I know that this will happen because I have been meticulous in my planning. I know he will be alone and I know he will be on time—the bus schedule demands punctuality. He rides the bus though his Honda Civic sits unused in the driveway. He is no longer allowed to drive that or any other car. Not since that night two years ago when the streets were dark and slick and his senses had been dimmed by consumption of too much … too much everything. He is too much. A boy—no, a man—who has too much, demands too much. He takes too much for granted. He has taken too much from me.
Across the road, I take in the view that hangs as the backdrop of their lives. The lake, pale blue; the forests, soon to be green again; and the sky that hangs serenely above it. The highway—always congested with transport trucks—and the train tracks, invisible unless you know they are there. They are the closest these people will come to connecting with the blue collar soul of this industrial city. They don’t know us, the people who make up the backbone of their home. That we collided at all was an accident, one they would sooner forget. An accident that is never out of my thoughts.
My feet crunch through the detritus of winter, the white salt crystals snap under my heavy tread. I walk with steps that echo a confidence my heart does not feel. I want my feet and my legs to lend their strength to the rest of me. I want the strong rhythm of my gait—a rhythm which suggests determination—to hide that I am a weak creature. Today I need to belie that weakness, to find a strength that typically evades me.
The white Tesla sails smoothly and silently past me and I avert my eyes, as I do every Tuesday morning. My face would be recognizable to the woman driving. It would be alarming for her to see me here, since she has left me behind. My face should only occupy the space in her memories that she would rather not look at. I should remain in the courtroom where we once sat on opposite sides. We fought—ferocious as mother bears—arguing for the judge, desperate for his agreement. We fought for our young.
I quicken my pace as I approach the house that the Tesla has just pulled away from, and my palms sweat with anticipation over what I am about to do. I picture it in my head, though I know the scene is all wrong—it is fiction. The weight of the bat in my hand is too easy, the crack it makes when it connects is a cartoon version of the sound I expect to hear. In reality, the sound will not be the sharp crack of the crust of crème brulè as it fractures under my spoon. It will be the flat thud of raspberry pie fallen to the floor, a wet sound, anticlimactic. A sound I heard once that told me something I loved had been irreparably broken. I know the sticky red syrup that I picture spilling across the asphalt is also wrong. It is nothing like the the dark black blood that I remember seeping into the snow as her body turned cold.
The door opens and the boy—no, the man—appears. He fusses with the keys. He has cut his hair since I watched him cry by the side of the road as my daughter died. It was even longer when he pled his case, begged for leniency because he had so much potential and he felt remorse, and he still had his whole life ahead of him. My daughter does not.
His keys drop into the slush and he bends to retrieve them, cursing under his breath.
I grip the handle of my bat firmly as I walk forward. I hear the crunch of the salt under my boots. Snapping and cracking.
He must hear the sound too, for he looks up, right into my eyes. There is a moment of recognition. There is a moment of confusion. There is no time for fear as I bring my bat down against his skull. He does not cry out. He does not fight back. I am strong, and my aim is good. He stumbles as I raise the bat and bring it down again. This time the impact knocks him to the ground. I raise my bat again. And again.
There is no blood.
There is only a broken man—once a boy—and an irreparable woman—once a mother—on a salt-bleached stretch of sidewalk, wrapped in cruel memories—wrapped in cold March wind.
Photograph and Story by: Sarah Scott