By The Side of the Road

I sat crouched in the bushes, her dead body tucked behind me. Of all the details, I had forgotten to switch into my other clothes, the black ones I specifically set aside for this night. I looked down grimly at my tattered striped dirty white pajamas. With each passing car, I felt the headlights seek me out and illuminate my one mistake.

I read all the crime novels, watched the movies. There was always a mistake. And it always got the killer caught. What if this one was mine?

I checked my watch again. Every night, there were three possible lulls I could use to cross the road without being noticed. The first two had already expired. This was my only other chance. Otherwise, I’d have to endure yet another sweltering humid summer day with her decaying body in my apartment. I would have to chance the pesky neighbors who should just mind their own business.

I could dump her body back in her own apartment, but then I ran the risk that I’d made a mistake. After all I’ve learned, it’s best to dump the body no one will find it. Less chance of being caught that way.

My watch gave off a soft chime. It was time. I looked up and down the road. No headlights. This had to be it. I stood, and had to shake my legs out. Bent over and picked up her body, hefting her over my shoulder. She had been a pretty skinny woman, so this was not hard to do.

I started across the road, whipping my head back and forth like a confused squirrel. When I reached the halfway point, I almost started to jog. There was no going back now.

There was a short guardrail, which helped conceal the swamp below. The cattails helped too, though I was the only one who knew they came from Miranda, my first. It was after I dumped her that they appeared, and I took it as a sign to keep going.

I climbed over the guardrail with little effort. I stepped as far as I dared to, and then stopped and put her down. I unzipped the black body bag and gave her a kiss once again. I smiled. She had been fun. A friend. But it happened like it always did.

I was telling her a story. One that really happened to me. Her eyes glazed over and I found myself growing angry with each passing second. When she finally realized that I was fuming, she sheepishly apologized and said she’d been thinking about her ex-boyfriend. He called her that morning and wouldn’t you know, was going to be in town. She wasn’t sure she wanted to meet him, but she’d said yes anyway. And oh, what was my opinion?

I zipped up the bag again and whispered, “So long, Sheila.”

I tossed her into the swamp and watched as the mud bubbled up to cover her. I started back toward the road, lost in my own thoughts. When I climbed back over the guardrail, I caught sight of the headlights.

Shit. Shit. Shit. Please be a worker bee, please be a worker bee.

The car passed by without even a glance. I swore the guy behind the wheel was busy looking at his phone and not on the road. I stepped out into the road, trying to be casual. The sun was just beginning to rise.

Another car. Oh crap. Is that a cop car? Wait. No. Good. Oh, shit. He’s slowing down. Oh wait, no.

I wiped the sweat from my brow. I pulled my cell phone out and stood by the side of the road. He whooshed by, the breeze ruffling my loose bottoms. No more cars in sight.

I ran across the street.

Huffing and puffing, I let myself into my apartment. Sweat poured from my brow again. I wiped at it absentmindedly. It smelled funny in here. I looked toward the kitchen. I peered into the bedroom. Nothing was off, except my own vision.

I blinked trying to clear it. Huff. Puff. Air. I need air. I opened the balcony door and stepped out onto it, sucking in the clear morning air. But it wasn’t enough.

The pain spread from my core to my limbs. I stumbled, grasping for the rails.

I missed.

I tumbled through the air, legs flailing, arms every which way. I remember trying to flap like a bird. I heard their voices, each one calling out to me. But each time I turned my head, I couldn’t see them and their voices came from the other direction. It felt like eternity before I crushed the bushes below. I moaned but didn’t move. Then I heard it, a whisper louder than the others.

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming. You’d better run.”

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