Somebody said you disappeared in a crowd
The concept of no witnesses was not something that was so foreign, and while it wasn't the same thing, she could remember conversations with people in the quiet about 'putting someone down' and she could remember the hurt and the shock written all over the faces and how it was said to her in no uncertain terms that it was a last resort. and that term, phrase, last resort, it felt like it'd been marked out on the inside of her meat and bones, if she paid attention. if she paid attention to how she kept the world at arm's length - even when she loved something, how it never made it all the way through, how it unlikely it was that it ever would.

October had been running on empty for the past few years, this one wasn't any sort of exception. the nights felt like they might have been rolled up and moved across state lines while she laid there, looking up at her ceiling, remembering things like last resorts and respect and the times she could count on her hands that she'd been a monster. There had been the time when she had dragged a girl by the hair at an end of year party when she was a girl. It was a heavy smelling summer and she could remember the thick texture of the other girl's hair, slick with spray in conditioner and she smelled like a popstar, or what she imagined a popstar to smell like, sweet and like she wouldn't ever sweat save for the bare spots on her temples, wrists and when she was fucking someone that she'd care about in a disposable way. She could still feel the little rocks under her trainers, dug into the ground when she tugged and grabbed and bruised the girl that smelled like she was a star.

The girl had dark, dark eyes there in the new night and the reason her hands had been buried in her scalp was just as present as it had ever been, the nagging, ugly feel in her throat she would never be in that place, those other tentative hands that were warm and brushed her hair out of her face when she'd been stood right there - in the open and knowing that she had been all these beautiful things. She could still feel the hot red-face she had when she had finally left, the rise of the bile when she'd heard the girl with the dark honey eyes and a rainbow oil-slick talk to her friends there about maths,about music and she knew about that girl's father and what he did and how that the whole family should be moved somewhere else and how her dad was disgusting and too old for his wife. And she could hear her voice, small and young like it was then that she agreed. they should have. he wasn't vocal about the things that happened, her mother took a little too much pride in the fact, the scars that he didn't have and where they should have been, she heard about them when she was supposed to be asleep. They did things, dirty things, things that were mean and blue (generally people thought of things like that in terms of red and black, but black things were dead and red things were fresh and could, theoretically, heal. blue was stuck in the middle, the meat under the skin and the fat reacting with something heavy and hard and mean, there were worse things than red or black, if anybody wanted to ask her). The words were all stuck there with her on her bed, still and quiet with the air flirting with the idea of filling her lungs up again. she'd left the party after her fist connected with the beautiful angled nose of the girl that smelled like warm sugar and silver polish. she could still feel the things breaking under her hand after all this time.

What she couldn't really recall was when she had gotten back through the upstairs, through the guest bathroom's tiny window near the big tree that her mother kept threatening to cut down every single summer that they'd lived there (allegedly lived there, of course) quiet through the hall near her mother's bedroom and then the same sick crack of someone's bones (skull) meeting something unkind and unmoving, and so much louder than what she'd just heard. all through the house on the inside none of it slipped out from the walls to the trees and the fresh cut grass, it chimed off the walls and through her head and stayed locked up in the walls of her thoughts, there were other things there, too. worse things, but they weren't in places she could readily see. The way that bone and living meat rips and cries when it's got questions to answer and drink to drink, cold dinner waiting to be warmed over for when these visits were done and over with. Somewhere, somewhere her mother's voice rolls an accent out that she doesn't like, it sounds cold and unlike the rest of the women who had children her age [ are you sure she's at that party, Ivanushka? Are you sure she's asleep, are you sure you have to be here first, are you sure about the smell are you sure--] Natalia liad in the bed and struggled to latch her fingernails into the thoughts - she was good at secrets and smiling and in the odd case, reassurance. She was bad at tempers, delegating duty and not having someone to report to, and remembering the right way. She was good at dancing. She was good at being home. She was so bad at remembering.

All the kids were getting out of school for their winter breaks and there was new snow and she was ten, maybe ten, in rust colored thermal tights and an itchy black woolen coat with a hat. She was ten and hiding behind a dumpster on a side street near the school and she had numb fingers from being there since the night before -- but she had to remember the car and the fake plates and the whore on the second floor that was right on time with when she hung her stockings out of the window - he was going to come down the stairs any minute now, he would be there and her little hands were red with the stiff cold and it would be easy, it would be easy if she didn't get ahead of herself or think she was good at what she was trained to do.

He was tall and thick in the chest, married with careful dark hair parted to one side and a brown and mustard coat on - and there he was, there he was in the crowd of cars with relatives picking up their nieces and nephews and cousins and babies and talking about church and grades and apples and who was in the front of the line to go to assembly and if anyone chased their little girl on the playground - and it was so loud and so busy.

she whimpered and shook, loud enough to gain attention there with the sleep in her eyes and the end of her nose chapped and awful, her little black shoes caked in wet awful dirt from the city streets and tiny little drops from the snowflakes that were starting to fall on her eyelashes, and he came - of course he would come, concerned and confused [what happened, sweetheart?] -- Natalia's accent was all but gone as she sniffled and pretended to not try to cry, the tears large and wet and shaky at the man's shoulder as he'd picked her up like he was going to take her somewhere warm. One littel arm around his neck to the back and one at his ribs where her little hand held a small, sharp knife that went through the meat and between the bones. She jabbed in harder the second time, to make sure, up and to the angle to just nick the end of his lung - at first the confusion, not dropping her immediately but soon after trying (and succeeding) biting her shoulder through the tough fabric (she'd still have the scar for some years, until she was old enough, anyway), holding his hand to the quickly soaking through spot on his shirt - nearly ready to start screaming bloody murder when she looked at him with her head tilted, slitting his throat deep from side to side. It was time to go, leaving him there bleeding out on a side street in his nice new jacket with his wedding ring and his parted hair and the faint smell of cheap perfume that was still wafting through the air. Politicians were like that, she was pretty sure, anyway. Or that's what they told her. Of course, he hadn't always a politician.

She stayed there, close and watched longer than she should have. She watched the world buzz around while he gurgled and gasped at the air that wouldn't come. It was noisy and it didn't stop, the day, the hour, the people picking up other people, hurrying down the streets in their new cars and vacation days while she was sticky and started to smell like fresh death.

Natalia laid in bed and remembered the party, she remembered how love smelled and how love was different for everyone, she couldn't remember more things than she was ever willing to admit to. Arguably, it was better to forget anyway. Forgetting made room for everything else.