by Holly Rae Garcia
I was placing edge pieces for a puzzle when it happened. Three thumps in my parent’s bedroom, then the sound of glass breaking, and a scream. It was odd, since my parents weren’t home and my older sister had gone down the road to visit her friend Becky. She was supposed to be babysitting me, but we both knew I wasn’t the one who needed watching.
Footsteps dashed around the outside of our home and stopped at our front door, where a hand fumbled with the lock and my sister’s voice screamed. Someone was with her, their frantic sobs permeated the wooden door and floated around me as I remained seated on the floor with a handful of puzzle pieces, frozen.
I watched the door until her key found its place and she flung it open. She hollered at me as she ran by without a glance, her eyes on the phone hanging in the kitchen. Becky followed close behind her, her face contorted with pain and gasping for air around her cries. In her left hand lay her right forearm. Still attached, of course, but covered in blood and dripping a pathway behind her that would make Hansel and Gretel jealous. No woodland creatures to eat that up. Mother would be scrubbing it out of the carpet for a week.
I listened to my sister call for an ambulance while I placed two more edge pieces. Becky held a dish towel to her wrist and stared at me. I think she stared, I only looked up from my puzzle a couple of times. I never really cared for Becky.
By the time the ambulance arrived, I had completed the edges and moved on to the fence in the picture. With straight wooden lines, the pieces stood out easily from the bits of horse and pasture cluttering the top of the coffee table next to me. It’s good to get those out of the way first. Save the hardest for last.
I assumed my sister rode in the ambulance, since they both ran to the front porch together and no one came back through the door until my parents came home. I had finished the puzzle by then and was laying on the couch watching television.
Mom took one look at the blood on the floor and ran over to me, inspecting my eight-year-old body for injuries. I told her I was fine, that it was Becky who had dotted her mauve carpeting. After a quick recap, she used our landline to call the hospital.
Dad went to their bedroom to remove his dancing boots and red-embroidered shirt. I asked him once, why his shirts had snaps and mom’s had buttons. He said because when the ladies ripped his clothes off, mom wouldn’t have to sew the buttons back on. Mom didn’t like that.
He yelled out that there was a hole in their window. I shook my head knowingly. That was the sound. The glass breaking earlier, back before I had the edges completed.
Mom hung up the phone and joined dad in their bedroom to survey the damage. Blood-splattered glass littered the top of their bed and mosquitos made their way lazily through the gaping hole in the window. Their voices grew as they walked down the hall toward me.
“They were trying to scare you, banging on the window. But Becky hit a little too hard and her wrist went through the glass.” Mom turned to dad, “I told you that glass was thin, doesn’t insulate for shit, either. We need new windows.”
Dad ignored her, “Toot, were you scared?”
I hated and loved when he called me that.
Shaking my head, I proudly gestured to the glued-together puzzle on the coffee table. Beads of Elmer’s followed the trail from the puzzle to the bottle, imitating the drops of blood from our front door to the kitchen.
We never did get that new carpet.
Holly Rae Garcia is the author of Come Join the Murder and The Easton Falls Massacre: Bigfoot’s Revenge. Her shorter work has appeared in multiple places online and in print. Holly lives on the Texas Coast with her family and five large dogs. www.HollyRaeGarcia.com