Not Yethttps://i2.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/walkerevans.jpg?fit=1618%2C1080&ssl=116181080Kate MaruyamaKate Maruyamahttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/katemaruyama.png?fit=96%2C96&ssl=1
Not yet. I have years left, I have plans.
Hell, I’ve got arroz con pollo on simmer and the kids’ homework to finish. Jamie can manage his history this afternoon, but Becky needs big help with grammar.
I just stepped out for some eggs when he caught me in the alley.
This was my fault. I wasn’t paying attention when his arm went around my throat. I tried a back kick, an elbow to the ribs, I tried to turn to face him. But I couldn’t move. I visualized a knee strike to his head—but apparently all of those years watching my boy do karate and jujitsu didn’t pay off, because I blacked out.
And there you were, your scythe so shiny and all, your face so unseeable. I didn’t understand at first until you pointed like you do in the movies. And there I was, limp, throat slit, body hoisted into a white van—a little grateful, I suppose that this was a dude who dug cadavers—that he didn’t like doing things to live women.
So glad I read all of those serial killer books in my twenties. Fat lot of good it does me now.
But with dinner on the stove and I told Jerry I’d be back in ten minutes and he was never any good at helping the kids with homework. It would take too long, or he’d explain in complicated roundabout logarithms. Becky’s only in fourth grade for chrissake. They’d all probably forget there was anything on the stove until it burned.
When will they find out? Will they think I left them?
I wonder if this guy dumps his bodies, or disposes of all evidence. I hope he’s the tidy type, because if he’s a dumper, they’ll know it was murder. According to shrinks, losing a parent to murder in childhood is a surefire way to be 100% fucked up.
Great. All because I didn’t look, because I wasn’t careful. I had always been so cautious, I knew the M.O.: middle-aged white guys alone in alleys? Give them wide berth. But my mind was on other things. Specifically, how I was going to tell Jerry about the $280 charge on the credit card for when the car got towed. It was dumping rain, I couldn’t see the signs.
Look, amorphous black wispy friend, can we talk about this? Can you give me another chance? Maybe I can slip out of the van while he’s driving and maybe they can find me on the side of the road. Sew up the slit in my neck, give me some blood and voila!
I think having your mom almost murdered brings down the fucked-uppedness by at least 50%. I’ll be a mom with 50% fucked-up kids and a terrific scar and I can help my boy get through his sixth-grade trimester tests.
So let me wake up. Even if he wants to do more things with me. Even if I have to fight free after whatever he’s got lined up.
Kate Maruyama’s novel Harrowgate was published by 47North. Her short work has appeared in numerous print and online journals and magazines as well as in three anthologies. She writes, teaches, cooks, and eats in Los Angeles, where she lives with her family.