The Edge of Silence
Ella was frozen in her seat. She had no idea what to do; her mind whirled and she opened her mouth to speak but her voice was gone. There were grunts and groans from Del, followed by a familiar clicking sound, which Ella presumed were handcuffs.
It looked like the cop was kneeling down and judging from the sounds Del was making it was possible he was kneeling on Del.
“What’s a piece of scum like you doing in this neighbourhood? Who is that you were fighting with in the car? Eh?” and he turned and looked into the car, looked at Ella. His eyes met Ella’s. An eternity passed and again Ella opened her mouth to speak but could not generate a sound.
“Fuck!” the cop said, mostly to himself. “It’s ok kid. It’s ok, you’re safe now.” And he turned his attention back to Del.
“You piece of absolute shit!” he spat. “Taking a fucking kid! I’ll..”
“No, no, it’s…aargh!” Del’s protest was cut short by a boot to the kidney. And another. The cop swiftly pulled out his baton and reigned a blow down on Del’s back as he tried to get to his feet.
“Nooo!” Ella gasped. “No, stop, stop!” she yelled finally finding her voice. But the cop did not hear her and she instead heard the sickening noise of the baton smashing into Del’s body as the cop got more and more frantic.
Each blow was a noise so loud Ella could almost feel them herself. She threw her hands to her ears to block the sounds and stared in disbelief as the cop continued to beat on Del. “Oh my god, oh my god” was all she could mutter to herself.
Del was curling up into a ball. He’d stopped trying to get up and was unable to get any words out as a kick to the stomach had winded him. He was sure some ribs were broken, probably a few other bones too, the pain was intense. His mind switched to survival mode and his sense of time and place disappeared. Pain blurred his vision, or maybe that was another blow from the baton, now coming down on his head. Suddenly he thought of sitting on the beach looking at the sea and the moon; of time earlier that night. The pain dimmed and a kind of peacefulness came over him. He thought of Ella.
Then suddenly he realised that the reduction in pain was because the beating had stopped. He opened his blurry eyes and saw Ella standing behind the cop.
“Ok sweetie. Ok, let’s put the gun down” said the cop slowly.
Ella stood there with the gun from the glove compartment in her hand. A look of pure anger on her face.
“Now let’s just lower the gun. No-one wants to do anything stupid here…” said the cop and he reached out his hand. “Give me the gun. I know you have a lot of anger right now, but shooting him isn’t going to help. You’re safe now. He’s not going to hurt you. We’ve got him.”
“Drop the baton.” said Ella.
“Don’t worry” continued the cop as if Ella had said nothing. “He’ll get what he deserves in jail. Even the black gangs in prison don’t like the pedo’s.”
“Ella” Del croaked, “Ella, do as he says.” And with that he rolled over and coughed up a bunch of blood onto the cold street.
Ella wanted to put the gun down. She wanted to tell the cop that he was making a mistake, that Del had been kind to her, so kind. That seeing the cop beat him up had been the most distressing thing she had ever seen, even worse than what she had witnessed earlier. She wanted to, but she didn’t.
She just stood there, gun in hand, cold tears rolling down her face, bottom lip curled in, silent. A wave of emotion rolling over her, crashing down on her mind, slowing time and freezing reason.
“C’mon darling. Gimme the gun. Be a good girl.” continued the cop.
“Ella, Ella!” croaked Del again, but he could draw no reaction.
“You need to put the gun down. You will regret anything you do to him, trust me.” said the cop. “This is not how you want your prom to end Princess.”
“Fuck” said Del in a quiet, measured way.
“Fuck! Aaargh! Fuck!” yelled the cop. “You fucking shot me! Aaargh! You little bitch!”
The force of the shot had knocked him over. His chest hurt, but he knew instinctively that the bullet had not gone through his chest plate. He started to position himself to get up, but was stopped by the gun in his face.
Ella stood over the cop and said nothing. She pointed the gun at his head and looked into his eyes. She continued looking into his eyes as the cop realised his mistake and his eyes glassed over with panic. Ella thought about her evening with Del, about the moon reflected on the ocean, about the crashing waves and screaming into them, about how her family made her want to scream and her back-stabbing friends too. And subconsciously she saw a way out; she saw an opportunity to change, to lessen the pain she could never accept to feel. She stared coldly into the cop’s eyes as her finger squeezed the trigger on the gun.
“Ella, no!” exclaimed Del. But it was too late.
Ella didn’t hear the sound of the gun; the world was silent for her. She didn’t really see the bullet enter the cop’s forehead, slightly off-centre toward his right eyebrow. She didn’t see the look of complete shock on Del’s face. Rather she felt the calm after the tsunami that had been crashing through her head. She felt a weight lifted and life changed. She felt suddenly like she knew everything there was to know about life. In that fraction of a second she felt love. Love like she knew she would never feel again. She wanted to scream, she wanted to laugh. She wanted to burst out of her own body and share her energy with everyone.
But the euphoria was fleeting and Del’s voice brought reality back into Ella’s realm.
“Oh fuck!” he said, this time much louder and much more alarmed. “Ella, Ella. What the fuck did you do??”
“I, I, er…I” she tried to say something but could find neither the words nor the voice. Reality came thick and fast now, not least through Del’s repetitive statement of the obvious.
“You shot him. You shot him. I can’t believe it. Ella, you just fucking executed a cop!”
Ella dropped the gun and clasped her hands to her face. “OMG. I, er, I.”
“You didn’t need to do that second shot. You didn’t need to kill him, Ella.”
A pause felt like forever. The two just looked at each other. “I hate being called Princess.” said Ella coldly. It was all she could manage. Her ability to shut off her emotions as a self-defence mechanism had triumphed in the moment and as a result an overly-violent, racist cop wasn’t the only thing that died that night.
Del had gotten up onto his knees. “Grab the key off him Ella. Find the key to these cuffs.”
Ella shook her head, as if to clear the memory of what just happened. She started looking for the keys on the cop.
“Listen, give me the key and then go. You have to go.”
“No” Ella said, still searching for the key.
“No, Ella. You have to go. You can’t be here. You can’t be involved in this. People will be here, any second now. Go home.”
She found the key and put it in Del’s hand. She knelt in front of him. “I can stay, make sure you’re ok. Explain…”
“Explain what?” said Del in disbelief. “You can’t explain that. You can’t explain how you just shot that cop, point blank. I don’t think you can explain it to yourself.” Ella knew he was right.
“But what about you?” Ella pleaded. Fresh tears rolling down her face now.
“I’ll be ok. I’m fine. Couple of bruises, that’s all” Del lied. “Now go. Look, there’s lights in the house there. You gotta go, they’ll be out soon. Run, run!”
Ella grabbed Del’s head between her hands and placed a kiss on his lips. It was the briefest of kisses, but one that could never be forgotten.
“Thank you. Thank you.” she said softly, her voice almost breaking.
“Thank you, Snow” he said quietly in response and smiled.
She glanced at the cop’s lifeless body sprawled on the road. No emotion stirred. She looked back at Del and forced a smile.
“Sorry” she whispered to him slowly as she stood up. And she quickly grabbed her shoes and bag from the passenger seat before setting off running down the street as fast as she could, working hard at not looking back.
“Me too.” murmured Del to himself as she disappeared round the corner of the block and as the street started to fill with people. “Me too.”
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