise that Lew. I do. I need to tell you something, okay? I need you to sit down. Please.” His eyes flash with worry as he does what I ask. He can sense the urgency in my voice and I can sense the fear in his heart.
“What is it? Is it about one of the girls?” He stands up as the thought of something happening to one of his little girls sends him hurtling towards their room. I struggle to stop him opening the door but he overpowers me easily. It’s empty.
“Where are they?” Lewis asks calmly. I can tell he’s trying so hard to not grab me and shake me until I give him answers. I open my mouth to speak but the words retreat back into my throat. He pushes me hard and I fall to the floor. I don’t blame him. I would burn the city to the ground to find my babies. Especially if my recovering alcoholic Wife relapsed and they were no where in sight.
I decide he’s too angry to tell him here. Lewis is now looking in our bedroom so I take the opportunity to run into the bathroom and lock the door. Within seconds he is pounding on it, demanding to know what I’ve done with our children. I fight the screams that are threatening to erupt and slide down to the floor.
“Lewis, please. I’ll tell you, just please stop shouting at me. I can’t think when you’re shouting.” I hear him take a deep breath and he also slides onto the floor.
“Where is Lilly and Bella?”
The sound of their names transports me to the past. Like the day Bella was born, Lilly was so excited to be a big sister. That was until she realised it now meant Bella would get most of the attention. We tried to include her in everything. Feeding time, bath time and even reading time before bed. But Lilly showed no interest in her. That all changed though, once Bella was old enough to talk. Lilly would ask her baby sister: “Can I have your cookie? Say yes.” Sure enough, she said yes and since that day, Lilly realised there could be benefits to being a big sister.
“Lilly’s at my mum’s. My sister brought the girls down so she wanted to go too.” I feel the air thin a little and I find I can breathe again, but it’s short lived as Lewis asks the real question.
“So where’s Bella?”
My sweet girl. When she was born she had the thickest black hair. But of course, it all fell out and in its place grew the most beautiful blonde curls. She cried as she was born but almost never cried again. When she was hungry she made a bit of fuss but we didn’t have to endure hours of endless crying. She was a perfect baby. The thought of her makes my heart swell, until reality sticks in a pin and it deflates once more.
“She’s. She’s in the garden.” The panic sets in quickly as I realise I need to be blunt. He can’t go out there and find her like that.
“Lewis, she died. She…She was just… I just, snapped. She was crying about something and she wouldnt stop. I tried everything but she just wouldn’t stop. We were sat on Lilly’s bed, the top bunk and she was standing up. I was right there, but I shouted at her and…” I stop. The memory is like a kick in the teeth.
“She jumped, and fell backwards off the bed. The sound… It was a loud crunch and she wasn’t moving Lewis, she didn’t move. Lilly was in the bathroom at the time so she didn’t see anything. I kept her out and called my mum.” I realise after I finish saying the words, I sound monotone. Devoid of emotion yet manic at the same time. Have I said the right thing? Lewis says nothing but then I hear him running to the garden. I imagine him seeing our little girl, wrapped up in her favourite blanket. Thinking now with a clearer, less drunk mind, I don’t know why I put her there. I had already had 2 bottles of wine before I made the decision. I have bought countless bottles of wine over the years. When I feel tempted, I buy one and pour a glass. Though once in front of me, I think of my girls and pour it away. I wish I could say I was strong enough to pour the whole bottle too. Instead, I hid them in the Christmas section of the loft. Somehow it made me feel better if I knew there was alcohol somewhere. Two bottles later, I decided she needed to be out of this house. Away from where she died. I don’t know why I thought she deserved to be dumped in the garden like a bag of rubbish. That’s my baby.
“Bella?! Bella?” Lewis screams. He’s trying to hold onto that tiny piece of hope. The hope that I might be wrong. The hope that I was too drunk to realise she isn’t dead, she’s just been knocked out. But he didn’t see her. He didn’t see the way her bones bent in ways they never should. When that piece of hope finally disappears and is replaced with sheer heartbreak, Lewis violently bangs on the door; like a rat trying to escape a trap.
“You killed my daughter! How could you? Why didn’t you call an ambulance? Why couldn’t you take her to the hospital? Because you were too smashed out your head to even notice!” His anger is close to boiling point now, he’s banging on the door so hard, I scramble to the other side of the bathroom. A part of me wants to open the door and let him kill me. The pain is too much to bare and I don’t think I’m strong enough to live with this. But at least he’s spared of some pain, he would lose it completely if he knew the whole story. But he can never know, this is how it has to be.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry, she was my daughter too. I just…”
The door swings open but the man standing there is not my Lewis, but a tormented and heartbroken version. I expect him to grab me and beat me until I’m just as dead as our baby. But he doesn’t. He sinks to his knees and cries. The tears come thick and fast and all I want to do his cradle him in my arms. But I daren’t. I have successfully ruined this man’s life, for good this time. The first was when I nearly drunk myself to death. Way before the girls were even thought of, yet Lewis stayed by my side. Now, I have lost him forever.
“What are we gunna do Andi?” Lewis manages to say, through the painful groans and the tsunami of tears. I wish I knew.
“I’m going to the Police station. I need to confess.” I say, once again noting the absence of emotion in my voice. Before Lewis could say anything, the house phone rings. I motion for him to ignore it but he answers anyway.
“Hello you o-” I can hear the screaming from here. My heart sinks as the worst thought invades my mind. Adrenalin infects my veins as Lewis tries to understand what’s being said to him.
“What?! Are you sure it was Lilly?” I’m sure my heart has stopped. I feel the colour draining from my face and bile and alcohol bubbles in my throat.
“Is an ambulance there? The police?! Wh-What…” I turn to look at him and find he is already staring at me. The penny has dropped and it’s destroyed him. He tells my mum he’s on his way and puts the phone down. It takes him a few seconds to organise his thoughts, but once he does he walks towards me and sits down. I know what he’s going to say and I shake my head in rebellion.
“No. No. Don’t say anything. Please.” I plead with my eyes for him to spare me. I can’t hear it, but I know it’s coming.
“Heidi has fallen from the top floor window. Your mum said she saw…” He chokes before he could get the words out. But I already know.
“Lilly did it.” I say, the words feel like betrayal. I gave birth to her and swore to always protect her. I tried to get her to believe it was an accident. But I knew it wasn’t. I’ve stopped her from hurting Bella since she was born. We thought she would grow out of it, but instead she seemed to grow into it.
“She saw Lilly push her. She thought they were too quiet and as she opened the door, she shoved Heidi. Lilly said, that her mummy would protect her.” I fold myself into him and let it all out. I wanted to protect my baby. I tried to protect Lilly.
“It was an accident, you didn’t mean it. You wouldn’t hurt her on purpose like that? No. Of course not. Oh my God. Oh my…” Through the tears I saw Lilly’s face. She looked almost, proud.
“If we push daddy too it will be just me and you mummy” She said, smiling a sinister smile. It’s a moment I’ve tried to forget but not even four bottles of wine could erase that image. Nothing ever will.
By Jenny L.K