The Day He Killed Her

It was dawn when a young man, unsure of his actions, faced an all too familiar woman in a rather tall looking glass. His fingertips traced the curve of a chest that did not belong to him. The woman’s eyes, though full of sadness, were glaring back at him through the reflection. Tears slipped down her cheeks. The two silently competed, the young man finally turning away after several minutes. Unable to continue facing her, his hands fell to his sides, no longer searching her body for signs of resemblance.

Alex was folding his arms as he walked through the halls of Calpernia Middle School; his hunched shoulders expertly hidden under an oversized sweater. His shoulders were hunched, partially out of habit, but mostly to hide his burgeoning body. Although he averted his eyes, he could feel the gaze of his peers, and nervously pinched the front of his sweater, tugging it forward. He kept his head down and weaved his way through the foot traffic to his Pre-Algebra class. Once he had made it to the room and seated himself in the corner farthest from the front board, he waited for a name that was both his and not his to be called during roll.

Clarity soon washed over the young man, and the young man suddenly gathered a pen and several papers from a nightstand. As he signed the bottom lines, he knew that it was over. After so many years, it was finally over. This would be the last time the young man and woman would see each other. He felt a sharp pain in his chest, bringing him to his knees, alongside a wave of relief. And he cried, the pain lessening with each tear. It was a mourning like no other.

After he collected himself, the young man rummaged through the nightstand once more, retrieving a bottle and needle from one of its drawers. He plunged the needle into the bottle and filled the syringe with a thick, yellowish liquid. Once filled, he didn’t hesitate and stabbed the woman’s outer thigh, swiftly dispersed the syringe’s contents into her body. She would be dead by the time he returned to this place.

Having hastened himself into a calm, he slowly walked out of his bedroom and made his way down the stairs, snatching up a small duffle bag as he passed the landing. His mother would be arriving at his front door momentarily. He needed to be ready. Then, as though he’d prayed for it, the chime of a bell rang throughout the house. Upon opening the front door, he was greeted by a plump, middle-aged woman beaming at him.

“You’re going to be late. Don’t know why you didn’t come last night!” The woman huffed with a shake of her head.

“Because,” the young man replied with a roll of his eyes, “I wanted to sleep in my own bed mother. Besides, I’m staying with you for a while anyway.”

The smile slipped off her face, which now held a quite serious expression. “You signed the papers?”


“You packed your things?” “Yes.”

“Well, put your bag in the trunk!” She ushered him towards an old minivan with a shooing motion of her hands.

He did as his mother commanded, making sure that he had handed the newly signed papers to her as he walked away from his own front door. For safekeeping. They were far too important to lose before arriving at their destination. During the hour-long drive, she kept one hand on the steering wheel and another tight around her son’s.

“Are you scared?”

“No.” His reply was normal.

She squeezed his hand. “I love you.”

“I know.”

“Just the way you are.”

“I know.” He squeezed her hand back. He didn’t need reminding, but appreciated her words nonetheless.

In the following two weeks, the young man expected to be confined to his childhood bedroom. He’d been preparing for these next few weeks since she had insisted on him staying. Even though Dave, his best friend, offered to stay with him at his own house during the period he knew that this was one of those moments when arguing with his mother was not worth the effort. She wanted to be there for him in his time of need, though she had no idea how to help in such a drastic change in his life. So why not let her comfort him? He could be her baby once more, that was all.

After turning a shower on from the outside, Alex shut his eyes tightly stripped himself of clothes. It only took a moment for the water to heat up, but he’d already undressed, slid the glass door open, and stepped inside. Warm pellets beat into his face and chest, sliding down his body the discomfort of being in his own skin. His fingers searched for the oval of standard Dove soap resting in a hanging dish. As he began to lather his arms with the suds, Alex focused on the sound of the water hitting the ground and the feeling of it hitting his skin. His sud-covered hands massaged his face, his neck, his back, all with gentle intent, before shifting to his stomach and legs.

When he was satisfied with his level of clenliness and the feeling of water on his chest was no longer bearable, he turned the faucet off. He slid the shower door open and stepped out onto the rug, reached for his towel, and wrapped himself in it. He opened his eyes slowly, trying not to blind himself with the bathroom lights, and made his way back to his bedroom. He would shut his eyes again when he dried himself and changed, but the brief seconds in which he made his way down the hall were his alone.

When they had finally pulled up in front of the large white building, the young man’s mother realized that there was nowhere to park near the entrance. Cursing out of annoyance, she circled the building and found a parking garage off to the side. Once stowed away in a corner of the garage, they exited the vehicle and made their way back to the entrance. After asking the information desk receptionist a flurry of questions, they were directed to take an elevator to the third floor and check in at the front desk.

“My son is scheduled for nine o’clock.” His mother addressed the secretary with a smile.

The secretary checked some files on her desk. “Date of Birth?”

“August twenty-fifth, nineteen ninety-seven.”

“Miss Alex James?” Asked the secretary.

Her smile dropped. “Yes.”

The secretary waved over a nurse who promptly attached a medical bracelet to Alex’s left wrist and said “Please follow me to the back. There will be a gown for you to change into on the bed.”

The pair followed the nurse, Alex noting where the restrooms were located as they passed by numerous open and shut curtains sectioned off like building blocks. Once behind his own square of curtain, he put his things down on a small chair, took the gown to the nearest restroom, and changed into it. His mother was sitting in a second small chair with a book, one she’d been meaning to read for months, when he returned.

“I’ll finish it today.” She said passively as her son climbed atop the bed across from her.

He laughed. “More like try.”

His mother gave him a look. “How long will it take?”

“Three to four hours.”

“Okay, do I have to stay here the whole time?”

“I don’t know. You can probably leave for lunch.”

At that moment, a man with dark brown hair and a long white coat walked into the room, smiling at Alex as he extended a hand in greeting. “Good morning mister James.”

Alex shook the man’s hand. “Good morning.”

The doctor turned to face Mrs. James. “Mom, I presume?” He extended his hand again. “Doctor Hernandez.”

Mrs. James shook his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.” Dr. Hernandez said with a huff. “Everything is ready on our side. We’re prepared to have both of you stay overnight for observation. Afterwards, it may take some time for your son to wake up, but I’ll come out and tell you how he’s doing before the nurse brings you to his room. The procedure shouldn’t take more than four hours.” Mrs. James nodded. “Okay, and is there anything I should be concerned about?”  

“Nothing at all. This is a fairly safe procedure; he just needs to rest for the next few weeks.” Dr. Hernandez turned to Alex, “Now, before we get started, I need to mark the incision sites. Would you mind lowering the top of your gown?” 

Alex nodded, slipping his arms out of the gown’s short sleeves, his head and eyes set straight. He could see Dr. Hernandez’s face in his peripheral, but kept a blank stare fixed on the curtain, his curtain, which separated him from the other patients. It was as though his eyes had glazed over. The doctor took out a thin purple marker and began to draw lines on his chest while a nurse came in and inserted an IV in his left arm. His eyes refused to waver from the grounding object in an effort to ignore the sensation of the marker. 

Alex was sitting alone in his backyard, waiting for Dave to return from the bathroom. They’d gotten distracted talking and were determined to finish their Anatomy assignmentonce Dave had emptied his bladder of course. He lay flat on his back, fingers gliding through the grass at his side, eyes following the clouds. He was jolted out of thought when his phone rang, and moved to answer the call so quickly that he nearly dropped the phone on his face. 


“Hi, is this Alex James?” Came a soft voice from the other side of the phone.

“Yes, who is this?” Alex asked.  

“I’m calling from Calpernia General Hospital. I understand that you’ve been on a waiting list for new patient intake?” 

The voice on the other end of the line continued, but it was all a blur. Alex was both positive he understood what he was hearing and shocked. His year of waiting and calling was finally over. He lay in disbelief even after he’d confirmed the date and time of the intake appointment and ended the call. It wasn’t until Dave had come back from the bathroom that the reality of the call fully struck him. Alex sat up and turned to face Dave, ready to tell him the good news, but burst into tears the moment he opened his mouth to speak. Dave put his arms around his weeping friend, allowing the hug to absorb his tears. 

Feeling tired and too groggy to hear what his mother and the doctor said, Alex vaguely sensed other people entering the room. Just barely able to hear his mother say “I love you” again, he felt a hand on his shoulder disappearing as the bed he lay on moved. Passing through the halls, Alex was unable to keep track of the world around him. All he could do before falling into a deep unconsciousness was shift his head left, just enough to see the bright red words “Surgical Ward.” When he awoke, he would be a new person. A whole person. And when he returned to his home, he would never have to see that woman there again.