Pretty When She Dies (Page 2)
The bathroom was so small the door barely missed hitting the toilet and the bathtub when she opened it. All she could think of was the bath. She was caked in dirt and grime. Leaves, twigs, dirt, and a few insects were twisted around in her hair. Her body was so filthy she could barely see her creamy, pale skin.
“Yuck,” was all she could think to say.
When she turned on the hot water in the shower, a tremor rocked the center of her body. It started just above her stomach, then rolled through her chest and limbs. She slightly gagged, then leaned over the tub and threw up again. Mucous and mud trailed from her lips. Again, she shuddered and fell into the tub, fully clothed, the warming water sloshing over her.
Tears exploded from her eyes and she let out a desperate wail. The seizure arched her back and sent her sprawling before abruptly releasing her. She lay there, on the cold, chipped bottom of her tub for a few minutes before she felt strong enough to wiggle out of her clothes. The jeans were hard to get off. She struggled with her boots. Finally, she was naked and the water was hot.
Standing up slowly, she reached out, grabbed the showerhead, and pulled the tiny switch so the hot water would stream over her. She didn't let go, but held on for dear life. The hot water sluiced over her, washing away the muddy remains of her grave. She closed her eyes and tried not to focus too hard on the memories trembling just below the thin layer of confusion. If she tried to think too hard, it only hurt.
Using nearly half of the shower gel and a good portion of shampoo, she scrubbed her body and hair clean. The scalding water and loofah soon had her skin looking red and raw, but it felt better than before. Her fingers traced over the tattoo decorating the lower portion of her belly. Intricate vines and flowers made a lovely pattern against her skin.
Why the hell would you do that to your body? Do you want to look like a whore? The male voice whispered, then faded away.
She dragged her long hand over the tattoo perched on her upper arm. It was an intricate design with vines and roses with little cherubs holding scrolls that read “Beloved Mother.” Frowning, her fingers slid over the rough scar in the center of the tattoo. There had been something here, she remembered that.
Tears began to stream down her cheeks as she remembered the pain of getting this tattoo. Her heart had hurt so badly the pain of the needle had not mattered to her. It had been for her mother, her broken, sweet mother. The one who had named her Amaliya. There had been-
“A cross,” she whispered, her fingers tracing over the roughened edges of the white scar.
Sliding the clear shower curtain back, she stared from the depths of the shower into the fogged mirror over the sink. For a moment, she thought nothing was reflected in the mirror.
Stumbling out of the shower, she ran her hand over the mirror, her blue-gray eyes coming into focus. Her clean, black hair hung loosely around her face, framing a face with a strong chin, high cheekbones, a sharp slightly hooked nose, and full, bruised looking lips.
Her fingers slid down over her features, then over her neck, down to her breasts. The piercings in both nipples glinted in the florescent light. Slowly, she turned and looked over her shoulder to see her back was still adorned by angel wings, her freshest tattoos. Her waist tucked in above her full hips. She ran a hand over her curvy right cheek slowly.
Need to lose weight, she thought.
For a moment, she was filled with self-loathing. Her upper body was long and lean, with shapely breasts and a small waist. Her lower body was fuller, but her legs seemed too short for her body. Endless jogging, avoiding potatoes and other starches had never rid her of her wider hips.
She started laughing. It was a startling sound to her ears when she heard it, and she sank against the wall, cold and wet.
I'm insane, she thought. I've lost my mind.
Forcing the crazed giggles away, she dried off, then checked the mirror again. The tiny diamond tucked into the side of her nose twinkled back at her. She slid her dark hair back behind her ears. The six hoops in each ear were intact. Her fingers pulled back her hair and she studied her roots intently. A faint line of gold was visible along the part.
She would have to dye her hair again soon. At least her eyebrows were naturally dark.
Her legs were a little shaky as she walked into her room and pulled a pair of jeans out of the laundry basket resting on the cluttered dresser. A pair of pink bikini-briefs came with them and she pulled both items on. Rummaging around in the basket, she found a white tank top and shrugged it on. Collapsing onto the bed, she leaned over and opened the refrigerator. The tiny thing creaked open and revealed it was empty, save for a soda and bottled water.
She was hungry. Very hungry. Famished.
Shoving the door shut, she ran her hands over her damp hair and stared down at her feet. The chipped red polish on her toenails was the norm. They were cut short and slightly ragged. Shrugging, she leaned down and snagged a pair of battered Bettie Page heels. She always tried to wear heels to make up for her shorter legs.
Her stomach coiled tightly as she stood. She gasped in pain. Her vision swam and she stumbled forward.
She needed to eat, and soon.
Looking up into the battered mirror above her dresser, she stared into an empty room. She gasped then, suddenly, her reflection winked into view. Blinking hard, she watched it blink out again, then shimmer back slowly.
Terror gripped her. She grabbed her keys off the floor and rushed to the door. She would eat and then she would be fine. She'd stop feeling like this and she would understand what had happened to her.
She just needed to eat.
That would do it.
Yes, to eat. That would be salvation.
She just needed to…feed.
Amaliya felt weak as she maneuvered down the stairs, then trudged down the long dim corridor to the outside world. Beyond her feebleness, she felt strangely unreal. It was as if she was moving through a dream where nothing felt connected to her in any way. Her surroundings seemed faintly familiar to her hazy mind, but instinct drew her toward her destination, not memory.
Her high heels clicked against the sidewalk as she moved toward-
She stopped for a moment, her thoughts shifting, then she remembered.
The parking lot lay beyond the jumble of buildings nearby. And she had a truck, a beat up blue truck. She nodded and started walking again.
A door opened to a nearby building, where a young Asian man hurried out. He didn't even glance at her as he moved around her, hastily walked toward one of the far buildings.
Turning slowly, she stared after him. No, she didn't know him, but he made her feel warm inside. She considered following him, but then shook her head.
He was not enough to make her hunger go away.
Frowning, unsure of her own thoughts, she turned her attention back to her destination and started walking again.
The old, red brick buildings of the college rose around her, imposing in their aged facades. A few more modern buildings were tucked back behind them, squat and ugly. She looked at the darkened windows with trepidation
Turning a corner, the long sidewalk wound between buildings. In the distance, she could see the lights that illuminated the parking lot. Rubbing her arms with her hands, she moved through the shadows.
Music, jarring with its tribal beat, glided on the night wind, where it swirled around her. Tilting her head, she listened. The music grew louder as she concentrated. For some reason, she felt drawn to the pulsating beat. Turning toward the source, she saw that it was one of the fraternity houses that sat on the edges of the campus. The windows were darkened, but music still drifted from the building.
Something dark and desperate whispered through her mind that she needed to go there. It was important. It would make her feel better. It would make her feel real.
Scowling slightly, she moved across the wide green lawn, toward the old Georgian style house. Her heels sunk into the damp earth. The smell of dew filled her nostrils. Her drying hair flowed around her shoulders and down her back as she walked.
Again, a slow chill slid down her spine and she turned sharply. Only shadows trailed over the sidewalk. There was no sign of anyone anywhere, and yet, she knew, deep inside, she was being watched.
With that horrible feeling tormenting her, she made haste toward the fraternity house. Ducking under tree branches that lined the side yard, she maneuvered cautiously over the roots gnarled at the base of the trees. Her heels crunched across the gravel drive as she followed the sound of the compelling music. Moving into the darkness looming around the structure, she easily found the side door to the imposing house. It opened easily for her and she slipped inside. A large, very dirty kitchen greeted her, but it gave her no feeling of belonging. There was no sense of familiarity at all. And yet she felt drawn to go deeper into the house.
She stepped into the hallway that led from the kitchen and looked up as she realized the music was coming from above. Moving through the darkness, she found her way to a staircase and slowly ascended.
Another tremor rolled up through her body. She gripped the banister as her vision swam. She needed to eat soon. She was famished. Her stomach clenched inside of her. It hurt so terribly she could barely concentrate.
If I'm hungry, I should go to the kitchen.
But the driving force inside of her told her otherwise. She began to climb the stairs again. The hallway at the top of the stairs was dark and empty. All the doors leading off of it were closed. Hesitantly, she took a step forward, not sure where to go. The music was louder now, but all she could hear was its heavy tribal beat.