She was too late.
Closing her eyes, she feels a hand on hers.
“I ended it. No more. I ended it.”
She squeezes her sister’s hand and pulls her to her chest, smoothing her hair, kissing her forehead. She can feel a stream of sweat running down the back of her neck, so she wipes it off with her bare hand. Her sister’s weak, tired arms rest on the floor, her fingers gently caress a drop of blood, still fresh and wet. She’s not ready to let go of her sister and so she just hangs on a little while longer.
“You were too late.”
“I know. I’m sorry. God, I should have been here, but I wasn’t and I am so. so. sorry.”
She lets go of her and sits back against the cupboards. With her head down, she looks at her own hands. Her shaking, blood streaked hands. It makes her sick knowing that some of the blood is her sister’s and some of the blood is his. Perfectly blended, there’s no telling where hers ends and his begins.
“We’ve got to go, you know. We can’t stay here.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
Even after death, she can’t leave him. He berated her and called her vile names and she couldn’t leave him. He betrayed her and cheated on her and she couldn’t leave. He punched her and kicked her and threw her against the wall and still she stayed.
“We have to leave, J. You have to leave. NOW. This man was shitty to you and deserved this. Hell, if you hadn’t done it I had my gun cocked and ready. And now it’s done. He’s dead. He’s dead and you killed him and I am so grateful that you finally got the courage to do something, but we have to go. Because even if this was the right thing for you to do, not everyone is going to think so. They’re going to think you had another choice. And even though I know you didn’t – God how you didn’t – I’m not the person you need to worry about. We need to get up off this floor, clean ourselves up – especially you – and we need to go. I’m sorry. You can’t not do this.”
“I’m not leaving. I can’t. I ended it and that’s enough.”
“No. It’s not.”
For the first time since she got there, she looks over to him. At first she can’t bear to focus her gaze. She just points her face toward his body and stares. She’s imagined him laying in that very position so many times but always believed she’d see her sister like that first before him. She believed one day she’d get that sick feeling of fear in the pit of her stomach like she did today, but she’d be too far away to get here on time and it would be too late for her sister. Or she thought maybe one day he’d skip all the violent foreplay and get right to hurting her for keeps, without any warning. But her sister stood up for herself this time. He can’t hurt her now.
She lets her eyes focus. She sees a man twice her sister’s size, laying on his back, his dark, cold eyes open to the ceiling. She sees his bruised and bloodied knuckles and she wants to kill him all over again. She sees the floor around him that is scarred and marked by the struggle he and her sister had.
She also sees what is beside him and she freezes. A gleam from the blade of a knife by his hip. She can’t swallow. Her throat tightens and her heart skips a beat. She slowly turns to look at her sister with desperate, begging eyes.
“I’m sorry. I … he … I think I was too late.”
She pulls her sister to her, frantically searching for what she is hoping she won’t find. But there it is. Her back, below her ribs, she feels the telling warm, stickiness of blood, fresh and weeping. She feels her sister get weaker in her arms. She feels part of herself draining from her, slowly slipping away and she knows there’s nothing she can hold on to.
Her sister, her life, is gone.
She was too late.