I woke up feeling like I’d swallowed a desert. I wouldn’t be surprised if I coughed dust as I pulled my covers off and groggily made my way to the kitchen for some water.
The hallway flickered with light from the television, the blaring static illuminated my father’s profile from where he was slumped over on the couch.
I crept forward a few steps, now close enough to smell the cheap whiskey on his breath.
“Dad?” I tried again. No reaction.
He didn’t even flinch when I was practically screaming in his face. I frowned at the empty beer cans scattered around him and turned my attention to the TV. My hand was poised to shut it off when it spoke.
[Do you want to see?]
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, and then realized it was my ears that were playing tricks on me. I lowered my face to the screen, squinting into the fuzz.
“See what?” I was skeptical.
[What you need to see]
I glanced back at my father, who was still snoring and drooling on himself.
“Um, well. Okay…” I whispered. The TV nodded.
A scene appeared. The footage was dark and grainy and very unsteady. I scrunched up my eyes, trying to make sense of what I was seeing.
I was just able to make out a blurry figure moving through a dark forest. They were bent over, struggling to drag something heavy through the trees. I began to recognize the woods behind our house, and I recognized my scrawny frame as the view zoomed in.
“I… I don’t understand,” I swallowed. The TV blinked at me.
A new image. Large, bloody hands being scrubbed in a sink, heavy breathing. A quick cut to a body crumpled on the floor. My eyes welled, I wanted to look away but I couldn’t.
Back to the woods, through the same trees I’d watched myself traversing. Then a low angle of my father’s boots, something wrapped in a tarp, a shovel piercing earth.
The TV returned to static.
[You needed to see]
I nodded, I understood what had to be done. I tip-toed back to the kitchen.
“Can I… see her?… Before he-he…?” I asked when I returned. The TV smiled.
A memory from years ago. Party hats, streamers, a birthday cake with four candles being placed in front of my small face, my eyes alight with joy after I was finally able to blow them out. And there she was, through every frame she was there- bending down to hug me, kissing my cheek, slicing a piece of cake and placing it in front of me.
More footage of my mother danced across the screen, I watched it reflecting off the very knife she’d used to cut my cake.
“What are you doing up?” his drunken voice interrupted. I turned slowly.
“…What are you going to do with that?” he asked, eyeing the blade in my hand.
“Do you want to see?”