I killed you on a Wednesday.
I didn’t want to, but I had to. I loved you.
But the place you resided had grown foul; it became a stinking hole, a wasteland. It became a place too horrible for you to stay in. I couldn’t watch you die in that pit, and so, I had to take you out myself.
I never, ever wanted to.
I can barely even do it now.
I just hope I’m not taking you anywhere I can’t come back from
The two sat next to each other on the bench.
“So what brings you here, little girl?” asked the old man.
“I’m running away from home,” the girl replied simply, haughtily swinging her knapsack over her shoulder.
The girl was eight. Her name was Dolly and she wore tiny sparking black shoes that she loved deeply. Her hair was auburn, golden red swimming under the rays of the sun. She carried her small red knapsack with pride and sat rigidly upright against the bus stop.
Meanwhile, the old man next to her stared at her curiously.
“Now why would a sweet little thing like you want to run away?”
Dolly, skeptical of the honey in the old man’s voice, frowned.
“None of your business,” she said coolly, running her fingers through her hair. She squirmed in place, fidgeted with a charm bracelet around her wrist, began to grow disgusted by the old man’s kindly, attentive smile.
“Leave me alone, will you?” she barked angrily at him.
The man, apparently taken aback, feigned the appearance of one who has been gravely injured.
“I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, little lady.”
The words rang out clear, despite his age. They belonged to a voice much younger than his, to a body that was firm, supple, confident.
His own appearance seemed to possess a quality of docility, yet had lingering traces of something else in it, something Dolly decidedly did not like. She found the sunken in, hollowed eyes sinister, the twisted thin lips cruel, the haggard cheekbones repulsive. Yet there was a deep pity for him in her heart, a fondness which could only be described by the swelling in her chest she felt while looking at his face. It broke her heart, seeing how much he had obviously suffered.
He must be harmless, little Dolly thought, a guy like him, all beaten up. Her tiny little soul began to feel pangs, conscious of just how mean she had been with a total stranger. Yet she continued to clutch her left hand, balled up into a fist, in her jacket pocket, as tightly as she could. The fist wrapped clumsily around some sort of object, barely concealing its shape.
However, the old man didn’t seem to notice.
Dolly shifted around on the bench and turned her eyes up to look at him, smiling apologetically.
“Listen…I’m sorry if I was mean. I just know better than to trust strangers, ya know?” she rattled on.
The man nodded his head slowly, as if in agreement. Gradually his lips began to spread into a wide grin—it seemed to take him ages—then he began to laugh, a slow, steady laugh.
“Hey, what’s so funny?” demanded Dolly, surprised at his reaction.
“Ah, nothing kid. You’ll understand when you’re older, of course…there are certain things adults find amusing that you couldn’t possibly hope to understand.”
“Nuh uh!” she replied excitedly. “I know plenty about adults and the real world and all that stuff. I read books, you know,” she finished proudly, twisting around a little.
“Oh how nice, books you say?”
“Yeah, adult stuff, real hardcore. I’m no small fry to these things,” she piped up, tremendously excited at the prospect of an adult listener.
The man stared at the street ahead blandly, as though neither excited nor disappointed at the prospect of the bus ever arriving.
Meanwhile, Dolly continued to prattle on; his eyes turned to her every now and then, always with the corners of his lips turned up in a faint smile. Whenever her voice broke (and it seemed to as she reached the climax of her story), he folded his hands across his laps gently and chuckled; when she hopped off the bench to go around and stare at the bus schedule, he urged her patience; and when she returned as impatient as ever, tapping her new shoes against the pavement, he consoled her with the promise of the new life she dreamed of.
“It’ll be good, a kid like you. You can do plenty in this world, as long as you’ve got a smart mind…Wouldn’t you agree, Miss Dolly?”
“Mhmm,” replied Dolly lazily, digging around in her knapsack in search of candy.
“Where are you headed anyways? You got some family out there, some nice people to take care of you? You must be smart, Dolly. Always be safe.”
“Yeah yeah,” she continued on, dreadfully bored. “I’m gonna hop a bus and visit my big sister. She’s cool, man. She’ll take care of me til I’m old enough to do newspaper routes and all that and when I have enough money I’m going to move to Canada.”
“Canada?” The old man laughed jovially. “Why Canada?”
“Eh,” she shrugged, “I like nature and the idea of living out in the middle of a big forest. Plus, you know,” she giggled, “I really love maple syrup,” she finished, bursting into laughter.
The two sat there as the sun dimmed, laughing away the wait.
Meanwhile, no bus arrived.
“It’s starting to get awful late, Dolly. I’m beginning to fear we’ve missed the last bus.”
Dolly twisted her lips in discomfort, her left hand shaking in its pocket.
“That’s…okay,” she began, standing up from the seat. She straightened her back and raised her chin, so as to look as large and foreboding as possible. To Dolly, the authority in her voice was unmistakable.
“I am going to wait right here for the bus, and if in fifteen more minutes it isn’t here,” she began clumsily, pacing around the bench, “then I’ll have to resort to plan B.”
At that moment, her stomach grumbled loudly, dismayed at the lack of candy in her knapsack.
The old man stared at her knowingly, seemingly amused, and tipped his brown hat back just enough for Dolly to see his eyes. They were green, shockingly green, with the innermost circle of the iris colored bright orange. Temporarily dazed, Dolly stepped back with her mouth slightly open to get a better look. His eyes reminded her of grass in the summertime, of sunflowers, of gentle weeping willows, emeralds, mint chocolate chip ice cream and all things young and good.
For the first time, Dolly reached over towards the old man and grabbed his arm delicately with her right hand.
The man sniffed his nose slightly, pinching it with the fingers of his free hand as he turned his face away.
“Little one,” he cooed at her. “What could you possibly expect from me, hm?”
“Nothing,” she said, standing in place while swinging his arm back and forth. “Let’s just keep waiting here for the bus. I don’t want to go anywhere else,” she said timidly, staring around anxiously.
“Well my dear,” the man resumed, “I am very sorry to tell you, but I fear I have to go now.”
Dolly released his hand.
“Go? But…but why?”
“I have other places to be,” he smiled gently.
His words were pronounced resolutely, in a voice that was nearly a whisper—in a voice far too solemn. Dolly stared up at the mangled face with the beautiful eyes and began to grow confused, twisting her mouth as she did, biting her lip and skipping her shoes along the pavement. A brief moment of silence ensued as the last of the sun fluttered away.
“You could, of course,” the man resumed, breaking the silence, “come with me. I’m going to walk to the next bus stop over on 40th and Broadway. It’s an all-nighter bus.”
Dolly’s ears perked up.
“All-nighter bus? Really? I didn’t even know—”
She cut herself off abruptly, embarrassed at the slip.
The old man rose from his seat gravely while Dolly stared at the floor.
“Miss Dolly,” he said, taking a step up to her and extending his hand, “it was certainly very lovely to meet you. I wish you well, my dear.”
Dolly’s left arm was shaking uncontrollably in its pocket, her small fingers slipping away from the thing she so desperately clutched. She felt her eyes boring into the cement, her vision focusing down to a point, to the golden buckles on her shoes, felt the icy rush of the wind whip her curls back.
The spell was broken as the man gently placed his hand on her shoulder.
“Dolly? Are you alright?”
Shaking her head, as though to wake from a lazy dream, she yelped.
“Wait! Wait! Don’t go!”
The old man looked at her quizzically.
“If you want to come along…” he began cautiously.
“Yes, yes,” she replied firmly. “I would very much like to.”
Her eyes cast one final glance at the desolate street around her, taking it all in. It seemed to strengthen her resolve.
“My sweet Dolly,” he breathed.
The two walked down the street, turned up an alley. A few dim lights shone up ahead. The man walked steadily, shuffling along, while Dolly hopped from step to step, her left arm loose in its pocket, the fist slipping away.
“How about a bite to eat, Doll?” the man asked.
“Yes pleeeease,” she said with great relish. “That sounds wonderful.”
She curtsied in place as a token of appreciation for the man. He laughed in turn, pleased with her behavior.
“Dolly,” he began suddenly, stopping abruptly.
“What is it?” Dolly looked around, panicked.
“I feel cold, terribly cold,” the man whispered.
Something awful was happening to his face; it began to spasm horribly, the old grinning mouth dripping saliva, the eyes slinking away into the skull—he bent over, spluttering terribly, spitting up little pools of blood onto the concrete.
“NO!” Dolly shrieked.
I must save him !
Dolly rushed forward to the old man, throwing her arms around him.
“please, no! be safe! Be okay, for me, pleeeease!! !”
His eyes grew farther and farther away.
Desperate, her heart pounding madly, the deafening roar of cymbals in her ears, her tiny fingers dripping in sweat, Dolly clutched the man tighter. Feeling him sinking to the ground, she gripped him tighter, wrapped her body around him; the two of them sank to their knees together, slumped over in the cold alleyway.
And yet, suddenly, the man’s eyes seemed to return—but they were not his, decidedly not his—Dolly’s arm reached to her pocket—
she pulled out the tiny thing,
the little switchblade
but the man
with cinders for eyes
smiled at her again,
wrapped her up completely
“no! no no no NOOOO!” she screamed, a bloodcurdling scream, her voice cracking.
A final scream—
And with a positive roar of energy, a wave so powerful it nearly knocked her to her feet, Dolly launched her little switchblade into the man’s face, watched him crumble onto the floor, immobile.
Grinding her teeth, she paced up and down the alleyway listening to the last sounds of the man’s breathing, weeping, not recognizing the blood all over her yellow coat (whether it was hers or his), desperately…wishing…
Not wanting him to quite die, she finished feebly.
Cautiously, she stepped near the puddle where he lay, eyeing him from above.
He turned over on his back, a bubble of blood rupturing horribly across his broad grin.
“I know you are, Dolly”
too simply for my words,
we say goodbye,
He reached out to touch her hand, the brittle fingers shaking uncontrollably. Pulling it to his mouth, he kissed it passionately.
The kiss burned Dolly’s hand, seared it as though a brand, nearly blinding her with pain; her vision swirled as she saw crimson—
The man sat up, pulled her gently onto his lap as she screamed, blinded, her bottom lip shaking as the tears cascaded down her face.
“I love you, little Dolly”
And with that, he sealed their kiss; pulling a large dagger out of his jacket, he delicately inserted it into Dolly’s lower stomach, dragging it along, gently, gently all the while—
“only for you, Dolly, only for you—”
Lifting it up, he sunk it into her chest with as much care as the first wound, dragging it downwards to her waist, his eyes bulging at the sight of her young blood. He draped her tiny body over his arm, sitting cross-legged, looked down into her proud face paralyzed with fear.
In one last moment, her eyes locked with his. She spat into his face with disgust.
The man felt her body shudder in its final throes, watched it intently, with immense curiosity, until her eyes, the little glass eyes that shone under the moon, trailed away, the little green eyes once filled with so much hope.
Pressing his face into her neck, the man began to sob, weeping over her little, now dead body.