“Who… are… you…” I croak, my body quivering.
“You’re going to be okay, Maddie.”
The name makes me feel hollow. Maddie? Who’s Maddie? Who am I?
The person continues to stare for a while before crouching down beside me. I have the strangest compulsion to reach up and claw their eyes out, hurt them, but I can’t lift my arms up. They lean over me, sheltering my face from the rain with theirs. I still can’t see their expression or facial features, but know their watching me. Studying my wounds. My heart thrashes. Quicker. Quicker. Quicker. My chest moves with it, gasping for air. I can’t hear, see, think. Who am I?
“Who are you?” I manage to say. “Do I… do I know you?”
The person silently assesses me with their head titled to the side, putting a cigarette into their mouth. They strike a match and light the cigarette, puffing on it a few times before pulling it out of their mouth. Then they reach over me, their fingers seeking my hand, smoke dancing into my face and nostrils. Then he utters softly, “Wait, you’re not her.”
Not who? I start to shake, scream, try to move, my heart racing so fast inside my chest it aches deep inside my muscles. My adrenaline soars, blood rushes through my body. It’s too much. I get dizzy, the world becoming colors and shapes that I can’t make sense of… I can’t make sense of anything. But I feel the touch of fingers on my hand as they pry my fingers open easily, despite my desperation to hold onto it. The object falls out. Plink. Hits the pavement. My heart slams against my chest so hard it knocks the breath out of me. I suck in an inhale and scream as loud as I can. Pain surges through me, fills my head. It feels like I’m splitting in half, becoming someone else, part of me dying. Kill him. I lift my hand up toward the stranger as he watches me through the dark, unafraid. When my fingers graze his neck, I fold them around the base and squeeze, strangling him. He doesn’t fight back, just remains crouched beside me, as if saying: Go ahead. Do it. Kill me. And I do until I open my mouth and finally get my scream out, the pain in it evident and burning it’s way through my body.
“I don’t want to be here anymore!”
“It’s going to be okay,” he whispers as he gasps for air. “I promise.”
But he’s wrong. Because moments later the rain drowns me out and everything goes black.
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jessica Sorensen, lives in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.
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