“No one is getting out of here alife, we might as well just get used to it, dying I mean ” was the last thing I heard her say, before her chuckle, then a sneer
“I wonder, does it feel any pain?”
I felt a chill run up my sides, she sounded sinister.
She was crouched low to the wall, bent over and her hands kept jerking back and forth, as though she was poking, I couldn’t see what she was doing but, I was curious and I went behind her..
“Marybella. .what are you doing ?” My voice barely over a whisper reaches her, her movements abruptly stops, she straightens up and turns ever so slowly, then her sweet endearing smile plastered her face.
“Nothing mother, why?”
An eyebrow raised, she was blocking my view.
“It’s time for school, go to the car, you don’t want to be late for your first day.”
“Oh right, school. Am excited mother. I would wait for you in the car” with her head raised, she walks past me, out of the kitchen and out the door.
I turn walking forward to see what she was doing, as I got closer my bag drops to the ground with a thud, I staggered backwards..
There, a mice, it’s hands and legs tied separately from each other, on both ends, needle after needle was jabbed into it’s body, and it’s eyes, his stomach sliced open, his insides gurgling out as blood trekked from its side staining the ground. It’s jerking stops a second later.
My hands covers my mouth, shaking I reach for the bin bag, gathers what was left of the tiny creature and toss it into the bin outside, taking a cloth and water, wiping hard. My vision escaping to the roaches I found hanging upside down in her room, about ten of them, dangling .
Then the bird by her window, broken neck and wings, and her necklace I gave her for Christmas tied to its legs.
A sob escapes from my mouth, tears flowing down my cheeks, I wiped the floor clean with my shaky hands..
Done. I pick my bag, dab powder to my eyes and went to the car, slipping in, I turn to stare at my ten year old daughter.
“Marybella..”? I began
I watch her snap her head up, staring at me with those bright beautiful eyes she got from her father. His were blue. I saw her smile, but the smile not quite reaching her eyes. Then I saw them pool up almost immediately
“I didn’t mean to mother, I promise. It ..it got trapped from the trap, and you know it has spikes and needles to it and I was trying to save it but..but.. I am sorry mother I didn’t mean to. I promise ” she picked at her sandwich bending her head , I saw the tears drop like droplets unto her laps..
What could I say to her, I didn’t know what to say to her. I turn facing the road, putting the car on drive, willing my insides to stop shaking and my hands to stay still. I risked a glance at her from the mirror. Did I see her smile and her eyes clear as day?
My hands shook slightly as I held on to the cup of coffee the doctor gave me.
“Tell me again Mrs Smith, what was her expression when you saw her again this time? ” he was seated behind his desk staring at me
“Bland. Expressionless. But she had that smile, innocent and yet..strange. as though she didn’t realise what she just did, and it was disturbing. I am scared, really scared doctor. I don’t know what to do, and how to do what to do” I put down the mug, and held on to my hands to keep it from shaking.
“What are you exactly scared about ?”
“As a baby, she was numb to pain, feeling nothing, not crying and I was worried, but the doctors said there was nothing to worry about, and that it would pass and there was nothing medically wrong with her. But as she grew older, because she couldn’t feel pain, she began to inflict it, on things , on insects and I am scared she might begin to inflict it on people, dangerously so.. so we, my husband and I decided to home school her.
…. but she would get mices and roaches , and kill them in a gory manner. One time I found a bird dead at her window but she said she woke up to it, but it’s eyes were pierced in and wings broken and legs tied with her necklace I got her for Christmas.
Sometimes she seemed too happy watching movies that had to do with deaths, with pain, with agony..it amuses her. I fear she might hurt someone one day or maybe herself. . I- I don’t know what to do’” I sobbed into my hands
“Mrs Smith, I don’t think it’s something to worry about and she hasn’t done anything harmful. But if it would make you feel better, you can bring her in during the weekend and I would have a talk with her and do an evaluation. Is that okay?”
‘Yes, yes . I would’ ”
“But why did you decide to get her back to school and not home schooling as you have done since your husband died?” He looks at me curiously
“Because I realised that keeping her at home was not helping. I was scared that people would see her as strange when she was younger, but as time went on I realised she hated being home, closed places, dark places, and she became rebellious throwing feats and tantrums and not letting me teach her.
But suprisingly she learnt faster watching TV, reading the papers and then playing games. I couldn’t keep her with me alone for much longer and I needed to get back to work and she needed to be among people her age.”
“How did your husband’s death affect her? ”
“Like I said she feels nothing. No pain. Nothing. She was asleep. He had fallen down the stairs at night, I woke up and found him at the foot of the stairs with a broken neck. I rushed to the room and found her asleep, when I told her her father had left us and cried into her hair, she looks at me and says..
“I wonder if the pain stops?”
“What did she mean, his pain or yours?”
I shake my head pulling at the insides of my palm.. “i-i don’t know. But she didn’t shed a tear, she never asked for him and she pulled even further away from me. It’s the things she does that scares me, and sometimes the way she looks at me”
“How does she look at you?”
“I-don’t know. But I feel strange, uncomfortable. One night I woke up to her staring down at me, just staring at me. When I asked her what she was doing she says , she was curious.”
“About what? ”
I shake my head again, “That’s it. I don’t know. She never told me, she walks back to her room and when I followed her she was already asleep as she climbs her bed. And in the morning when I asked her she looks at me as though I was saying something alien ”
He nods writing in his pad.
“She likes the mysteries surrounding death. She needs freedom. I don’t think she would cause harm to anyone.”
“I pray so.”
He gets up and stares down at me
” Don’t take it to heart, teenagers her age tends to exhibit some certain behaviours. Take it as a stage in her life when she tends to try out things, good or bad, It doesn’t mean it’s so bad. Maybe she likes the sciences and would want to be a doctor, you never know.” He chuckles.
The joke was lost on me, gory images of dead rats and roaches killed in a gruesome manner left me weak and nauseous.
“Bring her in and we would run some tests , do an evaluation and see where it goes from there okay?. In the main time, relax. She is a kid. What harm could she possibly do?”
That’s what I fear the most… not knowing the harm she could possibly do when she puts her mind to it
Thanking him I left , heading home.
Overtime, I had come to accept that whatever was wrong with my daughter, was something that she too couldn’t understand .. Maybe it was a phrase she was passing through, a stage I couldn’t wait for her to be free from.
“Sooooo. . How was your first day at school Marybella, did you have fun. Did you make a new friend. I hope your teachers were nice and everyone welcomed you?” She was staring out the back window at the school block, as though she didn’t want to leave
“It was fine mother, just perfect. I like it here, I like it better here than at home. I met someone nice too, her name is Samantha. She is friend.” I saw her smile, a genuine smile spreading across her face
Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to take her back to school, maybe that’s all she needed to feel as though she belonged.
For the next couple of weeks, things went back to normal. . Too normal. She was like a kid her age, happier, jovial, livelier. At a point I wondered if she was the same person who did the things she did..
I was relaxed.
I woke up to the yelping of a dog, it felt so far away like a dream, I staggered up going to the kitchen, I put on the light to the backyard. Nothing.
Yawning I open the fridge to get water, closing it ..
“Jesus Marybella Smith! !” I called out after I screamed, hands flew to my chest, the glass held only a second ago shattered on the floor and there she stood, in her white pyjamas staring at me..or through me, I couldn’t tell.
Wasn’t she wearing a pink one earlier on tonight before she went to bed.
“What are you doing awake Marybella, go back to bed.” I bend picking up the pieces of glass, I wasn’t wearing any slippers
“Don’t come forward, just go back to bed. What are you doing awake bella you didn’t answer me.”
“How does it feel to be pained?, I always wonder . Why do you cry, does it hurt? Why does it hurt, do you feel pain? How does pain feel like… I wonder mother. Does it ever stop?”
The cold chill ..
“Does what ever stop?”
I turn around quickly, then I stare at her .. “What voices Bella?”
Her eyes drifted from staring into space , it rests on me…
“Don’t be too dramatic mother.. I am going back to bed. ” she walks away leaving me there, alone.
What did she mean?”
The scream woke me up, I started from my bed, running to her room.
She wasn’t there,
“Bella? Bella!!! BELLLAAAAAAAAAAAA!” I ran through the house, looking for my baby..
She stood backing me, staring outside where a few people had gathered..
It was 7am.
“I heard a scream, are you okay bella?” i rush kneeling down beside her, turning her to me, touching her, making sure.
“It wasn’t me. ” she stares out the window pointing.
I step outside, a little girl was crying, her grandfather Mr Peppey held on to her, while her father and others stood talking.
“What’s going on here? Is she okay? I heard a scream. ?” Bella followed behind me at a safe distance
“Doggy, my doggy !” She cried pointing…
“She came out and found it..
Who would do something like that to an innocent dog?” Mr peppey cradles her in his arms,
I didn’t know why the hairs at the back of my neck stood. I didn’t know why the chills hugged me tighter, I didn’t know why my thoughts flickered back to Bella standing alone in the kitchen last night and her words “Does it ever stop” breeze through my mind
.. I didn’t know why I felt faint even before I saw it..
It’s tongue had been pulled out, eyes gurged out. Tummy torn while it’s insides dangled from the side of its stomach. Blood ozzing leaving a trail leading to the pool. Large needles pieces into every part of its body.
Speechless I fell to the ground. .
“Are you alright Mrs Smith? ” one of the men asked coming to me..
“I- I —” I trail off, pointing to the scene infront of me, my eyes pooled, my lips trembling. ..
He shakes his head, ” some sick twisted Bastard would have thought this was funny. It’s just an innocent animal, and there was no break-in. This is sick. Go on in Mrs Smith, we would clean it up so little missy don’t see it anymore. Not something a kid should wake up to, and it was her favourite pet, her friend. Who would do something like that?” They went about to clean the mess up
I got up, running into my house, reaching the toilet and my entire insides comes out, and I kept going and going and going. My body shaking, ..
“Mother?” I heard her call me, I close the door, locking it
“Mother, are you in there. Are you okay?” She was by the door, knocking
A sob escapes from my lips, I close my mouth, fear enveloping me.
“Bella,.gi- give me a sec-second please” I managed, washing my face, my mouth, but my hands wouldn’t stop shaking.
Bella , it was bella. The roaches, the mice, the birds..now the dog.
She was the one .. how do I tell them that I think my daughter was the one who killed their dog.
How do I ask her, ..how do I help her?
What is happening to her?..
“Mother, come out please ”
I was scared. Scared of her. Scared of my own daughter..
“Mother! !!!!” Her voice had changed
I clicked the lock, turning the nobe ., she had moved away from the door staring at me.
“Bella..?” I tried to keep my voice from shaking..
“Did you do it?”
‘Do what mother? ” innocence, such innocence in her eyes.
“The- the dog. Did you do it?”
Puzzled expression.. “Do what mother ? Kill the dog? Why would I do that mother ? It was Mr peppey’s dog, little missy played with it. Why would you think such a thing mother. ?”
Her eyes pooled, her lips trembling. ..
She wouldn’t lie. Bella wouldn’t lie. She would apologise , she would if she did it. Maybe, maybe it wasn’t her. Bella wouldn’t do such a thing.
But why was she up Last night.
‘What were you doing up last light bella, in the kitchen?”
Silence, a tiny flicker of light brightens and clouds her eyes then it was gone
“I couldn’t sleep, I kept wondering?”
“If it ever stops? ”
“What”?” I whisper. ..
Her eyes focuses back on me… ” Mother, you don’t possibly think.. I could do such a thing..?”
“But the mices and roaches and- ” I trail off, treading carefully.
“We disect insects in biology class mother, don’t be too dramatic. I -I wouldn’t do this” the tears flowed freely
My heart broke, I rush to her and gather her into my hands,
“Am so sorry, I am so sorry bella “..
She held on tighter. .
“Two days later, I found her pink pyjamas, stained with blood, under her bed..I couldn’t bring myself to ask her doctor ”
“Did you tell them, the Peppey’s? ” he asked, his eyes kneading into my soul, searching.
I shake my head. “No. What are they going to say or do to my daughter? What if they take her away from me? I- I don’t think she knows what she does or realises it. I , I am not even sure of anything anymore. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I am worried and scared, and I watch her more closely now. It’s been two weeks and nothing else had happened. And I wonder if it ever happened”
He writes in his pad again .
“Do you feel her hostility towards you?”
“I feel as though she hates me and then loves me at thesame time. I feel her constantly wondering and curious about me, I feel her happy and then I feel her withdrawn. I don’t know. Some days I , I don’t want to be alone with her at home and other days I want to protect her, even from her self , from others.. from the world. But, I am scared. Really scared of what she might do even without knowing what she could do.. I can’t leave her alone for a second without wondering if she has done something more…sinister and I can’t totally accept that she has. But then again, that nagging behind my head telling me she is watching me..waiting to pounce…or just…watching me. Help me doctor, what is wrong with my daughter?”
“I think she is crying out for help. For attention and this is her way of finding it.”
“By hurting things..animals.?”
“She is curious. You say she keeps asking what it feels like to feel pain, to feel hurt and be scared? She doesn’t feel pain so she goes in search for it, if she can’t feel it herself then maybe she could feel it through things and others.. and then she wonders if it ever stops. If the pain people feels stops or if she being un-feeling ever stops. She wants to explore , to understand, to belong. She becomes envious that everyone gets to feel everything and she is left out of life’s few gifts.. the emotion that transcends; pain. She is numb to it so when we are hurting she is numb. When death occurs she is numb. When her father dies, she is numb. She sees everyone bellowing and tears rushing down their faces and she is wondering. ..why? Why doesn’t she feel it too. Why can’t she? I believe something must have triggered this.. can’t you tell me anything Mrs Smith. Maybe from when she was younger? ”
I turn facing him, trying to recollect a particular incident tying all this..to connect the dots.
“My husband, and bella had been at home for the weekend and I had gone out of state for work.
They had been playing hide and sick and he had told her to go hide, that he would come find her. Marybella never liked dark places, the quietness and the clusters. But because he had promised to come get her in a second she had gone hiding.
He said he had gotten a call and went outside to speak to his unannounced visitor. Forgetting our little baby , who was barely three, was hiding and waiting for him.
It took about an hour before he realised she was no where to be found, he rushes back into the house calling out for her, it was a huge farm house back in our hometown before we moved down here to the city. So there were lots of rooms, antics and he couldn’t find her immediately.
When he did, apparently she had fallen into the walk-in-closet and somehow locked herself in.. she had been screaming and scratching and screaming and screaming nonstop when he finally came back and found her. But he said he didn’t hear her screams, but she had you see , and suddenly her voice had caught in her throat, seizing.
She says ” she heard voices in the dark, they were coming to get her”
Doctor’s diagnosis : she was clustrophobic. We never left her alone again.” He nods .. writing down a word. Confinements! !
“Mrs Smith, I would like to meet and talk to Marybella , I think you should bring her in. ” he says
I nod, “Yes, after this weekend. I have night shifts . I would bring her in on Monday. ” My nursing duties for this week had me on nights
I got home to find Marybella, watching TV . I let her be.
“Mother, Samantha and I want to have a sleepover this weekend. Her mum already agreed. You just have to too” she pops a chocolate cookie into her mouth, and held on to her mug of hot tea, she likes it hot, really hot.
Whenever i tell her its too hot, she looks at me funny “But i don’t feel anything mother, make it hotter. Hotter . Hotter”
Eventually i stop saying anything , the more the steam dances out from her mug of tea, the better it seems to her.
She is looking at me. I had to be at work this weekend.
“Not this weekend sweety, mummy has to work. Maybe next weekend” I bent putting the plates into the dishwasher
“No, this weekend, Samantha is going away for the summer. And we won’t see till after. This weekend mummy please”..
I shook my head, “No baby. Am sorry; I can’t leave you both alone this weekend, so you would have to come to work with me and stay at Amanda’s ”
“I don’t like Amanda, she is old and frail and she stinks” her voice had changed, she sounded upset.
I laugh, ” Yes she is abit old and no she doesn’t stink. That’s not a nice thing to say Marybella Smith. Work is important so no sleepover this weekend. And that’s final ” I noticed the napkin had fallen to the ground, close to her feet.
Strange. It wasn’t there a second ago
“This weekend mother, and that’s it”
“No Bella, and don’t talk to me like that. Go to your room and make your bed if you are done eating ” I said firmly.
She didn’t move, she was staring at me, just staring, I felt a sudden chill, rising into my chest, brushing against my hands.
“Marybella Smith!!” ?
“Very well mother” she begins to climb down from her chair, I bend to pick up the napkin.
Then I felt it sting my back, the hotness soaking my dress, spreading across my back and to my neck, my hair and kissed my cheeks.. I scream jumping up, screaming … it burned.
Trying to get it off my body, knowing that it was fruitless but I wriggled out of my cloths, grabbing a glass of water and pour on my back..soothing the pain.
My eyes shoots to where she stood, empty mug in hand, eyes expressionless,
“Bella?” Shock, pain, fear registered in my voice. .
“I didn’t mean to mother, it tipped and-and…I didn’t mean to mother I promise ” tears streaked down her face.
“It tipped over when I reached to take it up with me, I am sorry mother. .I didn’t mean to hurt you”
My back was on fire, my neck , my face, I held on to the napkin, soaking it in cold water, my hands shook as I placed it behind me touching my back, my neck, I winced..
“Go to yo- your room bella” I breathed
I watched her turn, shoulders bent, slowly walk away….
I reached for my phone. ..
“Please, I n-need your help. Come with a first aid kit too” I felt hot tears sting my eyes
“Hello Marybella, what did your mum say?” Her voice sang over the phone, she laughed as Samantha asks her
“We are going to have a sleepover, I wonder, do you have big needles?” Marybella is smiling
“Ouch” I winced, as he treated the hot burns to my back
“It would heal, it isn’t exactly a third degree burn Mrs Smith ”
“But she did it on purpose, she was standing there, mug in hand and she didn’t have any remorse in her eyes. She just stood there, tears running down her cheeks, words saying she didn’t mean to but her eyes, her eyes were ….void of it all. She had never ever hurt me in anyway before doctor. Never.. ” My voice shook
“Let us take her in then, today. Because if this is done deliberately there is no telling what else she would do..” he applies ointment to my back , neck and face, covers my back with a plaster and gets up, wiping his hands
I nod. “After this weekend, when I get home from work, I would bring her myself.”
“Very well then. Can I have a word with her?”
“Yes , first door on your right once you climb the stairs”
I watch the Doctor go up to my daughter’s room
“Marybella, you don’t feel this either?” He asked, touching his pen to her palm and pressing
She shakes her head.
“What do you feel then? ” he sat back, crossing his legs, a book on his thighs. .
“I don’t like you.” She smiled.
“Erm..okay . Other than me, what do you feel?”
“I feel I should get what I want. I feel there is a reason why I don’t feel what I should. I feel, the rain shouldn’t just feel like water, the sun shouldn’t just be yellow and that mother shouldn’t be such a hard nut to crack. I feel you also don’t know why I don’t feel what I don’t feel. I feel birds are lucky they know how to fly, mices can run and roaches smell really bad when they bleed. I feel I should have sleepover with my friend Samantha, she is pretty. I feel that we think too much and we should just let things play out the way they should. I also feel that you don’t have anything intelligent to tell me other than “What do you feel” and that sort of makes me wonder what you yourself feel?”
She was staring at him.. he wrote down something in his pad.
“How old are you Marybella?”
“Well i am 10. Should be 11 in a few weeks , why?”
“Well you don’t sound like a child your age”
Marybella smiles “Maybe because i am not, maybe i am way older and wiser because i am probably a 40 year old woman trapped in a young girl’s body” that smile again
“I see you watch a lot of gothic dark movies..
“Yes. And yet again, your questions don’t make any sense to me..Doctor”
He writes again.
“How did you feel when your father died?”
“I wondered if the pain stops?”
“I wonder if your hearing aid is impaired doctor ”
“You really do sound older than your age” he is perplexed
“That’s because I think differently ”
“Why do you hurt .. mices and birds, leaving needles in them , or break their wings?”
“Why do we have chickens killed and then have them for thanksgiving? ”
“That’s not thesame thing Marybella ” he frowns
“Oh” her look was so innocent.
“Why do you hurt them, what do you feel when you do it? Why did you hurt the dog?” He saw something flash in her eyes, excitement. He furrows his brow
“Numb. I feel numb. Plus, people get traps for mice all the time, and mother gets insecticide to spray and kill the roaches. So I am still trying to understand what’s so bad in me helping out around the house. And who said anything about a dog. Did mother tell you anything” she leans forward, tapping her index finger to her jaw
He ignores her question,
” but not with needles, necklace as ropes and broken wings bella, it’s disturbing. . Does it excite you?
There was something behind her fixed smile.
“I am tired doctor, ” she says turning on her bed and closing her eyes.
Which meant she was done talking.
He sighs, getting up and then leaves the room.
He didn’t see her smile .
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“She is an interesting child” he says coming down the stairs
“What does that mean.?” I asked him.
“It means that She thinks she fears nothing. She is in denial, she has every other feeling aside pain. Like she blocks it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there, it means she has capabilities of numbing it. Did any other thing happen to her that’s more devastating as a child, other than what you told me?”
I shook my head. “No, none at all doctor.”
“Okay then, make sure you bring her in by Monday, at this point , she maybe is dangerous to even herself ”
I nod sadly, watching him leave.
I prepared for work, but I kept looking over my shoulders when I sense her standing close to me.
Most of the time I didn’t find her there, but I still looked.
My heart in my chest beating faster and hairs keep standing behind my neck. I think she was watching me.
“Marybella, let’s go” I was late for my shift and bella was throwing a tantrum
“Marybella Smith, mummy is being serious . Get your things and let’s go” I ordered, calmly.
It was a silent ride to the hospital. Amanda was by her door, waiting.
“Am so sorry, I didn’t have a choice. I would get her in the morning. ” I thanked her, turning to Marybella
“Please , behave. ” I pleaded, carefully I kiss her cheeks, immediately she wipes it away.
” I have to go, if anything please call me, I am just 10 minutes away” I turn to Amanda who nods,
But why did I feel uncomfortable. I shook the feeling away when I turn to find Marybella smiling at her and taking her hand.
“Okay Mrs Smith. It’s fine. I and bella would be just fine . Come dear, do you like cookies and hot chocolate? ” she rubs Marybella’s hand. I turn away heading into the hospital.
“What would you like to watch? ” she popped some pills into her mouth.
“What are those for? ” Marybella eyes the white small pills
“Oh, for headaches and my nerves ” she tips the bottle and water enters her mouth.
“What happens when you take more than you are expected to?”
Amanda turns and looks at her
” you get overdosed bella. That’s why doctors give you a prescription so you don’t. Now, would you like peanut butter in your bread while you watch cartoons or Disney?”
She sits down beside bella with a tray carrying bread and peanut butter and a table knife
“Well… I wonder if it would be painful?” She says finally, a sparkle reaching her eyes
“What would be?”
Bella didn’t stop smiling.
“Where is your mother? I thought she would be here to receive us Marybella? ” Samantha’s mother says
“Groceries, she forgot something at the mart. You can wait for her if you want? ” Marybella had on her sweetest smile. The lady checks her time, and then sighs
“Gimme her number”
“Her phone is here,but give me yours and I would let her know” the sweetest smile never leaving her face
Another five minutes and they were alone in her room, the dim light glowing in the dark. Empty cookies wrapper, a bowl of icecream half empty and the TV showing pictures of smiling faces of kids dancing to a song. Bella was bored.
“Do you want to watch something else?” Bella asks
“Like what?” Samantha turns on her stomach to look at her
“Like,jeepers creepers, Saw, the massacre. .evil dead or some vampire flick.”
“No!! It’s scary and too much blood. Mum doesn’t let me watch those. I would have nightmares ” she hugs herself
“Mother let’s me, plus I don’t feel scared. I always wondered of its emotion. Being scared means you are worried you would get hurt, feel pain from this hurt and thus you fear it. What happens when you don’t feel fear nor pain then how do you get scared.?”
“Who doesn’t feel pain. Everyone does. Everyone gets scared and gets hurt. .
“I don’t ” Bella enthused, even excitedly.
Samantha looks at her as though she was alien and talking trash.
“Yes you do.” She asserts firmly.
“No I don’t!”
” I don’t believe you ” came her reply
“You want to test me?” Bella smiled, she was liking the flow of the conversation,
“Well…. sure. With what? ”
“I wonder, did you bring along those big needles I asked??”
She nods, she gets up from the bed and she got them from her bag. Giving her her palm, Marybella nudges her to jab her with it. At first she seemed unsure and when bella encourages her, she closes her eyes and jabs. When bella didn’t scream she opens them up, jabbing again.
Bella’s expression was emotionless. Then she did it again and again…tiny blood trekking down bella’s palm now. Yet she didn’t flinch.
“Wow!! Cool. ..” Samantha was baffled touching Marybella’s palm and looking at her, seeing her in a whole new light. Samantha looked impressed.
” i am going to tell everyone i have a superhero for a friend. But, how can’t you feel it . Even the tiniest needle hurts from injections and yet this one used for knitting and you feel nothing . ..?” Perplexed Samantha asked, her interest increased . She used the needle again. Nothing. Bella didn’t even blink.
Bella shrugged, eyeing the needle. Her voice chirpy, excited.
“But you do feel pain don’t you? ”
“Yes, alot. When I hurt my knee falling off my bike. When I hit my head jumping from the stairs. When I broke my arm in third grade. Yes I feel pain because am human.” She finished, nodding her head.
“I would like to some day. I am envious of people who can.. and I wonder if I can feel it from people when I cause them pain..” Bella turns her head to the side , thinking hard.
” What do you mean ?” Samantha looks at Bella, who had picked up two large needles,,tasting it’s sharpness to her finger tips,
“Like this!!” She jabbed Samantha’s thighs without notice, Samantha screams standing up.
” Oh my God Marybella, ,that’s painful it hurts ” she cried falling to the bed, grabbing her thighs.
Bella should feel a pang of pain from her tears, a pull at her heart as her friend Samantha wriggled in pain. Yet she felt nothing. Maybe she should try it again.
“Just one more Sam. I really really need to know how it hurts. Does it ever stop… can I feel it too someday ” the next one goes to Samantha’s arm..
Now she was wailing and kicking, crawling away from Bella.
She pictured the roach and the mice, their agony muted but Samantha’s was loud, louder than Mr Peppey’s dog. Bella felt a thrill climbing. . She wanted more. The table knife was still in her pocket. . The one from Amanda’s house
“Do you feel pain Samantha, does it hurt? ” Marybella asked bending over her, she was crying moving away from her now.
“Mummy!!! I want my mummy I want to go home. ..” Samantha cried in pain
“Does it hurt Sam? ” Bella asked again, that’s not the answer she craved.
“Yes it does, please don’t. . Stay away from me. I want to go home” she cried moving further away but Bella closed the distance
Bella gets another needle, jabbing herself self in and out in and out. Nothing, just blood soaking the needle. Angered.
“Then why don’t I feel it. Why don’t I feel pain. WHY???” She wailed. Reaching for Samantha, letting her screams fester, hoping her pain would trigger hers. For a ten year old, she was strong, Samantha couldn’t pull away from her
“Please I want to go home..” she cried.
She ignores her protest .
“I have used a knife to cut myself before, I didn’t blink. I had deliberately hit my head before and then nothing. I see the blood, I see the pain in everyone’s faces but I don’t feel it myself. Why?” She jabs her with another pin into her cheeks..
“Even when I did the dog , Mr peppey’s, nothing. I saw it cry and it whimpered but I felt nothing. Nothing..!!” Another needle, went into Samantha’s neck.. she had begun to choke.
“Even when I pushed him down the stairs.. Nothing . I wanted to know how it would feel, when someone dies and if maybe just maybe I could feel something. Daddy was standing in the dark, having left the kitchen and going back to bed. I had called out his name, silently because I followed him. I always follow them, mother and father without them knowing.
Watching them harm themselves with things I left out, with broken glasses, hot tea, hot oil from the pan.. I wanted to see them hurt and see if I could too.
But nothing. . I felt nothing.
So I had reached out in the dark, pushing him and watched him tumble down the stairs, I heard the bone break, I paddled down and look at him, fighting for breaths ,
“Does it ever stop father, the pains? Will mine begin when yours stop? ” but he doesn’t answer me, he doesn’t. And I still. Felt. Nothing.! I climbed back upstairs and went to bed. When I heard mother scream the next morning I knew he had been found. When they buried him six feet under a week later. .not a tear was shed. I am numb to it all and I hate it. I hate it. I HATE IT!!!” She screams at samantha
“Does it stop? Do you stop hurting when the pain stops ..does it ever stop?” She grabs Samantha’s hair, staring down at her, she tries to wriggle free but Marybella holds her down..
“Marybella please. ..” she sobbed
“I need to feel pain, if not mine ,anyone’s. .even yours.. I need to” Marybella raises her hands having brought out the knife and plunged it straight into Samantha’s eyes, repeatedly from one to the other… not stopping untill she felt Samantha’s hands go limb letting go off her and falling to the ground, her screaming mute.
She pushes her away from her body, she grabs the remote and put the tv on, reaching for the icecream and began to lick it.
“I . Feel. Nothing. Still!!” She breathed.
“She is just a child.. she is just a child. My baby …my baby!! ” I sobbed cradling her in my arms as they pulled her away from me,
I saw them rolling the little girl they found in her room , dead with her eyes punctured in with large needles jabbed into her.. her mother wailing at the end while the paramedics tried to restrain her. She had gone into shock.
I got the call that Amanda had been found foaming at her mouth, she died before the doctors got there. Her niece had stopped by and found the door open, going in she sat face up, eyes rolled in. And a backpack with a name ” Marybella Smith” and a number beside it laid close to her leg.
I had thought my daughter was missing or kidnapped or worse killed when i got the call that Amanda was found dead in her home and that Marybella was missing. I had rushed home after calling the station and hospitals and found Marybella in a pool of blood, watching TV and licking icecream. She stares blankly at the TV and then at me..
My fear registering even before it dawned on me. The thing I had feared the most had finally come to reality. .
“My God Marybella, what have you done??” I staggered and screamed and kept screaming..
“I didn’t mean to mummy. .. I didn’t. But I don’t feel anything still. Samantha won’t wake up.. but I promise I didn’t mean to ” she didn’t cry, her eyes dry and her lips didn’t tremble, she continuous to watch Tv “I feel nothing still mother. Next time..maybe i would feel next time”
They were taking my little girl away…and I couldn’t do anything to avoid it…to stop it. To save her.
I held onto her and cried…
“She is my little girl..she has no idea what she did..she is sick…please..please don’t take her away”
But it was too late
They took Marybella away…locking her up.
“Marybella hates confinements. Clusters.. she hates it.” I beg them
“She is my little girl..” i broke down crying.
She kept screaming for me, I could hear her even when I sleep I hear her calling out to me..
“Mummy I can hear them coming for me..Mummy help me….i can’t breath”
“what do you feel now?” He sits across from me now, watching me, assessing me..pad and a pen on his laps, as always. Every single day since I got here.
“Nothing..I feel nothing..”
“I can’t help you if you keep this up . We have been going at this for hours and weeks unending …” he says leaning close
“What do you fear … what do you feel. You don’t feel pain? You have no fear.. no scare. And I believe it’s a lie. You hide under the facades of this stories you weave.. why? ”
“They are true.. I tell them because they are. ..” I reply, turning away from the wall and staring at him
He sighs, spent. It’s been a long day and the outcome and results still thesame
“Okay. I must leave. I am tired. We continue tomorrow ”
” No wait, I have another one..” I reach for him..but the cage demarcated us.
“No Marybella. . Or Mrs Smith, or whoever you are at the moment, Until you realise the difference between reality and dreams and made up fantasies I can’t help you ” he gets up, picking his files and leaving..
“Wait… please don’t leave me ” I shrieked
“Why?” He asked over my shoulders
“Because. .. they don’t stop”
“Who are they, and what don’t they stop?”
“The voices in my head, they speak to me , tell me things, I listen I hear and they never sleep.”
“What are they telling you this time”
“If doctors bleed?”
He turns sharply , looking at me one last time and he hurries off, he drops his pad and I see what he had written..
“She is evil! She needs to be confined indefinitely. “
my laughter follows him down the hall till he disappears
Now, Alone.. I felt the walls closing in.. smiling at me, clawing at me, No. I have to keep the stories going. I have to keep talking. I have to …if not they would come for me.
“I feel nothing . No pain. No fear. I am numb.. numb to all of it. I. Feel. Nothing ” I repeated over and over again.
I couldn’t breath… my head felt as though it was about to explode. Fingers crawling up my sleeves , pulling at my hair, tearing my skin.. blood everywhere. I close my eyes and didn’t stop screaming..
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