i wanted to cut her open and see what her insides looked like, all beating simultaneously and vigorously, all frothing with life.
i think what made me want her the most was her hair. sometimes dirty, sometimes gold. but always silk. i watched it tag behind her that one sunday, like the sun, as she rode her bicycle past my house on speedy wheels.
good morning, Mr.Kettle.
i did not see more than a flash of Caroline Wise, but it was all i needed to make her my next. my chair called for her name; the chains hung with the remains of the old. i patted their cries and promised not too long.
the coming summer months brought a breeze of staying at home alone and TV time for Mr. Kettle. Mrs. Wise would leave the house at exactly nine o'clock every morning, i made sure of it, and i watched as Caroline watched the the telly and played silly games on the laptop. sometimes she would take to the pool, and she and her little structure would slip out in her shiny two-piece suit, swaying her long golden ropes of hair. She'd jump in and let the water eat her sixteen-years-young figure and i would be gone, rocking in my chair, wishing she was in it and all over me.
we were yards away but somehow i always felt closer.
Caroline is different. Not like the others, no.
"Do you need help there, Mr. Kettle?"
She leaned over the hedge that parted our yards, hair dangling over the green and staring at me with eager eyes. i held the hedge trimmers in my hands and stared back.
Caroline's strands radiated like the beams from the sun and no matter how much you would try to avoid it, it was always there, bleeding on your skin until it sunk into you like honey. sticky, relentless honey.
and i wanted to cut it all off.
on the 6th of july, five days before i would have Caroline tied to my chair and her beating blonde in my hands, i woke to the raspy cry of her mother. it entered my bedroom like a rude guest, and i walked downstairs to the front lawn so i could silence her like an alarm (or a before dinner treat).
her hands were reaching for me and she was screaming.
monster, you fucking monster. my carolinayoufuckingmonster.
she bent her tiny, ancient figure over the hedge; hair dangling like a spilled ashtray (not much like Caroline's). she breathed my name with vile and snarled her lips. it surprised me, but not too much. i shifted my stance.
two police officers held her hands to her back as she pulled her figure closer to me, screaming, eating the newly trimmed hedge. i wanted to smack her and tell her to not touch Caroline's things, but i resisted. she persisted.
soon a police man had her on her chest and she was wailing. i came closer and poked myself over her hedge, thinking somewhere in the back little bitch. they took her off to a car flashing red-and-blue.
a police officer approached me and i soon got the notion i should neighborly ask him what happened.
they found her in the pool.
did she drown?
too much blood.
before the police man could touch me i was above the hedge, making my way to the Wise back yard. i passed the yellow caution tape and several officers, and opened the gates.
and there she was.
all of her, golden, spread out like butter. she touched the pool's bottom and the tree tops. even the sliding door i watched her, since May, open and close, hair alive with sun. now her beauty was ripped open like a present before christmas and she was everywhere, fucking everywhere.
there is a police man pulling me out of thickness. i don't see much but red. thickness and red. he pulls me out, pounds my chest. little bits of Caroline and hair sputter everywhere and the man is patting me.
you'll be okay.
three men carry me to the Wise kitchen table and there is a towel over me. beside me in an island stool chair sits an old man, probably forty, in front of another officer with a clip-board and notes. the man has sweet eyes and a smile that hides behind sullen words.
didn't like her much.
"you were close to Caroline?"
the same police officer that carried me in stares at me. half of him is empathetic and sorry. the other is confused. probably didn't like the fact that a forty-year-old man jumped into the remains of a sixteen-year-old.
"we were close neighbors. she was like a daughter. close in that way, i guess. very nice girl."
he nods and continues to stare.
"how often did you see Caroline out of the house? did you make contact with her?"
i swallowed my growing confusion and answered, like a good neighbor would.
"sometimes. only when the mother was out."
i leave out the part about everyday and exactly at nine.
the police officer in front of the man stands, and both police officers nod to both of us, reassuring they will be right back in. they make their way to the pool, and through a window i watch as they both squat beside a mingled red loaf of life. on the insides i feel myself scream.
people touching Caroline's things.
the man in the stool prods me with his knuckle. i look at him, unsure of who he is or what he wants.
and then he speaks.
did you know Caroline?
he is more than curious. cautious as he watches me, and i watch him. his voice is like that of Caroline's, sweet and tender, and immediately i know.
you must be her father.
he smiles. his eyes do too, like it is a medal to wear, and he wipes his eyes.
haven't seen her in years.
i don't speak.
been missing since she was twelve.
i listen, ears slowly collapsing on themselves.
killed by her mother.
and i watch as they carry her mangled body in a black bag, from the back and around the house, probably to the hospital truck and to the morgue. there they will cut her open-- or, in this case, put her back, piece by piece until she is what she was: golden, naked and alive; hair dangling below the earth.