by Emily M. Peters
“Mom?” Karla knocked softly on the heavy wooden door. It was cracked open, sending slivers of the artificial lighting from the living room. Karla opened the door farther until the small rays of light shone on her mother’s arched back.
“Mom, are you hungry? I’ll make you something.” Karla tried again to get a response from her mother. Karla listened closely at the soft mumble her mother offered as a response, but Karla couldn’t make out anything from it.
It had been two days since her mother had come out of this room. The only thing that allowed Karla to know her mother was still alive was from the occasional flush of the toilet in her mother’s bathroom.
Sighing, Karla slowly began her descent into her mom’s room, carefully picking her steps over the clutter that littered the dark carpet. Finally, Karla was on the other side of the unmade bed.
Her mother’s fingers were raked through her dark, frizzy hair, holding her head in her lap. Her dark eyes were sealed shut; her dry lips were parted slightly, making a wheezing noise as she breathed in. Her skin was pale and pasty, probably from lack of sunlight.
Karla got down on both knees next to her mother. Hesitantly she asked, “Mom, are you all right?” Slowly, Karla lifted her shaking hand and began to rub the top of her mother’s head in a comforting gesture.
Her mother’s head lifted slightly from her hands, and she opened her eyelids slowly. Her lips parted into a weak smile as she stuck out her hand to lightly brush some of Karla’s hair from her eyes. “I’m just tired, baby.”
Karla knew that was just an excuse. It was her only excuse and Karla had heard it almost every day since her father had left. It was her mother’s way of saying she was just tired of life. Her way of saying she was done for a while.
Karla nodded softly and quickly left the room with a soft slam of the door. She stormed right past the kitchen and flew into her room, slamming the door a bit harder. She flung herself down onto the scratchy wool blanket, burying her head deep into her hands and into the plush pillow and let out a long, high-pitched whine, coming utterly from the frustration pooling within her.
Karla loved her mom, but she made Karla become so frustrated with all the neglect and rejection. However, no matter how many times Karla heard those words “just tired,” she could never hate her mother. Never.
As if from nowhere, three loud thumps made Karla’s hair stand on end and her breathing shuddered to a screeching halt. She lifted her head and listened quietly, not even letting the sound of her lungs get in the way. Suddenly, there was a deathly drag and another thump. However, this time, Karla could have sworn she heard an exasperated whimper.
Karla launched herself from that bed with lightning speed, but right before she broke into the living room, she froze. Her whole body stiffened as she heard the deep breathing from just around the corner. Slowly, she slightly stuck her head around the corner. She saw a tall, broad-shouldered man in a dark mask, looming over her bloody and battered mom, the butt of the gun facing her mom and the barrel facing the man.
“Take the gun. Take the gun and save yourself.” The man’s deep voice filled the room.
Karla scanned him from his black ski mask to his black boots. He didn’t look too frightening, and he was handing her mother the gun. Rage bubbled and churned deep within Karla. He was handing her mother a golden ticket and all she did was slowly shake her bloody head.
“Just... do... it,” was all she said in a raspy voice. The man shrugged and flipped the gun over in his hand quickly. The man shot her mother in the head and fled the scene.
Leisurely, Karla came out from behind the corner with a cool look plastered on her face. When she approached her mother’s lifeless body, she looked down with great disappointment weighing in her.
Abruptly, and with great force, Karla kicked her mother’s body in the ribs as hard as she could. After feeling ribs crack and shift beneath her bare foot, Karla sank down to her mother and took her still oozing head in her lap.
“Why didn’t you save yourself?” Karla whispered dully as she stared into her mother’s lifeless eyes. Dead, cold, hollow, empty, lifeless brown eyes.
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Copyright © 2013 by Emily M. Peters