This story is by Courtney Bryant and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The hatred and pain entangled in Kaylee’s heartbeat subsided as she watched Jonathan’s large body collapse on her bare wooden floor. She relaxed her shoulders and dropped the bloody swing arm lamp, clutching herself as his fingers withered and eyes closed. Kaylee looked out her window and closed the curtains. It was getting dark outside, which meant her mother would be home in an hour. How do I hide this body and clean the evidence before 7:00 PM? She thought. She grabbed the blanket off her bed and spread it over him as a muffled groan crept out. He coughed, choking on blood and a red puddle spread underneath him staining the white blanket. Kaylee heard the downstairs door close, and her eyes grew wide.
“Kaylee, you home?” Her older sister shouted.
Kaylee’s hand flew over her mouth as Jonathan groaned again, “shut-up,” she whispered, “you made your bed, now lie in it,” her hands shook as she grabbed the pillow on her bed and positioned it over his head. With her back faced to the door, she felt a hand grab her arm. Kaylee turned around and her eyes met Kaitlyn’s.
“What the hell are you doing!?” Kaitlyn’s thick eyebrows wrinkled as she looked down, “who is that!?”
Kaylee’s arms fell at her sides and the pillow dropped to the floor, “wait!” she said watching her sister kneel.
She jerked back, “who is this?” Kaitlyn asked, “mom’s going to be home soon. What are we going tell her?”
“I don’t know!” Kaylee said, “I don’t want her to find out!”
“Ok, calm down. Tell me who it is, and what happened?”
Kaylee nodded, “it’s, its dad”.
Kaitlyn glanced at the body, then her sister, “very funny, Kay, but mom is going to be home soon, so if you want my help you have to tell me the truth.”
“This isn’t funny. I’m serious,” Kaitlyn’s body went numb as her sister gripped her hand, “please,” Kaylee managed to say while sobbing, “you have to help me,” Kaitlyn remained silent while staring at the floor with her eyes tearing up. Kaylee’s purple walls began spinning around her as Kaylee wiped her eyes, “do you hate me?”
“No, but you shouldn’t be worried about me. If mom finds out, she’ll never forgive you.”
Kaylee moved towards her father and crouched, “then help me get him up. Grab his feet,”
“No! We don’t even know where to take him. We have to be smart about this. If we set him on fire, he’ll be too burned for the police to figure out the exact cause of death.
“Well whatever we do, we have about forty minutes before mom gets home” Kaylee replied.
Kaitlyn took a deep breath. She wished her sister talked to her before doing this. “Are you sure he’s dead? It looked like you were about to finish him off before I interrupted.”
Kaylee nodded, “at least I think so. I haven’t heard him make any noise since you came upstairs.”
“What happened?” Kaitlyn glanced at the bloody lamp near the edge of his foot.
Kaylee’s throat grew dry and scratchy as she gritted her teeth. She knew she meant no harm, but she wasn’t sure her sister would see it the same. Silence grew as their bloodshot eyes met, “he came in my room drunk and yelling again,” she said.
Kaitlyn ran her fingers through her hair and made a fist, “is that why your neck looks red? He hit you again?” her breathing became heavy as her sister nodded.
“I was laying down with the door closed and he came in here shouting that the school called because I’m failing math. I’m not even failing math. I’m literally the only freshman who got a 100 on last week’s test.”
“Did you hear the message?”
“I wanted to. I kept asking to, but he kept yelling and hitting me.”
“That message was left for me. I came straight home today because I wanted to delete it before mom came. Besides us, she’s usually the one who checks the house phone. My math teacher said I’m doing horribly because I’m never in class, so he’s going to call home. I told him my mother was home today so he’d call and leave a message, but I didn’t think dad would hear it.
“I thought he was just making an excuse to hit me. Every time I denied it, he punched me in the stomach harder. I told him if he hit me again I’m fighting back then he choked me, so I grabbed the lamp off my dresser and started hitting his face.”
“I’m sorry, sis,” tears ran down her face as she grabbed her sister’s hand, “this time is my fault.”
Kaylee glanced at the clock on her dresser and let go of her sister’s grip, “it’s not your fault. Fathers are supposed to protect their daughters no matter what, not hurt them. What should we do, it’s 6:34 PM?”
“Get some vinegar and baking soda. We’ll clean up for now so we can drive him somewhere and set him on fire. Hurry!”
“You sure that’s a good idea?”
“Do you have a better one?” Kaylee shook her head and walked away. As the steps creaked, Kaitlyn’s forehead wrinkled, “Kay?”
“Mom, you’re home early!” Kaylee shouted, “can we talk?”
“Lower your voice, I’m right next to you,” Ashley said, “and give me five minutes. I came here to deal with your sister, apparently, she’s skipping class. Ashley walked pasted Kaylee’s bedroom and backed up. She leaned against the doorway with folded arms as Kaitlyn tossed laundry on the floor, “why are you doing your sister’s laundry?”
“I’m helping out.”
Ashley’s face twisted up as she glanced up and down at Kaitlyn, “yeah? Well, you better help yourself first! Your math teacher called me today. I’m taking the keys to my old car from you, and if you fail his class, I’m not getting you a new car for your eighteenth birthday.” She said, “Why does it look like that pile is moving?” A t-shirt slid down as Kaitlyn glanced at the pile.
“Mom,” Kaitlyn walked over to her mother, “I’ve never been good at math. Even dad knows that, ask him.”
Ashley shook her head, “I don’t care, and your father hasn’t been himself lately. I have some bad news,” she took a deep breath, “where is he?”
Kaitlyn shrugged, “what’s wrong?
“‘Mom!” Kaylee shouted.
“We’ll all sit down later and talk.”
“Mom, dad has been different lately, and Kaylee’s suffering because of it.”
Ashley frowned, “I know she’s concerned, but she doesn’t need to worry.”
Kaitlyn fought tears as she stared into her mother’s eyes, “dad has been hitting Kaylee.”
“Your father has never put his hands on you or your sister!” Ashley knew their father wasn’t himself since losing his job, but she wanted her daughters to focus on finishing school and not worry, so she never shed light on her suspicions.
“Kaylee says otherwise! If I killed dad, what would you do?”
“What!?” Ashley’s face turned red as Kaylee ran up the steps. Her mother and sister were eyeing each other as she walked in.
“I killed dad for hitting Kaylee. What are you going to do?” she approached Ashley clenching her fist.
“Kait, stop!” she said. She stared at the pile and back at Kaitlyn, “I need you!”
“Did you hear her? Dad does no wrong in her eyes. He could’ve beaten you to death and she’d still make excuses. I hate them! I hope he’s dead!” Kaitlyn said, she stumbled back as Ashley slapped her.
“Get out, now!” Ashley said. Her bright eyes were now the color of rage as Kaitlyn brushed past with Kaylee trailing behind.
“This isn’t helping. You’re going to get us locked up,” Kaylee whispered.
Kaitlyn sucked her teeth, “I took the blame, so you’ll be fine.”
“Not if you leave,” Kaylee cringed as a bone-chilling scream traveled through the house.
“You tried to kill my husband!” Ashley cried as she dialed 911. Kaylee’s eyes grew wide, “the ambulance and cops are on their way! You can run, but you can’t hide, Kaitlyn!”
That was the last time Kaitlyn saw or spoke to her sister who was charged with attempted murder and sentenced to five years. Kaylee didn’t accept her calls and she denied her visits in jail. There was no evidence connecting Kaitlyn to the crime, so she was let go, but her father’s testimony and Kaylee’s fingerprints left behind on the lamp was enough evidence to convict her, so Kaylee blamed her sister for her getting caught. She was in her fourth year and starting to become friends with her new cellmate.
“Don’t you wish he died? “ Greta said sitting the barbell down, “it would make being here six years’ worth it.”
“No, I regret everything. My father was depressed and developed bipolar disorder. I will never forgive myself or my sister.”