“Well, this is a nice change of scenery.”
“It’s a prison cell,” says the prison guard.
“I was being sarcastic.”
“Oh,” and he shoves me into the dank cell. After I get up and wipe the dust of my face with my sleeve, I notice 5 pairs of eyes staring up at me, but 6 pairs of feet.
“Why wasn’t you wearing cuffs?” says one of my cellmates.
“I have no clue. Accused of murder and they aren’t worried about the safety of the guards,” and as shocking as it sounds, they don’t back away. Weird.
“So , what’s ya story?”
“Yeah. Why you locked up?”
“I just told you,” I say as I sit down,”for murder.”
“No, you said accused,” another girl pipes in.
“Yeah. You’s said accused. Obviously that ain’t what happened. Spill.” The first girl says.
“Fine, but as long as y’all spill yours, too. Deal?”
“Deal,” says five other voices.
“All of you. Including the sixth pair of feet.”
“You’s can try, but no one knows why her’s here. She was the first one. Ever. And she don’t talk to nobody.”
“Oh, I’m gonna get it out of her. Eventually,” I say as I get as comfortable as you can if you’re sitting on a cold concrete floor in a thin cotton tunic,”Ready for details?” I pause for a few seconds.”Of course y’all are.
“Y’all know how we’re born with those weird marks on our forearms? Mine was a syringe, the mark of a murderer. Right?
“Wrong. The mark of a murderer is an empty syringe and a medicine jar, for the lethal injection. But, mine was a syringe. Just a syringe, and because there hasn’t been a baby born with the murder mark in over 200 years, everyone was confused. The doctors, the scientists, my mother. Everyone was scared.
“Except my dad and his friend Tyler. They knew what it was, and because they did and chose not to tell my mom, she left and we had to move. When I was enrolled in school, no one would talk to me. I was the homicidal kindergartener.
“When I was 5, I tried to overdose on those Flintstone gummies. Which only made me nauseous and my vision blurred.
“When I was 7, I tried to electrocute myself. Except the hairdryer wasn’t plugged in when I dropped it in the water. BUT, I know I plugged it in. I had a checklist. All I had left was to drop the stupid hairdryer in the stupid water.
“At 11, I tried to overdose on sleeping pills. Except the pills were expired. It was 2 years away from the expiration date when Tyler bought them 2 weeks earlier. It was like something didn’t want me to die. All because of that stupid mark.
“When I was 13, I tried to hang myself. The rope wasn’t strong enough. When I was 15, I shot myself. I loaded the gun, took it off safety, and pulled the trigger. Tyler had just got home when he heard the gunshot. He called 911 and rushed into my bedroom.
“When he found me, I was covered in blood. My keepsake box was poured out all over the floor. One of my hands was on the gun, the other was on my stuffed penguin.
“I could hear him screaming as he stared at me. He called Daddy and Daddy almost got a ticket because he was driving 40 miles over the speed limit, but he got out of it when he explained what happened. I could hear him crying over Tyler’s screams, and I was crying. Not because it hurt, but because I was still alive. I tried again and again to get it right. But, it never worked. Not once.
“When I saw Dad for the first time after that, he was leaning over my hospital bed, crying my name. Saying ‘Violet’ over and over again. Tyler had just come back from the cafeteria when he saw my Dad holding my hand and crying, saying “Why” over and over. I didn’t know then what he was talking about, but I know now. He cried a lot when I was growing up.
“When Tyler came back the next morning, after he dropped Dad off at work, he knew I was awake. And he knew why Daddy was crying. Not because I tried to commit suicide, but for something else.
“He said ‘Vi, your daddy loves you more than you could possibly imagine. And he knows why you did what you did. He knows how school is for you. He knows how hard it is for you to live everyday. He knows about the teasing, tormenting, and bullying. But, you’ve got to stop. Stop cutting, stop starving yourself, stop coming up with plans to end it all. Just stop. You’re killing your father. Your future isn’t a life of crime, honey. Its rehab. But first, you have to have a reason to go.’
“I read between the lines and he was basically telling me to get hooked on drugs. So, after I got home from the hospital and Dad stopped stalking me like a lion stalks its prey, I went to a drug dealer, who was, at the time, suspended for bringing weed to school. For meth, but only because that’s the first thing that popped in my head.
“He wouldn’t sell me anything, so I asked him for the ingredients and decided to make it myself. Which wasn’t all that hard. You just had to know who to ask. My school always told us how dangerous drugs were, but at that point, I was desperate, so I didn’t care. It took like 7 months for the syringe to disappear.
“But, when it did, so did Michelle Kingston.
“I tried to stop using, but I kept going back. When they found her body, I was in rehab. I was the person in my community who had a ‘birthmark’ close to a murderer’s, and the only person who’s mark had disappeared around the time Michelle did. So, the police hunted me down, followed me around rehab for a year and a half because they couldn’t take me out of treatment. Which how I wound up here. In this very luxurious prison cell.”