I Did The Hard Part For You

Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Short Fiction
My name was Naomi Campbell, and I died five years ago.
When you die, the only way you exist is within the memory of people. While you're alive, you're multidimensional.
When you're alive, those dimensions fit together.
When you die, they shatter.
I don't have my own thoughts anymore. I'm not a person. I'm a single shard of my existence in the minds of many, but unlike a broken vase, I can't be glued back together. I was the only omnipotent being in my life, but now there's only versions of my thoughts that are tainted by the thinker.
I exist in my husband Jonny's mind as a loyal wife and I exist in my neighbor Silas's mind as the love of his life. How I died depends on who you ask. They'll never talk about it– they're both hiding too much.
Right now, I exist in my daughter Toni's mind. She just feels sorry for me. She knows she'll never understand everything. Everyone has a blind spot.

The December sea breeze burns your cracked knuckles. Your breath hangs with your words in the air. They dissipate with meaning as you mumble them to no one. The wind hushes you, any noise at all is far too loud.
You come here on every anniversary of my death, this one was no different. You moved away after I died. You couldn't bear to pass the crash site every day.
As you near the dock this time, you see my dark ringlets under the hat you gave me for Christmas. I'm not dead to you. It's nicer to believe that I had run off when I found out about you and Jenny, and your baby. But, it would be better than knowing I died as your puppet. Maybe I found out you killed Jenny's boyfriend. You told Jenny that it was self-defense, but really he just threatened to tell HR about your affair.
If I really died in that car accident, it would be better for you. Unfortunately, the police could never definitively tell it was me in that front seat. That never sat right with you. Guilt coats the pit in your stomach. You're obsessed. There's a part of this story that's staring you right in the face and you'll never see it.
I had to have wanted to do it. That didn't make sense.
You begin to sob¬–snotty, ugly, red and loud. You know all of this was your fault. You knew the minute you picked me up for our first date that I was just a pawn to you. You hurt me over and over again, killing what little parts of myself I regained never phased you. Whether I was really dead or alive didn't matter anymore, you killed me anyways. I just did the hard part for you.
Your knuckles start to bleed, finally giving moisture to the cracks in your skin. You don't want blood on your hands, it's never been your style. You kneel at the edge of the dock and hesitate for a moment before plunging your hand into the water. Stifling the wince that yearns to leap out of your throat, you tighten your hand into a fist before straightening it out. You want ice in your veins, but instead your fingertips just grow numb.
You ball your hand again.
Open, close.
Blood snakes between your fingers. Your muscles grow colder, but still the blood won't stop. You shake your hand below the surface of the water. The blood never stops flowing. Your fingers are beginning to turn blue, but the hot red warms them forever.
"Excuse me, sir. Did you drop something? I can help you scoop it. Your hands will freeze. You shouldn't swim for it." You turned around. The man took a shallow breath "Jonny? Oh my god, Jonny."
The net clatters to the ground and Silas runs to the end of the dock. If he knew what you'd done, he wouldn't help. He would kick you into the harbor, tie an anchor to your ankles and watch you drown.
Silas kneels down beside you. You're pathetic, you have nothing to say. You just stare at him. Your blue hand limp in the harbor. "Can I take your arm out?" You don't nod. He thinks you're an idiot.

How do you live with yourself knowing that you ruined Jonny's life? As if trying to get me to leave him wasn't enough, you killed me too. You killed me thinking you were going to kill him. Which would've been more cruel?
You guide Jonny into your bathroom, you're using warm water to bring the blood back into his fingertips. His ring finger's knuckle has split open. A pink streak of water trickles down your hand from his.
Do you remember fixing your hair in this bathroom before killing me?
You showed up that day like you always did, for the last 18 years. I was working at the kitchen table on setting up a new gallery exhibit. You slipped your hands into the neck of my blouse and kneaded my shoulders. I took off my reading glasses.
Have you thought any more about St. Croix?
I sighed. Silas I can't leave them. Toni's going off to college next year, she needs me.
Your kids are always going to want you there, but you've put up with Jonny's bullshit for almost two decades. You have to think about yourself sometimes.
Why couldn't I leave the kids? They were so old now and I didn't do a great job raising them anyways. Jane's first word was "Mama," and she said it with a loving, adoring look into the eyes of her Au Pair. Jane was lucky, she had Toni to look after them. She was the perfect older sister–sorry–half-sister. I never told you, but over time you figured out her eyes shouldn't be green. She was yours. That's why she was so damn perfect.
I have to stay.
You anticipated that I would tell you I wasn't leaving, which meant the only way this would work was if Jonny was dead.
Are you kidding me? After everything I did for you you're just going to keep me in limbo forever? What's it going to fucking take for you? I'm not God Naomi. I put so much on the line for you. You'd kill for me. I could mess up the breaks in his car, it would look like an accident. You didn't mention that you already had.
I cried. No one needs to die.
You pressed on. Naomi this is the only option we have left. I can throw his body in the Atlantic.
You watched me crumble Stop, for the love of God. Just stop.
You didn't. You pulled out your gun and set it on the table. We're supposed to be together. No more of this backyard bullshit. I'll get rid of him.
He's the father of my children– I don't want him dead.
Is he really the father? Is he Toni's father?.
I couldn't be around you anymore. I told you I had to go pick something up from the store. You knew I was lying.
Naomi listen to me. Naomi, I'm sorry. I pushed you off of my back and walked towards the open garage and the car you'd drained the brake fluid from. You gripped my shoulder Don't get in that fucking car. You pulled me back towards you.
Leave me alone.
You pulled the purse off my shoulder. Anything to take the keys. I ran to the car. Jonny kept a spare in there. You screamed. I locked the doors as fast as I could. You froze, and I did the opposite. I threw the car into reverse and rolled down the driveway as fast as I could.
You wondered how far I would get.
You cried–snotty, red and ugly.
I got to the middle of the hill on Applebaum Street. To everyone else I was a shitty driver. You know you killed me. You can't imagine how scared I was.
You think about what went through my mind as my right foot hit the break and it stepped straight through it. Speeding, twenty over the limit I could make a right into the pond, or a left into the telephone pole. Those were the only choices I had. If I hit the water, I'd drown. Drowning sounded slow. You think that's why I chose the pole.
But it doesn't matter, because here you are washing blood off the frost-bitten fingers of a man you failed to kill.