I heard the crunch of the browned and crusty snow beneath my feet. It was impure, disgusting, and hardened like this damned world. All the people are the nasty little pieces of salt and dirt that clump together, tainting the virgin snow. Every person is poisoned by every other person. Their imperfections, their ugliness. It's revolting. I didn't think anyone was pure to the insanities this world has created. The grey clouds mocked me, keeping the beauty of the blue sky and the sun hidden from me, as I trudged through the slush, watching the chaos of the hideous people skating on the pond, I could smell the exhaust drifting through the one part of the city that was supposed to be celibate from the touch of man's destruction and pollution. People looked away as they passed me, they wished not to see my judgments of them. A small boy ran down the path knocking his arm into my side. My stack of books fell into the slush. I felt my blood boil and a vile taste formed in my mouth as I crouched down to retrieve my goods. That was when you came up behind me and reached your precious hands into the cold mush on the ground, retrieving my lost treasures. Your long dainty fingers wrapped around the broken spines of my favorite novels, your silky skin, the delectable color of milk freshly squeezed from the udder, intertwined with the cream of the old book pages. I turned my head to look at you. Your long flowing mane blocked your face from me, a curtain of golden sunbeams to hide the masterpiece I was awaiting. You turned your face to me wiping away your hair, a youthful glow of happiness and innocence overwhelmed me. Your eyes were two opalescent sapphires to which not even the Hope Diamond could compare. You smiled, crinkling your lightly freckled Grecian nose. Sweet girl, those are not just freckles though, they are angel kisses, or kisses from one angel to another. "Here." Your voice was a melody playing upon my heart strings. Your hand reached towards me holding the books and I nearly fell back into the nasty snow.
I cleared my throat and reached out, "Uh, thank you," I stammered. Your hand gently caressed mine. Your fingers lingered against my skin for a moment. A perfect moment that was no accident. Your eyelashes fluttered gracefully like butterfly wings. The cold air bit at my nose but I knew that it was not the chill that flushed your cheeks the soft pink of ballet slippers. You bloomed from the ground like a Spring orchid.
"H.G. Wells, I love him." You beamed. "I hope those aren't ruined though." Your lavender painted fingertips gestured towards the books in my hands as I rose from the ground to meet you.
"Nothing could ruin this..." I shook my head correcting myself "I mean them." Our eyes drew together like magnets.
"Good, well I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening." You tucked your hands into the pockets of your black peacoat.
"Thanks, you too." I fumbled for a way to stay casually cool while nearly bursting from my seams. You spun away to continue your stroll through the park. You walked fifteen feet before you looked back and smirked. Your hair blew playfully on the wind's currents. I knew now that you felt our connection, the tether between our souls. If I hadn't been sure before, I was once you gifted me that sly beckoning glance.
I knew you were the purest thing I had ever seen. The holy among unholiness, a crack of light seeping into this dark room the world resides in. I needed to protect you. To let you be tainted, corrupted, torn apart by the dirt and salt when you are a perfect snowflake would be the greatest tragedy. So I walked home with you. I didn't want to be too forward, so I didn't walk beside you. Your vanilla scent drifted behind you; I huffed it, sending me into a euphoria. We made our way across the street and down into the underground. The subway hadn't arrived yet. I almost lost your addictive fragrance in the crowds of people and the mixing smells of decomposing garbage, fried food, and human feces. This aroma was once one I accepted, until I found you. You I could snort like cocaine. I wanted to have you as close to me as possible, I wanted to eat you to keep you inside me, away from anyone else who might dare think they were good enough to have you. You were a few people away from me, when I felt a cool air brush against my face, it forced the fabric of my shirt to cling to me. Oh how I wished you would behave the same. The train sped into the station stopping abruptly. The doors opened and you hurried on. A hoard of people swarmed around you. They pushed into me as I struggled to get on the train. I heard the garbled announcement to stay clear of the closing doors come over the speaker system. I shoved my way through the swarm, the doors were nearly closed but I stopped them just in time.
The ride was a treacherous one. I was crammed between a woman holding some sort of nasty smelling casserole and a man who looked like he wasn't usually the type to stand on the subway, let alone leave the house. You didn't look at me. You were looking at your phone, I wondered who you were texting, if it was about me, the handsome man you met in the park. As we screeched to a stop, a large Italian man fell into you, an act of perversion, his greasy skin smearing against yours.
It was fifteen minutes before we reached your stop. Again I clawed through the human sardines to reach the sliding doors. You walked briskly towards your apartment building. Two losers catcalled you from their mixed colored lemon of a car as the sky darkened.
“That's what I'm talkin ‘bout.” The skinny, sunglasses and backwards hat pale driver leaned out the window yelling to you while the other buff dark man whistled and tightened his lips to make kissy sounds. I could see you shrink into yourself. I glared at them as they rolled by, their outdated rap music blaring causing the car to tremble. My fists tightened until they turned white. If they had stopped I would have beat them until their faces were ingrained into the rusted metal of their car. I knew though that someday they would be retributed for their debauchery. Everybody is. You thought you were alone. I was there though. I protected you. When we arrived at your building I waited across the street to make sure you made it in safely. You buzzed one of many buttons near the bottom and were let in.
I stood there that night, as I stood there every night, studying your movements, watching you study yourself in the mirror, you brushed your hair for me, you tried on clothes, you lightly dusted yourself with makeup for me, though you didn't need it. Some nights you would just watch yourself, unchanging, undamaged as the world crumbled around you. Some nights you would dance around your room gliding, soaring on clouds. You would close your eyes and twirl like a leaf falling from its chilled Autumn branch. I would spin and dance with you. I twirled you in my arms, singing a sweet melody to you. Occasionally the serenity was broken. Your mother would scream at you, nonsense of growing up, of being a part of the world. I could do nothing but glare up the brick wall at her. My body shook with rage. She should never have had treated you that way, wanting to change you, trying to make you melt into the slush. Whenever she would terrorize you with her insanities you could come to the window and peer out at me. You would cry and I would comfort you by knowingly looking back at you. I waited there every night spending my time with you until you shut the light off, and shut me out.
There was an elderly man who lived an apartment over from you. I noticed him one night when you weren't home yet. Such a boring specimen, unlike you, my dear. He wobbled when he walked and spent all of his time with soap operas and a mangy looking feline. The most brilliant idea occurred to me that night. I spent a week away from you. It was torturous but I had to. I studied the old man. I watched his habits. His schedule was easy to follow. He ate dinner at six. He watched television until seven, and finally after pulling himself from the sunken couch cushions he would bring out the trash at seven forty five. At the end of the week I put my plan into action. I waited outside in your alley way. The night was thick black like molasses. My eyes were glued to my watch, each minute taking an hour to tick away. My heart pulsed extraordinarily fast. The old man hobbled outside at seven fifty seven. Of course he would have to waste my time on a night that I choreographed so well. The weather was supposed to be icy and just as I had hoped, it was. He made his way to the dumpster and that is when I made my move. I pulled him by his collar into the alley. He was weak and his feet couldn't find a grip on the smooth glassy ice. I pushed him into the bricks. His head cracked as I threw my gloved fist repeatedly at him. He fought back his wrinkled, papery hands flailed at my stomach and his fingers clawed my chest. I laughed to myself as I easily pulled him towards me and then slammed him back again. The terrible old man let out a groan as I fumbled a knife out of my pocket. I took his life and then I took his wallet, as well as a couple of other belongings. Of course the police would just think it was a mugging that ended... I would say quite well with the taking of a man's life. That was all he was, a man, not a radiant creature like you, not deserving of life wasted sinking into a torn up filthy sofa.
I stayed away from your apartment for two weeks, walking you to school rather than visiting you at night while the men in uniform cleaned up the litter I had left for them. I had met your school counselor once. I made an appointment to talk to him about you. I had to pretend to be a college rep with a big field hockey scholarship to give out. You did so well in school. You were never in trouble. Your friends were not worthy of you though. They were uninteresting, blasphemous, imbeciles.
It's funny actually the old man didn't even make the news. It takes a lot to make the news in this town though. It didn't take long for his apartment to be cleaned out and the small space to be put up for rent. How clever I was to have thought of such an ingenious plan. I quickly charmed the landlord and acquired it. Oh how close to you I finally was.
The anticipation stung in my chest as I made my way to your door fifteen minutes, three hours, and two days after I moved in. I rapped thrice on your door. Your angelic stride was so light that I could not hear it until you arrived at your door. You swung open the door with a bright smile. "Hi, I'm Scott Barnes." I grinned, our eyes drawing together. I reached my hand out to you.
You reached out to me, our hands once again melted together. "Oh, hi, um Katie."
"You see I just..."
Your voice interrupted. "Uh, hey listen, I'm sorry but if you're trying to sell us anything, we don't need it… so, thanks anyways." You started to close the door but I reached my arm out to stop it.
"No, no,no. Sorry you've got me all wrong."
"Oh" your eyebrows knitted.
"I just moved in and, well you see my thermostat isn't working, and I seemed to have misplaced the landlord's phone number and I was wondering if you had it?" Your face brightened up.
"Oh, you're our new neighbor! Sure, come on in." You moved away from the door and allowed me to enter your temple. It smelt of roses with a faint cinnamon tint. "Just a second, I know my mom put it somewhere." You shuffled through your cream colored kitchen drawers.
"That's fine, take your time." I walked up to the kitchen counter and leaned on it. You pulled away from the drawer.
"Ah ha, I've got it!" You glowed against the sky blue walls. You waved a yellow sticky note in the air like a victory flag.
"Thank you, uh I'm sorry to be a trouble but do you mind if I use your phone too? Mine isn't setup yet." I bit my lip as you handed me the crinkled paper.
"Oh, sure." You extended your slender fingers towards the phone on the counter. "Hey!" You exclaimed as I reached towards the phone. I paused.
"Yes?" My nerves buzzed.
"I've met you before. At the park... yeah, a few months ago." Oh Katie, you cunning, lovely thing, you knew exactly who I was. It was good of you to try to act like you didn't think about me, to not scare me, to not show your obsession.
"Really?" I grinned to myself.
"Yes, I mean it was very quick. I think you dropped some books. H.G. Wells?"
"Ah yes, I think I have a vague memory of that."
"It's funny that we'd meet again like this." You giggled.
"No Katie, I don't think it is." I stood up straight and unfolded my arms. Your eyes widened batting those pretty lashes. "Don't act like this is the first time you've seen me since. Your mother isn't here. There's no need to pretend." You inhaled deeply and scowled.
"What are you talking about?" You exclaimed.
"Katie it's time for us to run away, to escape this place full of filthy human garbage." I chuckled. "I know I took a while, but I had to do so much for you, so much to get here." You backed up against the corner of the counter and I took a step towards you.
"Oh, don't joke right now, Katie, I've protected you and loved you. I've rid you of that couch potato that lived next door."
"Oh my god. You killed Mr. Pinkley?" You were speaking so loudly. I could share in your excitement.
Your face scrunched up and tears rolled down your apple cheeks.
"Is something wrong? I stepped forward and reached my hand out to you.
"Please just leave me alone."
"Aren't you thankful for all I've done?”
"What are you talking about?" My vision blurred as I noticed the pictures on the fridge. You and another boy kissing, holding one another.
"I've been here for you, protecting you, since that day in the park. I'm going to take you away from your screaming mother, who wants you to grow up, to be ruined. Come with me now."
"You're insane!" Your voice echoed through my ears crashing into my thoughts like a wrecking ball. My blood pulsated like a drum in my brain. My veins bulged. I felt that I was swelling up like a balloon. I felt a sharp pain in my arm and refocused on you. You had the worst look on your face and you were holding a glimmering knife, smeared with red. My eyes fell on my arm. Crimson liquid gently streamed onto my forearm. I laughed and you went to jab again. You were just like the rest of them. You had become ugly, blinded by the worldly needs all the others had, you became a piece of snow clumped into the sand and the dirt. You were just like Jenny, and Sarah, and Taylor.
“Oh what have you done now? Look what you've become.” I couldn't protect them properly, just like I couldn't keep you safe. I had to do what I did for them, I had to save you.
I reached out at you. I grabbed you by your hair and you spliced aimlessly at me with your knife. You tried to kick me but I pulled on your dirty split locks. A cast iron pan called to me from the stove top. I grabbed it and wailed it against your temple. You fell limp on to the floor in a mangled looking ball. I shook my head at you. Such a waste. You were no longer a deity but a common grotesque person. I pitied you.
I opened your fridge and began to make dinner. I thought a tasteful lemon pepper chicken and rice would be a delightful choice. I turned the burners to high. The chicken started to crisp quite nicely and the rice, was perfect. I peeled off an edge of the chicken and let the juice seep into my taste buds. It would have been nice to have a plate but there was no time for that. I pulled your homework from the counter and left it against the burners. I watched as it started to catch flame, the smell of plastic drifted into the air blocking your cheap vanilla perfume. I watched as your lungs rose and fell in your chest filling with the poisoned air. You would be cleansed, and I would be cleansed of you.
I made my way to my apartment as the fumes filled your apartment. The blue walls slowly turning grey. The flames dancing joyously around your curtains, the floors, around you. I wrapped my arm with gauze from my bathroom cabinet and threw on a clean charcoal black long sleeved tee shirt. The thick smoke slithered into my lungs like a snake as I rushed outside. I called the fire department from a pay phone on the street. They rushed to the scene. Their obnoxious sirens sounded in a mournful song for you. They questioned me on what happened. Of course I knew, but the story was too long and they could figure it out themselves. A rainbow of color emitted from the powerful fountain of water they sprayed at your apartment. I succeeded, I saved you. Smiling I sauntered past the chaos of the people on the street.
My favorite café was playing sweet sixties music. The notes of Teen Angel drifted into the twirling smoke of my coffee. I hummed along. Inhaling I could taste the gentle Colombian breeze from which the coffee beans were grown. I looked up and could see on the silent television the smoke billowing from your building. The subtitles read under one of the men in blue that it was thought to be an unfortunate cooking accident. I smirked and scanned the room as I sipped from the warm rim of the sunshine yellow mug. My eyes met with the emeralds placed within a curly haired brunette's eyes sitting across from me. She was tapping away at the keys of her metallic laptop but she stopped, her eyes pierced into my soul and she smiled the purest smile. My lips curled and I sent a gleaming smile back at her.