Twenty-Five: Take Two
by Prophecy Girl

All I can think of is the heat. It reminds me of prison in August, the way everything stuck to everything else and what was left of my hair frizzed up like a little white-girl afro. Those days when you'd kill for an ice cold Coke and a porch swing and the stars.

It's like that now, here in this place, and I try to stretch my hair back into a rubber band but it's not long enough yet. I kept it shaved in prison like the soldier I've always been. No Daddy's Little Girl in pink frilly dresses here, no sir. More like G.I. Jane meets Wonder-Woman in a Wonder-Bra.

When I was little I'd run around barefoot and roll in the mud like a pig just to keep cool. I remember the sweat soaking through my little stained t-shirts. I remember my stepdad giving me a popsicle. I try not to remember him teaching me to deep-throat it.

Those summer nights were the worst, his weight on top of me, my knobby knees spread apart and the sweat dripping off his forehead onto mine. The sticky sounds of our bodies melded together at the crotch. The way he tried not to crush my spindly body under his.

Tonight's one of those nights. Sweltering and the scent of humidity in the air. And, faintly, the smell of Death.

I know. I am one step ahead because I know. Daddy taught his little soldier well, taught her to take itl ike a man. Men don't lie down. I have a few more hours until nightfall, so I sit and have a Coke or two.

It's been three years, see, and I'm not a dumb person. I know how to play the game.

On the side of the tub is a razor. A tiny insignificant little yellow Bic that has no idea what big plans I have for it tonight.

They won't get me, not like they got her. I'm too smart for them. Prison was a lot like school - you marked your belongings with a Sharpie, took the wimpy kid's milk, and took a beating now and then, bust most importantly, you learned. Oh, how you learned your lessons. You better wise up, Janet Weiss, cause there ain't no God to help you now. It's all on you.

All on me.

I pick up the Bic and slowly snap it the way I always have in the past. But this time it's a bigger purpose. This little Bic is going to save my life.

I fill the tub with lukewarm water, watching it pound down like Niagra or something, and try to wax melancholy and be deep but it's just not a deep moment. That comes later.

I start with the tender spots. The sole of my foot, each of my fingertips, any soft spot I can find as I stand shin-deep in the tub, drawing the blade across them.

I watch as the water turns crimson, and slowly climb out, smearing blood along the floor of the bathroom and onto the walls. I stop in front of the sink and stare into the mirror.

I'm too smart for them.

I toss the blade in the tub and grab the second one on the sink. I kiss my reflection good-bye and methodically clean my scalp of all the hair I've grown since I was released, flushing it all down the toilet. Flushing my life away.

By now my feet have stopped bleeding and I leave the bathroom behind, but not the Bic. I toss the razor in my bag with the other supplies and take out a wad of cash. I remember prison, and school, and how many tricks I had to turn to get this money. This was blood money. The death of my control.

I suit up. Loose camoflauge pants and a black wifebeater. thick socks and knee-high combat boots. I lace them up, grunting and gearing up. I take my bag and head towards the motel office.

Inside, I fuck the guy and hand him the wad of cash in exchange for his lie. His pretty little lie that's going to save me.

"No, sir," I can almost hear him saying. "They took her body out about an hour or so ago."

I smile.

And I run.


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