When I was three my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said something stupid, like a rockstar princess or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team member. I don’t really remember; it was something stupid though.
Two years went by before she asked me again. I was walking home from school with one of my classmate’s parents and she called on their phone. Before I could answer, a white van screeched to a stop at the intersection. Men with ski masks on threw open the door and jumped out. When they did, the dad backed away and tried to pull me with them. But I wouldn’t budge.
It was like I knew they’d come for me and me only.
The men pointed their guns at the dad and shot him in the stomach. It was so much blood; I didn’t think he’d survive. The masked men threw me and my classmate over their shoulder before jumping back into the van and driving off.
When we arrived at the place, they threw us in the basement. They tied me and my classmate to chairs, positioned us so we were facing each other. I didn’t know her well, but she was a good person. I could never forget the cold fear in her eyes. The tears that’d sprung free when one of the men held a knife under her chin. Another man was positioned behind me with a knife under my chin.
But then their leader walked in.
“It’s time,” the strange man had said, his voice sending chills down my back.
More men came in, setting a computer on a table I hadn’t noticed. Stupid, you have to stay aware, I’d thought. Two cameras were set up; one facing me and another facing her. And then I heard a phone ringing, the other person on the end wasn’t picking up. But then they did.
“We have your daughter. And her friend.” The man spat into the phone. “Why don’t you turn on your computer? This may be the last time you see them.”
I heard a gasp. “É melhor você não machucar essas crianças, garoto. Isso é entre eu e você! You better not hurt these kids, boy. This is between you and me!”
“I’ll give you a trade: You for your daughter.”
“W-what about my daughter?” the other girls’ mother asked, her voice sounding shaky and scared. “What about her?”
The man laughed a dark laugh. “I don’t care about her,”
The man then nodded to his friend, the one holding the knife.
He dragged the knife across her neck, creating a crooked, bloody red smile. The fear in her eyes slowly diminished and what replaced it scared me for the first time that day: nothing. I saw nothing in her eyes, as the gurgling sound she was making came to a halt. The light had left her eyes but she was still staring at me.
I heard her mother’s cries of sorrow but I couldn’t look away from the then dead girl. She was just... dead.
And then they laughed.
I zoned out for the rest of the conversation(s) they had with my parents. They once held the phone to me so my mother could have confirmation that I’m alive, but I moved my head away from the phone, and closer to the knife.
I lost time when I was with them. They were always smoking and laughing, waving guns around widely, with the safety off. They reeked of beer and smoke and... god.
A few weeks went by. They stuffed me in a room and locked the door. I complied with everything they told me to do; my mom would’ve been coming soon. When I heard no one in the house, I decided to take a shower. Or a bath. Or whatever you wanted to call the leaking faucet that couldn’t or simply wouldn’t give anymore what than what was coming out.
I was pulling my little dress’ straps back over my shoulder when I heard the door click close. I spun around in a flash, my eyes growing wide seeing the man in front of me.
“Don’t worry,” he had said.
He pointed to the bed. I quickly climbed on it, centering myself on the bed. He too sat on the bed with me, facing me. I stared up at him with curious eyes, watching his eyes slid over my small frame.
“I’m sorry about your friend,”
I didn’t answer.
For a while, we just stayed that way. In the room, all day, just looking at each other. Or, he was looking at me. I on the other hand was looking anywhere but him. But then he left.
And I know, I’m making this seem like everything was okay; he didn’t hurt me and I went home later that day.
I woke up a few hours later to hand sliding up my thigh. I kept my breathing even, expecting the person to stop. He didn’t. My eyes flew open when I felt air on my stomach. Shhh, his eyes told me. It’ll be over soon...
When it was over, he fell asleep beside me. My legs were hurting but were able to stand. I hobbled towards the other side of the room and grabbed the lamp. I hobbled back towards the bed before climbing on top of it. The only thing interrupting the silence was his gentle snores and my shallow breaths. I lifted the lamb over my head.
And slammed it on his head.
I did it about five more times until I didn’t hear him breathing. And the silence following was so tenacious, I ended up dropping the lamp. I made my way to the door but it was thrown open. The cops were here.
One of them picked me up, carried me out of the house, and to the ambulance waiting outside. All these random people were in my face, talking to me, wanting to check me...
Are you okay? Do you need some water? Did they hurt you?
All the redundant questions were so persistent. I didn’t answer any of them. And I didn’t speak for another two years...
It was my seventh birthday, and I had just woken up. I smelt the food my mother was cooking and decided to get up. I wrapped a cover around me as I slowly walked towards the kitchen. My dad was sitting on the island, reading something.
His eyes locked onto mine and he gave me a hesitant smile. “Goodmorning.”
I didn’t answer him.
He helped me into the seat beside him as I watched my mom set a plate in front of me. As I was about to start eating, she asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up, Alijah?”
Just as she did when three. A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Just as she did when I was five.
And then I spoke:
“I want to be a killer.”