A Soulless Path

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Chapter 11

When Aj awoke her head felt thick and cloudy, her environment seemed unfamiliar. After a few seconds, she pulled herself together and remembered that she was at the warehouse. It took longer than that for her to realize that Charlie was lying on top of her. She had curled herself on the couch and was using her legs as a pillow. Aj gently ran her hand against her hair watching it move against her hand. She wasn’t entirely sure of what happened last night but she was positive she wouldn’t change a single second because it all lead up to this moment. Her trance was broken by Will and Hayley walking in with some breakfast from the truck diner nearby. “Who’s starving?” Hayley asked as they enter the door. “Oh yes me” shot Charlie up as if she wasn’t even asleep. “I think every deputy is out right now, we saw them on almost every street” Will began to explain as he set breakfast up on the table. “Oh yeah! Dad called and said they were busting those jocks last night I bet they’re searching for ones that ran. I'll text him and see what's up.” Aj reached for her phone to find the screen black. She tried the power button several times but it wouldn’t turn on. “Shit I forgot to bring my charger I hope he isn’t trying to get ahold of me” Aj began to panic. “He would have called me if that was the case and my phone still has some battery left” Will reassured her. “True but I should go home just in case” she insisted. “you can't skip breakfast don’t you know it’s the most important meal of the day” grinned Charlie.

Aj stayed for breakfast but insisted she go home right after. She walked Charlie to her car “Thank you, by the way, this is the first time I have actually had fun with the people I'm around.” Charlie began to explain. “Why waste your time pretending, we only have this life apparently” Aj joked. “I know, it feels like I would let everyone down if I stopped,” she said disappointed. “Do it then.” Aj insisted. “What?” she asked. “If your fear is letting people down then just get it over with” “It's not that easy” “Eventually it will happen at some point, why not take control of it, you decide when its time to disappoint people” “I hear you, but there’s so much more to it” Aj could see the conversation was making her uncomfortable. “I just want you to do what you want, even if that’s getting drunk in a grungy warehouse with the town outcasts” Aj tried to be more sensitive. It seemed to work she finally made eye contact again. Charlie grabbed her arm then leaned in and kissed Aj gently on the lips. Suddenly time and everything else had vanished. The only thing that existed was there lips touching as if they had just created their own world. The kiss itself was in reality brief, only a few seconds had passed. “Then let the outcasts rule the world.” She smiled. “HEY! We need to go love birds” yelled Will. Aj watched Hayley elbow him and scowled him. “Text me later, okay?” Charlie asked. “Of course.” Promised Aj.

The ride was quiet it was unclear to Aj if it was because no one was talking or because she was in her own mind replaying the kiss. Nothing was breaking that moment for her not the trees, cars,or even the buildings that passed through the window. Until she was at her house and she saw the patrol car sitting in her driveway. Her heart began to beat faster as they stopped and she knew it wasn’t her father's. She couldn’t move but she didn’t have to, Will jumped out of the car and went to the deputy who stepped out of the car. She watched the deputy’s mouth move and wills eyes widen and turn cold. The world went into one fluid slow motion, she watched will gaze turn to her, and at the same time, she felt her body open the truck door and run.

She couldn’t remember if it was raining before or if it had just started. She couldn’t recognize anything around her, she had no sense of time, it was like her brain had shut off and the only thing it could think of was “No, he can't be dead.” Then all at once, it was like time had caught up with her running. She tripped in the mud and fell to the ground, images of Wills's face, and her father filled her brain as if a song was stuck on repeat. “NO YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME” she screamed. She punched the ground and mud flew into her face but it didn’t face her she continued to scream and punch. “Who the fuck is on my land” a croaky scream came. Aj stopped and looked up she finally recognized her surroundings, she was on Wills farm. She watched his mother stumble down the steps bottle half-filled in hand. “Oh it’s the cops brat, where’s my fucking boy” she slurred at her. This piece of trash gets to live yet my father is dead thought Aj. “Hey, I'm fucking talking to you, where’s my damn kid? Is he with your nosy father?” she swigged her bottle. “Don’t talk about him” grunted Aj. “Watch your mouth you fucking brat, you're on my fucking land. My husband died so I could talk about your shitty fucking father.” Aj slowly pulled herself out of the mud, the rain poured harder on them. She didn’t know when she picked it up but all she knew at that moment was that she had stuck a pitchfork right in her throat. Aj watched her eyes widen, she grabbed at the ends in her throat and pulled them out. She fell to her knees as the pitchfork hit the ground. AJ watched as she attempted to hold her blood in her body. She looked up at Aj out of desperation for help, she attempted to grab at her shirt but Aj stepped back letting her fall into the mud. She made several attempts to crawl towards Aj, she felt no guilt for what she had done to her best friend's mother. It was an insult that she would get to live after her father was dead, it had to be done. It wasn’t until she watched her body stop moving that she noticed Will standing in front of her. She never heard him or his truck come up in the driveway she watched him stare at his dead mother's body not saying a word, expressionless. She didn’t know how much time had gone by but when his gaze finally broke he only said one thing “get in the truck.”

When he got in the truck he grabbed his phone and called someone, “I found her but there’s a situation I have to handle, can you meet me at the warehouse?” The ride was silent and Aj couldn’t read Wills's emotions it bothered her greatly. “How did it happen? My dad how did he die?” she finally mustered. “A drunk driver hit him, one from that party last night.” Aj’s body began to tremble with rage her body felt like a million flaming needles prickling on her skin. “Who was it” she demanded from Will. “I don’t know, they wouldn’t tell me much, I'm not family.” He whispered the word family which triggered the flames engulfing Aj to settle down. “Your mom…I just…” “Don’t” interrupted Will “your dad was more family then she was, I think you actually did me a favor, so don’t apologize.”

They pulled into a lot of the warehouse she saw Charlie's car in front of the warehouse. She and Hayley were leaning against the car talking. When they heard the truck up they stopped and both looked towards Aj. They both shared the same look as if they had eaten something rotten. “Stay here” instructed will. “What?” questioned Aj. “We have to figure out what to do and the less you know the better your chances are.” He explained then closed the truck door. He watched them talk for a second then time slowed again for Aj. She watched Hayley and Charlie's eyes widen their chest rising faster. That’s what he meant, he needed to figure out how to hide the body, to cover Aj’s murder. She hadn’t settled to think about it but she was in fact a murderer and now the only people left in her life were trying to protect her.

Charlie turned and looked Aj straight in her eyes then began walking towards her as Will and Hayley stayed back to talk. Aj took this as a sign and exited the truck, she didn’t know what to say but she couldn’t turn her back to Charlie even now. “I'm going home with you,” Charlie told her “When you ran off you ran into me not far down the road.” Aj shooked her head in agreement. “I know you're probably not hungry but I'm going to get us food somewhere public with cameras” she continued to explain. “They will have a cop at the house you’ll have to talk to him but I won't leave your side. He's going to get a call over the radio while he's there and I need you to act normal.” How far had they plan in a couple of minutes that they were talking? She thought to herself. “I understand” she spoke. “Then its time for us to go” she gently smiled.

When they pulled up to the house the same squad car was still there. Aj felt her heart sink into her chest as the deputy stood up off the stairs. Time slowed down to almost a halt. Every step towards the deputy was in slow motion and all the sounds around her were amplified. The deputy didn’t speak right away but he didn’t need to. “I'm sorry to inform you that at 3:36 am your father was in a car accident” the deputy swallowed hard “He was killed on impact.” The rest of his words became a mumble all the sounds around her were dampened by the sound of her heart beating. Her eyes spilled enough tears to drown herself in. The only things that filled her thoughts were images of his face smiling. When the slide show in her head stopped she found herself still on the porch but the deputy had left. “He got a call over the radio had to go” Charlie explained. Aj didn’t answer her she had nothing to say about anything. “Do you want to go inside?” Charlie asked. Did she, could she walk into her house knowing her father would never be in it again. She didn’t answer again. “Okay.” Charlie left and went into the house. A new kind of panic-filled Aj she ran in after her and grabbed her arm. “You can't come in here” she yelled. Charlie stood there with a shocked expression “I'm sorry, I just wanted to get some blankets so we could stay outside tonight. “ she quietly explained. Aj looked around the house looking at every detail, everything is the same she thought to herself. She didn’t know what she expected but it wasn’t for everything to be the same. She felt Charlie hand slide back into hers almost as if she was trying to hold Aj together as she was falling apart. “Let's go back outside, I have the blankets,” she told her. Aj couldn’t move she wanted to go outside but she couldn’t make her legs work so she just stood there taking in her own house.

Charlie's phone rang and she stepped away next to the window “hey mom. Yes I know she's a friend I'm actually over here now. No, I think she needs time right now can you ask them to wait. Okay, thank you I'm going to stay the night with her. Love you too bye” she hung up the phone and sighed. “The church basically wants to bring you a feast but iv managed to hold them off for now” she sat on the couch and just looked at Aj. She acted as if she was near a wild animal afraid to make any sudden moves or sounds so she just sat there staring at Aj wishing she could read minds. Aj just continued to look into the kitchen at the dining table. She could see her father there drinking his coffee and looking through reports. She walked over to her seat across from his and grabbed the cold coffee cup he left the morning before. All that was left was his unfinished cup of coffee and she wasn’t ready to accept it. Maybe if she sat there holding it he walked through the door and explain it was all a misunderstanding. So she did she stayed there till she fell asleep but despite her dreams, there was no father sitting across from her when morning came.

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