I broke his legs first. The snap of those brittle bones was sharp and quick. I watched him with shaking hands, tension in my chest. His only movements were the soft rise and fall of his side and the dilation of his eyes.
Those eyes. Although my gaze flickered, he never stopped looking at me. He wasn’t alarmed, nor did he look at me in fear. He looked accepting. Something in that gaze felt familiar.
“Where were you going?” my voice shook.
The stars were out, and the silhouettes of the pines loomed against the sky. The headlights of my car cut through the night. The driver-side door was left open. The Toyota chimed, and the dirt crunched under my feet. I shined my flashlight on him, making his vulnerability visible. It was just us.
“Please don’t make me do it,” I whispered.
“Please, please, please.”
As I moved closer, his eyes didn’t break from mine. I was still amazed at the lack of panic, desperation, and fear. He was at rest, but forced to be. Traces of blood leaked from his contorted legs. He was always doomed, but today was the day of his demise. I made it that way.
Maybe he’s at rest because he knows I’m doomed someday too.
I do not possess the divine capabilities of determining the fate of a soul. This is the closest I will ever be to that possession. I felt like I knew this soul at some point in time. What a dreadful way to meet in this lifetime. What an agonizing way to say goodbye. I sat on the dirt in front of him with my legs crossed. For a moment, I didn’t think. The tears made my vision blurry, and my breathing was as staggered as his. We looked at each other:
“I can’t believe you’re making me do this.”
He sighed from the nostrils at the end of his pointed nose.
As I stood and turned my back to him, I still felt his gaze on my shoulder blades. Not a piercing glare, but an oddly comforting presence. Was he trying to console me? I got in my car. The door slammed shut. Silence. The headlights exposed the pines across the road. I turned the key.
I smashed his skull. I made sure the front tire was directly lined up with it, figuring it was the quickest and most painless way to ensure his death. I heard the crack – how could I not. I felt the bump. I sensed the absence of his soul and with that, I sobbed. My chest was on fire as if something was sinking its teeth into it. Tears flowed down my cheeks, falling into my lap and hands.
I got my flashlight and stepped out. His head was gone. Obliterated. His eyes were gone too. A shiver ran down my back, and I exhaled. Following the faint path of blood-stained dirt, I walked over and pushed his body to the side of the road with my foot. He was heavy. I could feel the warmth of his body through the top of my sneaker.
After he was in the ditch, I trekked up the mountain towering over the side of the road. Then, I gathered flowers for him. I picked blackeyed Susans, fireweed, mountain daisies, and anything I could find that I thought he would like, even after such a short time of knowing him. I laid them on his motionless side. His absence felt cold.
He became nothing more than a body. Roadkill. A dumb and reckless thing that secured its own death. Abandoned. Worthless. But when I left that body…
I somehow felt the gaze of those eyes resting on my back.
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Abby Fostveit is an undergraduate student at Butler University studying journalism and environmental science. She is from Longmont, Colorado and has always had a passion for writing and telling stories. She hopes to someday combine her love for the outdoors and storytelling into a career.