The first time she noticed you was the day you were ambling through the mall. You didn’t notice her and you should have. She had just ended her previous relationship and was ready to start a new one. You were strolling along with friends when one shoved you and you bumped into her. You looked down at her, muttered sorry and kept going. She felt an instant connection to you and followed you to your college.
The last day of your life, she watches you from the shade of a tree as you stand talking with your friends at the fountain. You are enjoying the first flushes of autumn. The wind is stirring the fallen leaves while the bushes sway against each other. You almost see her, but just as you turn your head to the wind you close your eyes. She watches as the breeze ruffles your hair and kisses your eyes, nose, and lips. She is jealous of the wind. She wants to kiss.
Every day the same routine; you always ran for an hour, starting just before dusk; so that by the time you emerged from the woods it was full dark. You always took the same route. She knew this because she always watched you. But unlike you, she varied her routine. She watched you from across the street of your residence hall, from the parking garage overlooking your hall, and at the gazebo in the park. Once, she’d been timing you when you started past her at the gazebo. She’d just looked up from jotting down the time in her notebook when you said hi. She blossomed, felt the cold flames burst out of her core and through her body, and she thought maybe you’d finally seen her, but the bouncy breasts of the blond running past you caught your eye and you glanced back to watch her retreating ass. You shouldn’t have done that. It just pissed her off.
The last night of your life, you step out your residence hall, do a few leg stretches, adjust your iPhone settings, secure it to your bicep, and take off. You start off slow, going south down to the tennis courts, cross at the four lane street then down toward the park. You jog through the parking lot, into the park, and past the gazebo. There are always one or two people sitting there hanging out, talking, even doing homework.
The pecans on the ground make a pleasant cracking sound under your Nikes as you run toward the path. You run across the newly installed red iron bridge and onto the red-sand dirt path. The rocks and chunks of red sand crunch under your feet as you head toward the trees. Few joggers come through these woods at night. It’s “too dark” and “too dangerous.” You’d rolled your eyes. If it got too dark, you could use the flashlight app on your phone to see the way. As for it being too dangerous, well you’re a guy. Nothing happens to guys, just girls running in the woods at night.
The retreating sun is at your back as you start into the cool woods, following the Lanana creek that runs parallel and some eight feet below you. Due to the heavy summer rains, the water has risen and is flowing in a rush, racing with you. You almost think of turning your music off in order to enjoy the night sounds, but your favorite song is playing. It’s lucky for her that you don’t turn off the iPhone. It’s not so lucky for you. You run past the clearing in the woods and think as you always do, “that’d be a great place to party.” It’s a good sized clearing, slightly back from the path, with overhanging trees. You could spread out a blanket, have a few drinks, maybe some snacks, and sex. Definitely sex. You’d love to have a pretty girl ride you under the canopy of the trees with the flickering stars peeking through the leaves. She agrees with you. You think you glimpse something in the clearing right at the tree line, but when you look again there’s nothing. It’s probably just a raccoon or possum. You should have paid closer attention. You could have caught her watching you, but you just ran past.
You move up the path, climbing the hills with practiced ease. As you emerge from the woods to the street, you stop and jog in place. You think about running across the street and continue your run through the woods across from you. You look up and note the clouds set against the fading sky and decide against it. It would be too dark and your phone just beeped. It’s low on battery. You turn around and head back.
The night is closing in, the smell of rain is in the air, and the wind has begun to blow harder. There’s a roll of thunder and a flash of lightning. You shiver as the wind hits your sweaty skin and your lungs fill with the sharp air. You want to run faster, to get to your warm room, take a shower, watch some TV, maybe make a booty call to one of your girls. It’d be nice to share the first night of fall with a warm curvy girl. You’re smiling when you spot her in the clearing.
She’s sitting, holding her ankle when she sees you. Her body tenses. You pull your ear buds out, tell her you won’t hurt her, and ask her if she’s okay. She’s hurt her ankle and has left her phone at home. You offer her your phone, it’s almost dead, but one call can probably be made. You go to her, pull your phone from your armband, and hand it to her as you crouch to examine her ankle.
There’s a low hum, a snap, burnt flesh fills your nostrils, your body jerks as the electricity surges through you. Your eyes roll back and you fall forward.
It’s pitch black when you wake. You blink, wondering where you are. There’s a distant rumble of thunder and then a quick flash of lightning. Your arms are bound by rope, pulled over your head and tied to a tree. Your legs are secured to some kind of spike driven into the hard soil. Zip ties cut into your wrists and ankles, and your shorts are stuffed in your mouth and secured with duct tape. You groan. As you come to your senses you realize that she is astride of you, slowly rocking back and forth. Her hands, in latex gloves, press against your chest. You blink again. You are inside of her. You jerk and flay but she stays mounted and groans, that’s right, baby, buck like the bronco you are. You yell, twist, and turn, loosening the spike. She hisses stop jerking so much and presses a knife to your throat, slicing into your skin. Lightning flashes.
She smiles at you and she’s pretty flickers across your mind. She is the kind of girl you would have asked out, taken to a movie, dinner and shared hot lingering kisses. She looks like a nice girl, but she isn’t. She rides you, gasping, tossing her head back, her long blond hair flying around her. You feel sick. How could you find her attractive? You try to stop your crotch from reacting to her movements and when you almost succeed she dismounts, slides down and puts you into her mouth. You squeeze your eyes shut, trying to ignore the sensation, groan, shake your head, scream No but your protest is drowned out by the thunder cracking. When you are hard, she climbs on you and begins again. You can feel your climax coming. You inhale sharply through your nose, squeeze your eyes closed, ball your hands into fists, and your legs tense. Don’t cum yet. I’m not there. Don’t cum. We have to cum together. But, you can’t stop yourself. You feel the wave of hot cold sparks rush over you, as you involuntarily thrust up towards her. You shake your head and tears seep from your eyes.
Slowly, you open them. She’s still sitting on top of you, staring at you through narrow slits. She speaks through clenched teeth, her lips barely parting as her words hiss out at you. You came. You weren’t supposed to cum. This is not what was supposed to happen. You were supposed to wait for me. We were supposed to cum together.
The knife plunges into your stomach, your chest, your shoulders, over and over. The thunder and lightning provide sound and lights to your murder. You jerk your legs, they come free of the spike too late, and you cry for help that will never come. You feel the first drops of cool rain on your face, that gentle tapping of the rain on the ground, and the air stirs with the scent of the wet grass. You can’t breathe and the pain is sharp and agonizing. You cry. Soon, the pain starts to dissolve, you feel light headed, and then you stop breathing. Your heart stops. The rain pours down on you.
* * *
Two days later you are found. You’re still tied to the tree with your shorts stuffed in your mouth. The early morning joggers — a man and woman — first smell you and think you’re a dead animal. Then they see you. They creep forward. The woman sees your empty staring eyes sunken in half eaten eyes sockets. She screams. The man takes in your graying, torn flesh, exposed innards, chants oh fuck oh fuck, then feels his stomach turn, the coffee, kolachi, and bile surge up his throat, and he turns to vomit. It doesn’t take long for their shouting to bring others. Someone calls the police. The scene is taped off and forensics start to work, but it won’t be easy.
The rain washed away foot prints, blood, and most, if not all, the evidence. Your body — you are no longer you, you’re just a body now — is taken to the morgue and examined. Two small burn marks on right side of your neck, just below your ear, lead the investigators to believe you were stunned unconscious. They are unable to assess exactly how many times your body was stabbed — two days of rain and critters feasting. The stab wounds they can examine are deep and precise. The killer didn’t hesitate. Officials conclude that whoever stabbed your body was a violent individual. They have no idea how violent, but you do. It’s too bad you can’t tell them. The shorts stuffed in the mouth leads them to believe that rape was involved, but any sort of DNA was washed away by the rain or eaten by the animals. The long blond hair they find stuck in one of the stab wounds turns out to be from a synthetic wig.
The university mourns, the counselors stay late to counsel students who may be having trouble dealing with your murder. A memorial service is planned. The university police department grants overtime to its officers. The city police interview everyone who knew you — how well did you know the victim, did he have any enemies — including her. Between big wrenching cries, she gives her alias and wails. You were always so nice. You said hi to her when you jogged past her at the gazebo. You didn’t have enemies. Everyone, especially her, loved you to death. She attends your memorial service and your funeral. At your funeral, she surreptitiously pulls a baggie from her pocket and empties the contents in the grave below your coffin. It’s easy. She hugs your mother and walks away.
Your murder will remain a mystery. They will never find her. She’s careful to never keep souvenirs. Keeping souvenirs gets you caught. On the way to your funeral in Dallas, she deposits gloves, her clothes, shoes, and the wig in different trash receptacles. The ashes of the journal she used to keep notes on you are poured into your grave. Everyone is too heart-broken to notice the nondescript girl. They should have noticed her. She’s not the type of girl they shouldn’t notice.
Alicia De La Rosa-Millard was born in Berwyn, IL., raised in San Antonio, TX., and grew up in Nacogdoches, TX. Ms. De La Rosa-Millard has an M.A.in English and is currently working on a M.S. in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling.