Michaela Crawford is a junior going into senior at Tennessee Tech University. She enjoys writing, at least she hopes she does, as she has a tattoo for it.
by Michaela Crawford
The blood surrounding my parents’ bodies reminded me of the punch I could
Red dye caused me to break out into hives, so my mother never let me drink what the other kids did. I was stuck with a nauseating color of blue while kids boasted about their scarlet covered teeth and tongues to their parents.
My color made me an outcast.
“Mommy?” I called out, my steady voice shattering the silence. “Daddy?” Neither body stirred. They just laid there, and I could see their eyes still open in shock with a slight glaze that death always brings from my crack in the door. My parents looked like something to be admired, designed on the floor like my dolls I put in place every night before bed.
I was in the wardrobe I took escape in when the person responsible for my parents’ death decided to take flight, more than likely searching for me. The serene darkness of the inside made my memories of the past hour reel by me like I was watching myself in a movie.
I get out of bed and walk down the stairs, hearing muffled yelling. A cut to me slowly crawling into the wardrobe in the dining room, facing the living room where my parents stood. Watching them argue with someone who’s sitting down on the couch, face too out of focus to make out.
Two gunshots. Two bodies. One culprit, leaving the scene.
I crawled out of the wardrobe. If someone had asked me in my class, “What would you do if your parents were shot in front of you?”, I would have said what any normal person would: crying, screaming, begging for some God to take them back. Yet I just stood, admiring how the blood near my father’s collarbones made a heart, and how my mother’s usually neat braids with patterned orange and blues scattered and matted with red. It was almost like the murderer posed them to look like this, leaving a beautiful mural for the police to stare at and dissect.
Taking a deep breath, I walked around the bodies into the kitchen, where our phone sat patiently for me, the cord slightly swinging back and forth. I stood on my tiptoes and grabbed the phone, dialing 911.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“My name is Angel Del Marco. My parents were shot and I’m pretty sure they’re dead...”
“Oh dear, okay, stay calm okay? Can you give me your address?”
I gave the lady our address, rattling off the numbers and street names that didn’t make any sense to me at that time. My mother made me memorize things like this in case I got kidnapped or lost and needed to call them.
“Memorize it, okay Angel?” My mother said, bending down to make eye contact with me. My mother never thought that she as a parent was above her child. I remember my classmates complaining that they couldn’t do a certain thing because their parents said so, but my mother would always just tell me when something that I wanted to do would destroy my insides or shatter my femur. I was the only one in class for years who never broke a bone.
“Alright, I’ve contacted the police, they should be on their way. Just wait there until they come to your door. Don’t touch anything, okay? You’ll be okay.”
“Yes ma’am. I’m the only one here, so I’ll just be on the couch. There’s no blood on the couch.” There was a pause.
“Um, good idea. We’ll be right there.” She hung up, leaving me with the dial tone. I put the phone back on the receiver, watching my sock clad feet snuffle across the hardwood floor as I walked back. I had a moment’s thought of annoyance about the criminal’s complete disregard of the carpet.
The hardwood would have been easier to get rid of blood.
Instead of the couch, I sat in between my parent’s bloodied heads, forming a triangle. My knees barely brushed their scalps, getting some blood on my pink and purple plaid pj pants. It doesn’t feel like this happened just an hour ago. I could still feel my mother’s kiss on my head as she found me asleep in my bed. My heart throbbed, but just for a moment. The blood was too pretty for me to cry and somehow ruin it.
Speaking of blood.
I stared down at the red mass slowly seeping towards me, as if luring me. It was rich and dark, adding mahogany colors to the otherwise black-brown wood floor. If I peered closer, I could almost see pictures in the different shades. Clouds of blood cells were shifting and forming many shapes for me to try and figure out what picture they were creating. I could also see my reflection in the blood.
Two buns adorned my hair as I always hated when it was down. “Is that your natural hair?” People always asked me, reaching out to paw at my hair like I was there to be a petting zoo. “That’s awesome!” I would always scoff, as this style was the only way I could stay in school. If they only knew.
My father always described my skin as the color of Pepsi Cola, which I despised as a child. Why would I want to be associated with the color of something that’s incredibly bad for you and can destroy your insides if you even took a sip? Seeing my friends debate Coke vs. Pepsi didn’t help either.
Coke always won in the end here.
I stared into my own eyes, seeing the irises grow from dilation and I cocked my head a little. The blood swirled around my hair, almost smoothing out the frizz and forming a crown on my head. You are the superior one, each combined cell of my parents whispered to me. You lived. There must be a reason. My mouth opened a little, and before I knew it, I dipped my hand into the blood.
It was still warm. It felt as if I dunked my hand in bath water. Blood ran down my hand and arm when I finally pulled it out, adding crimson drips to the edge of my shirt sleeves. The color of my skin blended in with the dark of the blood, making it look black. The only part that was red was on the palm of my hands, making me smile a little bit.
Cherry Pepsi Cola.
I stuck my other hand in, feeling consumed with curiosity. The blood made me feel warm, like my body was cold and empty and I didn’t have any blood of my own. I wanted to be whole, somehow. I wrapped my bloodied hands around my neck, letting the blood decorate my clothes like paint. A bloodbath in more ways than one was happening here, and I didn’t find it gross or morbid. It was a new beginning, like baptizing a baby when they’re born to save them. I was washing my sins with the sins of another.
My chest burst and I started laughing, throwing my head back and covering my face with the dark elixir. My parents were gone. I had no support, no one to watch me and take care of me. They never told me about any aunts or uncles or cousins or grandparents. It was always the three of us, and now the trio’s down to one. I would be sent off to an orphanage or a foster home, and my name would be nothing but a memory.
A memory of hot summers with waves of heat distorting my vision in parking lots as I went to festivals and birthday parties against my will, my mother wanting to fit in with the other mothers and become their friend instead of their neighbor. A memory of the cold drink held in my hand, so cold it almost branded me leaning against a tree in the shade, wanting to be away. I saw a girl run up to me, a smile on her face.
“Wanna play tag? We need one more person to play!” She said, her two front teeth missing so her ses changed into ths. I blinked at her, clearly confused at the sign of friendship. The kids made it very clear I was to stay away. Kids were brutally honest, and didn’t start insulting me behind my back until middle school.
“Are you new?” I asked bluntly, seeing her smile fade a bit. “I suggest you stay away from me. For your own good.”
“But—” She started, when a snide voice called out to her.
“She can’t play. My pops says that black people run so quickly, she’d just beat all of us. We gotta play fair here,” The main boy said, a smirk on his face and a cock in his hip. The girl glanced at her company then back at me, then slowly walked away, leaving me alone.
He smiled, and I could see the red adorning his cheeks and tongue, like a sign of a threat to me.
You will never be like us.
I focused on the blood on my fingers, twisting and turning the digits around to admire it from all angles. It was pretty in the shitty light of my living room, a dull shine filling the blood to make it shine. I raised my hand above my head, letting droplets fall onto my face. I closed my eyes, feeling peace.
“This is the police! Open up!”
I opened my eyes and stared at the door as the police tried to open it. I could picture all my neighbors surrounding the street in fake pity, just wanting to know the gossip of the town, readying their mouths and ears to spread that the Del Marco family got tragically murdered in a house robbery and there was only one survivor and it was their freak daughter with a red dye allergy and ice eyes.
I smiled wider, raising my hand once more and closing my eyes. At the same I opened my mouth, letting the blood fall into my mouth. I expected to taste iron, a bitter metallic taste that made me shudder and never want to do what I just did ever again.
Instead I got something different.
My door slammed open, policemen pouring into my house like a colony of rats in a kitchen, surrounding me in confusion.
“Are you Angel Del Marco?” One policeman asked, his flashlight on me and showing the blood that covered my body and my face. He looked confused and slightly disturbed.
“I was sitting on the couch and I accidentally stumbled and fell trying to get to the door,” I lied, adding a tremor into my voice for added effect. He nodded.
“If you don’t mind coming with us, we need to examine your parents and get you cleaned up.” I let them raise me up and put a blanket on me. I smacked my lips together, trying to recall the flavor I tasted.
I giggled, causing one policeman to gaze curiously at me.
“Fruit punch,” I said mysteriously, laughing still as we walked out of my house. It was humid, and the blood clung to me like sweat. “It tastes like fruit punch.”
The policeman obviously didn’t get the significance of my statement and made me keep walking, gently placing me in a police car. I curled up in the blanket, watching with a smile on my face as they took my parents out in a body bag and put caution tape around my house, leaving it in the police’s hands. I kept licking my fingers, wanting to taste it again.
Finally, a red dye that I could consume.