"I've just committed second degree murder," I say. "Arrest me."
The noise in here is the kind that interferes with your own thoughts. Where you can't tell if you're thinking really loud or if someone just yelled something.
"Arrest me!" I scream.
The police guy coughs a really nasty cough he should get checked out by a doctor. He probably needs to spit now. I bet he swallowed it. "You know I'm not going to arrest you," he says.
"I can take you to the body," I offer.
"No you cannot. There is no body. You haven't killed anyone."
"Sure I have. I didn't plan on it. Did you catch the second degree part?"
He coughs. Digs a finger in his ear. "I've got work to do."
"I stabbed her!" I say, and regret it. "My mom. It was my mom."
"You killed your teacher last week," he says.
"I was washing dishes and she was behind me."
"Before that it was your step-brother, I believe? Before all the murders, there was the robbery. And the vandalism."
"She was yelling at me. And I couldn't take it. I snapped. I slit my mother's throat."
"I'm sure," he says. "Why do you keep coming here?"
"Arrest me! Or I'll do it again. I am a future serial killer, right here. But it's not my fault. I am a victim. You can stop this."
"I'm going to have to ask you to leave," he says, scratching his face. "Don't come back again."
He says, "Or I'll shoot you." And he grins.
"You wouldn't be so nice," I sigh, and I leave.
Andrea is still waiting for me outside. "That was even faster than usual," she says when I open the car door.
"Why'd you wait? You have no faith at all in me."
"You're not going to get arrested," Andrea says, laughing. The radio is blaring static. She is speeding.
I trace a crack down the window. "One of these days," I say, "I think I maybe really will kill somebody."
My stepbrother Sam has this really annoying voice. It's soft and feminine, almost, and melodic kind of. He's in this big young men's chorus thing. I think he sometimes forgets he's not singing.
"Did I tell you?" It sounds like a whisper but it isn't. He attacks something on his plate with his fork. Drops it. Spears it again. "We got another call from the police station."
He practically sings police station, the horrible bastard. I make happy faces with my peas.
My mother eats so she doesn't mess up her lipstick. Slides the food off the fork with her teeth and an "It's paining me to eat this" expression. "Again?" she asks sweetly, glaring at me.
"They just called here not too long ago," the step-dad says. He adjusts his glasses, and meets his son's stare. They have the same deep blue eyes. Long black lashes.
"Marian's still making up stories," Sam says, looking down at his plate. He pushes peas around. Sam doesn't like peas. The step-dad laughs. My mother puts her fork down.
"This is not cute," she says. I smash the pea happy faces into a green mush.
"Why are you doing this?" she asks with that quiet sort of panic.
The step-dad smiles. He's got a big white smile, one that was probably covered with thousands of dollars in orthodontia at one point. Deep blue eyes smile at my mother. "Leave the kid alone. It's probably just her kind of harmless fun. Am I right, Marian?" The deep blue shifts to me. He's still smiling, but it's different now. This is his dangerous smile. "Marian?" he repeats.
I try to imitate the police guy's hacking cough. Everyone leans back like it will hit them.
"This is not harmless, Alan," my mother snaps. "This is getting serious. She'll get arrested."
That's when I laugh. They all stare at me. Sam shakes his head, smiling a little. He loves being the good kid.
"Don't worry," the step-dad says. "Marian's a good girl." Big pretty white teeth.
I get up from my chair and go to my room. If I hadn't been wasting my time at the police station I could've been putting a new lock on my door.
Andrea and I are in my mother's room. In his room. She is smoking my mom's cigarettes because she is oh so cool that way. She blows smoke in my face. "If I could, you know I'd let you live with me." She drops ash onto a concealing powder and closes the compact. "It'd be fabulous. Sisters, you and I. But you know I can't. That just pains me."
"Yeah," I say, mixing my mother's perfumes. They form terrible scents when mixed sometimes.
"Have you thought about running away? Since this whole faking a crime and getting arrested thing isn't working for you."
"Hmm," I say.
"It won't be so bad. It'd only speed things along. Statistically, I mean, your type? You'll end up a junkie," she says. Inhales smoke. Breathes it out through her nostrils. "Or a prostitute. Or some crazy sex offender."
Her eyes are really dark. She's smiling but they're blank. "Or you'll turn out just generally insane. Which isn't so terrible." Andrea's teeth aren't as straight as the step-dad's, but it kind of makes her smile pretty. "I'm not necessarily saying this will for a fact happen to you, darling. There's just like. A really, really good chance."
Sam is standing in the doorway, hands around his backpack straps. "What are you doing in here?"
Andrea flips her hair over her shoulder, narrowing her eyes. She half-smiles. "Hello Sam."
He ignores her and frowns at me. "Your mom hates it when you go through her stuff," he says softly. He can't speak in any other language but soft.
"What are you standing over there for?" Andrea giggles. "Come on in."
"Stop flirting with him," I tell her. "You know he's gay."
Sam blushes. "I am not. Shut up."
Andrea sighs. "Yeah. Everyone's gay now."
"Seriously," I say. "Just look at him." I study his clear pale skin, his full pink lips. Straight black hair falling into those stupid blue eyes.
He looks so much like his dad.
"He's an angel face." Andrea nods. Her eyes widen and she says to me, "Hey! Have you thought about becoming gay?"
I shake my head.
"It could work," she says, lighting up another cigarette. "And you and I," she smiles. She winks. "We'd be good together, no?"
Sam had that scary eye thing his dad does down. "I hope you know, Marian, that everyone in this family hates you." I shrug. He walks away.
Andrea grins. "Not daddy," she laughs. "Daddy loves you!"
The heat is on high in this house, but I'm wearing a long fleece nightgown I didn't even know I owned. My collar is cold with sweat. The covers are pulled up. I have to have dropped a pound of water weight, at least.
"Marian, it is almost midnight. Cut that light off," my mother yells. But not too loud, she wouldn't want to get hoarse or anything.
But mommy! Mommy if I cut the light off the monster will get me. Mommy, this isn't your average under the bed monster. This one is so horrid it doesn't have to sneak up on you. The monster walks right in my door.
"I'll take care of this," the step-dad says, and he opens the door. Closes it. The light in the hallway goes off. My mother is in bed.
The step-dad smiles, and flips the light-switch off. "Marian."
I am not here this is not happening I am invisible he is not real.
The step-dad sits on my bed. My eyes are closed, hands clinched around the covers. "Can't sleep?" he asks.
"I know you're not sleep," he says. Puts his hand on my head. On my face. Strokes my hair. "I can't sleep either." He tugs the covers down. My eyes open. He smiles. I want to punch his teeth out. Or smash them with a hammer.
"You're such a pretty girl, Marian," he tells me. The covers go down more. I can't scream. Mom won't help. She won't believe me. She'll blame me. The nightgown goes up. My leg is sweaty.
I am blocking this out. I am closing my eyes. Nothing is happening. Nobody is here but me and I'm not even here. This isn't real. This is a horrible trick somebody is playing. It will all go away soon. This is only a dream. No, it's not even happening. It's almost over.
It's all over. It's all over.
"Sweet dreams," he tells me. He leaves the room.
"I could probably kill him," I say to Andrea. She raises an eyebrow and flips a page in her magazine.
"I could," I say. "And nobody would care. It not my fault."
I am never at fault because I am a victim. Everybody loves a victim. They need a victim. If we weren't busy feeling sorry for everyone else we'd have to focus on everything wrong with our own lives.
Oh, the horror.
"So. Why don't you kill him?" Andrea asks. She puts down the magazine.
I shake my head. "I can't. I'd be just like him. Doing something wrong, and getting away with it."
"It wouldn't be wrong," Andrea replies. "He's a nasty old perv. It's totally justified."
"Maybe," I say. "But I don't think I'd be able to anyway."
Andrea shrugs, and looks at her watch that I know she stole from my mother. "I have to go," she tells me. "Don't worry about this. I'll help you out. When I'm done with you you'll be so ready to kill that bastard."
She opens the door, and Sam is there. She grins and gives him a little wave. "I'll see you later," she says to me. Or to him. I don't care.
I slide off the bed and sit on the floor. "What do you want?"
"I thought so," Sam says. His eyes are narrowed, but not in the normal scary way. More like he's trying to understand something. He comes in the room, closes the door. "Is it true?" he asks.
"What are you talking about?" I sigh.
"What you were telling her. Your friend. About my dad. Is it true?"
None of this is real. I wish. "That's not the kind of shit you'd want to make up."
"You're always making up stuff. To the police, even."
"Andrea isn't the police. I don't need to lie to her to get her to listen."
He frowns for a second. Sits next to me. I can't remember ever being this close to him. "Why do you even need her to listen?"
"You don't understand. You don't know what it's like," I say. I'm not going to cry.
"But, Marian," he says. "It's only because he loves you."
I face him. His eyes are wet and way too blue. His lips too pink. His voice too sincere. None of this real. "What?"
"He told me. When I was little. It's because he loves me. It's okay. That's why he does it."
"What are you, stupid?" I whisper. Sam is crying. He cries softly, like he speaks. "Your dad is fucked up."
"No." Sam shakes his head really hard. "It's me. Something's wrong with me. It's why he doesn't love me anymore. It's why he loves you."
"This isn't love!" I scream. "It's sick. He's sick. I need to get away from him. We both do."
"Oh yeah? If it's so wrong why don't you tell the police?"
"I did," I tell him. "I did. Before I started making stuff up. And they told my mom. She said I was lying. Made up some bullshit about me being mad at him over not getting dessert or a toy or something. I don't remember. And that's why I lie to them. That's what they believe in. And I just want them to get me away from here. Arrest me. Kill me. I don't care."
I tell him, "What he did to you. What he does to me. It's awful."
Sam is shaking.
"We have to stop him," I tell him.
"This," Andrea says, "is a gun." She smiles. "For those of us more special than others."
"Where did you get that?" Sam asks. Andrea's still smiling. Sam looks queasy.
She says, "Don't you worry about anything, darling." She pushes the gun across the table, to me. I flinch, like it's going to bite.
Or maybe go off and like, shoot me in the face.
"It's not loaded," she tells me. "But don't pull the trigger."
"I'm not touching that thing."
"But Marian!" Andrea laughs. "You have to. We're going shopping." She pulls a wool cap over her hair. "Sam's going too."
She isn't smiling. "Consider this your training," she says.
We are in the parking lot of a convenience store. "How typical," I say.
"Shut up," Andrea says. "At least I'm trying to get something done, here." She checks her makeup in the rearview mirror. She winks at Sam who is scratching his head under the wool cap.
"Do I have to go in?" he asks.
"If you don't you'll never learn and your dad will never get what he deserves," Andrea says. She hands me her purse. We all get out of the car and go into the store. The clerk doesn't even look up.
"Wow!" Andrea exclaims. "I could totally go for an Icee right now."
"Are you kidding, it's freezing out," Sam says. Whispers. Whatever. I can't tell.
"It is never too cold for an Icee, man," Andrea says. "But I don't have any money."
The clerk looks up.
"At least I don't think so. Hey, check my purse," she says to me. I open it. We look in. No money. My mom's cigarettes. The gun. She nods. I sigh. I take it out, holding it up in my gloved hands. "Hands up, asshole," she yells to the clerk. "Open the drawer. I want an Icee."
"We only have fifty dollars," the clerk tells her. Her hair is hanging in her face and she still manages to look bored.
"Awesome!" Andrea takes out the money, shoves it into her purse. "That's enough for like. I don't know. I can't multiply in my head. But I'll be the Icee queen. Totally."
She slams the drawer shut and hops over the counter. "Should I get cherry, or blueberry?"
"We should leave," Sam squeaks. I've never heard him squeak. I turn to look at Andrea who is taking her time deciding. When I turn back around I see the clerk reaching for something, I don't know what. I panic. I squeeze the trigger. But the gun, it isn't loaded.
Yes. Yes it is.
"Oh my fuck," the clerk says. She doesn't even yell it. She grabs her shoulder and drops to the floor.
"I told you not to pull it," Andrea says happily. "But I knew you would."
She stands next to me, Icee in hand. "See I told you. Your type. Total future serial killer. Did I mention that one?" She goes behind the counter to inspect the damage, and sighs loudly.
"She's not dead," she says.
She says, "Can't you even kill someone?"
"Do I have to do everything?" she says. She's not really asking. She takes the gun, goes back around. I close my eyes. Sam is crying. Bang. Bang.
"Ew," Andrea says. "I hate blood." Bang. "We're all done here," she says, and I open my eyes. "Almost." She shoots a TV screen in the corner. "I think that should work anyway." We leave the store and get in her car. Sam stretches out on the backseat. Andrea drives away, radio blaring static like always.
"You know what?" she asks, but not really. "I should've gotten cherry."
Andrea and I are standing at a phone booth. She's sobbing heavily into the phone.
"Police?" she cries. "I need help. I have to report a murder."
I sit in the car.
Sam is collapsed on the floor in my room. I figure he's here to talk, to open up. I'm not in the mood to play therapist.
"That was my dad's gun," he says. "I remember it. I saw it in his drawer. I was going to kill myself with it."
"You never really seemed fucked up," I tell him. "I guess I was too wrapped up in my own drama to notice."
"I hated you. You took him away from me."
I laugh, "You really want him?"
Sam shrugs. "I don't know. After awhile it just became better than no attention at all."
The doorbell rings, and Sam sits up. I open my door a little and listen.
"Police," Sam says. "We're going to jail and we're going to die."
"Finally," I say.
We can hear them come in. Hear them walk past my door. I hold my breath. They open my mother's door. His door.
"Do you have a warrant?" my mother is screaming. The step-dad is telling her to calm down.
"Alan Emery," a cop is saying. "You're under the arrest for the murder of Virginia Atkins."
"Who?" the step-dad asks. And he says, "Ouch, those are tight."
And I laugh.