“Tell me who it was,” I say as I move a bit closer, holding the knife with both hands, barely keeping it together. I let the tears fall with no restraint, and no conscious consent either. “I want his name!” I raise my voice and even to my own ears it sounds violent and uncontrolled.
Jase stares straight ahead, ignoring me, not answering.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” The confession sounds strangled.
“You don’t have to,” he answers.
“Give me the name, Jase!”
“You’ll get yourself killed!” he yells back at me and the sound bellows from deep within him.
“You don’t understand what they did to her!” I scream at him, feeling the well of emotion filling my lungs. I remember the fear when she went missing. “She would text me every day when she woke up, regardless of what time that ended up being. Sometimes she forgot. But every day, there was at least one text…” I trail off, remembering how angry I’d been when she messaged last. She wouldn’t come back after I made her admit she had a problem. She refused to come back and get help. But she still messaged me every day. Until she didn’t.
“And then there was nothing,” I speak so softly, using what’s left inside of me as the tears fall freely down my face.
“For days and then weeks, there was nothing but fear and hope. And fear is what won. Every day she didn’t text me. The fear won.” As I try to regain my composure, I wipe haphazardly at my face and focus on breathing.
“I waited in silence for nothing. The first forty-eight hours, no one did anything at all,” I say and my words crack. “Why would they? She was reckless and headed down the wrong path.”
The knife is still in my hands, still pressed to his skin when I tell him, “I knew something terrible had happened to her, and I could do nothing. She was still alive then. I know she was. I remember thinking that. That she was still out there. That I could feel her.”
I’m brought back to my kitchen, crying on the floor, hating myself for pushing her away, regretting that I yelled at her, all alone and praying. Praying because God was the only one left to listen to me. Praying he could save her, because I couldn’t.
“I had no name. No one had a name for me. But you do.” I twist the knife just slightly, and suddenly feel it give, but I don’t dare look. I don’t look anywhere but into Jase’s eyes, even as he seethes in pain.
“Give me the name.”
“He’ll kill you, Bethany.” Sorrow etches his eyes and I know his answer already even before he says, “I won’t do that.”
I scream a wretched sound as I pull back the knife. It slices cleanly, so easily, leaving a bright red line in its path. Small and seemingly insignificant, but then blood pours from the wound and he bites back a sound of agony.
It’s bright red. And it doesn’t stop.
What have I done? Jase’s intake is staggered but he doesn’t show any other signs of pain.
“Fuck!” The word leaves me in a rush. “Jase,” I say, and his name is a prayer on my lips. “No,” I think out loud as my hand shakes and the knife drops to the floor. There’s so much blood. There’s so much soaking into the bed as it drips around his body.
It doesn’t stop.
“Jase,” I cry out his name as I ball up the bed sheets and press them to the laceration.
He breathes deep, staring at the ceiling. Silent, and ignoring me as I press more of the cotton linens to his chest, only for it to be soaked a half second later.
There’s so much blood.
“I’m sorry,” I utter as I rip the sheets out from under him, desperate to make it stop. “I’m so sorry.”
The blood soaks through the fabric within seconds, staining my hands.
Staring down at the blood that lines the creases of my palms, I take a step back and then another.
What have I done?
It’s like when you wake up from a nightmare. There’s a moment where it all feels real and then, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, reality comes back to you. The horror stays, the damage done, the terrors in your sleep lingering as you walk down the steps of your quiet house to get a drink of water. And sometimes those monsters stand behind you. You can still sense them, even when you know they’re not real.
That’s what this feels like as the slice on my chest rips agony through my body. Like I can’t get away from the ghosts in her eyes, even if she’s woken from her dream. Even if disbelief and regret are all she feels, all she sees, all she recognizes.