She felt as though she was spiraling to hell as she ran breathlessly down the hill. She was not a runner, she had not done this often, but there was a man chasing her and she had seen out of the corner of her eye, the danger he carried in his right hand, its barrel pointing to the ground.
Why hadn’t she listened to her mother? She should have been at home, her brother had been sick. But she loved the way the wind blew through her hair as she gripped his waist on the back of his motorcycle, and she resented the way her mother ordered her around.
Why should she? She knew these people well, came here all the time, they were cool people, they treated her like she belonged, always offered her a Guinness, always shared their weed. Tonight they wanted to make it official, make her one of them.
“Ya man da same bwai de wa did dis yu d’odda day, we have im up de fi deal wid di case.”
She had heard them say, those other girls, that he’d beaten them before, but he’d never beaten her, not before now, she did not want to shoot anyone, could not really hold a grudge, never wanted to ‘prove’ anything. So, she fell and he pounced on top of her, and the others had come in to haul him off her. Her neck was sore, eyes were blurry, but she could see a window, and it was big enough to climb through.
But he had seen, when she turned to look back, underneath the light-post, by the corner, he had seen, and he had come after her, it was her fault, she had not started off running.
Her asthma had not troubled her in years, she had forgotten the affliction, disoriented, she willed her legs to continue. She should have paid more attention to the roads they’d sped upon so often, her head in the clouds, she did not remember ever seeing a Police Station around, and in the darkness of the night she was blind anyway.
Her mother had told her stories of the Blackheart Man, he came in the dark to eat the hearts of capricious children, you could not see him, he was black as night, she did not fear him then.
At this moment, that organ tested its capacity, her veins in her arms pulsated as a sharp pang invaded the left side of her chest, she gripped her breast but kept on running. He had slowed his pace, but he was still coming, she knew what she had done, knew what lay ahead, he would not stop coming and she was getting tired, he knew that she was weak, lazy.
The only thing distinguishable in the distance, the only thing familiar was the cemetery that held the bones of her father, a place she had never visited. Now, she had to cross the swamp to get to it, it was dark, and the lights around it flickered frequently, on and off, and they stayed off much longer.
It was damp and repugnant, the moment she realized she’d lost a shoe, the swamp reeked of garbage and decay and she squirmed as something scurried across her bare foot. It was then she yelped and fell again, there she felt that longing to surrender, then she heard the confirmation, that the gun was loaded. With resistance, she pulled herself over the hump that separated the swamp from the graves, her clothes weighed heavy and the lights were off again.
She cut her hands on the barbed-wire that imprisoned her sanctuary, the blood trickled down her fingers and she wiped them on the tombstone of ‘Mary Gray 1975-1987’ and thought the colours blended well against its white surface, she may have known her once.
She could not see him, but she could hear his feet crunch the leaves that blanketed the ground, she lightened her steps to soften her sound. Remorse, shame, she felt for the first time, she could not find the one she searched for, the night was ominous, she had not been here before.
She heard him quicken as the lights flickered on, she looked to her right and it was barely visible, the name so worn it seemed he had been here longer than was true. She shed a tear as he gripped her hair, the lights went out as the sky ignited for a split-second, with a loud clap.