The Other Me

Another round of BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday.

*****

Casual footsteps sound on the dock behind me. If I turn around too fast, she’ll think I’m afraid. The ducks take flight, their white bellies stained orange from the water. I’m glad it doesn’t kill them anymore.

“Don’t pretend you don’t hear me.”

I wait a few seconds before responding. “I heard you. I was watching the ducks. They can swim in the water now.”

“Good for them.”

I spin on my butt and look up at her. It’s dangerous on the end of the dock with my back to the water. But I don’t move. I’m not afraid of her. Not anymore.

Mona-Thena appears at the corner of the house. I know what she’s thinking. Keep her talking.

I open my mouth, but my heart has climbed into my throat. Words can’t squeeze by.

Mona-Thena places both palms on her temples like she’s about to bend some spoons. Snapping wood cracks the air. I shove to my feet and leap over the hole in the dock. Don’t look down. Close your ears.

I stiffen my legs to keep them from running me to the house. All I hear is that squirrel, high up in the tree. Not the splashing. Not those screams.

“Don’t look so guilty, you’ll give us away,” Mona-Thena says. “She can swim.”

“Not in that water.”

A gust of wind burns my skin. Mona-Thena sucks air through her teeth and pulls her sleeves down. The acid content of the air must be high today.

“Just remember. She can’t hurt the baby anymore. She can’t hurt momma anymore.”

“She can’t hurt us anymore.” That’s the new me talking. The other me is still sitting on the end of that dock, watching the ducks.