It has been 5 weeks. That is, 35 days since my world shattered into a million pieces. Staring at the corpse-like figure in the mirror, I begin to feel tormented by its disparity from my past self. A frame once nourished is now neglected, a face once exuberant is now desolate. I do not know them. They do not know me. I am no longer Kenna Jones—the girl destined for greatness. I am Kenna Jones—nineteen, and a murderer.
As I lower myself into the bath, fragmented memories of that night resurface. The dog on the road. Kate in the passenger seat. I allow the water to wholly consume me, to wash away my sins. The shrieking. The screeching. I hold my breath. My sister. Dead. I revel in the comfort of a burning chest. Murderer. My grief departs. A memory of Kate’s laugh reverberates through me. The room is nothing but a black blur, though I know there is no one to turn off the ceiling light above; still, the water grows heavier and the world inside my eyelids grows brighter. I am at peace at last.
When I wake, there is no Kate. No utopia. I am alone. The darkness I fought so hard to rid myself of remains. Intrusive thoughts infiltrate my brain. You deserved to die. There is no escaping them.
“Kenna. We need to discuss what is going on with you.” Aunt Mabel.
I sigh. She doesn’t agree that I am beyond saving.
“I understand you believe you are at fault for your sister’s passing; however, you are not. Kate would not blame you. She would not condone you drowning yourself in the bath.”
You weren’t there. You didn’t know Kate to the extent I did.
No one did.
I nod reluctantly despite my thoughts. Mabel eyes me suspiciously. Her stern expression wavers. Caving reluctantly, she wanders off to turn on the television. I exhale.
“Breaking news! Tomorrow morning, all citizens will be required to attend Parliament House for the announcement of a new bill, successfully passed in the late hours of last night.”
Hot tears threaten to spill. She always loved visiting parliament. I close my eyes. Kate is there—her smile brightening the dim void that is my mind…
As I walk up the steps of Parliament House, I am met with melancholy. Echoes of familiar laughter entice me to turn around—however, there is no one in sight. A fragrance of hydrangeas and musk drifts through the air—offering an almost cathartic release. I almost smile. A gilded butterfly settles on my arm. I bathe in the sudden peace it brings me. She’s here. Always. With me. A single tear glides down my cheek. My heart aches. Why can’t it always be like this?
When I reach the public courtyard, complacency vanishes. The elation of the crowd instigates my unease. I scan the faces of those around me. They are eager, exultant. I am an imposter, a murderer. Can these people see right through me? Do they sense a murderer in their midst? The rampant battering of my heart intensifies. Breathing becomes gasping. Air becomes scarce. I turn to depart but it is too late—the announcement has begun.
“Today marks a new beginning. Two days ago, a new bill was passed, granting each citizen a chance to start anew. Thanks to advanced technology from AmniTech, we were able to develop a serum that allows one to erase their past and embrace their future. Say goodbye to misery today, and hello to bliss tomorrow. In 24 hours, mandatory doses will be administered at the Opera House.”
The crowd gasps. Chatter explodes from all directions. However, I am unable to move, unable to respond to the news received. Tomorrow I will forget who I am. From darkness, light will follow. But…Kate. I will forget her too. My sun, my moon, my world. My memories as dead as she is. Is this a blessing or a tragedy? I fear I do not know.
Staggering down the hallway, bottle of tequila in hand, I make my way to her room. The doorknob is cold, devoid of touch for so long. As I stand in the doorway, peering into the darkness, grief rushes over me like a tidal wave. This is the last of her. This room and my memories are all that’s left and tomorrow, she will be reduced to a discarded room. My sun, my moon crumbled to ash. My world obsolete. I reach for the picture frame on her nightstand. In the photograph, our smiles are bright and content. She had printed this the day before the accident. The day she died. The day I died…part of me anyway. I put the frame back face down on the nightstand. A sob escapes me. My body succumbs to sorrow, and I drop the bottle—falling to my knees. If grief gets easier with time—why the hell is each day harder than the next? I am underwater and unable to come up for air. Perpetually drowning, over and over and over. When will it end? Tomorrow. But how can I forget her? How can I forget the laughter, the tears, the times we’ve shared? Does the bad outweigh the good, or does the good outweigh the bad? I am at a loss. I sit there on the floor and sob. I sob until I no longer can—until I am drained of all my tears.
Laying in her bed, I am at ease. Hydrangeas and musk fill the air. When I sleep, she is there. She smiles at me. I am home.
“Kenna.” Aunt Mabel.
I do not open my eyes. Instead, I allow myself to remain in her company a little while longer. Regret, guilt, and agony are gone. Complacency, simplicity, and sheer joy replace them. I am no longer a murderer. I am a sister once again.
I sigh and open my eyes. She vanishes. The tears threaten to return. I falter.
“What you are going through is unfathomable. Tomorrow’s dosage will do you a world of good. You will be able to forget and move on. Kate would want that for you.”
I clench my jaw. Forgetting and moving on do not always coincide. I don’t want to forget her. In fact, I refuse to. Mabel—aggravated by my lack of response—sighs and flounces out of the room. I exhale. I close my eyes in expectation. However, this time, she is not there. She is gone. She left me. Once again, I am underwater. I will not forget her. I will not allow myself to. Despite the pain, I’d rather die than live a day without knowing her. Be careful what you wish for.