14. Chelsea

Chapter 13

Chelsea

She was asleep, and having the dream again. Floating in the air. Thinking about Jake, and the garage, and the garbage bags and the radio. Holding her stomach and trying to keep from throwing up. She had cried when he brought her home, like he said he would. She was just tired. He had apologized after.

In her dream was her, her brothers, and Izzy, all sitting together under a tree in a wide, wide field. Eating, drawing, laughing. Teasing.

The door to her room opened, and a young man in gloves walked inside. She didn’t wake up.

In her dream was Jake, being like he was when he would drive her around town. Quiet and funny. Jake was sitting under the tree with her – all five of them together, enjoying the sunlight of March.

The young man in gloves closed the door with a loud click. She didn’t wake up.

In her dream was a man that she didn’t recognize, standing nearby, just outside the shadow of the tall tree. He smiled and watched for what seemed like hours.

The young man in gloves stood above her bed. His whole body trembled. She didn’t wake up.

In her dream was music humming past the tree – the sweetest music she had ever heard. She lay down in the grass and closed her eyes, and let herself drift away. The clock read 4:31.

The young man in gloves pulled the covers from her body. She didn’t wake up.

In her dream was the man playing the music. He took her by the hand and lifted her to her feet. He led her to a ravine and pointed to the bottom, where a tiny stream shone in different colors as the water mixed with gasoline. She gasped at its beauty.

The young man in gloves dragged his fingertip across her cheek, and gripped the hem of her nightgown. He closed his eyes. The music began. C# B A C# B A. E A E A E B E B. Oh, the storm is threatening my very life today. If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away. War, children – it’s just a shot away.

In her dream the man led her back to her friends and told her to tell them what she had seen. She did, and they all followed him together, back to the ravine. They stood hand in hand over the water, floating in the air with bursting hearts.

The young man in gloves raped her. His hands clutched at her bedposts, and he ground himself into her. The doorknob rattled. From the hallway came a noise like the grinding of metal. It shrieked and boiled away at the room. The young man in gloves didn’t say anything, and the sound passed. She did not wake up.

In her dream the singing grew louder. The notes soared beyond their little voices and joined with the air and the water, stirring them to motion. The man stood in the middle, conducting them and spurring them higher and higher.

The young man in gloves took her small hand in his and began to clip her fingernails. He kept going once he reached the cuticle, and snapped them off with the sharp edge of the file. He began to break the bones in her hands. Her nerves were on fire. He cut her hair. She did not wake up.

The dream ended abruptly.

And she opened her eyes to see Jake standing over her, half-naked, drenched in sweat, and placing his hand over her mouth. She was frozen from the pain. She could hear the same music.

She was alive as he removed pieces from her. She was alive as he gutted her. She was alive when he kissed her on the lips and whispered “Chelsea” to her, over and over again. She was alive when he stabbed her in the heart. And then she wasn’t anything anymore. And she did not wake up.

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Chapter 15

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