Copyright is held by the author.
THAT WAS odd. The front door was slightly ajar so Angie very gently nudged it open with the tips of her fingers. A blast of Arctic air hit her in the face as soon as she set a tentative foot across the threshold. For a moment she felt a strong sense of foreboding. Angie’s mind was torn between proceeding into the house or dashing down the stairs to the street and running as far and as fast as her legs would carry her. But then the thought occurred to her. Run to where?
Less than a half hour ago Angie had been standing idle in front of her locker wondering how many of her school books she should slide into her backpack. Why not take all of them, a little voice in her head said. That way, even if she didn’t need them, she could always pretend that she did by staring intently at the printed pages and rubbing her forehead in deep concentration. It had always worked in the past. Why not this time?
Angie smiled to herself as she envisioned small groups of kids stopping to share their plans for the weekend. There would be parties, supervised, of course, but every smart kid knew how to deal with that, and there would be food and fun and music and gossip –and all of it in endless abundance for two glorious fun filled days. The weekend! The wonderful weekend! A teenager’s dream of paradise.
But not Angie’s paradise.
Her plan was simple. It wasn’t pizza, or giggling with a girlfriend over whether a certain boy liked her. And it wasn’t indulging in dancing, or playing games, or stuffing her face with all kinds of goodies. It wasn’t laughing at corny jokes some kid had found in a magazine, or swapping tales about how to keep from getting pregnant or avoiding the dreaded SVD. None of those things were on Angie’s agenda. Only one thing mattered to her. And she had to muster all her resources to make sure it happened.
She stepped inside the house. That was the place that the courts mandated was her home. Of course, she knew it wasn’t. Not really. But when you’re underage, and a judge decides where you are to live, what choice do you have? If she did contemplate escape, she knew the risks. She had seen what happened to foster kids who became impatient. It wasn’t going to happen to her.
Often in the justice system executions were delayed — who knows why? And, nearly always the condemned was guilty of a crime too heinous to describe. The innocent went to the gas chamber — that was the more likely scenario — while the guilty got one stay after another. Angie knew these things for a fact. She had made a point of doing intensive research. Sometimes all that stands between one and disaster are the facts. Angie knew that. She knew it in her bones.
She remembered speaking to Fred who sat beside her in homeroom. He was a nice, quiet kid who always kept his head hung low as if his thoughts were too heavy for his neck to carry. One day Angie asked him about it, and he mumbled something incoherent. A week later he was gone. Angie ventured up to the homeroom teacher’s desk to make inquiries. “I’m sorry,” she said, her voice quivering, “I can’t talk about it.” Later that night, it was reported on the news that a boy with Fred’s description had been found floating in the Humber River. The office who found him noticed deep welts on his back. The cop wasn’t supposed to reveal that detail, but, apparently, he said he couldn’t help himself. He had a teenage son of his own.
Angie was a favourite of her teachers. She stood at the top of her class in math and English. She was polite and respectful of authority and her work was excellent and always on time. She was, in fact, an angel. She knew what people thought of her. The only question in the minds of her classmates and her teachers was why did she always keep to herself. It didn’t make any sense. People liked her. So why was she always so aloof?
Angie wore her mystery like an invisible cloak. It wasn’t exactly a weapon. She never meant to hurt anyone. And she wasn’t shy. What she was — was cautious. There was only one more year until she would be 18 and then she could simply walk away. She wasn’t going to end up like poor Fred, homeless, suicidal, a frozen body floating into oblivion.
All she had to do was play it cool and wait. Only a fool would interfere with her.
And then one morning, someone did.
A man — a small, wiry, pathetic man seething with the fires of a rage that consumed his every waking moment — was standing in front of her, blocking her way as she was preparing to leave for school. She didn’t move. Instinct and experience had taught her that the safest course of action when confronted by a wild animal was to stand perfectly still. So she remained motionless, her face a study in stone. And waited.
“When you come home tonight,” he said in the same tone of voice he would use when reading the newspaper, “I’m going to kill you.”
He had made all kinds of outrageous threats throughout the court mandated dates she had lived with him and his common law wife, but this time was different. It was the calmness in his tone that registered with her. His tiny weak-willed companion heard his words too, and, as usual, said nothing. She was living under his thumb, but Angie wasn’t. And this frustrated him beyond his ability to bear. He had to kill her. She asked for it.
Angie was tired. It had been a long day in school and there was no sign of her killer anywhere. And somewhere the cold air was rushing in. She started walking towards the kitchen. But something was wrong with the floor. It was squishy.
She squatted down to feel the surface of the shag carpet with the palm of her hand. It was wet. Everywhere.
A stream of light filtered through the window in the kitchen as Angie’s eyes adjusted to the dim light. She straightened up and looked around.
Without thinking, she picked up the phone and dialled 911. “Hello,” she began in a shaky voice. “My house is covered with blood and there are two bodies on the floor,” she said in a voice as steady as she could make it.”
“What’s your address,” the voice on the other end of the phone asked.
Angie gave it to them.
“Are you all right,” the dispatcher asked.
Angie though for a moment. Should she be hysterical? Start crying? Find a dry spot not saturated with blood and sit down. She took a deep breath. “Yes,” she answered calmly. “I’m okay. Please hurry.” She added that last line because she had heard it said many times on TV crime dramas. It seemed like an appropriate thing to say. Then she hung up the phone and smiled.
“Yes, I’m fine,” she said, turning to take in the blood-splattered living room. “Never felt better in my life.”