On fatal confusion.

Published July 3, 2012 by mandileighbean

PROMPT: “Look, somebody has got to make a decision.”

PIECE:

“Look, somebody has got to make a decision.”

I sighed and pulled my hair back with trembling fingers.  They felt swollen and kind of numb – just like the rest of me.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  My best friend was lying at my feet, bleeding profusely in the dirt, and all I could do was to move my lips soundlessly and stare at the woman standing across from me.  I knew she had said something and that it had most likely been important, but I couldn’t hear anything.  My fear and confusion was as good as a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.  Everything coming through was fuzzy and garbled at best.  I suspect part of me was listening hard for the sound of approaching sirens, for the scream of an innocent bystander destined to happen upon the grotesque scene.  I would like to he or she with as much blank terror as I was this woman, this woman who had stabbed my best friend.

I had seen her pull the shining, winking blade from somewhere behind her – in a back pocket? – and had done nothing.  I didn’t scream, ask the obvious question or move.  I stood stock still as she plunged it, retrieved it and plunged it again into my best friend’s back.  Why?  Why had I allowed this murder to happen?  My brain was blocking something out, partially shutting down to protect itself from the unimaginable horror of the truth.  My brain thought it was helping, but it was hurting.  In its attempt to prevent a current pain, it was making itself victim to future aches that would never quite heal unless I pulled my shit together.  If I cracked and fractured now, I’d never be able to be whole again.  The moment was crucial and I was letting cowardice get the best of me.

“Wait – what happened?”

“What do you mean what happened?” the woman across from me roared.  Her eyes were wide and white in the darkness, presumably from shock.  My question must have seemed absurd to her.  “I just stabbed the guy that attacked me!  Are you going to wait here while I call the cops?  You have to tell them what you saw!”

My breath had suddenly developed an annoying habit of catching in my throat.  I started clawing at my neck, as if I was trying to create a hole through which the air could escape.  “I didn’t see anything.  I mean, I saw you stab Mike.  Why did you do that?”  I wasn’t looking at her.  I kept staring at my friend, Mike, staring up at me helplessly, barely breathing.  Debating whether or not I should even try to comfort him, I was hunched towards him and yet trying to simultaneously stand straight to hold a conversation, a crucial conversation.

“He came at me, fists swinging!  He was screaming and I was trying to walk away, trying to leave!  You didn’t see any of that?”  She was stepping over Mike, coming closer to me.  I shuffled back, dirt kicking up under my heels.  Had I seen that?  Why couldn’t I remember?

What was happening?

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