• Khushi Nair

The perfect picture

“Mom please…don’t do this. Ma it hurts! Please!”


“Keep your mouth shut and hold still! Do as I tell you and I will let you sleep in your bedroom tonight.”


“NO PLEASE DON’T”


This is the 9th day in a row that I have woken up in a cold sweat. I lift my shirt and for the billionth time in 15 years poke at the dark wounds as the sound of the whip falling on my back, fills my ears. 15 years and I can still smell the dampness of my childhood home’s basement. 15 years and I still feel lightheaded when I picture myself hanging from those chains while my mother got her way with me. 15 years.


My chest tightens, I can almost see the walls closing in on me through the tears. I drag myself to the open window trying to catch my breath. As if things weren’t bad enough, through the window I saw my neighbor park her car in her driveway and make her way into her house.

I can feel my face becoming hot. She has never said a mean word to me, but I hate her only because of the stark resemblance she shares with my mother. The same brown hair, the same nose, the same hazel eyes. I have tried to avoid her at all costs but today was different. Today something told me that I needed to go to her house. To be as physically close to her as possible. The urge was strong. My vision became blurry. My nose started bleeding.


I only realized where I was when I felt the pain in my head and right shoulder. I opened my eyes to find myself in my neighbor's destroyed bedroom. Lampshades were fallen over, blood on the carpet and bed, the bloody belt wrapped around my hand. I could hear my heart beating in my ears. I forced myself to sit up straight in the corner I was in and rubbed my hands over my face. My hands fell limp to my side when I saw it.


My neighbor, hanging from the ceiling in her own bedsheets as if she were on a makeshift swing. Her hair, wet with blood, fell over her face. What felt odd at the moment was not that I had killed that woman in the horrific way that I did, what felt odd was the realization that I am much stronger than I thought. I was always considered small and weak, but what small person would have the strength to kill a woman, hammer sheets into the ceiling, and place her there? I know I should have been afraid then, but I felt proud. I felt proud in my newfound strength and in the tortured face that resembled my mother's. If I looked a certain way, I could see my mother there instead of her. I stood there and stared till I felt the burn of the morning sun on my face at which point I went home, cleaned myself, and left the house to go about my work.


By evening the police had taken her body away and every time I saw her photograph on the television of the store as I walked through the aisles, I closed my eyes and pictured her sitting on her little swing, dripping blood all over the floor like I once had. The sight of her dress slowly soaking in the blood calmed me.


As I was packing my groceries into my car, I saw a woman park hers next to mine and walk carelessly into the store. My heart raced again. Brown hair, brown eyes. I smiled at the thought of reliving the exhilaration that I felt the previous night. I waited in the car till I saw her return and then followed her out back to wherever she was going. I watched as she carried only a box of popcorn with her and used her keys to open the door to a completely dark house. She was alone. Perfect.


I closed my eyes and pictured her in the same way I last saw my neighbor. My breath quickened and my nose started bleeding. When I woke up again, I was in the corner, my belt in my hand. I allowed myself to let out a little giggle before I looked up at the wall next to me. I did it. I managed to pull this off again. I was so happy with what I had done I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. I kept staring at her, long after the laughter died down. I could see my mother closer in her than the other one. I wanted to capture this image. I ran to the car and brought my notebook and pencil, it’s all I had and started drawing what I saw. I have never been a good artist, but this was my masterpiece, and I was proud of it. For the first time in 15 years, I felt calm. I drew my picture in peace and left the house relaxed.


Now that I am back home and cleaned, I truly understood how much closer I am to getting back at my mother. I may not know where she is, but I find a little piece of her in these women.


I know the police are going to find me soon, my fingerprints are all over the place, but before they do, I want to find as many pieces of her as I can. I want to drench those pieces in blood. I want to draw the perfect picture. But for now, I want a good night’s sleep.


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